Too Busy for Spring

Michael Dylan Welch and Lee Gurga, editors. Lidia Rozmus, cover illustration. Press Here, Foster City, California, 1999, 36 pages, 91 poets (one poem each), ISBN 1-878798-19-7.


The 1999 Haiku North America conference took place at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois (near Chicago). A quotation from the introduction: “One poem or another within this book’s pages will likely stop you with a spark of recognition. That’s how a good haiku works—it captures the essence of a particular moment in such a way that you see what the poet saw, and feel what the poet felt. In its steadfast focus on the particular, a haiku moves us by its clear report of suchness. We see the way sunlight glances off a watch crystal, and we are fascinated like a cat that tries to catch the light. In response to a successful haiku we laugh, we cry, we nod our heads. The best part is that the words don’t get in the way. In a good haiku we see what caused the poet’s emotional response, not the response itself. Thus we can have the same intuitive reaction ourselves.” The following are twenty-eight sample poems, including two translations, from the book.



rain turning to snow—

the cat’s tail

flicks sharply


                A. C. Missias

                Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



in the schoolyard

one of the saplings

has failed to bloom


                Alan Pizzarelli

                Bayonne, New Jersey



night drive

radio station fading

before the symphony’s end


                Bruce Detrick

                New York, New York



sure, I have my thoughts

about his body piercings,

but I bite my tongue


                Charles Trumbull

                Evanston, Illinois



playground at dusk . . .

back and forth on the swing

her made-up song


                Dave Russo

                Cary, North Carolina



wife still sleeping

back three flights of stairs

to check the toilet seat


                Dee Evetts

                New York, New York



the first cuckoo:

two long shadows picking

in mother’s garden


                Emiko Miyashita

                Miyamae-ku, Kawasaki, Japan



footprints on sand

the shape

of forgotten happiness


                Fay Aoyagi

                San Francisco, California



The weeds

I meant to pull

in full bloom


                Garry Gay

                Windsor, California



freezing rain

field mice rattle the dishes

buson’s koto


                Gerald Vizenor

                Oakland, California



ushibeya ni ka no koe kuraki zansho kana




    in a cowshed

mosquitoes buzzing darkly—

    lingering summer heat


                Haruo Shirane, translator

                New York, New York



The stillness now

Is gone

Where the heron stood.


                Jack Cain

                Toronto, Ontario



frozen fingers

draw out a dip stick—

the long night


                Jeanne Emrich

                Bloomington, Minnesota



autumn moon

one yellow leaf

free of it


                Jeffrey Winke

                Milwaukee, Wisconsin




    stream’s grown

        a tunnel


                John Martone

                Charleston, Illinois



nursing home survey:

for two out of five

it is spring


                John Stevenson

                Nassau, New York



beneath melting snow

            trailing juniper . . .

                        and a red scarf


                Joseph Kirschner

                Evanston, Illinois



deep crack

of thunder in the rain—

my mother’s silence


                Lenard D. Moore

                Raleigh, North Carolina



pointed church tower

plunged into dark cloud—

first thunder


                Lidia Rozmus

                Vernon Hills, Illinois



Kareeda ni

karasu no tomarikeri

aki no kure




On a dead limb

squats a crow—

autumn night.


                Lucien Stryk, translator

                DeKalb, Illinois



summer solstice—

a rack full of hats

at the barbershop


                Michael Dylan Welch

                Foster City, California



through binoculars

   the woman looking at me

through binoculars


                Mykel Board

                New York, New York



one in the sunlight

                             one in the shade

               daisies on my lawn


                Nick Avis

                Corner Brook, Newfoundland



campus bench

in the pine tree’s shade . . .

an opened letter


                Randy M. Brooks

                Decatur, Illinois



nearly dusk

    mist distilling

into drops

    on tips of pines


                Robert Spiess

                Madison, Wisconsin



noonday sun

as if the first quart wasn’t enough

ripe strawberries


                Sara Brant

                Ann Arbor, Michigan



winter solstice—

the cat jumps at the sunlight

playing off my watch


                S. R. Spanyer

                Louisville, Kentucky



a junco works

the grass-seed stalk . . .

falling snow


                William J. Higginson

                Santa Fe, New Mexico