From Haiku Friends, Volume 3

The following are my poems and a short prose contribution first published in Haiku Friends, Volume 3, edited by Masaharu Hirata, Osaka, Japan: Umeda Print 819, 2009, pages 86 to 91. This selection features all but three poems in a sequence titled “Into a Roiling Sea,” those three omitted poems having been published separately in Modern Haiku. See also “Haiku Friends, Volume 2.” I was not included in the first volume. +

a long stop light—

the air so clear

the day of the funeral

harpsichord music—

my awkward smile on meeting

a distant cousin

at the singing

of the Lord’s Prayer,

her shoulders shudder

during the eulogy,

something I never knew

about great-grandmother

receiving line—

when I greet the widower

my voice cracks

leaving the room:

the casket to be opened

for the granddaughter

the car ahead

in the funeral procession,

an Acura Vigor

pallbearers pause

dust motes

slowly falling

at the graveside

the moment uncle hesitates

with his rose

after the burial

thud of an acorn

on the limo roof

sheer sky—

the sun sets

into a roiling sea

In Empire of Sings, Roland Barthes wrote that “haiku has this rather fantasmagorical property: that we always suppose we ourselves can write such things easily.” That’s the paradox of haiku—it looks easy, yet it can also be devilishly difficult. It can be easy to write about a personal experience with clear and immediate imagery. It can be easy to include a seasonal word, and to have two juxtaposed parts that create energy in the gap left between them. Bashō said, to write haiku, get a three-foot child. Yet how difficult it still remains to write haiku well. I’m grateful for every haiku that comes to me—a holy gift, an intimate record of the entire universe.