milky way

Post a Haiku as an Example for Discussion: with the thought of "haiku engine" in mind (related to the previous and ongoing discussion), please post, for pondering, a haiku (yours or someone else's) that demonstrates one of your ideas regarding this illusive engine as you see it. Please include a brief explanation of how the haiku works and why (in relationship to its theorized engine, if any). We are not necessarily saying the haiku is "good or bad." Rather, we are explaining our perception of the haiku and how it works - how it operates as a haiku. No qualitative judgments please.

As this is a discussion of education and advanced study, we do not need the approval of authors if we happen to use one of their poems for this discussion (as I see it). This is a friendly group of ponderers and explorers - serious students of haiku with open minds for discussion. I believe fair-use would be, therefore, in order. We cannot adequately discuss a haiku with only one line of it apparent.
Please include appropriate credits for all posts that include haiku.


Michael Rehling: 

as if i cared or not the boolean nature of snow

It works, because 'I get it', and I 'hope' others will as well.

Richard Gilbert:
What catches a mind (energizes its engines)? There are so many haiku that interest me. In the book "The Disjunctive Dragonfly" one of the techniques discussed is "Pointing to the missing subject" (rarely used, difficult to successfully achieve in haiku). I found, last year, 9 excellent examples (there are certainly more). I'd like to mention especially:

counting down the goodness of man:
from the sixth

Hoshinaga Fumio, 2003, Kumaso-Ha (Gilbert et al, trans.)
(In case Fb messes up the third line: "obscure" is a broken-off fragment, with the 'o' lying under the 't' of "the" in the first line.) Partly I can't shake off this haiku *because* so much of it is inexplicable -- while at the same time, I care deeply somehow -- I feel an immediacy of concern. I also feel a great gap or distance of another's manner of thinking and using language, so different from my own. I feel this is a ku of social consciousness, and subversive, with a darkly playful, ironic humor. But don't we all "rate" the neighbors, judge our friends, evaluate whatever historical situation or speaker-at-large, for "goodness" -- the covert typing and judging of goodness, involves a "counting down." The uncountable becomes countable, in other words -- the uniqueness of human goodness becomes judged and measured. The poet proposes yet a further thought, that at the "sixth," goodness becomes "obscure." In Japan as elsewhere numbers have symbolic meanings. Four is related to death, five (fingers, toes) has some connection with uncertainty and luck -- but six -- is obscure. Imagine the 6th degree of goodness -- just how "good" is that? Who is the subject here? And where do I stand? Mostly in obscurity, in some vague realm, after the end -- my own "goodness" less than countable (I have to admit). However as a kinesthetically embodied reader, I arrive right between "sixth" and "obscure." See? I'm just inside the poem. And reminded of something, too: the way(s) we are lost, socially, individually, concerning goodness. Or less than appreciative, perhaps? This poem awakens me. I find, in its multiple paradoxes and bizarre hypotheses new ways of appreciating two or three things: poetry, others, and the author's ballsy outrageousness. The strength of his vision. Courageousness. The fragments of the modern exist here, expressed using a language which practically erases itself as it is read, like the invisible ink of a spy. This haiku is so deeply human. And yet with a wry grin, haikai humor combines with a deadly seriousness. Ya got me!

Michael Rehling:
It always amazes me what a few syllables can trigger...

Don Baird:
Hey Mike. Who wrote the one-liner? I've never seen it and rather like it, too! If you were teaching haiku to a novice, how would you explain this haiku to him/her? Is it "just is" or is there a rudimentary aspect to it that a novice could learn - to emulate?

Michael Rehling:
Some guy with the same name as mine wrote it... If you know what a Boolean operator is then you will get it, if not then this may sail over your head... Boolean operators have only two responses, yes/no, true/false, on/off, etc., etc., etc. 

Don Baird:
@Richard: I think I've written many various things without a subject (or at least didn't get to it succinctly enough) ... LOL

Writing a haiku without a subject while, at the same time, having it make sense (if needed) would be quite the chore! Now, I'm pondering in overtime!

Love it, Mike! Thanks!

Sometimes I think my computer is a Boolean Operator! 

Michael Rehling:
Indeed it is...

Richard Gilbert:
Two more on "the missing subject":

not quite ice cream
mother dreams near

Richard Gilbert, 2012, RR 12:1

what swallows me more
this vacant lot
or the baby in my arms

Tyrone McDonald, 2012, MH 43:2

Don Baird:
"expressed using a language which practically erases itself as it is read," — (Richard G) has me smiling. What a thought! While we write haiku in the shadows of being memorable, we have a haiku here that erases itself as it's written and/or read ... and, has no subject!

