A haiku is a short poem that uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience of nature intuitively linked to the human condition. The term haiku is credited to Japanese poet and literary critic Masaoka Shiki, who lived in the late Meiji period (late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries). Most haiku in English consist of three unrhymed lines of seventeen or fewer syllables. In Japanese a typical haiku has seventeen on (sounds) arranged five, seven, and five. Traditional Japanese haiku include a kigo, a word or phrase that helps identify the season and a kireji, a sort of spoken punctuation that gives emphasis to one part of the poem. One common technique is juxtaposing two images or ideas (Japanese rensô). Most haiku have no titles, and metaphors and similes are commonly avoided.
Here is an example by Yuko Shimizu from his 2021 publication, Sotogawa no Watashi (My External Self), 2021.
the hand of one’s partner
The implication is that these hands are those of two lovers, though it is also possible to interpret them as the hands of a mother and child. We see and feel those hands letting go. Only with the next phrase do we realize that the poem is not about the hands. This technique of beginning a haiku with one image and then pivoting and turning that image into another is a common technique. When spring finally leaves and summer replaces it, we know that it is inevitable so are able to let go. There is a feeling of pathos in this haiku as we superimpose such feelings towards spring onto the relationship between the two hand holders.
A senryu is a poem, structurally similar to haiku, that highlights the foibles of human nature, usually in a humorous or satiric way. . The senryu was named for Karai Senryū, a poet who lived from 1718 to 1790, during the Edo period. Many so-called “haiku” in English are really senryu.
I am told I look young
That is how I know
I am not young anymore
To sum up, haiku describes natural nature, and senryu describes human nature.
by Steve Hluchan
Artists to Nature
great odes do compose,
like Beethoven’s 6th,
I go to the kitchen
look out at the trees
I open the window
hear birds, feel the breeze.
I sit myself down
At my worn writing desk,
sharpen chewed yellow pencils,
shred these reams so grotesque.
I’m spent to the scrawl.
for that immortal phrase.
I’ve slowed to a crawl
in a Minotaur’s maze.
I break out of this maze,
the immortality phase
from pie-in-the -sky I
When a bell calls, awaking –
Its the timer for baking,
the aroma of cookie,
time to play hooky!
by Judy Dykstra-Brown
There’s nothing quite so fundamental
when it comes to matters dental
as the fact that teeth gone missing
mar the esthetics of kissing.
It’s doubtful that a dental gap
would land a lass upon the lap
of any lad whose reminiscing
will be done with s’s hissing.
Potential lovers tend to hate
suitors of the toothless state.
Better they should duplicate
those teeth that happened to vacate
those facial places deep inside
the mouths wherein they should reside.
Teeth should be natives of the jaws
that reside within the maws
of suitors that might deign to woo—
to hug and kiss and bill and coo.
In short, what lass does less than censure
a suitor who forgets his denture?
zigzagged stanzas suggest missing teeth
Friends And Flowers
by Joaquin A. Hawkins
A withered bloom, a fallen petal, a bye-gone
delight of luminous color, once brightly shone
under Southern skies, radiant ‘neath the
warming comfort of the sun’s rays.
Now its glory is dimmed by time, as seasons
come, fade away, thus beckoning the chill of
winter’s night, ‘til Spring ushers in
a dawning new day.
Yet, I recall the infant beauty of said flower,
in its youth, how it blossomed in full maturity
to dazzle the eye and nose of all, with
its splendor and fragrant prime.
Memories linger long of such wonder, yearning
to see life’s cycle renew, but frigid winds
and blankets of snow lurk about, as
clock and calendar keep pace with Father Time.
I did my best, oh for sure, to raise and nurture
my bright little ones, free from
choking weeds and grasses, sparing them
from the ‘bugs’ of life.
Then my pendulum of thought swings to
recollections of how friends, past and present, how so
like they are to the fragile bloom, prone to
wilt asunder time’s varied knife.
Ah, too often we become careless, negligent, taking all
for granted, our prosperity looms all about, but then
the newness and zeal for long-labored joys drift away
thorns and thistles spring up, choke, abound.
We take for granted all we need is hard work to
obtain, not maintain, a most dreadful mistake ever
silence of hand and a closed mouth
Does not nurture anything sound.
A withered bloom, a mum friend, victims alike in time passing
similar indeed both are, each requiring
a master ‘gardener’s’ hand constant, a heart and
mind devoted to love’s task.
What a shame to replace nature’s beauty
with bouquets of papered sticks and too
come to realize similarly, friendships of yore
became oddly shaped, mysterious, papered masks.
From Que Pasó
by John Thomas Dodds
no longer passes through here
the absentee landlords
of your uniqueness
assemble your wives and children
into cadres of convenience
they return to their corporate havens
in the fat and familiar
It leaves one looking
for answers elsewhere
& elsewhere it is
I felt sorry for Paso Del Norte
the portal to the American Dream
for those who lover her
witnessed the foreshadowing
of dry wells
and a Rio of pain
between the heart
and soul of a desert flower
¿que pasó mi amiga
so much la señora
letting the Frocks and Gringos
spoil your sunshine
suck the nutrients
from your once proud breast
for centuries you watched
the rape of your children’s playground
your men passive, autocratic,
scavengers of the visitors waste
neatly spread on a bed
of economic promise
by John Hogan
And did you survive the nocturnal dark
the bleak encounters with old mistakes and losses
and shattered dreams in the drawn-out night?
Or did you step out before the night ended and watch the twinkling
blue paleness of Venus rise in the west?
Did you forsake another hour in bed and head off with your dog
to keep a dawn appointment in the park
to watch the trees identify themselves among the mists
and the roses arrange their colors from shades of gray
to yellow and red and redundant rose?
Did you escape the blaze of self-righteous reaction to morning news
and resist the weave of partisan rhetoric that erodes reason?
And did you remember to relish the solitary hour in the late afternoon
when the hummingbird returns to its nest?
And did you remember to neglect yourself for love of a child
or spend an hour with an aging parent with no regret?
Did you decorate your day with smiles?
Did you try not to make sense of the senseless in a world of reflections and glimmers and pettiness
but to love it all anyway, maybe even concede the possibility of deity
even though it was far from self-evident?
Did you discover how extraordinarily intelligent you are and
how incredibly stupid?
Did you accept that most of what you lost, or did not accomplish
because of carelessness, or miscalculation or even loving too much
was not loss at all but rather another path which opened to new landscapes?
Will you at the end promise yourself that no matter what it holds
(the real end I mean with its darkness and aloneness)
will you promise
in your essential solitude, with no one left to impress, to say:
“Thank you, Life,” as it melts away
like a rainbow fading after a summer storm
and you are here no more?
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