February 17th 2016

Tonight is my one hundredth haiku. I imagine my hundredth as the best so far, but my abilities aren’t equal to my ambitions. That got me thinking about a passage by R.H. Blythe, in A History of Haiku:
·
Saikaku, 1643-1693, had a position of importance in the haikai world of his time, but as a novelist he eclipsed himself. Once, when studying under Soin, he made one thousand six hundred verses in a day. hearing of this, another poet made two thousand eight hundred. Not to be outdone Saikaku made four thousand verses during the day-time only…. His style of haiku-writing was criticized not only by the Teimon School but also by the School of Basho as being wretched and dissolute. He wrote very few good hokku… [p. 86]
·
Four thousand! Supposing a 12 hour day, that’s one hokku/haiku every 10 seconds or so. But I take some comfort in only having written a hundred haiku in a hundred days. Perhaps not all of them are wretched and dissolute.
·
after
····the icy wind—the teakettle’s
········whistle
·
Tonight I drank raspberry tea with a spoonful of honey and lemon rinds. I lay my favorite complete Shakespeare to my left. As I work on my longer blank verse poem I occasionally open Shakespeare for the beauty of the language. I also keep a collection of Basho, Issa and Buson close by. Last night I finished a book of haiku by western writers, a collection covering the last hundred years.
·
And then I ask myself why I write? As an Indian sage once remarked: The miracle is that despite knowing we must die, we nevertheless choose to live as if we didn’t.
·
103 February 17th 2016 | bottlecap

February 16th 2016

The day started with fresh snow, several inches, but by late morning snow turned to rain and the rain lasted for the rest of the day. I went out for a walk and was almost too warm in my raincoat. There’s something appealing in this bleak landscape. There’s nothing makes noise but wind in the cold weeds and the black trees.
as
····snow turns into rain—the crow
········shrugs

·

102 February 16th 2016 | bottlecap

December 12th 2015

I write for perfection in my poetry. A haiku a day forces me to post poetry I normally wouldn’t. This afternoon while I sat in Spaulding auditorium, watching my family practice in the Christmas Revels, I reconsidered last night’s haiku. I explain too much. In brevity, I think, is greater expressiveness.

·

in
····the window at night—seeing only
··············myself

only·

I wrote for a while at the Hanover book store. Looking out a window at night is like looking into a mirror, even on a busy street.

I like being by myself in a busy corner—a comfortable kind of loneliness.

36: December 12th 2015 | bottlecap

 

December 6th 2015 | Journey to the South

··

We journeyed to the south today. Out for Christmas shopping. The morning began as the season’s most beautiful. Low clouds in the valleys left the trees a brilliant white, especially beautiful above the green grass and the copper of their fallen leaves.

·Din

midnight
······frost—trees floating above the valley’s
···············clouds

·

We travelled south over the White River then out of the clouds in Pomfret. The field’s brittle golden rod, wild parsnip, yarrow, meadowsweet, Queen Anne’s lace and aster were bursting with tufts of sunlit frost.

·

sunrise—
·····December’s wildflowers must also
···············melt

·

Further south along Route 100, the road rises skyward until the vast expanse of the Greens laces the horizon. A lone farmhouse overlooked the valley and I wondered at the beauty of the view—and also the loneliness.

30: December 6th 2015

 

December 5th 2015 | spotless

·

after
····three days of rain—the spotless
········moon

·

·

29: December 5th 2015 | bottlecap

·

I woke last night, sometime in the early morning, and saw the moon through the frosted window. Over the motionless field it seemed especially bright.

December 4th 2015 | eggshells

Basho wasn’t Basho’s birth name, nor was it Buson’s or Issa’s. Basho assumed his haiku name when his disciples built him a hut and planted a banana tree beside it. Basho, which is Banana tree in Japanese, was named after it. When I was writing haiku several years ago I signed my haiku with my nickname—bottlecap (because of my bottlecap glasses). So if I’m going to pass myself off as a haikuist, then it seems to me I ought to get back to signing my haiku that way—by my haiku name.

·

eggshells
····in the old mailbox—last summer’s
··············delivery

·

·

28: December 4th 2015 | bottlecap

·

As I was clearing room for wood, I moved an old mailbox atop its rotten post. It had been left leaning on the shed wall. When I picked it up, out fell a Barn Swallow’s nest and its eggshells. I decided to lean it round the corner for another swallow and for another carpenter—who might also wonder why it wasn’t thrown out.