Sunday, August 19, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxxviii

the cat turns and washes
one paw

19 September 2011

restless night
turning from one shoulder
to the other

25 September 2011

hollow oak:
the echo of
your final words

30 September 2011

Saturday, August 18, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxvii

A friend posted something about the bygone days of haiku email lists, the days when there were hundreds of posts a day and long long haiku chains with dozens of authors contributing. He did not wax eloquent about the harsh criticism that many haiku received, but that was part of the picture as well. And, although the criticism was not as much fun as the play, it did serve to refine our haiku.

Anyway, this calls to mind Tim Russell's haiku exercise, one that many of us found useful.

In the old days on the shiki list, we were trying to write in the style of shiki. So haiku were to be two concrete images, with a break and a seasonal reference. There was much discussion of kireji (which I am translating rather loosely as “break”) and kigo (seasonal reference). Haiku were to be drawn from one moment in time, and sketched from life like a watercolour painting (shasei).

Tim had an exercise, one that could be useful to keep our minds limber for when a haiku moment seized us by the throats. It's a very simple exercise, one that yields 10 shasei a day.

First, pick the month or season and some aspect of it to be the short part of the days' exercise:

september grasses
spring growth
dead trees
hunter's moon
summer river

Next, take a notebook and a pencil and go for a stroll or sit on a bench somewhere.

Notice something. Write it down. Turn your head in a different direction or stroll a little further. Notice something else and write it down.

Continue until you have 10 longer parts of the haiku:

a boy picking scabs on the steps
a calico cat crouched on the car's hood
the spent blossoms of the lily-of-the-nile
a cacophony of birdsong
a heavy tread coming up the steps
oak moths mating in the bathroom
a stack of plates by the dishwasher
dust on the stack of summer reading
i try to take a sip from an empty teacup
wild cucumber tangled in the redwood

Now combine them:

september grasses
a boy picking scabs
on the steps

september grasses
a calico cat crouched
on the car's hood

september grasses
the spent blossoms
of the lily-of-the-nile

september grasses
a cacophony
of birdsong

september grasses
a heavy tread coming
up the steps

september grasses
oak moths mating
in the bathroom

september grasses
a stack of plates
by the dishwasher

september grasses
dust on the stack
of summer reading

september grasses
i try to take a sip
from an empty teacup

september grasses
wild cucumber tangled
in the redwood

In Tim's exercise, you now put these things away.

Do 10 more tomorrow.

14 September 2011

Friday, August 17, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxxvi

turning leaves
the silence so deep it fills
with memories

13 September 2011

summer love
a faded red t-shirt rots
in the gutter

13 September 2011

september grasses
the rumble of a distant
trash cart

14 September 2011

Thursday, August 16, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxxv

neglected garden
the sweet peas
stage a riot

9 August 2011

late-summer laze
the fading sweet peas nod
in the breeze

18 August 2011

hints of autumn
a piece of my soul rushes
out the door

6 September 2011

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxxiv

farmer's market
checking out the guy
checking me out

21 May 2011

rolling enchiladas --
i want to wrap his smile
around me

14 June 2011

lingering silence --
i burrow into the softness
of his smile

14 June 2011

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxxiii

to be grown up...
the lines around my eyes

14 April 2011

counting blessings
he includes the beautiful

23 April 2011

no zest
empty lemon husks
on the cutting board

28 April 2011

Monday, August 13, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxxii

first farm share
i dance to “back together”
with broccoli rabe

5 April 2011

spring squall
dividing radicchio
from the farm share

7 April 2011

cold snap --
the dandelion patch open
for business

9 April 2011

Sunday, August 12, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxxi

30 March 2011

Some haiku just won't let you go.

Many years ago, I saw a very ominous blackbird hunkered down on a wrought iron fence. It had just been raining hard, but was now sunny, and the fence was covered with dazzling backlit raindrops.

I tried several times to make a go of this haiku, but it just wouldn't do it. Somehow, the image was too full, too intense to be distilled down into the form of haiku. People suggested to me that there was more there than a haiku could hold, and so I reluctantly let it go.

It held on, however, and this version whispered itself to me last night:

hunchbacked crow --
sunlit raindrops hang
from the wrought iron fence

Here, for comparison, are the earlier attempts:

backlit raindrops
on the black iron fence
blackbird fluffs her feathers

13 April 2000

pearly raindrops
on the wrought iron fence
a blackbird fluffs her feathers

14 April 2000

raindrops on the fence
a blackbird hunches
feathers fluffed

18 April 2000

Saturday, August 11, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxx

tsunami shelter
deep pools of beauty
in each pair of eyes

16 March 2011

black lace and moonlight
her underthings draped
over the chair

17 March 2011

a dead bee
in the leaf litter

3 April 2011

Friday, August 10, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxix

lowering sky --
maple syrup soaks
into my oatmeal

28 February 2011

closed window --
the room's reflection hides
the night

3 March 2011

dying fire-
what will they find when they empty
the ashes of my life?

