How to Respond to a Haiku

First published in The Aurorean 22:1, Spring/Summer 2017, page 17. Also published in the Olympia Poetry Network Newsletter 27:9, March 2018, page 1. Also featured in the “Ars Poetica: Fiber Art and Poetry” exhibit, with a fiber-art interpretation by Mary Ann Tollefson, in August and September of 2020 at the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network (BARN), Bainbridge Island, Washington. Originally written in September of 2016. Listen to a recording of this poem at “Pictures of Poets.”       +

If it’s a classic by Bashō or Buson, you
nod your head a few times, slowly,
and say mmmmmmmmmm, just under your breath.
Bonus points if your eyes are closed.
My family does this to mock me
when I share one of my poems—
lovingly, I’m sure.
If it’s a haiku by Issa,
then you might chuckle,
unless it’s the poem about the roof of hell,
then the requisite nodding is in order,
with a dash of chin rubbing for good measure.