Tag Archives: Poems

Haiku of Summer, month 3

I was planning to do a haiku per day for the whole summer. And I made pretty good progress: see month 1 and month 2. But in the third month … well, to paraphrase Alan Jackson, who was paraphrasing Eddie Cochran:

Sometimes I wonder
what I’m gonna do
’cause there ain’t no cure
for the summer haiku.

Life gets busy, time gets short, the poetry backlog gets long, and eventually you just gotta cut your losses.

Still, I completed 74 of a planned 94, which is 74 more than zero. So without further rambling ado, here’s what I wrote in the third month of summer:

#63 — 8/27/18
Concrete is cracking,
inch by inch, year by slow year.
Nature is pushing.

#64 — 8/27/18
Luminous, gibbous
globe wider than Kazakhstan
hangs in the treetop.

#65 — 8/28/18
Dawn light drips over
brick-and-vinyl horizon
and evaporates.

#66 — 8/28/18
T-shirt to be washed
lies limp on cool bathroom floor
dreaming of sunshine.

#67 — 8/28/18
Razor scrapes my skin,
once more rebuking nature’s
tiny excesses.

#68 — 8/30/18
Headlights plow darkness
like snowplows clear away snow,
piling shadows deep.

#69 — 8/30/18
Warm dusting of rain
taps out softly on my skin
messages from clouds.

#70 — 8/30/18
Old routine, routine:
worn thin, rearranged, re-trod.
Trails change; same old dirt.

#71 — 8/30/18
Lightning like anger
flashes distantly, thunders,
and gives meager light.

#72 — 9/7/18
Tonight I can see
why this pitted white crescent
was called a goddess.

#73 — 9/7/18
Turn signal, little
heartbeat, reminds its master
that a path can change.

#74 — 9/7/18
A long, jagged rip
in the cloudfront exposes
imperial gray.

Haiku of Summer, month 2

A continuation of the Haiku of Summer challenge (see first month here).

#34 — 7/24/18
House full of darkness
before dawn, warm and waking,
murmurs of night’s end.

#35 — 7/25/18
To the spider who
overnight spun a nest tied
to a parked car: Sorry!

#36 — 7/26/18
The wind stomps around
slapping flags, shaking their stripes,
tugging them to life.

#37 — 7/27/18
Motions of routine
inaugurate each sunrise,
put each moon to bed.

#38 — 7/31/18
Cool cantaloupe sky
opens ripe and clean, over
roofs and brick chimneys.

#39 — 7/31/18
Now I hear my wife
upstairs: hair dryer, footsteps.
Geese go by outside.

#40 — 7/31/18
Daytime miracles —
having good work and good food,
inhaling the breeze.

#41 — 7/31/18
Wires and LEDs
slither and flash like pale vines
and clouded starlight.

#42 — 8/1/18
Early afternoon
settles uncomfortably
on a floating house.

#43 — 8/3/18
Evan points upward
and shouts “Mmm!” Sewn on the sky,
bright button: the moon.

#44 — 8/3/18
Empty coffee mug.
Empty yard awaits the rain.
Patience for fullness.

#45 — 8/5/18
Snow-ribbed mountainside
naps serenely over trees;
desktop wallpaper.

#46 — 8/5/18
Storm of joy and gifts,
thunder of barking and tears.
Weekend winds recede.

#47 — 8/6/18
Voices in the car
flow calmly from radio.
Crickets when I park.

#48 — 8/7/18
Ten thousand small tasks
clamor like minnows for time.
Whales dive deep, unseen.

#49 — 8/8/18
Child cries: four-forty.
Overcast. He clings to me.
Love dawns before light.

#50 — 8/10/18
Below horizon
or behind clouds? I can’t say
where the moon’s hiding.

#51 — 8/10/18
Beep, beep! Toast is done.
Brittle and crunchy and brown
like deep-August grass.

#52 — 8/11/18
Yesterday raindrops
fell in the sunshine, scattered
and bright, striking me.

#53 — 8/14/18
Map of the planet
hangs from wall — five billion years
summarized in ink.

#54 — 8/14/18
Small trees, leaning trees,
wait spring to fall, fall to spring:
sighing obelisks.

#55 — 8/14/18
Meteor plunges,
dies in the dark among peers.
I watch silent fire.

#56 — 8/15/18
Low, fluttering bird
circles strangely … now I see.
Low, fluttering bat.

#57 — 8/16/18
Indecisive rain
dampens yard, sputters and halts.
Sleep calls me back in.

#58 — 8/21/18
Waking at midnight,
not sure why, or what to do.
Shadows thick as fog.

#59 — 8/21/18
Room of sleepy ghosts.
Pale reflection in window
obscures the peach tree.