9 March 2011

Thursday, August 9, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxviii

leafless maple
she fingers the wool
of his last chemo cap

8 January 2011

the squeak of gurney wheels
i wish the surgical staff
happy valentine's day

15 February 2011

music for breakfast --
nothing to make me think
of you

23 February 2011

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

haiku retrospectiive cdxvii

cherries on a stem --
the pirate swings her booty
on the parade route

8 July 2010

fading amaryllis
the old woman scratches
a flea bite

20 September 2010

christmas bustle...
the homeless man tells me i win
the best-dressed award

26 December 2010

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxvi

A friend of mine showed me her newly cleaned car. She'd accomplished the task while her children were at dance class.

My car rarely gets a deep cleaning. Somehow, I never seem to get around to it.

spring sunshine
old parking vouchers litter
the dashboard

My children have piano lessons, a 2-hour window in which I can read or knit or work on my laptop. This week, armed with inspiration (also rags and a spray bottle of cleaning solution), I attacked the windows and washable sections of the interior. I swept the detritus off the dashboard, but couldn't quite reach the dead bee that has been riding with me for the past 4 years.

repeated arpeggios
a single dead bee faded
to sepia

I cleaned the outer windows, the driver's door, the dashboard, the steering wheel and instrument panel. My cleaning cloths were thick with dust. I leaned forward to wipe the windshield.

mozart sonata
the sudden blare
of a car horn

I jumped back. The horn kept blaring, so I tapped it to get it to stop. I leaned forward again, careful not to press against the steering wheel. The horn sounded again.

“Oh great,” I thought, “I'm interrupting their piano lesson.”

I walked around the car to attack the windshield from the passenger seat.

floating melody
the insistent monotone
from the horn

The horn was in its groove now. I'd tap the horn to get it to shut up, and three seconds later, it started singing again.

I was getting more and more agitated, knowing that the sound would be irritating to the pianists. I envisioned driving home with a blaring horn.

light spring clouds
no visible signs
of a fuse box

My son came out to see why I'd flipped out and was leaning on the car horn. I instructed him to stop the horn for me while I hunted for the fusebox. The horn had been blaring off and on for about 15 minutes by this time. With my son hitting the horn every 5 seconds or so to stop its incessant noise, I was able to do a more thorough search for the fuse box.

I knew I knew where the fuse box in this car was; I just didn't remember where it was.

Finally, the horn gave us a breather. I popped the hood and instructed my son to go forward and see if he could see any signs of where the fuse box had to be.

As soon as he went, I remembered. I popped the lid on the dash and regarded the fuse box, with one particular fuse helpfully labeled HORN.

hand on the fuse
the notes of stargazing clear
in the sunshine

I left the fuse in place and closed the fuse box. I finished cleaning out the interior of the car, no longer so enchanted with the idea of cleaning out the car during piano lessons.

deep sigh
at least the windows
are sparkling

25 March 2010

Monday, August 6, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxv

jazz club --
“i expect more than a kiss
on the second date”

20 March 2010

rain-swept mountain
he looks smaller and smaller
as he walks away

7 April 2010

the maples don
their summer vestments

10 May 2010

Sunday, August 5, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxiv

Weeks ago, I dreamed of a towering reef of black rock in the ocean, with waterfalls running down the sheer cliff facing the land.

When I woke up, I thought, “Waterfalls in the sea... what an odd notion.”

Yesterday, we went for a walk on West Cliff in Santa Cruz. It was raining lightly, and the surf and tide were both high. Waves were breaking against and over tall black rocks with sheer cliffs facing the land.

Waterfalls flowed over the faces of the rocks and back into the ocean.

storm watch
waterfalls return the waves
to the sea

26 January 2010

Saturday, August 4, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxiii

autumn light -
the empty swing moves
a little slower

autumn light -
the finch shakes water
off its tail

autumn light -
the sound of his dish cloth
on the mixing bowl

autumn light -
the septic tank truck trundles
up the road

autumn light -
fresh stain
on the front steps

autumn light -
she practices her dance moves
in the parking lot

autumn light -
weathered plastic skeletons
in the new dojo

autumn light -
the old poodle sighs
in his sleep

autumn light -
redwood duff
on the woodpile

autumn light -
dead jasmine branches
on the brush pile

3 October 2009

Friday, August 3, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxii

autumn chill
her long fingernails drum
with the rain

29 September 2009

gust front --
wet wool clothes huddle
on the drying racks

22 November 2009

crisp morning --
turning leaves in the depths
of the cow's eyes

25 September 2009

Thursday, August 2, 2012

haiku retrospective cdxi

The daily haiku exercise, with a twist:

arms akimbo --
a row of dumb bells
under the couch

arms akimbo --
the pan of tomato soup steaming
on the stove

arms akimbo --
a new jazz tune
on the radio

arms akimbo --
cracked glass
in the terrarium

arms akimbo --
booty moves
across the dance floor

arms akimbo --
a glass of water
on the sideboard

arms akimbo --
wet maple leaves
on the driveway

arms akimbo --
the steady ticking
of the bird clock

arms akimbo --
stars wink into view
in the evening sky

arms akimbo --
her newest baby looks at me
like I'm from mars

14 September 2009

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

haiku retrospective cdx

fall check-up --
she searches for ducks' feet
among the knotholes

14 September 2009

blue skies --
a raspberry seed caught
in my molar

16 September 2009

autumn chill
a faint rainbow
in the shower

21 September 2009