Haiku poems (and one haibun) selected from Icebox submissions (Jan. – Mar. 2022) by Sosui (Nobuyuki Yuasa):
the old tree and I
share our memories Mira
last sliver of sunlight
gray geese still honking, grazing
on dark earth Sydney Solis
arises from the fog
and disappears in it –
the pilgrim Momiji
morning sun warms
the bellies of storks K. Ramesh
No Fishing sign
a heron’s eye
catches mine John Parsons
Under my high-legged sofa is an old brown suitcase with remnants from my dear deceased parents. It has been sitting there since my sister and I cleared out our childhood home nine years ago. Like a constant reminder, it has been on our “to do” list since: sorting out diaries, letters from relatives and papers from our father’s work as professor. But each time my sister visited, we postponed it as just too much – just now – when the sun was shining or a museum or film lured us to less heartbreaking activities. We know how fast we packed that heavy old thing! Years went by and last May my little sister became ill with cancer and died after just one month. So short a time to say all the unsaid things from a long life! Now I am the sole matriarch and the suitcase has been shouting at me to be opened. To my surprise my father wrote drafts of his correspondence.
The paper crackles
Thin between my fingertips
Letters from beloved Ulla Bruun
Once a lump of clay—
Three sharp pieces in the sink
still hold memories David Sinex
From a promenade bandstand
Vies with wind and waves. Kamome
in the dance of snowflakes
a Japanese white-eye begs food
from me in the garden Yoshiharu Kondo
The criteria used in my selection were (1) to choose one piece from each contributor and (2) to choose the poems that struck my heart in one way or another. My comments are as follows.
Both the author and the tree may be silent, but Mira’s poem is very eloquent nonetheless. Sydney Solis’s poem is a beautiful description of an evening scene. I wondered if it might be possible to move ‘grazing’ to the third line, though. Momiji’s poem not only describes the fog but also the inner mind of the pilgrim very well—full of anxiety but looking for peace. K. Ramesh’s poem is a vivid description of a morning scene. I smelled jasmine and felt the warmth of the sunlight. John Parsons’s poem catches a poignant moment well. I happen to be a fisherman myself, and have always detested ‘No Fishing’ signs and enjoyed meeting herons. Although they are our rivals, they can sit on a stone in the stream like a philosopher. They do have very sharp eyes, though.
Ulla Bruun’s haibun deals with a common theme, but I found it very sincere. I chose only one of the poems after the prose section, but it is a powerful one with which to conclude the piece. I found David Sinex’s poem somewhat mystifying, but thought-provoking at the same time. I wondered if it might not be possible to add a short prose paragraph to make the poem more understandable. Kamome’s poem describes the loud voice of the singer effectively. I wonder, though, which is really louder, the singer’s voice or the wind and waves. Singers nowadays may use electronic devices to make their voices very loud but, even so, winds and waves are more powerful, or at least it should be so. I enjoyed reading Yoshiharu’s poem on white-eyes (mejiro). I am also fond of these tiny green birds. Spring does not come until they are around.
Please allow me also to share a few haiku poems of my own. Feel free either to skip them altogether or to send me your own comments through the reply box.
The sky dawns today
Flushed in the softest of pink —
We know spring is here. ほんのりとピンクに染まる春の朝
A pair of crows fly
From a plum blossom village
To their mountain home. 梅が咲く里から山へ鴉二羽
A pair of white-eyes
Sing by turns in a hedgerow
In their sweetest voice. 生垣に目白鳴き交う声優し
With its sudden cry
A pheasant broke the silence
Of a spring morning. ケンケンと雉鳴き春のしじま断つ
Although I wrote the following poem years ago, I repeat it every year when the cherry blossom season is over.
Cherry blossoms gone—
Now I sit down to enjoy
Blossoms in my heart. 散り果ててやっと心の花見かな