Clear as a Bell

In a 2019 Sewanee Review essay, Mary Ruefle said that “No poetic form embodies the bell so much as the haiku. The haiku is the most bell-like thing in language I know. Haiku simply strike the present passing moment, stilling it in such a way that we pay attention.” The following bell poems, except the last two, appeared in my essay, “Ringing the Bell: Learning Haiku from Mary Ruefle.”

a chime of bells

across the snowy field—

the horses breath

Frogpond 18:4, Winter 1995

cathedral bells . . .

the chestnut vendors

steaming cart

Shiki Internet Haiku Contest, 1997 Runner-Up; Sand Hill Review Vol. IV, Spring 2003

ringing church bell—

moonlight dimmed

by a gentle snowfall

Geppo XXIX:5, September–October 2004

distant dinner bell—

one more time

through the labyrinth

Matrix #107, Fall 2017

temple blossoms . . .

the deep tones

of wind bells

Brussels Sprout 10:3, September 1993

noon rain


church bells

Cicada VI:3 (#20), July 1994

dinner bell—

her husband comes

as fast as the cat

Ёrshik: Journal of Senryu and Kyoka, July 2013

distant church bells . . .

a sparrows breath

lost in the holly berries

Frogpond 20:3, December 1997

temple bell

the haijin’s tweed coat

sprinkled with pine needles

Modern Haiku XXI:3, Autumn 1990 +

the old rope

smooth in my hand—

new year’s bell fading

Clover: A Literary Rag #9, June 2015