Richard Gilbert: s
And two more ("the missing subject" again):

where the lines end and the absence begins an architecture or so

Chris Gordon, 2002; H21 74; HIE 191

before letting go
letting go

Marian Olson, 2002, HIE 168

Don Baird:
Reader participation is "on notice" when reading one of these haiku — the reader causative, in a way, of the subject — fills in the subject from his own experience or imagination. This style of haiku would encounter a great deal of reader resistance, possibly — depending on the intuitiveness of the reader and, again, experience.

Michael Rehling:
Don, who cares??? 

Don Baird:
Maybe just me? 

Richard Gilbert:
Hey, ponderings -- you know are -- ponderings . . . nuff said.

Michael Rehling:
Pondering is always without a price...

Don Baird:
I love to ponder. And, I'm a teacher — for 50 years! So, I like to ponder out loud ... sharing with other ponderers and then additionally ponder how to teach something that has no subject! LOL Although, often I have, but because there was no subject, I can't remember what it was about. 

Richard Gilbert:
Sometimes, priceless? Well I hope as the Western world awakes more will chime in.

Michael Rehling:
This reminds of a saying:
"He who can does, he who cannot starts a online haiku journal and appoints themselves 'editor'. 

Don Baird: 

I did that (though I have editors who gladly and skillfully assist, these days) ... and yet, I also write haiku. Hopefully, I even write a memorable one (the operative word being "one"). Of course, that's another subject.

I'm looking for a haiku to post to add to the discussion at hand. hmmmm

Michael Rehling: 

That joke was on me... I have done it a few times you might remember... 

Richard Gilbert:
Mike, that reminds me of another haiku with a missing subject:

whom one falls for on the skylight hard rain

Philip Rowland, 2012; RR 12:2
(Also a good example of Kaneko Tohta's idea of "teiju hyohaku": "settled wandering") -- something is there and yet there is also something of the subject which wanders, where? It's hard, and romantic, and true. And urban. A haiku evoking darkness and sound. "whom one falls for." It's happened, it's post-coital. It's real. And yet . . . that reaching out into space, for the truth of simple human existence. Editors who can-do publish good shit.

Don Baird:

part of the
milky way

Of course, I cannot properly format it on Facebook. Formatting is too complex (lol) for them to figure out. This is a poem by John Martone that has struck me (for a few months).

I wonder if we each see the same haiku engine. Or, is there more than one engine — in perception?

Is there a subject?

This one leaves me feeling that, while a subject appears to be in the haiku, it isn't the "subject" per se. It is a very open poem that sequesters much of its meaning — leaving the reader to, once again, do much work.

Is "snow" the subject? Is the subject implied to be the connection between the snow itself and the mirrored feel of it in the Universe? Or, is there more — just not written?

Richard Gilbert: 

I think "snow"...milky way" is more in the "Impossible truth" category (I opine as a nomenclatura). Very evocative, and another ku which is uber-minimal, yet evokes vast and miniscule worlds, both. Simplicity, belied.

Michael Rehling: 

Wow, I like that one a lot Richard! I love 'fill in the blank' haiku, as I call them...

Don, this one is simple, and yet extreme... No 'facts' to get in the way of the image...

Richard Gilbert:

It confronts you.

Don Baird:
And this one:

the fragrance
of names

... creating a disjunction between reader and the meaning because the phrase "the fragrance of names" doesn't readily make sense.

Richard Gilbert:
Or is it just the quietest of stray noticings?

Don Baird:
Yes. I think so.

S.M. Abeles: 

I mentioned in the first post, re: my thoughts on "image" as centrality, my "bare branch" poem, which was intended to be part 2 of Basho's "withered branch" haiku, i.e., what we're left with when the crow flies off (everything else, ideally with a "cut-out" of where the crow had been). Perhaps another image-centric piece might be:

into the distance
the cafe car barista's
cinnamon eyes

(Daily Haiku, Cycle 15, by me)

The image on the first level might be a young lady's pretty eyes, but if the reader also sees the world whizzing by in them, with a tinge of sadness, then hopefully we've each done our job in helping to create a better poem than it appears on the surface. In that sense, "cinnamon eyes," is a bit of misdirection -- it's a bit punny and clever and is most certainly better than "brown," but is not the point. It's a tool to try to keep the reader in the poem with a bit of "sweet," or long enough to see the sour too.

