m’aidez

I started this blog five years ago today. For those of you who don’t know, I actually started the blog at the same moment that I began to learn to write haiku, and both endeavors had the same cause: I needed to write regularly, and I needed to find something to write, and somewhere to write it.

These were things I’d been trying to figure out literally my entire life (okay, maybe literally my entire life minus about the first four years), and within about two weeks of starting this blog I knew I’d finally got it. It wasn’t just haiku the literary genre that made me feel at home, it was haiku the literary community. Instant friends! Constant support! Artistic fulfillment! No wonder I’ve stuck this out about ten times longer than I’ve stuck out any other writing project of my life. 

This is also actually my one thousandth blog post (and please don’t ask me anything about the complicated calculations that went into making sure the two events would coincide because I’m already embarrassed enough about my OCD). Over the course of a thousand posts the blog has evolved a lot–I’ve discovered not just haiku but haibun, haiga, and tanka, and experimented with a lot of random weird stuff that might not have made sense to anyone but me but made me happy at the time.

Through it all, to my amazement, you people have kept coming back and saying nice things. I would just like to state here for the record that I have NEVER received a mean comment on this blog, which considering that we’re talking about the Internet is probably worthy of a mention in a history book somewhere. Basically, you’re all saints and I’m incredibly lucky, and I would like to thank you one thousand times for the welcome you’ve given me and the sense of purpose and excitement about art and existence you’ve all helped inject into my life, by being out there, by reading, by responding, by reaching out.

I’d like to get more eloquent and profound than this, but I find myself kind of mute with gratitude and awe and also I don’t think it would be fair to reward you for your faithful support by boring you to death. Happy May Day, is about all I have left to say at this point. Happy

everything
I forgot to say
in one flower

May 1, 2014

It’s May Day again, which means, among other things, that it’s my blogiversary. Four years I’ve been going on interminably now. Do you want some statistics? Yeah, well, too bad, because I love statistics. (I have hidden depths.)


RED DRAGONFLY: BY THE TRIVIA

Number of posts: As of this one, 888

Number of page views, total: As of right now, 147,847

Number of countries represented in page views: 143

[Number of those countries I suspect are attributable entirely to spam viewing: At least half]

Most views from a non-English-speaking country: Japan

Okay, duh, but where next?: Philippines

Total non-spam comments: 4,872 

Most viewed post: Dragonfly Dreams (3,125 views)

Is the next-closest post even close?: No

Most common Internet search leading to the blog that does not contain any of the words “red,” “dragonfly,” “haiku,” “melissa,” or “allen”: “Stars”

Most interesting recent search leading to the blog: “Walpurgisnacht purification”

Longest I ever managed to keep up a blog before this one: Three days

How glad I am that I tripped over haiku and fell flat on my face and never managed to get up: Really, really glad.


Next order of business: I feel like giving away some stuff, because I have too much stuff and I don’t give enough of it away, plus I kind of like you all and the way you keep hanging around and reading what I write year after year.

So here’s the plan. Leave me a comment or drop me an email with a link to one of my haiku that you like (or hate, I don’t care), and I’ll send you a postcard (or something, she said mysteriously) with that haiku written on it.* (Or just tell me to choose one. I have my ways.) ADDENDUM (5/4): Please make sure to tell me your snail mail address if you’re going to request a postcard–you can click on the email link above and send it to me privately. My lack of psychic ability thanks you in advance.

I know, this sounds almost unbearably exciting, doesn’t it? A postcard. Do people even have mailboxes any more, I mean of the corporeal variety? I guess I’ll find out.

Oh, I guess there should be a deadline or people will still be demanding postcards four years from now. Make your demand by May 15, how about that. I’ll try to get them all out pretty fast but I guess it depends on how many demands I get. 

Happy May Day. See you next year, same time, same place.

*If you have a particular haiku in mind but you’re wondering how to find it on the blog, there’s a little magnifying glass in the top right of the page and if you click it a search box will magically appear to serve you.


 

may day
every year
a new parade

 

three years

haiku_poets_unite

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I kind of missed my blogiversary, which was on May Day. Three years. I’ve always been glad I started on May Day. For one thing it’s an easy date to remember, for another I love those cute little baskets of flowers people used to hang on doors when I was a little girl in like 1892 or whenever it was, for another “Workers of the World Unite” has always been one of my favorite phrases. (I can say it in Russian too. It’s even better that way.) 

Anyway. Starting in June, things are going to be a little bit different around here. Better or worse, I can’t say. I’ll let you decide. You’re probably more decisive than I am anyhow.

