NaHaiWriMo: excerpts

snow falls on the cold frame distant stars

(Feb. 6: frame)

.

lake ice growing thinner
I count my money
again

(Feb. 9: ice)

.

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I don’t have time to do NaHaiWriMo this month, so I’m doing it. There is something about that innocent little prompt that has the mysterious power to jar me out of writer’s block, even if temporarily. And once I’ve written my one haiku for the day I feel absolved of all guilt for not writing for another 24 hours, which I believe actually saves me time in the end.

Michael Dylan Welch is setting the prompts again this year (this whole thing was his idea) and they’re alphabetical this time (a is for apple, you know the drill). That’s kind of satisfying too, especially to organization freaks like me.

This is all I have right now that I can stand to show people. I’ll try to post another update later in the month.

Drifting Clouds (Yotsumono)

Clouds against blue sky

.

drifting clouds
all day drinking
from one tall glass

on a dare, naked,
into the lake

train whistles —
I can’t reveal
my true motivation

the hobo’s sign
etched in packed snow

.

verse credits: melissa, willie, melissa, willie

.

More about yotsumono and this project here.

September 17: Boundary Waters

arguing over the route —
the red squirrel scolds
our departure

northern light leaks between the birch trunks

last summer light
sunning on a log
turtle guts

after crashing into the rocks strange and beautiful mushrooms

filtering lake water
sediment collected
in my throat

into the wind she never looks like she’s trying

*

I finally got some kind of ku mileage out of my canoe trip. I think this may be about the end of it, though. Unless in a few years I’m sitting around bored and a sudden memory of northern lakes inspires me …

September 3: A lament, and a lot of pictures

summer sky
what a picture
is worth

I’m back in the office and feeling a little downcast. I had high hopes for the haiku-writing potential of my vacation. After all, traditionally, haiku are nature poems, right? (Yeah, I know we could have a really long debate about that, and I would happily join in on either or both sides, but let’s just go with it for now.) And I was going on a canoeing and camping trip in the wilderness! It was going to be nothing but nature! Surely I would be so inspired that haiku would pour from me like … well, like haiku from an inspired person.

It didn’t quite work out that way. For one thing, canoeing? Portaging? All day? Really exhausting. After eight or ten hours of that you have about enough energy to set up your tent, make and eat food, sit around staring at a campfire for a couple of hours, and then crawl into your sleeping bag and curse the tree root underneath you for a minute or two before passing out. Wielding a pen? Not on the agenda.

Also, I think — for me, anyway — being surrounded by nature is not the state most conducive to writing poetry. Or maybe it’s being in novel surroundings that is not the state most conducive to writing poetry. At any rate, I found myself so absorbed in just trying to take in and process all the new things I was seeing on a basic level that processing them on a higher intellectual level, making the kind of interesting connections that good haiku requires, was nearly impossible. I could write one or two lines of straight observation — but making the cognitive leap to turning observations into poetry was beyond me.

I’m hoping that after a few weeks home those observations will have marinated, or composted, or whatever it is they have to do, long enough that I will be able to turn them into haiku. Because really, it was an amazing trip, and there were plenty of connections to be made.

But right now I’m still sleep-deprived and my lower back is killing me. And after two days of grad school I’m already behind on my homework. So you’ll have to pardon me if for a few more days I keep resorting to posting haiku that I wrote last month when I had a more functional brain.

And in the meantime … here are some pictures to make up for my lack of verbal adroitness.