Friday, September 28, 2012

Poem on Red Dragonfly

What a nice surprise -- Melissa Allen included a haiku from No more moon poems the other day over on her haiku blog, Red Dragonfly.

It's a beautiful site, well worth a follow.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Update: South x Southeast haiku journal

For those of you who are also interested in the haiku journal South by Southeast, please take a moment to read my recent post over there regarding some editorial changes we're undergoing:

Exciting -- albeit extremely busy -- times!

Friday, September 7, 2012


A variation on the last post:



looking for heaven

Friday, August 17, 2012


looking for paradise --
cicada husk

Friday, August 10, 2012

evening heat

evening heat
tree frog chant
trickles down my neck

Thursday, August 9, 2012

even from the radio

even from the radio
the loons' cries...

Monday, August 6, 2012


dragonfly in the sun
cocks her wings

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sunday morning

Sunday morning --
the skink's blue tail
never still

Sunday, July 29, 2012

newly planted

newly planted
our banana tree

Friday, July 20, 2012

after Communion

after Communion
he kneels, fumbles
to check his phone

Thursday, July 19, 2012

in the shade

in the giant agave's shade
            a ring
    of younger agaves

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

closing her eyes

closing her eyes
my wife
catches her first wave

Monday, May 28, 2012

a haiku from Muriel Rukeyser

The sea
comes toward me
               across the sea

 [excised from Muriel Rukeyser's "The Outer Banks", discovered in the North Carolina Literary Review, issue no.14 (2005)]

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Don Wentworth on R.H. Blyth

Don Wentworth -- editor of the Lilliput Review and Issa's Untidy Hut haiku blog -- recently posted a brilliant riff on R.H. Blyth. It begins:

"Sometimes, it seems that R. H. Blyth is to modern American haiku as Sigmund Freud is to modern psychology: a bit of a dotty old granddad, overdressed in a woolen suit on a hot, humid day, crumbs of this and that all down his front, with a glint in his eye of philosophical shenanigans none too pleasing to the parents in attendance.

Of course, all the grand kids are jumping up and down in his lap like there's no tomorrow."

Hmm -- taken out of the context of the full essay that sounds more negative than it should (funny and accurate as it is). The piece turns into more of an appreciation as it goes on, though.

For the full post, check out

Friday, March 30, 2012

On a different note: Discovering William T. Vollmann

Although I've been aware of his name for years, I'm just now starting to read and discover the work of William T. Vollmann. The first thing I read was his book about hopping freight trains, Riding Toward Everywhere, and I'm hooked. That book is full of close observation that will make any haiku poet smile, and portrays a gritty, wandering world that Basho and Issa would surely recognize.

Here are a couple of favorite short passages:

Now from the blackness I began to see other stars, right over that foot-high strip of steel that reminded me not to fall into Anywhere. I sent my hand an inch over the edge and touched cold wind. I touched darkness. And beside me there came more and ever more stars, brighter and whiter and clearer than I had seen in a long time. Indeed, I had forgotten the stars, as I so often will on those other nights of my life. No matter what I have accomplished and whom I have loved, how much I have lost by missing the stars for so many of my nights! And now I am grey, and who knows when I will die, and never see the stars again? Who would I have been if I could have been alongside these stars always?

And, talking about the loneliness of riding freights, and the decline in the number of hobos on trains these days:

I had expected my travels to be picaresque, teeming with wise, bizarre or menacing outlaw characters. At the very least, I had imagined that without really trying I would meet dozens of people of Pittsburgh Ed's sterling caliber. In fact my various odysses were haunted by absence, with only here and there a few lost voices... singing about the way things used to be back then, as if they were crickets who had inexplicably outlived their summer.

Man, I love that last line. I highly recommend that book, and now have moved on to a collection of essays, Expelled from Eden -- also excellent so far.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

in mid-air

in mid-air
the inchworm

through the open window
the choir's
and ascend

Monday, March 5, 2012

Haiku and photography VI

At work in the art library today, I came across this beautiful book of photographs: Naksan by Korean photographer Boomoon. It's a series of black-and-white photos of a storm-swept beachbreak. I think that they first appealed to me because the ocean they show looks very familiar -- not the perfect, air-brushed waves of a surf magazine or the raging, dramatic seas of shipwreck drama. Just the kind of normal, sloppy, unremitting ocean that any beach bum or surfer has watched for hours and hours on end, waiting for the prettier days to come.

