the edge of my seat

By the time I fully understood that I was too afraid to leave the house I was too afraid to get up off the sofa. Too focused on feeling my heart beat and being afraid it would stop. No doctor could find anything wrong with my heart but you have to admit it’s unnerving that the only thing keeping us alive is a single muscle, which must contract rhythmically and without pause every second for decades. Why doesn’t everyone just sit down, right now, wherever they are, and put two fingers to their wrists, just in case?

it’s the new moon and all the corpuscles

I think what saved me was knowing so many stories, because I could see how this one would end. Not with a heart attack–stories never end the way their characters expect them to. But with the ending common to all stories in which the characters refuse to move forward, away, or out. They shrink, dwindle, diminish, grow fainter, and eventually disappear, and so, inevitably, never, ever live happily ever after.

swallows skyward a controlled vocabulary

Across the Haikuverse, No. 30: All Fall Down


The flowers are hardening, tightening up. You look at them expecting to see their familiar open faces, warm-hearted smiles, but they look back at you stiffly, politely; the entire encounter is awkward. You avert your eyes, hurry by. Just last week you had a friendly conversation, they seemed to approve of you. Now you’re their son’s girlfriend from the other side of the tracks, the salesman who’s about to lose the sale, the kid no one wants to choose for their team. Cold. They’re cold. You can see the future, your future, and they’re not in it.

This whole side of the street–rust. That brick wall–crumbled. All the newspapers–faded. (And no one reads them anymore.)

You feel a pain you’ve never felt before and you know it’s just the first of many.

Andante, adagio, largo, decelerando, decelerando.

first frost
but the key still fits
in the lock



In this (extremely belated) edition of the Haikuverse:

Autumn wind:
Everything I see
Is haiku.

— Takahama Kyoshi (tr. Geoffrey Bownas)



this turning of the year (the light fades [slowly] ) to fall... (I'm learning to lean against) I guess there's nothing to stop it (an axis of absence)

— Johannes S. H. Bjerg, 3ournals & Frags 

everyone waits / for the light to change... / little chestnut moon.

everyone waits
for the light to change–
little chestnut moon

— Angie Werren (haiku and image), feathers 


You are gathered to go,
Strip-lining phone wires,
Faced to the south,
After all that’s been said,
I wish I was with you.

— Matt Morden, Morden Haiku


dog days / the universe still / a thrown stick.

dog days
the universe still
a thrown stick

–Rick Daddario (haiku and artwork), 19 Planets 


approaching autumn / in my pocket / a chain for the black dog.

approaching autumn
in my pocket
a chain for the black dog

–Johannes S. H. Bjerg, Scented Dust


looking for paradise–
cicada husk

— Josh Hockensmith, No More Moon Poems


my friends say leaf-fall
but I say apple-fall
dull-drubbing the grass

— Marie Marshall, Kvenna Rad

(See also: Marie’s “Fragment 200“)


The casualty report,
made into a bag
for ripening an apple.

— Sanki Saito (1939), on R’r Blog


taiheiyô nomikomeba aki futto kuru

when I swallow
the Pacific Ocean… unexpectedly

— Fay Aoyagi, Blue Willow Haiku World


an octopus trap
in the pawn shop, still wet—
harvest moon

— Mark Harris, from Sea Bandits, edited by Aubrie Cox, downloadable from Yay Words!


Scent of burning leaves
the four chambers
of my heart

— Patrick Sweeney, on Issa’s Untidy Hut


invited to feel
the stubble on her legs
autumn rain

Shawn Lindsay, on ant ant ant ant ant’s blog



This new venture looks interesting: Bones: Journal for New Haiku. Editors: Johannes S. H. Bjerg, Alan Summers, Sheila Windsor. They are poets whose work and taste I admire, and they have a manifesto that I like a lot. In part it reads: “Haiku that stands on the firm ground of tradition but has internalized it and is now written for today and the future.”

Fall is always a good time to start things, especially things that require a flow of brisk air to the brain. I hope this venture flourishes. I hope we all do. Have a gentle fall.


January 4 (Willow Buds)

willow buds
chewing aspirin
for my heart


There’s nothing wrong with my heart, in case any of you are worriedly picking out “Get Well” cards to send me. This haiku is imaginary. Well, I do frequently take chewable aspirin, but only for pain and hypochondria. Otherwise, I made it all up.

A lot of my haiku are made up. I know some people think this is a no-no in haiku and you should only be writing from authentic personal experience or some such. Those people can do whatever they want, but I like my imagination and I don’t want to leave it languishing all alone while I sit around writing the scrupulously observed literal truth all day.

So what often happens when I’m writing haiku is, I’ll take some tiny little real part of my life — like my crunching on those bitter little orange tablets when I’m feeling anxious about some vague pain in my head that might be a brain tumor — and start to riff on it, hmmm, aspirin, chewing aspirin, bitter aspirin, chewable aspirin, aspirin for your heart, acetylsalicyclic acid, willow bark, willow trees, willow buds…

It’s all in my head (sort of like the imaginary tumor). I’m not looking at a damn thing except the computer screen and the pictures that scroll across my brain all day long. Pictures of stuff I’ve already seen in my life, things I’ve already done, or seen other people do, or read about. All the things that I know about in the world.

So … it’s not autobiographical. But it’s not fake, either. Imaginary things aren’t necessarily fake, just like stories aren’t necessarily lies. I like stories a lot too, especially the ones that are full of truth, which are not necessarily the ones that are most factual. I’m hoping that you agree with me that haiku drawn from the imagination can be just as full of truth as those that draw on what I like to think of as “mere reality.”

This is a completely separate issue from whether this particular haiku is any good, of course. So don’t make your decision based solely on your opinion of it. Here, for example, are some of my other haiku that are mostly not real. Maybe you’ll like some of them better. Or not.

The Only Noise

From the Branches

Blue Moon

Thanks. Giving.