the beginning

In 2006 I started researching and writing contemporary English language haiku writing. I had a vague notion of what haiku was but it was anchored to my understanding of the Japanese tradition and the misconception of syllable counting.

The intervening years have expanded my knowledge and practice and I must thank the international online haiku community for the opportunity to learn from some of the most inspiring creative and critical practitioners.

The work of the following three haiku writers particularly astonished me and inspired me to persevere, to attempt to create my own haiku with economy, subtle suggestion and illumination.

still life:
the pear’s
pitted skin

finally getting
the why of loneliness —
bright sun on ice

snowy night
sometimes you can’t be
quiet enough

Since then my own haiku have appeared in international journals and anthologies and my haibun collection, forgiving the rain, was published by Snapshot Press in December 2012. Here are two haibun from the collection.

Wherever We Go, There We Are

moonlight the shadow of a tree masks the crack in the path

It is 3am on Florida’s Atlantic coast. Already 9am in France. My body says it’s time to start the day yet the darkness outside says, ‘middle of the night, go back to bed’.

Recently, there has been too much impatience between us. Kinks and ruts in the road we cannot avoid or fill, that see us blaming each other. Even the smallest roads since we arrived: filling in our immigration forms, a luggage trolley, the small trunk in the rental car.

Things in their right place at the right time. This is what I try to do too often. Like pinning butterflies to boards.

The clock is too loud. It keeps time too stringently and that is what we need to be away from: days marked by so many jobs to be done, what must be completed in the hours between waking and falling asleep.

Then I hear it. A background hum, a soft engine shifting gears. A sound present at the moment I was born: the sea.

high tide in a dream you write the word ‘reef’

For a week our roles have been reversed. I have been looking after them, checking they’ve slept well, making sure they eat enough. And they have allowed me to be the one who cares, the one in control. ‘Where does this go?’ my mother asks, standing in the middle of my kitchen with a white dish and a tea towel in her hand. ‘I had some orange juice,’ my dad says one morning before going to buy his English paper at the Bar Tabac on the corner. ‘Be careful crossing the road,’ I call after him. When I kiss them goodnight they feel breakable, in need of protection. I pull the shutters in their bedroom closed.

And now at the airport I can hardly bear to watch them moving away from me. I wave one last time as they pass through security at the Departure Gate, so small now I could pick them up between my thumb and finger and slip them in my pocket.

sunlit garden
when did my father grow
an old man’s neck?