With the beginning of the new year, a brave AROHO friend made a commitment to write a haiku every day. She asked others to join her, and set up a facebook group, The Haiku Room, as a private place for all of us to post our (in my case, clumsy) efforts. The results have been amazing. Every morning I wake up to shafts of light that illuminate the lives and dreams, the profound griefs and hilarious misadventures of people I may not ever have met, but now know at this deep level of poetic witness.
That has been one huge, unexpected gift of the Haiku Room. Another has been the commitment to daily practice. We all talk about it, we try to do it, but somehow the very smallness of the form has, for many of us, made it happen for the first time. “Only 17 syllables – surely I can write 17 syllables! No one said it has to be perfect! I can do this!”
I don’t even particularly like haiku, because the swing and swagger and woe and jackboot of rhythm are so important to me – the pulse of blood in the body and, for me, in the poem. In fact, one of the first haiku I wrote for the Haiku Room was this:
Damn this Haiku! / All eyes, no hips. To me it don’t mean a thing:/
But : Daily Practice. You do it. And gradually you find new doors opening. Small things shining. The trickle of water finding a new pathway through rock.
Some poets have caught fire, in just one month of this daily haiku practice, blazing into such stunning intensity, concision, brilliance that it makes me feel like laughing and shouting with joy.
But even for me, this daily practice has been a way of honoring my craft and myself, despite the quotidian overwhelm of moving, renovating, landscaping, editing other people’s books, and all the rest that has taken me away from the page for a year. It is a way of keeping faith. And a record of – something.
Avocado musubi –
green, gold, white, kelp-tied:
little Hilo gift.
Rainforest house: big
roof, windows, not much wall. Wind off
mountain ice: brrrrrrrr.
Scuffle in the eaves. At the window:
rock wall builder. Chips lava, fits
each to the next. Sings.
Slow wakening: “re-
source,” “re-source,” still turning
in the current, shining.
Fat orange moon rises
from monkeypod’s Harpo hair:
oooogah! clown nose!
Gaia opens like
a flower – shedding gold pollen,
green feet pounding.
Solar flares. Spine-wires
humming. Rosin up – leap out
upon their singing!
Pouring paths today.
Window music: slump-crunch of concrete,
In dream my selkie-
skin, such tender seaweed, came home
around my bones.
(Albatross at Midway)
You can band them then,
sitting on eggs, deep dream, eyes
Brief rain in darkness,
like wind in trees. Not-rain in window:
My dear friend and magical haiku-poet Lisa Rizzo has written about the Haiku Room on her terrific blog Poet Teacher Seeks World. Read it at http://poetteacherworld.blogspot.com/