Too Busy for Spring

Michael Dylan Welch and Lee Gurga, editors. Lidia Rozmus, cover illustration.

Press Here, Foster City, California, 1999, 36 pages, 91 poets (one poem each), ISBN 1-878798-19-7.

The 1999 Haiku North America conference took place at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois (near Chicago). A quotation from the introduction: “One poem or another within this book’s pages will likely stop you with a spark of recognition. That’s how a good haiku works—it captures the essence of a particular moment in such a way that you see what the poet saw, and feel what the poet felt. In its steadfast focus on the particular, a haiku moves us by its clear report of suchness. We see the way sunlight glances off a watch crystal, and we are fascinated like a cat that tries to catch the light. In response to a successful haiku we laugh, we cry, we nod our heads. The best part is that the words don’t get in the way. In a good haiku we see what caused the poet’s emotional response, not the response itself. Thus we can have the same intuitive reaction ourselves.” See the Press Here page for this book. The following are twenty-eight sample poems, including two translations, from the book.

rain turning to snow—

the cat’s tail

flicks sharply

A. C. Missias

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

in the schoolyard

one of the saplings

has failed to bloom

Alan Pizzarelli

Bayonne, New Jersey

night drive

radio station fading

before the symphony’s end

Bruce Detrick

New York, New York

sure, I have my thoughts

about his body piercings,

but I bite my tongue

Charles Trumbull

Evanston, Illinois

playground at dusk . . .

back and forth on the swing

her made-up song

Dave Russo

Cary, North Carolina

wife still sleeping

back three flights of stairs

to check the toilet seat

Dee Evetts

New York, New York

the first cuckoo:

two long shadows picking

in mother’s garden

Emiko Miyashita

Miyamae-ku, Kawasaki, Japan

footprints on sand

the shape

of forgotten happiness

Fay Aoyagi

San Francisco, California

The weeds

I meant to pull

in full bloom

Garry Gay

Windsor, California

freezing rain

field mice rattle the dishes

buson’s koto

Gerald Vizenor

Oakland, California

ushibeya ni ka no koe kuraki zansho kana


in a cowshed

mosquitoes buzzing darkly—

lingering summer heat

Haruo Shirane, translator

New York, New York

The stillness now

Is gone

Where the heron stood.

Jack Cain

Toronto, Ontario

frozen fingers

draw out a dip stick—

the long night

Jeanne Emrich

Bloomington, Minnesota

autumn moon

one yellow leaf

free of it

Jeffrey Winke

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


stream’s grown

a tunnel

John Martone

Charleston, Illinois

nursing home survey:

for two out of five

it is spring

John Stevenson

Nassau, New York

beneath melting snow

trailing juniper . . .

and a red scarf

Joseph Kirschner

Evanston, Illinois

deep crack

of thunder in the rain—

my mother’s silence

Lenard D. Moore

Raleigh, North Carolina

pointed church tower

plunged into dark cloud—

first thunder

Lidia Rozmus

Vernon Hills, Illinois

Kareeda ni

karasu no tomarikeri

aki no kure


On a dead limb

squats a crow—

autumn night.

Lucien Stryk, translator

DeKalb, Illinois

summer solstice—

a rack full of hats

at the barbershop

Michael Dylan Welch

Foster City, California

through binoculars

the woman looking at me

through binoculars

Mykel Board

New York, New York

one in the sunlight

one in the shade

daisies on my lawn

Nick Avis

Corner Brook, Newfoundland

campus bench

in the pine tree’s shade . . .

an opened letter

Randy M. Brooks

Decatur, Illinois

nearly dusk

mist distilling

into drops

on tips of pines

Robert Spiess

Madison, Wisconsin

noonday sun

as if the first quart wasn’t enough

ripe strawberries

Sara Brant

Ann Arbor, Michigan

winter solstice—

the cat jumps at the sunlight

playing off my watch

S. R. Spanyer

Louisville, Kentucky

a junco works

the grass-seed stalk . . .

falling snow

William J. Higginson

Santa Fe, New Mexico