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). This poem should be required reading for all students of haiku. To learn more about Naomi and her many wonderful books, please visit her website.