How to Write a Haiku

by Naomi Beth Wakan

Details confuse me,

so when I see a rose,

although I do not know

its pedigree, I write down “rose.”

And when I cut it,

I do not know whether

I should cut it on a slant

or straight, or under water twice,

so I write down “cut.”

And when I put it in a vase,

I do not know whether it is raku

or glaze, or, perhaps good plastic,

so I write down “vase.”

and when I see two red leaves

on the earth beside the rose bush,

I do not know from which tree

they have fallen

so I write down “red leaves.”

And as I set the vase

and the leaves on the table,

I write down

rose just cut

beside the vase

two red leaves


And although I do not know

the details of what I have just done,

the sadness of it all

cracks my heart open.

This poem first appeared in Segues (Toronto: Wolsak and Wynn, 2005) and Sex After 70 and Other Poems (Toronto: Bevalia Press, 2010). Naomis words here should be required reading for all students of haiku. To learn more about Naomi and her many wonderful books, please visit her website. See also Terry Ann Carter’s “When I Write a Haiku.”