From How to Haiku / Writing Haiku

In 2002, three of my poems appeared in How to Haiku: A Writer’s Guide to Haiku and Related Forms by Bruce Ross (North Clarendon, Vermont: Tuttle). In 2022, these three poems also appeared in a reprint from the same publisher, with a new title of Writing Haiku: A Beginner’s Guide to Composing Japanese Poetry. Here are my three poems, with commentary by Bruce Ross (with page references to the 2022 edition), the third poem of which is part of a tan-renga, where my verse responds to a poem by Paul O. Williams.       +

a new face on TV—

the regular weatherman

under the weather


We all know the expression “to be under the weather,” which means to be sick. It is almost a cliche, an overused word or phrase. It probably originally meant that someone became ill because of bad weather. But by applying this phrase to someone who is an expert on the weather, the phrase comes alive in an amusing way. And we also might be amused because, unconsciously, we might wonder why someone who is an expert on the weather could be “under the weather.” [pages 54–55]



at his favorite deli

the bald man finds a hair

in his soup


The obvious incongruity of a bald man finding a hair in his soup naturally produces the humor in

[this] senryu. But we also might be amused by the fact that for once a diner in a restaurant can be absolutely sure that it is not his hair in the soup. [page 60]



morning sun—

all the patio tables

shining with new rain Paul O. Williams


church bells

church bells       Michael Dylan Welch


Notice how the first link here . . . resembles haiku. [It] could in fact be considered a more or less successful haiku. But a main point of linking poetry is to have the first link provide a strong base for the links that follow. . . . Notice how the connection in both links here is extremely optimistic if not ecstatic. The first link creates the image of a glorious day with all sorts of promise—the sun is shining and everything is glistening with fresh rain, as if, to stretch the imagery, newly baptized. The second link carries this mood into a more specific image of affirmation through purely sound imagery by repeating the phrase “church bells,” as if the actual bells are repeating their tone. Perhaps it is Sunday morning and the bells are calling people to worship. Perhaps someone is getting married and the bells are announcing this joyous event. Whatever the occasion, we feel the jubilant nature of both links. [pages 131–132]