Windshield Wipers

The following poem first appeared in Geppo XLIII:2, February–April 2018, page 5, and was selected for commentary in the following issue, XLIII:3, May–July 2018, page 14. The poem was also selected by readers as one of the top poems in the previous issue and republished in the May–July 2018 issue on page 9.

                endless autumn rain—

                even the windshield wipers

                seem tired

Yes, a long drive in an unrelenting rain storm can be exhausting. So exhausting that even inanimate objects begin to seem woebegone.

—Patricia J. Machmiller

On my first read, “endless autumn rain” seemed wordy with two adjectives modifying rain, but when juxtaposed with the second two lines, I loved this line on my second read. I tend to prefer a minimal use of adjectives in haiku, and having two in a row can seem a bit much, yet in this case, having that extra adjective in the first line seems to heighten the feeling of being tired. I think it works wonderfully as written and wouldn’t drop a word. It isn’t just autumn rain hitting that windshield, it is endless autumn rain, so much so that we can imagine that the wiper blades are tired, too.

—Deborah P Kolodji

The haiku makes me picture the windshield wipers moving lazily as the driver waits for the traffic signal to change. Autumn rain cools down both the air and our mind, as it changes the colors of the leaves. “Endless” and “even” are emphasizing the author’s feelings; however, I think this poem works without those two words.

—Emiko Miyashita

My Response

I extend my gratitude to each commentator for their thoughts on my poem. I do believe “endless” is necessary for the poem, for the reasons Debbie points out. I also think “even” is essential, for the very fact that it shifts emphasis, as Emiko mentions, onto the author’s feelings. This is why I believe these two words should be kept in, not removed, because my emphasis here is on the perception of tiredness. The word “seem” helps to convey that perception, but “even” cements it. I also believe the poem would lack a pleasing rhythm if “endless” and “even” were to be removed. I acknowledge, of course, that we all have different preferences in how we write our haiku.

—Michael Dylan Welch