You Can’t Be Serious

First published in the “Briefly Reviewed” section of Frogpond 39:3, Autumn 2016, page 122.

You Can’t Be Serious by Ronald Wallace (2015, Parallel Press, Madison, Wisconsin). 48 pages, 6×9˝, saddle-stapled. ISBN 978-1-934795-73-6. $10.00 from Parallel Press.

This is a book of sonnets, not haiku, but what may well interest haiku poets is the fact that the last word of each line is quoted from translations of famous Japanese haiku. So if you read the last words of each poem’s fourteen lines in order, vertically, you discover haiku such as this one by Issa: “don’t sing, you rowdy insects / the world will get better / in its own time.” The translations look to be by Sam Hamill, Robert Hass, and Jane Reichhold. Quoted poets (Bashō, Buson, and Issa, plus two by Sogi) are indicated after the title of each of this book’s 36 finely crafted modern (and unrhyming) sonnets.

Two example poems are “Bellweather” and “Song of Myself.”