#60 — 8/21/18
Restless, my son stirs
on gray monitor, goes still
again. Cricket-song.

#61 — 8/21/18
Starlight races down.
Multitrillion-year journey
thwarted by shingles.

#62 — 8/21/18
Flowers in glass jar
lean on each other mutely.
It is time for bed.

Haiku of Summer

Back in 2015, at my mom’s suggestion, I wrote 365 haiku for 365 days, and she did the same. (Here’s January.)

This time, she suggested the same challenge, but just for the summer (June 21 – September 22).

Here’s the first of a planned three months of summer haiku. This time, unlike before, I tried to include some element from the human world and something from the natural world in every poem. I’m  happy with how most of them have turned out so far.

#1 — 6/21/18
Beneath my sandals
tree roots live, deeper than graves
and more numerous.

#2 — 6/22/18
Morning sky is here,
covered in paper-gray clouds,
yet to be unwrapped.

#3 — 6/23/18
Early afternoon;
wary rabbit sees my son
watching her; a breeze.

#4 — 6/24/18
Small rapid footsteps,
long grass, furnace takes a break.
Essence of summer.

#5 — 6/25/18
My mind, strong old ox,
plows in all seasons. Great ox,
you are slow today.

#6 — 6/27/18
Soft warmth, morning dark.
Child on my lap gulps his milk.
Windows shake with rain.

#7 — 6/27/18
Bleak day. Grumpy thoughts.
Grass embraces blade and storm;
I fight, I retreat.

#8 — 6/28/18
Pain is a dark dog —
faithful, persistent, hungry.
He knows just one trick.

#9 — 6/30/18
Fresh-cut bell peppers
crowd the tray. Carrots, mushrooms.
Noon sky burns the deck.

#10 — 6/30/18
Three children sleeping.
Intermission: adult sounds
emerge like rabbits.

#11 — 7/1/18
Heels in kiddie pool.
Day is heavy with slow heat.
Still the robins sing.

#12 — 7/3/18
Jaw aches and buzzes,
still half-numb after dentist.
Tree limbs sway and shine.

#13 — 7/3/18
Parcels of nature,
bounded by curbs, sidewalks, boards,
wriggle past their lines.

#14 — 7/4/18
Early July sun
washes trucks and apple trees
in its boundless bath.

#15 — 7/5/18
Headache, pain in back:
small complaints. Gentle weather,
coffee, peaceful heart.

#16 — 7/6/18
Hour before sunrise.
Stars fade — ghosts of yesterday,
omens of today.

#17 — 7/8/18
Sun sinks, quiet house.
What will the clouds do all night
while I sleep below?

#18 — 7/8/18
Hearts, like rivers, grow
polluted, and are only
cleaned by flowing on.

#19 — 7/9/18
Sun sinks, quiet house.
Busy brain searches and sorts
and sorts and searches.

#20 — 7/10/18
Quick fireflies at dusk
weave and rise among shadows,
crossing my window.

#21 — 7/11/18
Too much time inside.
Sunlight through glass panes is like
a roarless lion.

#22 — 7/13/18
Bristling with needles,
green backyard-monster keeps watch,
nodding at my roof.

#23 — 7/13/18
Apple’s leafy nest
stretches skyward, lifting it
above the white fence.

#24 — 7/16/18
Sidewalk-chalk jungle:
loops and letters on driveway
know nothing of rain.

#25 — 7/16/18
Bird crosses my path
as I drive, reddish brown blur
on secret errand.

#26 — 7/16/18
Trash bags by the curb
recline like early pumpkins,
ready for harvest.

#27 — 7/17/18
Crowds of dandelions,
bald, lanky, uninvited,
gather and survive.

#28 — 7/19/18
Gladness of being
waves hello like an old friend
or a flowing tide.

#29 — 7/19/18
Washing machine sings —
strange bird, flightless and hungry,
loyal to its mate.

#30 — 7/20/18
Rain comes round again,
gentle and taking its time,
darkening the street.

#31 — 7/23/18
Deer sits placidly
on a low hill near daycare.
Evan waves to it.

#32 — 7/23/18
Magic of morning
gives each room fresh potential
nestled in shadow.

#33 — 7/23/18
Where is happiness?
Which limb, on what tree, offers
this elusive fruit?

The reason for my silence

[A peaceful image of trees and mountains.]

Not empty of heart
nor empty of time to type
but only of words.

Thursday haiku

Snowless, not yet spring.
Bleak branches murmur of green.
Blanket of blank air.

