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, with an online launch reading on 21 August 2020 (photo below). 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.


Jess Henderson introduces my poem in front of fiber art by Mary Ann Tollefson created for my poem, exhibited in 2020 at the BARN Gallery, Bainbridge Island, Washington.