May 11th 2016

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May—
····a crow shakes loose the early morning
········frost
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There was ice in the puddle this morning, even as the sun was a haze of steam in the trees. Tonight is cool again. I already think about what I’ll write tomorrow, how small the world is but also how large. I could spend the rest of my life on a single road, never inquire beyond the wind in the trees, and live as though the world were at peace. Maybe someday I’ll build my cabin in the field and live like that.

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187 May 11th 2016 | bottlecap

May 10th 2016

Today’s haiku marks the first for the second half of the year. Yesterday’s was half a year’s worth.
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When the Czech composer Leos Janacek was 63 years old, he fell in love with a 26 year old woman. The woman, Kamila, was married and so was Janacek. She was very friendly toward Janacek but wasn’t romantically interested, and neither was she all that interested in his music—and perhaps music in general. Nonetheless, Janacek’s love inspired a new outpouring of music, and beautiful music at that, inspired by her and for her.
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This story was mentioned on the radio today and I felt a kindred sorrow for Janacek; especially because at that moment a beautiful young woman walked by. Ones appreciation for the beauty of youth doesn’t ebb with age. It’s not just aging, but knowing that even were one single, that’s not a world ever to be returned to—not in this lifetime.
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I often imagine what it would be like to fall in love with this or that woman—young, vigorous, beautiful. It’s that falling in love that is missed, that world of unknown but anticipated possibilities, missed even in the most loving and long lasting of marriages.
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And that longing can inspire the most beautiful art.
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Men eye young women wistfully. But it’s not just men. I recently read the story of a woman who resented men’s gazes and advances in her youth. Now that she was middle-aged, and now that men no longer pursued her, she confessed to a little sadness and regret.
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Robert Frost also fell in love after the death of his wife, and had an affair with the married Kathleen Morrison. Frost was 64, Morrison 40. The allure of Morrison’s youth undoubtedly played a part in Frost’s attraction; but she also inspired him to write with renewed vigor. He produced many of his best poems during this time, perhaps because of a reinvigorated emotional life.
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It’s not that we grow older, it’s that the young don’t grow old with us—or so we imagine.
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a girl
····in April—a young woman
········in May

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186 May 10th 2016 | bottlecap

May 8th 2016

· the were
as if
····they were last year’s daffodils, these too will soon
········be gone
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This haiku was inspired by Basho’s haiku:
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Giving my grass hermitage to a family with daughters
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a grass hut too
·····has a season of moving:
········a doll’s house
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kusa no to mo / sumikawaru yo zo /hina no ie
·····translated David Landis Barnill

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For this seemingly opaque haiku, Landis provides, compared to other haiku, one of the longer explanations:
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The first hokku in Narrow Road to the Deep North, coming after the famous opening passage about the transitory character of life. Yo here can mean “world,” “period,” or “generation.” 3rd day of the Third Month was the Doll’s Festival when various dolls were displayed. With spring having arrived and Basho giving up his hut to a family, it is time of changing residence, but it is also a world in which change is predominant and fundamental, seen in generation after generation.

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It was these last lines that inspired my own haiku. Every year the daffodils return, and though they look no different than daffodils of all the years before, they are not the same. They are new flowers in a world changed from the year before. My children are no longer little children. I am older. So is my wife. Nothing is the same.
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And it’s strange, for a little while, that spring’s flowers fill me with such melancholy.
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If this were like any other year, my one hundred and eighty second haiku would almost mark a half year’s worth of haiku. But this year was a leap year — 366 days. Tomorrow’s haiku will mark the last before I begin the closing half of my yearlong journey.
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184 May 8 2016 | bottlecap

May 7th 2016

Driving north on Highway 91, about midway between Thetford and Fairlee, is a field of dandelion—a several acre square of newly painted yellow.

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not
····even the clouds cast shadows—a field
········of dandelions

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The north and south the roadside is thick with White Pine. In Germany these were the kinds of dark woods thick with the scent of mushrooms. Maybe I’ll look for some puffballs this spring.

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183 May 7th 2016 | bottlecap

May 6th 2016

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tangled
····in her hair, the spice of the wild
········leek
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She returns bringing the spicy odor of the forest floor in the early week of May. There is mud under her finger tips and her hair carries a twig and cobwebs. The leeks will only last a little while, and then be gone for another year.

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182 May 6th 2016 | bottlecap

May 5th 2016

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even
····at midnight—the cat in my neighbor’s
········window
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Last night’s haiku was an experiment. Its hard to write about black limbs, branches or boughs without thinking of Ezra Pound’s poem:

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

It’s frequently called a haiku, but most scholars, I think, refer to it as ‘Pound’s imagist poem’. I don’t think Pound would have called it a haiku and I haven’t read anything suggesting that was his aim. But in it’s being praised for economy of language and precision of imagery, it exemplifies what is best in the best haiku.

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181 May 5th 2016 | bottlecap

May 3rd 2016

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gray
····sky and black road—each going the same
········way

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I’ve begun reading Richard Wright’s haiku from front to back, and am circling my favorites. In the last eighteen months of his life, during his sickness, Wright wrote over 4000 haiku. He wrote them obsessively and though I won’t write nearly as many, or at least as quickly, I feel a kinship with his love of the form.
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179 May 3rd 2016 | bottlecap