A poem for Monday

Someday they will ask you what love is,
those quiet voices.
Maybe you will say:
That love is boundless and blistering
as the first day of August,
wrapping all trees and chimneys
in its light.
Or maybe:
That love is a long afternoon indoors,
cool blessed air, an icy glass of anything,
bare conversation and bare feet up.
And you cannot forget:
That love is ragged toil,
heartbeat to heartbeat and day after day,
till the weeks run raw,
till your spine shifts from the years of it.
And you know, too:
That love is a blade without a handle
that gleams like galaxies in the dark,
cutting through coffins and entropy
and your palm as well; and the dark
in which it gleams is also love,
patient, silent, perfect, and broken,
an embrace that needs and has no name.
But maybe
you will only say:
That love is right now,
it is right now,
it is right now,
and so disperse, you quiet voices,
and stop asking what love is
and I will practice
what it does.

Ode on a Martian Urn

I wrote this in May of 2014. First time it’s seen the light of day. I tend to be very critical of my older work, but I’m actually still pretty happy with this one.

Thou Art, what art thou?
No clay-fingered potter wrought thee;
no blushing poet will sing thy praise
to an enchanted crowd:
child of the god of war,
color of rust, ancient as asteroids,
bold hypercubes writhe
rough upon thy surface.
What tesseract lies empty in its
stable, bereft of children
that they might decorate thee?
Brim-full of portent,
tick-tock-ticking unabated by
ten thousand thousand years,
what clock lies in thy shivering heart?
What crystal quivers for thy sake,
counting bright femtoseconds like fireflies
from the moment of thy creation?
And what doom draws thee near,
O Martian urn?
Barren waste lies where thy home should be,
thy rivers sere, thy valleys
choked with dust, thy mountains
scraping thin atmosphere
to grope at stars.
Wilt thou bring this fate
to fledgling Earth
when this thy clock expires?
And when all is done, wilt thou
lie close and say:
“Truth is terror, terror truth;
that is all ye know on Mars,
and all ye need to know.”

Friday Poem

W. B. Yeats wrote this a century ago, but it fits our current political climate so perfectly that I had to share.

They must to keep their certainty accuse
All that are different of a base intent;
Pull down established honour; hawk for news
Whatever their loose phantasy invent
And murmur it with bated breath, as though
The abounding gutter had been Helicon
Or calumny a song. How can they know
Truth flourishes where the student’s lamp has shone,
And there alone, that have no solitude?
So the crowd come they care not what may come.
They have loud music, hope every day renewed
And heartier loves; that lamp is from the tomb.

Have a gregarious weekend!

Haiku 365: December

And we’re done! A haiku a day, on average, for the entire year of 2015. (I will not be repeating the performance in 2016.)

People. Be impressed. Why aren’t you looking more impressed?

#335: 12/1/2015
Are there aliens?
Do they think we’re cool? Will they
notice our haircut?

#336: 12/2/2015
Winter is cliché.
Every year, more snow. It’s like,
really? Frost again?

#337: 12/3/2015
Koschei the Deathless.
With a nickname like that, you’re
just asking for it.

#338: 12/4/2015
Sky the color of
dirty mop water, cold wind,
grass still holding on.

#339: 12/6/2015
Monitor, world map,
picture frames, a desk, and books:
life of rectangles.

#340: 12/6/2015
Aluminum foil
sits crinkled and proud, corners
upraised like glad arms.

#341: 12/7/2015
Fresh start, clear cold day.
Frost is water: winter’s way
of cleansing old sins.

#342: 12/9/2015
Evil is not dark.
It curls up in warm faces
and becomes routine.

#343: 12/9/2015
Birds perch in fractals,
modulate their frequencies,
increase altitude.

#344: 12/10/2015
My house’s shadow
retreats inch by inch, serene.
Its time will return.

#345: 12/11/2015
Billowing purple
above city. Dim blue grass.
My new wallpaper.

#346: 12/14/2015
What is happiness?
Warm bowl of soup with noodles,
Betsy coming home.

#347: 12/14/2015
Sparkling Christmas tree.
Can I be nostalgic for
mem’ries never lived?

#348: 12/14/2015
Where is December?
To which month belong these warm,
wet, uncertain days?

#349: 12/15/2015
Post office, dentist,
Hobby Lobby, library.
Day of small journeys.

#350: 12/16/2015
Crosses of shadow
fall slanting on couch cushions,
bounding tracts of light.

#351: 12/17/2015
New Star Wars tonight!
Feeling like a kid again
(more than usual).

#352: 12/18/2015
Lines of blank thunder
course silent under clear sky.
Always there’s a storm.

#353: 12/21/2015
Friends and pizza come,
launching bright conversation
toward mirth and midnight.

#354: 12/21/2015
Children tiptoe to
Christmas, step by slow step. For
grown-ups, all too swift.

