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


  1. I love Miller's thoughts on this liberating form of poetry.

    "Writing haiku is practice in looking, listening, and finding the smallest connection a moment offers." Yes! I think so. And there's that element of surprise too, isn't there - which is very much present in your own delightful haiku.

    1. Thanks, Robert. Yes "liberating" is a good way to describe this writing. I'm glad you found surprises, which is important, I think, as we connect what may not at first be the first thing to come to mind.

  2. Wonderful, Ruth! Love this post and each haiku. So glad you have found riches in Miller's essays. Have a great time at the lake.

    1. Thanks for reading, George, and for loving it. This is one of those times when I got just what I craved. I had a hint from reading the first chapter of Stand Still, and then that next one shot in like a ball to the goal post. This was the week of solitude. Starting this weekend we will have our family and friends. I feel ready now, and that is something. :)

  3. Love your haiku, Ruth. I've never read anything by Henry Miller (more for the endless list). What he says about haiku is wonderful. Thank you.

    1. So good to see you, DS. Thank you for reading these little moments. I believe you would love Henry Miller as much as I do. xo


All responses are welcome.