Have Haiku, Will Travel

27 Aug
English: Haiku as of February 19, 2008

English: Haiku as of February 19, 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good day! I always feel I should apologise for Mondays, but they go fast. For those who don’t know, Joseph Harker, over at naming constellations, has given us haiku as a task. Visit, even if just to read what he has to say. As long as you are there, you might try your hand at a couple. I did, which is why you have me here on a Monday.

The reading of Joseph’s essay and the writing of the haiku have been both instructive and fun. I long ago concluded the same things Joseph brings up in his reverie, thus found writing haiku, good haiku, to be far more difficult than it might seem. I have come close with a couple of these to reasonable haiku. I even manage in one to have morae as a count.

One thing that helps with the English language haiku is to read translations of Basho’s. I find it gets me in the rhythm. When I worried about the purity that Joseph’s instructions require, reading the Basho helped there, too. He often does not have a clear turn. [Translation shouldn’t change things so much that is lost… I don’t think.]

Red headed finches
ornament the bare branches;
the wind flicks them off.

Geese skim maple tops;
I hear their urgent calling.
The nights grow shorter.

Between tall buildings
the winter sun never strays —
snow lies untouched.

The camellia’s
branches tremble with the breeze.
One flower still clings.

A haze of pollen —
the gilded maple branches
shimmer in sunlight.

Temperatures drop;
trees freeze. With a crackle snap,
sap explodes: fireworks.

From the fleece blanket
fingertips draw lightning trails.
I savour cold nights.

Clinging to tree bark,
light as a cicada husk,
a poinsettia leaf.

In the breeze, trees shed
winged seeds, spiraling downwards;
butterflies flutter.

Over the city
a sliver of celadon,
new moon riding low.

If  a couple of these sound familiar to some of you, you will have seen the images in small stones I wrote for AROS, way back in 2010. Having a base from which to work helped me get something posted this week. Now, I find, I want to start reworking these and probably will…

I did notice the graphic is for a computer system, but it works.


Posted by on 27/08/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , ,

35 responses to “Have Haiku, Will Travel

  1. brenda w

    27/08/2012 at 8:02 am

    You paint the changing seasons beautifully. I love “A haze of pollen…” This string of haiku is so rich with image, Margo. I do love them all. A good start to my Monday here…thank you!

    • margo roby

      27/08/2012 at 8:11 am

      Thank you, Brenda. Your comment starts my Monday off nicely, too. I hadn’t thought of ordering the haiku. Hmmm. May have to edit!

  2. vivinfrance

    27/08/2012 at 8:18 am

    These are magnificent, Margo. Joseph’s haiku teach-in is absolutely brilliant. I did mine on Saturday, . I like that each of yours is distinct, yet conveys an orderly progression of mood.

    • margo roby

      27/08/2012 at 8:59 am

      Thank you, ViV. That means a lot coming from you. I agree about Joseph’s teach-in [I like that phrase], that it made things all come together. I forgot I need to leave my link over there! I’ll do that and visit you.

  3. barbara_

    27/08/2012 at 8:46 am

    I like the fleece blanket one. I can’t comment on technique, because I just can not GET haiku. Some deep part of my mind keeps saying: But why would you want to do THAT? Are there Irish writers of haiku?

    • margo roby

      27/08/2012 at 9:03 am

      Thank you, Barbara. Now. I am largely Irish, so you can’t use that one. I don’t know that any of the Irish writers wrote haiku, but I do know that they were able to crystallise a thought, or an image into 140 characters [yes, it was a fascinating article I stumbled across]. They would have been master tweeters. All a haiku does is crystallise. If you don’t like the single haiku, do a series and think of them as stanzas.

      • barbara_

        27/08/2012 at 9:16 am

        Sigh. Maybe it’s the Dutch side.
        I’ve read (and even enjoyed) some Basho, and someone in the wordle community writes haiku I like, but I just don’t have the patience for those precisely cut facets, when it’s still a red maple key when you get right down to it.

        • margo roby

          27/08/2012 at 9:21 am

          That’s different, Barbara. No patience, I understand. While I enjoy haiku, they don’t call me like other forms, so I rarely, okay almost never, write one. I do like the haibun. That one I want to work more with… you know, in all the spare time we retired people have!

  4. JulesPaige

    27/08/2012 at 8:52 am

    I enjoy the short form of haiku and have been posting haiku, tanka and renga this month for my daily observance pieces at my wordpress site. What I think is interesting is that modern haiku – Japanese purists that is, seem detest the counted syllable style that I and so many of us were taught. So I write American Style Japanese poetry…akin to the oxymoron of Jumbo Shrimp. It is what it is – not everyone likes the counting, especially the hoity-toity haiku societies that try and proclaim their way is the only way. There are several thoughts and directions for haiku. And they don’t always play nicely together. I think in the end there is room for all of us. And if there isn’t – well I’ve always been a rebel and I’m going to write and read what I like – and I like your haiku Margo.

    While most of my pieces have been singular haiku, tanka or renga (just different lengths of the form) I did pen this triple. Enjoy.

    three haiku:

    quick silver fish tail
    shimmers in the muddy creek
    hears the ‘bass’ of self


    gentle morning rain
    garden veggies drink their fill
    harmonic whether?


    summer fledglings left
    huddle in the porch eaves’ nest
    sing for their breakfast

    • margo roby

      27/08/2012 at 9:07 am

      Jules, I enjoyed a community renga that I think ‘imaginary garden with real toads’ organised a few months ago. That was fun!

      Nice to see your haiku. i remember some of the ones you showed me when we first were getting to know each other.

      • JulesPaige

        27/08/2012 at 10:13 am

        I had wondered what happened to that…IGwRT renga…I posted there too. I didn’t get any notices on the completed piece did you?

