Haiga with Gary LeBel

The following haiga feature poems by Michael Dylan Welch and artwork by Gary LeBel. Our process was that Gary either created new artwork for poems I provided to him, or I wrote new poems for artwork he provided to me. In some cases I wrote several poems for a single piece of artwork, and he selected one that he thought worked best with the art, and then combined it with the artwork using calligraphy, collage, typesetting, and other techniques. Three of these fifteen haiga use what is called “running hand” calligraphy, where letters elide into each other, usually vertically. Because such calligraphy can be a challenge to read, in those cases the poem is repeated in text below the image. Most of these haiga were featured in the 2007 issue of the journal Reeds: Contemporary Haiga, edited by Jeanne Emrich. The “first star” haiga was also printed in an edition of 250 copies for a Haiku Canada holograph anthology in 2007 titled Blossoming: 30th Anniversary Members Anthology. My thanks to Gary for his exquisite work.
Click each image to view in a larger size. The poems appear by themselves at the end.




all that’s left
of the old logging road—
the sparrow’s song

                                                                all the times
                                                                we never sat to talk . . .
                                                                the drifting leaves

                                                                                                                                first star . . .
                                                                                                                                a seashell held
                                                                                                                                to my baby’s ear

                                                                Indian summer—
                                                                the smell of rain

over the tulip bulbs
the curve of the earth

                                                                meteor shower . . .
                                                                a gentle wave
                                                                wets our sandals

                                                                                                                                muted sunlight—
                                                                                                                                the constellation of barnacles
                                                                                                                                on the whale’s belly

                                                                news of his chemo—
                                                                the meandering path
                                                                back from the outhouse

objects in mirror
are closer than they appear—
your hand on my thigh

                                                                returning boats . . .
                                                                the path of the pelican
                                                                from beach to pier

                                                                                                                                silver in your hair—
                                                                                                                                you open a drawer
                                                                                                                                for your favourite knife

                                                                “Something’s already
                                                                come between us,”
                                                                you whisper.
                                                                “Yes,” I reply,
                                                                “our clothes.”

summer heat—
two squirrels
meet on a wire

                                                                tarnished silver—
                                                                the only guest
                                                                eats in silence

                                                                                                                                a letter home—
                                                                                                                                still that smell
                                                                                                                                of cigarettes

                                                                the path from the cabin
                                                                overgrown with brambles—
                                                                once we were lovers

the smell of breakfast
today’s paper
warm from the porch

                                                                somewhere in the past
                                                                a lightning strike
                                                                to its heartwood