That made the photos appeal to me in a haiku-aesthetic kind of way, in the way that they chronicled a sequence of regular moments and were not conventionally beautiful or overtly dramatic. The book ends with an essay by Shino Kuraishi (about whom I know nothing, unfortunately). The essay begins:

"Long ago, there was a term in Zen Buddhism, genjô, which has been translated as "actualization" or "realization." It refers to things manifesting themselves before our eyes as they are, appearing in a raw, unprocessed form. By all rights, the photographic apparatus was well suited to reproducing this ultimate ideal, the unadorned, unvarnished manifestation of things. But photography has produced no more than a mere semblance or pseudo-actualization, and all too often has degenerated into the realm of fiction where the "thing as it is" becomes "something it is not," providing ample evidence of repeated disgrace."

The opening of this quote speaks directly to the way that haiku and photography have often seemed like beautiful partners to me. As the quote continues, though, it also unintentionally points out a limitation that can plague haiku practice if taken too strictly -- a prejudice against presenting anything other than the 'thing as it is.' While such haiku can be the most sublime examples of the form, not every one has to be a somber sermon. Some imagination, some humor, some adornment are necessary to liven things up, to keep us fresh enough to appreciate the more subtle, serious moments that otherwise might become monotonous. And besides, sometimes the thing-as-it-is IS imaginative, deceptive, varnished, adorned, etc., and there's no disgrace in that...

In any case, this is a beautifully produced book put out in 2010 by Nazraeli Press. I'm looking forward to seeking out more of Boomoon's work.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

spinach seed

spinach seed
in the cool, wet soil,
the pink, pulsing earthworm

Friday, March 2, 2012

"in our bodies now" featured on The The poetry blog

Really pleased to announce that The The poetry blog has featured my haiku sequence "in our bodies now" as their poem of the week for this week.

Thanks to wünderpoet/friend Colie Hoffman for introducing me to The The, and for inviting me on. I'm honored to share space with the steady stream of excellent poets and poeticizers they publish there.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Haiku artist's book

Last fall I used haiku from No more moon poems to create a one-of-a-kind artist's book. To learn more and to see more photos, check out my new post on the blue bluer books blog:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

the rock wall

the rock wall
like a running wolf

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Alan Watts on haiku

Don Wentworth over at Issa's Untidy Hut recently shared this, and I had to pass it along, too. A lecture by Alan Watts about haiku (and zen):!

I'm still only 15 minutes into it myself, but it's outstanding. (It's 43 minutes total...) Enjoy!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


each painful as the sun
slightly empty

(today's haiku composed of lines chosen at random from poems by Frank O'Hara. Selected from In Memory of My Feelings.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

at the diner

Inspiration these days has been coming more from Frank O'Hara and visual artists than in haiku form, so a little sketch today. This one is inspired by a Jasper Johns print in the wonderful book In Memory of My Feelings (New York: MoMA, 2005)

at the diner
in a booth,
mint green,
the painters'

in the shallow bowl
of the spoon
just a smudge
of black

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

above the fishing hole

above the fishing hole
two bobbers bob
in winter branches

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

in the half-tone

in the half-tone
between my voice
and the high note
it's straining to hit


Thursday, February 2, 2012

What falls out

What falls out
of the Pop Art book?

An index card,
but bigger than usual.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Feb. 1

In a recent book review over on his blog Another Lost Shark, Australian poet Graham Nunn made the comment that he has "had a real 'haiku-headspace' of late." I imagine haiku poets reading that will have an idea of what he means -- and I wish I could say the same for myself recently. For months this blog kept me in that headspace as I stuck to the daily routine of posting. A missed post here and there broke the routine, though, which turned into more frequent missed posts and finally a month-long (or so) absence. With the routine broken, so has the spell been.

The 'haiku-headspace' does often feel to me like a kind of spell or enchantment. While you're in it, the things of the outside world are imbued with an extra significance that inspires a need to describe them, to capture them as best you can in words -- plain words, but words that hopefully glow in the same way that the plain things that inspired them do.

So I'll be working my way back into it, getting back into the routine of daily posts. Not always haiku but other short poems, too, and simple observations/experiments. We'll see what comes about.

First, some words in honor of haiku writer's block...:

smell of gasoline
or a solvent
some chemical
I don't know

raucous chorus of hundreds
robins chickadees sparrows wrens and others

soft fur already
of star magnolia buds
not recognizing
warm January

and the words that fail
to touch
any of it

Sunday, January 15, 2012