Poetry Niche – July 2022

HAIKU

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.

like releasing

the hand of one’s partner

Spring departs

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.

SENRYU

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.


Common Scents

by Steve Hluchan

Artists to Nature

great odes do compose,

like Beethoven’s 6th,

everyone knows.

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

resign authorship.

When a bell calls, awaking –

Its the timer for baking,

the aroma of cookie,

time to play hooky!


Dental Intermissions

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

The wonder

no longer passes through here

the absentee landlords

of your uniqueness

disembark

assemble your wives and children

into cadres of convenience 

satisfied

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

ripped apart

¿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

half shells

neatly spread on a bed

of economic promise


Inventory

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?


July 2022 Issue

El Ojo del Lago – Home Page

For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com

Mel Goldberg
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