In Memory of William J. Higginson

The following poems by poet, scholar, and translator William J. Higginson are a selection of thousands of contributions that appeared in numerous books and journals over forty years. Bill was one of the charter members of the Haiku Society of America (formed in 1968). He was also honorary curator of the American Haiku Archives (2003–2004) and received many other awards during his lifetime. His chief books were The Haiku Handbook (1985), still the seminal book for anyone wishing to learn haiku poetry in English, and the companion books Haiku Seasons and Haiku World (both 1996), the definitive books in English on the concept of season words in haiku, a subject that was very important to Bill. He will be remembered not only for these and other books and his many essays and reviews in haiku periodicals over many decades, but also for his personal leadership and mentoring in the worldwide haiku community. Underlying all his many accomplishments in service of haiku and in service of others were his own poems. I offer these selections in the spirit of recognizing the multifaceted talents of my inspirational haiku friend and personal mentor, Bill Higginson. See also “This Perfect Rose: The Lasting Legacy of William J. Higginson” and the “Honoring William J. Higginson” section of “The Democracy of Haiku,” my introduction to Fire in the Treetops: Celebrating Twenty-Five Years of Haiku North America, which is dedicated to Bill. +

A wet night

garbage cans all full

but the far one 1969

The clock

chimes chimes and stops

but the river . . . 1969

Holding the water

held by it—

the dark mud. 1970


atop the rock

the rising tide 1971

evening star

almost within

the moon’s half curve 1971

this spring rain

the thief too

curses his job 1972

grey dawn

ice on the seats

of the rowboat 1982

the tick, tick

of snow on the reeds . . .

sparrow tracks 1989

New Year’s Eve . . .

thieves have left my car open

in the falling snow 1994

commercial break—

the cat and I

head for the kitchen 1999

the fence post

hangs upright in the washout—

mid-summer heat 1999

going over a bump

the car ahead

going over a bump 1999

the old cat

hesitates on the doorsill—

a falling leaf 2001

summer storm . . .

a shopping cart rolls past

the end of the lot 2002

winter twilight

only a few old bakers

in the potato bin 2004

crescent moon

would I look at the clouds

without it? 2004

Books and Writing

I look up

from writing

to daylight. 1970

writing again

the tea water

boiled dry 1986

reading renku—

every stanza links with

the midwinter cricket 1991

thankful for

the books just received . . .

snow piling up 1997

musty smell

forgotten . . . deep

into the text 1997

spring rain

rereading my own book

I fall asleep 2005


Christmas concert

I sit in the seat of my

hospitalized friend 1993

misty rain—

dry pavement under

the ambulance 2004

fireworks crashing

and fireflies so silent . . .

tomorrow the biopsy 2005

one maple leaf . . .

end over end on the sand

without a trace 2004