First Day of the Year

The following poem first appeared in Geppo XLII:4, August–October 2017, page ???, and was selected for commentary in the following issue, XLIII:1, November 2017–January 2018, page 11.

        first day of the year—
        traffic lights changing
        at an empty intersection

Reading this haiku, I feel a strange combination of joy and loneliness. To think of the colorful lights at an intersection changing on New Year’s Day is such a happy thought. The intersection is empty; no one is there to see-such a lonely image! What can I say—I want to laugh and cry at the same time.
—Patricia J. Machmiller

The first day of the year is a holiday, but only for humans. The machines are working as usual. On the day before, people go and come, cross and make turns in both directions making it a busy place, but the same intersection now is empty and quiet just like a New Year’s Day should be. It is the time when humans are at home busy celebrating the holiday with their family and friends.
— Emiko Miyashita

I love New Year’s haiku, and this one captures both the literal scene and the significance of the season in one detail. That first day is not the usual hustle-bustle. The old year gets a big send-off, but the new year often begins quietly (perhaps inversely proportional to the amount of fanfare the night before).
—Beverly Momoi