Friday, July 26, 2013

lake haiku ii

Is honesty the same as truth? This question came to me yesterday as I read Henry Miller's ranting essay "When I reach for my revolver" in which he lists the many ways he is disgusted by the American way of life. (This was 50-60 years ago, at the height of the cold war.)

I think that maybe honesty is the closest thing to truth that we get in this life.

In some subtle way, writing haiku this week (combined with the Miller readings, which are brutally honest) is making me look more honestly at myself and my world. Maybe haiku are essentially for the writer herself, even more intensely than other forms of poetry. They enunciate a moment she has experienced in the most condensed form. Can another person understand what is true in that moment? Yes, if he or she is also quickened by his or her own such moments.


blue damselfly long
aligned with the grain of wood
must not be a poet


silos on a hill,
tines of a jet trail, duets.
I am not alone

morning mist, kayak,
purple pickerelweed, sun,
drops from the paddle


blueberries in a
pancake, midnight planets and
no less mystery


kayak in mist, no
memory card in the camera,
clicking away with joy


linoleum blocks
uncle carved ­­— violin, birds,
a small dove, alive

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

lake haiku

I am on vacation at the lake in a family cottage my parents got fifty years ago when I was seven. 1963. Coincidentally, one of my primary pleasures during this time is reading Henry Miller's Stand Still Like the Hummingbird, published about the same time. I was an English major who thought that all Miller wrote were [banned] novels. But his essays are some of the most inspiring and fruitful readings I have read (thank you, George). 

I have read and reread (and reread again twice more) the chapter titled "Children of the Earth." I feel there is enough in it to inform me for living the rest of my life. I plan to use passages from it at small in the coming days after vacation (link at sidebar). This chapter was just what I needed to read at just this time, when the chaos of the world gets more chaotic, and a person looking for meaning could lose her mind.

Before my vacation began, wanting to pare back to the simple seed-pit of life, I decided to write and post a haiku a day with a photo at small. Again coincidentally, when I began reading Miller the first day of vacation, this passage at the end of "Children of the Earth" rang its synchronous bell:

When all is said, I nevertheless concede that as long as I continue to write I remain perforce a propagandist. Only one kind of writing have I ever found which is devoid of this lamentable element, and that is the Japanese haiku. It is a form of poetry limited to so many syllables wherein the poet expresses his love, usually of nature, without making comparisons, without the use of superlatives. He tells only what is, or how it is. The effect, upon the Western reader at least, is usually one of jubilation. It is as if a weight had been taken from his shoulders. He feels absolved. "Amen!" is all he can exclaim.
To live one's life in this spirit which informs the haiku strikes me as an ultimate. . . .
 At small you can see a photo and read one lake haiku a day. Here at washed stones I will post those haiku as well as others in this lake series. Writing haiku is practice in looking, listening, and finding the smallest connection a moment offers. At least that's how I see it. It's what this respite is all about.


over the water
with weeds the paired Dragonflies
confound Time and me


moon rising on the lake,
a child’s face from behind
her mom’s skirt flowing


wind rustles the trees,
American flags madly
wave across the lake


minnows watch for bugs
while my paper and pen blow
onto the surface


three turtle heads up,
farther off three fishermen
trade places in a boat


two pileated
woodpeckers high in the oaks,
an acorn hits the roof


five brown ducks swim by,
find the fallen tree, line up,
preen, and fall asleep


a  flycatcher, still,
on a dead branch emptying
sky. a small plane flies

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I waken from a nightmare
and see its fears light
the room like fireflies.

Everything is evil
I feel, although,
in spite of everything,
before sleep I would have
said nothing is.

This shift is internal,
the way a piece of wood
takes flames along its shank
and then in an hour or so
glows from within.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The reunion

I am scattered, so scattered.
Weeks on end of this after that
and not enough stillness.

The family crowd too
hums in many directions:
On the porch inside screens behind me
three clusters, two at each end
of the farm table after dinner,
one discussing roofs and the other
competing at Rummikub.
Then those on the couches lounging with feet up
looking like they’d rather sleep than converse.
Another set of talking heads
on the deck too distant
for me to surveil, but it seems serious.
And in the water at the bottom of the hill
the children akimbo in equal parts splash and squeal.

The baby and I alone in the hammock
swaying under glowing oak leaves,
singing our farm song with motions,
he mimicking with his arms
“feed the chickens”
“pick the apples”
“hoe potatoes”
“milk the cows”
then the oak leaves
mimicking us
and then nothing
as we rest from our labors
gathering in our arms
the fruits of familial solitude.