My Neighbor

Paul Miller, editor. San Francisco: Two Autumns Press, 2010, 32 pages, with poems by Garry Gay, David Grayson, Carolyn Hall, and Michael Dylan Welch.

 

This book was the twentieth in the annual Two Autumns reading series sponsored by the Haiku Poets of Northern California. Each year, four readers are selected for a featured reading, usually in San Francisco, and the reading is commemorated by the publication of a chapbook with twelve haiku and senryu by each of the selected poets. This reading took place at Fort Mason in San Francisco on 13 September 2009, and you can see photos of my trip online. It was my privilege to participate in the very first reading, in 1990, and to be asked to read again twenty years later.

 

 

An excerpt from the books introduction, by Paul Miller:

 

Michael Dylan Welch has been writing haiku for many years, and his skill at relating an emotional scene is easily evident. In the following poem the future ups and downs of a relationship are tempered by an optimistic seasonal marker:

 

        spring sun—

        at the top of the roller coaster

        she says yes

 

Lately, Welch has been experimenting with what he calls created mythologies, sets of poems similar to Banya Natsuishis Flying Pope series in which the poems consistent subject is used in avant garde and surreal ways to question viewpoints, and even traditions. Such experiments help keep the genre fresh. A few are included in this volume from Welchs Neon Buddha series. In particular, I enjoyed:

 

        the dentists chair

        could hold a hundred

        neon buddhas

 

This is an interesting poem to parse: from the anxiety of a dentists chair in the first line, to an implied genocide in the second, to a third line that has the power to possibly vanquish both. It is a poem that keeps the reader on their toes, shifting perspective and understanding.

 

 

A selection of poems from the book (or see all poems): 

 

 

crackling beach fire—

we hum in place of words

we cant recall

 

 

cold rain—

the inning ends

with nobody on

 

 

drapes drawn—

just the edges done

on the daffodil puzzle

 

 

accumulating snow—

oven mitts

praying on the counter

 

 

scent of wisteria—

she finishes translating

the birth certificate

 

 

garbage strike

the neon buddha

eats the rainbow

 

 

rapture

the neon buddha

has nothing to declare

 

 

 

The 2009 Two Autumns book, titled My Neighbor, with cover art by Naia. Linda Papanicolaou did the layout and production. Paul Miller served as editor.
  
 
Six of my poems in My Neighbor (click to enlarge).