        The sun is playing peek-a-boo this morning…time to *gasp* get started on some *cough* household chores… *choke* …Where is Mickey Mouse with his magical apprentice booms when you need ’em. Oh wait that ended up in a worse mess, didn’t it. I guess I’d better forgo the magic.

        • margo roby

          27/08/2012 at 10:33 am

          I don’t think I was notified, but I did finally go back and check. I have it somewhere, Jules… somewhere. Let me dig around.

          I’m feeling virtuous because I have washed dishes, three loads of laundry and neatened Skip’s bathroom. Time for coffee!

          • margo roby

            27/08/2012 at 11:23 am

            Hmmm… I don’t see yours Jules. I am not positive I have found the final post on it, but I think I have. What I can’t see is the final poem. I’ll keep looking.

        • vivinfrance

          27/08/2012 at 11:00 am

          I wrote a renga with Tillybud when she was staying here. We’d done one before on our critiquing forum, but it got completely out of hand with a rogue poet who subverted every road we took!

          • margo roby

            27/08/2012 at 11:22 am

            I thoroughly enjoyed the one written for IGWRTs. I think 16 of us wrote a verse.

        • vivinfrance

          27/08/2012 at 11:00 am

          You need Samantha of the whiffly nose!

    • vivinfrance

      27/08/2012 at 11:01 am


  5. markwindham

    27/08/2012 at 1:11 pm

    hhmmm, world feels slightly off kilter….Margo is posting poetry…it is not a wordle….she is posting on a Monday…. 😉

    Have not done any haiku since I escaped February with bandages on my fingers…will have to visit Joseph and see if his instruction puts me in the mood, have felt let down by prior explanations/instructions.

    Like the geese one, and the fleece one, like the sound in the camellias one (kept looking for a rhyme that was not there) and the fireworks one.

    oh, having your kilter off can be good or bad, very dependent on circumstances… 🙂

    • margo roby

      27/08/2012 at 1:18 pm

      There was a time I could depend on my kilter being off and publishing posts on odd days because I had poems. 🙂

      Joseph’s essay is masterful. Even the bits that get intensely technical make sense. I like it because this is how I learned to write haiku in the first place, before I discovered so many Americans don’t want to play nice over the form. That’s what has kept me writing and posting them, along with they aren’t my first passion, or even second.

      I like the ones you like, too. They are the ones that play with sound the most, not something that’s supposed to be a part of haiku, but…

      It’s so good to be posting irregularly 😉

      • markwindham

        27/08/2012 at 1:36 pm

        I will read Joseph today.

        Up for 10 minutes worth of work? If not pretend you went to lunch and did not see this when you got back.

        If so, check out my piece for dVerse saturday. All but one person missed a key component. So, read and see if you get it, I am thinking a few words would spell it out, but I hate to add.

        • margo roby

          27/08/2012 at 1:39 pm


          Shall head over. Maybe coffee first.

        • margo roby

          27/08/2012 at 1:45 pm

          Easy. Despite only one person noticing [they must have rushed the reading], you do everything but say the other young person is blind. Don’t add. Your hints are good and clear.

          • markwindham

            27/08/2012 at 2:04 pm

            ok, thought I had failed miserably (while at the same time thinking it was pretty obvious). Feel better now. Thank you.

  6. carolisle

    27/08/2012 at 5:40 pm

    In Writing Class today.

    We spoke of haiku
    short, and sweet poems made
    their way
    around the room.

    A serendipity moment

    Not sure where the Haiku is but it must be somewhere among all these words.. Just so happened that haiku was on everyone’s mind this morning during writing group but I was the only one who had read your post 🙂

    • margo roby

      27/08/2012 at 5:50 pm

      How lovely, Carolisle. I may be back with a haiku 🙂

  7. carolisle

    27/08/2012 at 7:23 pm

    I reworked the Haiku and wrote about writing groups and gave you kudos today. My writing teacher is going in for surgery and I wanted to show her off to the world so here it is

  8. Annette Mickelson

    27/08/2012 at 7:36 pm

    I hope you got your coffee by now… You mentioned it a number of times. Where are your priorities, girl? I liked that first one the best; something about the visual of the wind flicking the finches. …and the work flicking. Perfect.

    • margo roby

      27/08/2012 at 8:54 pm

      Three cups, Annette!

      I saw the first one happening outside my mother’s window last Christmas. it was hysterical watching these little birds. One minute they are sitting the next, whoops!

  9. PJF Sayers

    28/08/2012 at 12:23 pm

    Margo, these are all quite lovely, but the first two are my favourites. Especially the first, it has great imagery.


    • margo roby

      28/08/2012 at 12:45 pm

      Thank you, Pamela! I have decided that haiku and small things I have witnessed are a good match.

  10. Joseph Harker

    29/08/2012 at 10:11 am

    I’m digging the second and seventh ones the most, I think, but I’m also a lifelong fan of the word “celadon”. Glad that the prompt stirred up some Bashic thoughts. 🙂

    • margo roby

      29/08/2012 at 10:27 am

      Well, hello you! I love the fleece blanket one. Last winter when I was up sometime in the night, my fingers brushed the fleece and whoa! During the winter, I can be seen brushing fleece often, in the middle of the night.
      Celadon — such a gorgeous sound, as well as colour.

  11. The Happy Amateur

    04/09/2012 at 6:46 pm

    if you’re up for a haiku soap opera, tune in:

    Five episodes down, twenty five more to go 🙂 I do observe the syllable count, and have some nature thing going, and (I hope) there’s some thought in there, too.

    • margo roby

      06/09/2012 at 2:44 pm

      That sounds fun. I went AWOL from the computer yesterday. That’s a dangerous thing to do. I shall bob on over to your place, now.


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