#355: 12/21/2015
Boxes and boxes:
rough cardboard, shining paper,
sought, prized, discarded.

#356: 12/28/2015
Bright garish TV,
squawking commercials, blank laughs.
Mute shade, come to me.

#357: 12/28/2015
Gentle, titanic,
obvious, necessary,
clean, warm, frigid rain.

#358: 12/28/2015
Polishing e-mails
to leap swift into the void
and come home laden.

#359: 12/28/2015
Five-inch thin red curve,
dry river, wrist to forearm.
Playful dog’s rough claw.

#360: 12/28/2015
I love “Kafkaesque.”
Shakespearean, Socratic –
make my name a word!

#361: 12/28/2015
Christmas here and gone,
wrapping unwrapped, stockings light.
Snowflake count: zero!

#362: 12/28/2015
Who forgot to lock
the great vault’s door? Who set free
these thick sky-broad winds?

#363: 12/29/2015
Sick wife stays at home.
Deploy Kleenexes and soup.
Rest for the weary.

#364: 12/30/2015
Penultimate poem.
One for each degree of great
circle, plus some spares.

#365: 12/31/2015
Farewell, Prospero:
Now your charms are all o’erthrown.
Ariel, ascend!

Haiku 365: November

It has come to my attention that the numbering of the haikus was off by two. The people responsible for numbering the haikus have been sacked. The numbering has been redone at great expense and at the last minute.

#305: 11/2/2015
Changing of the clocks!
We solemnly move back hands.
Time doesn’t notice.

#306: 11/2/2015
Black-and-orange pile –
Halloween decorations,
purpose extinguished.

#307: 11/3/2015
Voting: the fusion
of will with vox populi –
out of many, one.

#308: 11/4/2015
Cold apple cider,
no spice, no ice, plain round glass.
Laid-back November.

#309: 11/5/2015
A sky of dark rags
on a rose-petal blanket
lights up silently.

#310: 11/6/2015
Will this year die, too?
Joining its billion colleagues
in the whisper-dark?

#311: 11/8/2015
Voices, colors, lines.
Simple stories, simply told.
Take me somewhere bright.

#312: 11/8/2015
Midnight’s grandchildren
tiptoe in at six o’clock
under winter’s gaze.

#313: 11/9/2015
Brown mouse, shivering,
probes October air. Sniff, sniff.
Small life is life still.

#314: 11/10/2015
Knowledge is power!
(If it’s the kind of knowledge
that gives you power.)

#315: 11/11/2015
The eleventh day
of the eleventh month. A
good word, “armistice.”

#316: 11/12/2015
Light hours, heavy hours.
Light heart, heavy heart. Balance
comes and goes like fog.

#317: 11/13/2015
Green-and-yellow leaves
shudder, dive, and re-ascend,
clutching valiant twigs.

#318: 11/16/2015
Three and a half hours.
Not enough time for sleeping
or for waking up.

#319: 11/16/2015
Mice creep in, driven
by dark frost to our home’s warmth;
our reason also.

#320: 11/16/2015
Hard news and short words.
Dishwasher hums. It knows of
bleak work, of cycles.

#321: 11/17/2015
If my secrets and
your secrets were the same – oh,
what a waste of walls.

#322: 11/18/2015
Nooses and schedules
tighten. Rope supports or kills.
Careful with the tools.

#323: 11/20/2015
Nurses trump wizards;
drugs work better than magic;
hospitals grant life.

#324: 11/20/2015
Enjoy your new couch.
Get the shipping-box cardboard,
enjoy your new fort.

#325: 11/23/2015
First snow of the year,
pale frosting spread thin over
a vast chocolate cake.

#326: 11/23/2015
Beer, friends, birthday cake,
and colored pencils. Party
for former children.

#327: 11/23/2015
New couches arrive.
See them now, waiting aloof,
daring you to sit.

#328: 11/24/2015
Washer runs again,
resurrected without fuss,
chanting not required.

#329: 11/25/2015
Oh, yeah. Uh-huh. Hm?
Mm, mm-hm. Ah, yes, indeed.
Well then! Very good.

#330: 12/1/2015
Fading afternoon
surrenders reluctantly
to evening’s triumph.

#331: 12/1/2015
Dormant Christmas tree
lies fragmented on carpet,
awaiting our hands.

#332: 12/1/2015
Flannel shirt’s repose:
no arms, buttons, or collar;
just a pile, cat-like.

#333: 12/1/2015
Americans love
French snails, Italian sports cars,
and British sitcoms.

#334: 12/1/2015
Don’t ask a cheese block
if you’re crazy. Silence is sad,
but a “no” is worse.