Finding Our Way

First published in Frogpond 44:2, Spring/Summer 2021, pages 58–59. Prose originally written in April of 2021. The poem was previously published elsewhere (see the postscript at the end).

I first joined the Haiku Society of America in late 1987 or 1988. In early 1989 I moved from Southern California to the San Francisco area, and wondered if there might be a haiku group nearby. I remember writing all the way to New York, to Doris Heitmeyer, the HSA secretary, to ask. Yes, she said, the Haiku Poets of Northern California had just formed in February of that year. I had missed the first two meetings, even though I lived nearby, but attended my first meeting in the summer of 1989, in Golden Gate Park, after Doris had put me in touch with vincent tripi and he gave me the meeting details. That was the day I first met vince, and Garry Gay, and Paul O. Williams, and many others in the group. I’ll never forget how vincent welcomed me at the first meeting, despite a troupe of drummers across the meadow occasionally making it hard to hear. He recited a poem of mine to me that had just won an honourable mention in Linda Valentine’s Haiku Quarterly journal. That was my first taste of how small and close-knit the haiku community is, and it was my pleasure, less than six months later, to publish vince’s interview with Anita Virgil, On My Mind, which turned out to be the very first book from my new press, Press Here. I published a second interview he did, Raking Sand, with Virginia Brady Young, in 1993, and in between those two books we edited Woodnotes together. I remember many long visits sitting in his kitchen in the Inner Richmond district, and visiting Toy Boat Café nearby, where we once wrote a rengay called “Christmas in the City” with Nika (Jim Force) visiting from Alberta. Vince taught me a lot about editing, to see the heart of the poem, the heart of the poet. And here we are, thirty years later, the circle larger and larger, but also slightly smaller, still being touched by the heart of the poet.

                          the silence between us

                a quail finds its way

                     through the underbrush

                                for vincent tripi

                                9 June 1941 – 17 August 2020

                                (poem originally written for vince in July of 1999)


The preceding poem originally appeared by itself in Modern Haiku 32:1, Winter–Spring 2001, page 18, and was solicited for The Loose Thread, the Red Moon Anthology collecting the best poems published in 2001 (Winchester, Virginia: Red Moon Press, 2002, page 71). It then appeared in the following Serbo-Croatian translation in the journal Haiku Moment #5–6, March 2002 (?), page 38, in a review of The Loose Thread (translator unspecified):

                tišna između nas

                prepelica nalazi put

                kroz žbunje

Alexis Agliano Sanborn also requested the poem for her “Season by Season” podcast, and she shared the poem through the podcast in September 2020 (listen to the “White Dew” episode).