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

 

                Bashō

 

    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

 

 

midsummer

    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

 

                Bashō

 

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