From Haiku Friends, Volume 3

The following are my poems and a short prose contribution first published in Haiku Friends, Volume 3, edited by Masaharu Hirata, Osaka, Japan: Umeda Print 819, 2009, pages 86 to 91. This selection features all but three poems in a sequence titled “Into a Roiling Sea,” those three omitted poems having been published separately in Modern Haiku. See also “Haiku Friends, Volume 2.”       +

a long stop light—
the air so clear
the day of the funeral

                harpsichord music—
                my awkward smile on meeting
                a distant cousin

at the singing
of the Lord’s Prayer,
her shoulders shudder

                during the eulogy,
                something I never knew
                about great-grandmother

receiving line—
when I greet the widower
my voice cracks

                leaving the room:
                the casket to be opened
                for the granddaughter

the car ahead
in the funeral procession,
an Acura Vigor

                pallbearers pause
                dust motes
                slowly falling

at the graveside
the moment uncle hesitates
with his rose

                after the burial
                thud of an acorn
                on the limo roof

sheer sky—
the sun sets
into a roiling sea

In Empire of Sings, Roland Barthes wrote that “haiku has this rather fantasmagorical property: that we always suppose we ourselves can write such things easily.” That’s the paradox of haiku—it looks easy, yet it can also be devilishly difficult. It can be easy to write about a personal experience with clear and immediate imagery. It can be easy to include a seasonal word, and to have two juxtaposed parts that create energy in the gap left between them. Bashō said, to write haiku, get a three-foot child. Yet how difficult it still remains to write haiku well. I’m grateful for every haiku that comes to me—a holy gift, an intimate record of the entire universe.