Wednesday, August 24, 2011

in the dry leaves

Before I stocked up on pocket-sized notebooks, I used to fold sheets of paper down into quarters and write on those. They fit perfectly into a pants pocket and weren't as stiff as a full notebook. So now there are stacks of them around the house, all covered with scribbled ideas for poems, or the titles of books to check out from the library, or just snippets of conversation overheard on the bus.

This evening when I went looking for a haiku to post here, I grabbed a rubber-banded stack of those old sheets. They turned out to be from a couple of years ago when we were living in a house in the woods of north Chatham County. It was as rustic a place as either of us had ever lived -- a mile-long unpaved road to get there, heated only by a woodstove in winter... and truly beautiful. Living there for three years was a treat.

When we moved into the house I thought it would be a non-stop source of haiku moments, but in the end I probably wrote the same amount there as I did anywhere. I guess it's more in the attention you pay and the time you commit to it, rather than the idyllic setting. Still, the haiku I DID write while we were there can take me right back in an instant.

The one I picked for today reminded me of how even the most mundane things there seemed wilder and more remarkable:

big as a deer
in the dry leaves

The more I roll that one around on my tongue, though, the blander it tastes.

Sometimes bland is good for a haiku -- you read it, wonder why someone would pay enough attention to such a thing to write a poem about it, and you end up sharing a greater appreciation for something ordinary for a moment.

But sometimes it's just bland. I'm not going to judge this haiku one way or another, but it did make me want to add some zing to it:

something in the dark
rattles the dry leaves
big as a wolf


in the dark
dry leaves rattle
big as a wolf


  1. Hey Josh,
    Found you via 365 & I've been enjoying browsing your poems.

    This one is intriguing-- much stronger with the new last line, but I miss the squirrel! For me that's part of the pleasing contrast/surprise.

    Also I like that you found this poem in the "dry leaves" of your pocket papers.

  2. Hi Leah -- thanks for browsing, and for your input. You're right about missing the squirrel -- that contrast is missing in the later versions. I'll keep toying with it (none of my haiku are every really finished...)

    Glad you stopped by. I popped over to your blogs & enjoyed them a lot. I'm a sucker for bestiaries and alphabet art, so your work is right up my alley.

    Take care.

  3. Thanks, Josh... I know what you mean about nothing ever being finished. That's one of the reasons I did the (almost)365 project, so that I had to post things whether I was satisfied or not. Otherwise I could tweak until the day after I die. %\