Tenement Landscapes

First published in Woodnotes #27, Winter 1995, page 50. Read the book in PDF form at the Haiku Foundation website.

Tenement Landscapes by Paul David Mena. A Small Garlic Press, 1995, 20 pages, paperback, 5½ by 8½ inches. $3.00 postpaid from A Small Garlic Press, 3030 West Fourth Apartment 27, Kennewick, Washington 99336 [address no longer correct]. This strongly city-fied book begins with an introduction by Dhugal Lindsay, an Australian haiku poet who lives and studies in Tokyo. Lindsay briefly describes the traditional and modern schools of haiku in Japan and also identifies his perception of the “American” school of haiku, of which he says Paul’s poems are among the “pearls.” I would say that many of them are more gritty than that, but pearls do start from grit and sand. The book shares 39 poems at three per page, outlining a day of New York haiku, from sunrise in Soho to a twin sunset reflecting in the World Trade Center towers. This inexpensive book is worth a look, but be prepared for grit among the pearls. Here are two of the book’s best poems:

in the taxicab

a goldfish

restless in his bowl

gentle sidewalk breeze

every time

the light turns green