Haiga with Gary LeBel

The following haiga feature poems by Michael Dylan Welch and artwork by Gary LeBel. Our process was that Gary either created new artwork for poems I provided to him, or I wrote new poems for artwork he provided to me. In some cases I wrote several poems for a single piece of artwork, and he selected one that he thought worked best with the art, and then combined it with the artwork using calligraphy, collage, typesetting, and other techniques. Three of these fifteen haiga use what is called “running hand” calligraphy, where letters elide into each other, usually vertically. Because such calligraphy can be a challenge to read, in those cases the poem is repeated in text below the image. Most of these haiga were featured in the 2007 issue of the journal Reeds: Contemporary Haiga, edited by Jeanne Emrich. The “first star” haiga was also printed in an edition of 250 copies for a Haiku Canada holograph anthology in 2007 titled Blossoming: 30th Anniversary Members Anthology. My thanks to Gary for his exquisite work.

The poems appear by themselves at the end.

all that’s left

of the old logging road—

the sparrow’s song

all the times

we never sat to talk . . .

the drifting leaves

first star . . .

a seashell held

to my baby’s ear

Indian summer—


the smell of rain


over the tulip bulbs

the curve of the earth

meteor shower . . .

a gentle wave

wets our sandals +

muted sunlight—

the constellation of barnacles

on the whale’s belly

news of his chemo—

the meandering path

back from the outhouse

objects in mirror

are closer than they appear—

your hand on my thigh

returning boats . . .

the path of the pelican

from beach to pier

silver in your hair—

you open a drawer

for your favourite knife

“Something’s already

come between us,”

you whisper.

“Yes,” I reply,

“our clothes.”

summer heat—

two squirrels

meet on a wire

tarnished silver—

the only guest

eats in silence +

a letter home—

still that smell

of cigarettes

the path from the cabin

overgrown with brambles—

once we were lovers

the smell of breakfast

today’s paper

warm from the porch

somewhere in the past

a lightning strike

to its heartwood