Yes I've noticed other posters focusing on the poems of other poets -- unlike me! But I read that as part of the invitation, so don't feel too presumptive.

Don Baird:
The meaning is in the feeling, not the words. (To me) The poem is more than words. (the snow/milky way, haiku)

All poems are welcome, Scott! It's terrific to see yours posted here as well. No worry.

Re: the moonflower haiku: My dad always knew the names of every flower, every tree, etc. The relationship between "names" and "moonflower" is the scent, in this poem. In a way, the scent is the name — which was always my answer to my father whenever I didn't know the name of a particular flower, myself. "Dad, the name is its scent," I would say.

In the following haiku, I believe the operative key is "feeling" whereas the moonflower poem seems to be "scent":

first morning bell
today the note is sadder
and forever

Ross Figgins

There is an intrinsic feeling emitting by this haiku that transcends the words that are causative of the feeling. That's an engine, in my eyes.

Mike Rehling:
I like that one a lot Don! Levels for every reader...

Don Baird:
Me too. It is a Ross Figgins haiku published in Haiku 21. Excellent haiku.

Michael Rehling:
Here is one of mine that gets 'missed'...


I like it because it says it all with just two words...

Sheila Windsor: 

I love this one (extracted from above) :

before letting go
letting go

Marian Olson, 2002, HIE 168
not because of any objective thing or quality I can identify except that (as ‪Michael‬‬ said somewhere in the thread) I 'get it'. I can immediately identify with it, having experienced it. Before the physical 'doing' there is the thought of it. Something like that. But I'm aware that this is entirely subjective: another reader/s will not get it. Conclusion: what drives a haiku/makes a haiku 'work' is not with the haiku alone, it is a co-creative exercise depending, perhaps equally, on writer and reader alike.

Sheila Windsor: 

On the other hand, this one of Michaels:

as if i cared or not the boolean nature of snow

... doesn't 'work' for me because I immediately argue against it: I don't experience snow as being on/off. Then my mind goes to the myriad ways of snow other than/between on and off: a flake blown from a tree long after it's stopped snowing et al, et al. But then, perhaps that makes it a successful haiku (whatever that might be) because it has me dwelling on snow and its nature far longer than I dwelt on the nature of letting go before letting go. Happy ponderings to Don and all.

Michael Rehling:
If you lived where I live, snow is beautiful (we get well over a 100 inches a year so if you don't think that, you don't live here) IF you have food, propane, and other necessities, but if you don't have all the above it freaks you out! That is what I was experiencing when I wrote it. My mental checklist went right through my mind. If Than fit that moment. No poem work for everyone, the dream of the 'universal poem' is a myth in my mind.

Marian Olsen's poem you cite works well for me because I can see it from a number of angles. It allows the reader to 'read' into it from any angle. Nice.

Sheila Windsor:
I love your snow, Michael! Thanks for sharing it. I grew up in deepest darkest Shropshire (rural as it gets here) and I do recall a couple of years that the snow was above the hedgerows (tall hedgerows) and there was therefore NO SCHOOL!!!!! We tend not to get snow like that any more. . . we get a lot of winter rain! 

Hansha Teki: 

In keeping with 'brevity' as an engine I bring the following by Raymond Roseliep.

of one bird
and I

In its very brevity resides the poem's effectiveness. It is quiet, subdued and wintry. Roseliep has trimmed his mastery of poetry to the bone. It creates resonance and is the winter by allusion to Basho's autumn as in

this autumn
why am I aging so?
to the clouds, a bird

(tr. Makoto Ueda) 

Richard Gilbert:
With reference to your touching examples, Hansha, and Michael's "mandala," you may recall:


Nicholas Virgilio, 1986; HIE 46

Sheila, another "star" ku, which plays with inner/outer sense and experience, with intriguing and concise language,

stars beyond

L. A. Davidson, 1972; HIE 76

(the last “star” should be placed to the right of or beyond “beyond”)

Sheila Windsor:
Thank you, Richard. I like this too. Sharing one of mine:
through the lilacs

Sheila Windsor:
The commonality of the human experience expressed in an infinite variety of ways.

Diana Ming Jeong:

summer moon -
a cicada falling
on itself

~ by me

To me, the engine is the yugen and not necessarily the cut marker but the resonance of the final word.

Howard D. Moore:
this was cool...i had so many insights while reading this...a great teaching tool...