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may day the honey dripping from it

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may day another name for it

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may day haven’t counted the nests in it

..

may day the light interferes with it

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may day the marauder makes off with it

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 m

d   a  y  

y

I cross my fingers for it

May Day: One Year

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May Day
every nest
has a voice

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anniversary new cells in my writing hand

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Beltane
in the rear-view mirror
a faraway fire

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A year ago today I started this blog. I’d written a few haiku over the previous few days — something I’d practically never done before — and for some reason felt that they needed to be inflicted on the world. And that I needed to write more — every day, in fact — and inflict all those on the world as well.

I’m not sure what I was thinking. Maybe it was something to do with it being May Day, which has always seemed like one of the year’s pivotal days to me. Well, it is, of course. In the Japanese conception of the seasons, this is approximately the day that summer begins. (It ends, of course, in early August, when you first begin to sense that melancholy in the air. You know that melancholy? The Japanese love that. They call it autumn and get all weepy and happy. Me too.)

This was also true of European cultures until fairly recent times, which is why we call the summer solstice midsummer. The first of May went by a variety of names for the pre-modern Europeans: Beltane, Walpurgisnacht. It was about purification, fertility, all that useful stuff. There were bonfires to symbolically cleanse things, and dancing to get sexy. The harvest was going in, the thaw was finally complete, the layers of clothes were coming off…time for a party.

Here in southern Wisconsin, and also in southern New England, where I was raised, May is the month when you finally feel like you can breathe easy, because now there’s practically no chance that there will be any more significant snowfall or lengthy cold spells until November. (Practically no chance, I said. This year, I wouldn’t put it past May to dump a blizzard on us or something.)

So for those of us around here who spend most of the winter weeping quietly in a corner, the beginning of May is the time when we creep out of our corners and put away the boxes of Kleenex and admit that, just possibly, life might be worth living. New projects start to seem as enticing as new clothes.

Hence, I suspect, my more or less insane undertaking of last May 1. I remember feeling a sense of great satisfaction at seeing my first post go up, with that big “1 May” on it. It made the whole thing seem much more real than all the previous times I’d started blogs, on whatever forgettable days I started them on. And right from the beginning, this blog felt different than all those other blogs, which lasted only until I figured out that I didn’t actually have anything to say, typically after three or four days.

Writing haiku, I found, especially once I started to figure out what haiku actually were, made me feel like I did in fact have something to say, that there was actually an infinite universe of things to say, because, of course, there is an infinite universe — and if you keep your eyes open you will always be able to observe something worth observing, and worth telling someone else about.

I still feel like that. I sometimes go crazy, in fact, from the number of things there are to say about the world in haiku. Not that I have really figured out how to say them well most of the time, but that challenge is always there. Those possibilities delight me. The whole world, passing by in a predictable but novel-seeming cycle year after year, trip after trip around the sun — how could that ever not be enough for anyone to write about?

Haiku can be thought of as time-tellers or time-markers — a large part of their original function was to announce the season that a particular string of linked verse was beginning in — and now that I have spent an entire year with haiku, have written all the obligatory leaf-falling and snow-falling and blossom-falling verses, have marked all the changes of the moon, and come back around to the beginning, that aspect of their nature is beginning to intrigue me more than ever.

The year is a cycle; it’s good to know when you are in it. It’s also good to know when you are in your life. When was before this? When’s after it? Most importantly — when is now? Writing haiku — I won’t say always, because I never say always, and I reserve the right to change my mind about everything — is a way of saying: I was here, then. That was now. And since time keeps flowing, there is always another now to write about. I feel very lucky about that.

*

Thanks for hanging around with me this past year and listening politely while I wandered around babbling incoherently. I appreciate it immensely. I mean, no matter how great I thought haiku were, I doubt I would have kept writing a blog that no one ever read or commented on. Or one of those blogs where people are always arguing and yelling at each other.

Fortunately, instead of one of those sad, dysfunctional-family kinds of blogs, I have the kind of happy-family blog that is constantly filled with the pleasant voices of many kind visitors. It never feels like work to hang out here. Practically everything else feels like work, but not this. (She says, staring gloomily at the pile of end-of-term projects that she’s way, way behind on.)

I have some vague thoughts for fun things we can do together this summer. But right now, I’m a little too busy and sleep-deprived to form these thoughts into coherent ideas, let alone coherent words. Give me a couple of weeks, okay?

Happy May Day. Go build a fire. And do a little dance. Come on, you know you want to.