Memorial Haiku

The following are selected memorial haiku (and the occasional tanka) I’ve written for poets who have died, arranged in reverse chronological order (most recent poem first). Two of these poems (for Kaji Aso and the first poem for anne mckay) were also Per Diem featured poems on the Haiku Foundation website in May 2014. Please also see the “Memorial Haibun” section of the Haibun page for longer tributes to these and other haiku poets.

“The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.” —Thornton Wilder

tulips rising—

the last of the firewood

almost out

For Carol Purington

(died 8 December 2020)

trees still hung with moss

she moves into

the sound’s silence

For Winona Baker

(died 23 October 2020)

a meadowlarks call

amid a flurry of leaves . . .

the woodpath turns

the silence between us

a quail finds its way

through the underbrush

For vincent tripi

(died 17 August 2020; first poem originally written for vince in 1991 when he stopped coediting Woodnotes with me, the second in July of 1999 when he moved away from San Francisco)

last of the sunset . . .

fewer scratches

in the chicken yard

For Marian Olson

(died 17 August 2018)

where has he gone . . .

his cat’s tail

forms a question mark

For Carlos Colón +

(died 30 October 2016)

news of her death . . .

this year’s falling leaves

a little more lonely

For Jane Reichhold

(died July 2016)

daffodils in bloom—

the mint in my mouth

still not done

For Gary Barnes (Soji) + +

(died 12 March 2016)

Eric Amann’s name

sinking deeper and deeper

into the red leaves

For Eric Amann +

(died March 2016)

total eclipse—

our shadows curve

and then disappear

For Kat Creighton +

(died 15 January 2014)

spring woods . . .

a distant voice

falls silent

For Hortensia Anderson

(died 21 May 2012)

autumn haiku meeting—

all of us smile at the poem she says

isn’t any good

For Jay Gelzer +

(died 29 December 2012)

rain again . . .

the moon brightens

the cloud’s other side

For Helen Russell +

(died 10 January 2011, age 101)

day lilies—

her last letter

still unopened

For Peggy Willis Lyles

(died 3 September 2010)

gone from the woods

the bird I knew

by sight and song

For Paul O. Williams + +

(died 2 June 2009)

spring’s deepening green—

beside the silent heron

our long shadows touch

For Robert Major +

(died 18 May 2008)

winter sky—

her palette still

with all the colours

For Francine Porad +

(died 27 September 2006)

blue September sky—

the wordless things

we want to know

For Francine Porad +

(died 27 September 2006)

after the brushstroke,

his head stays tilted

to a sun-dappled sumi-e

For Kaji Aso

(died 11 March 2006)

fog . . .

just the tree

at the bus stop

For Jerry Kilbride

(died 3 November 2005)

the beach is wide—

to honour his passing

I write a line of his poetry

in the sand

close to the waves

For Robert Creeley

(died 30 March 2005)

her last breath—

the strings vibrating

on her dusty harp

For Elizabeth Searle Lamb

(died 15 February 2005)

Iraqi sunset—

a sand dune begins to build

around his bootprint

For Navy Lt. Kylan Jones-Huffman +

(died 21 August 2003, in Iraq)

for her this spring

the greengoing woods

still greening


the smell of cigarettes

still in her book

For anne mckay

(died 4 March 2003)

Asilomar dunes—

she rests her hand

against the tree she planted

For Kiyoko Tokutomi +

(died 25 December 2002)

a wrenching in my chest—

the white peony

pulled from the garden

For Keiko Imaoka +

(died April 2002)

words do not come

for you

on your passing

till the first warm day

the blossoming plum

For Pat Shelley

(died 28 December 1996)

scattered ashes . . .

how still each reed

and its shadow

For John Wills

(died 24 September 1993)