HAIKU Selection

Haiku Selected by James W. HACKETT
Translated into Japanese by NAKAMURA Yasumi

back empty-handed
from the bursting meadow: idle
ikebana bowl

Ms. Visnja McMaster, Croatia
(tr. by the poet)

A haiku experience as sensitive as a rare ikebana arrangement. The expression shows admirable skill and restraint. Subtle suggestion is the keynote, with each word carefully selected for its effect, as in the choice of ‘bursting.’ This single epithet not only suggests the season and the scene, it hints at the raison d'etre of the verse. And how well the simple phrase ‘idle ikebana bowl’ makes the point. Moreover, it is wisely separated, creating a pregnant pause. A most sensitive and subtle haiku with exemplary expression.

untended garden --
the old man's unsteady hand
adds red to the rose

Ms. Kathy Lippard Cobb, USA

A vivid and riveting haiku moment: one that provides an affecting, keenly observed experience. The ambient harmony of the aging man and the untended garden is poignant; in spite of infirmity and neglect, both have survived to share the summer. A ‘classic’ haiku.

Barely contained
in its thin velvet skin
-- soft fragrant peach.

Ms. Celia Stuart-Powles, USA

An unusual haiku offering -- the keenly perceived, sensuous experience of a single fruit. Though unorthodox in content, focus, and expression, it is a very lifeful and direct haiku. The experiential moment is so vivid we can virtually see, feel, and smell the fruit! To suggest the fulsome ‘suchness’ of a ripe peach in a few syllables is no easy feat. Haiku has been well (if not deeply) described as a poetry of the the senses. But the best haiku provide an emotive dimension as well. And here, beyond the tactile, redolent, and bursting ripeness of the fruit, the haiku seems to intimate something deeper. Such suggestion accrues when (as Basho urged) the poet and subject intuitively interrelate and become one.

A broken nutshell
and a twisted root remain
where the hazel grew.

Lesley Lendrum, Scotland

A haiku distinguished by a rare sensibility, one that well demonstrates how haiku sensitivity can ennoble mundane experience. It is apparent that the poet clearly understands what constitutes ‘the haiku experience:’ a successful use of the traditional haiku form presents a scene imbued with the ‘suchness’ of Zen in its depiction of ‘a thing, just as it is.’ The mood is stark and melancholy, befitting a sense of loss. How challenging to focus a haiku upon what no longer exists -- and in this instance, how very affecting the result!

harvest dusk--
sitting in the wheelbarrow
with the potatoes

Mr. Jim Kacian, USA

A memorable haiku: one that offers more than a whimsical irony. It may be day's end, and a tired worker needs to ‘sit a spell’ or perhaps a sleepy child is getting a ride home! Whatever the interpretation, an aura of oneness is suggested in the nexus between the land, toil, and our survival. It is a stunning and even painterly image, reminiscent of Van Gogh's early work depicting peasant life.

Almost unnoticed
the dying bee on the path
scatters its pollen

Mr. Brian Wells, UK

An admirable close attention is shown to another form of life in the throes of death. The impersonalized excellence of the first line creates an ambiguity with mystical suggestiveness. No sentimentality here; rather a compassionate attention to another living creature, however small.

To so well consummate this verse in the exacting form of traditional haiku evidences the special effort and care that were given to its expression. However, haiku success does not hinge upon form. The lifeful, caring awareness exemplified by this haiku experience is infinitely more important.

Une pomme, une seule,
au verger abandonne
rogit pour l'hiver

One apple, just one,
in the abandoned orchard
reddens for winter.

Mr. Patrick Blanche, France
(tr. by the poet's friend and James Kirkup)

a vernal rain -
in no way can I walk
slowly enough

Mr. Robert Bebek, Croatia
(translator unknown)

Tears blur the meadow --
one small pony
nuzzles my hand.

Ms. Billie Wilson, Alaska, USA

running with the car--
the tip of the dog's tail
through the knee-high corn

Mr. Lee Gurga, USA

in the small gap
between quivering nettles -
a rabbit's still eye

Ms. Caroline Gourlay, UK