You aren’t the only one! I have to admit I have just learned that today, April 17, is National Haiku Day. I can’t let it slip past without posting some of my favorite musings in this classical Asian literary form. It’s only natural that I would favor haiku poetry since it’s a written reflection of the moments I’m always capturing with my camera. Haiku are excellent practice for children’s authors. They contain only the most evocative images in words clear as glass. Like children’s picture books which are anything but simple in conception or creation if they are to be fresh and memorable, haiku are flashes of realization. They should be lightbulbs of recognition and identification, or provide new ways of seeing. It’s scary to write one because of the danger of falling short of the ancient masters. Still, writers seek to join the tradition because of the zen which haiku creation brings. Here are some of mine which follow the three-line, five-seven-five syllable structure:
Gobbled in mindless frenzy
Soon, a butterfly
Bumpy wrinkled thing
Some say you have no beauty
But your song is strong
I watch a small wren working
and find great comfort
Full skirts shield shy eyes
like fish among pond lilies
Youth and spring repeat
Cold and mist unite
trailing veils of winter white
snow is rain’s soft bride
Small bird sends his thoughts
speaking worlds in two bright eyes
before the singing
April is special for many reasons – a bird nest in every one of the nestboxes painted by our daughter, four in bushes, roses filling the trellises and blowing petals everywhere, Easter eggs still in the fridge, extra reading and exploring time during Spring Break, and it’s National Poetry Month!
Poetry, like music and art, speaks to the soul. We identify, smile, feel comforted by various forms of word patterns. Whether realistic, abstract, colorful, inspiring, funny, solemn, reverent or irreverent, there are poems for every time in life. For me, it isn’t always necessary for a poem to provide an answer or a definite conclusion. Sometimes I’d rather interpret the words my own way. The main joy in discovering a poem is that it evokes emotion.
I have far too many favorites to list. Some follow strict literary form, some are free verse; I love haiku and tanka, and limericks. My journal is full of all kinds of poetry, and our fridge sports poems which change from time to time.
Here are a couple that I have written for children’s magazines and for the children in my life. I get grins and lots of funny comments which makes writing worthwhile. Sometimes the words come first, and other times I capture a photo which gives me the words. I’m rarely without my camera, paper, and pen. Here they are:
I love her very much.
She rolls with tummy uppy
when she first feels my touch.
I scratch her chin to belly
and hold her in my lap.
Her legs go soft as jelly
and she stays to take a nap.
I see my best friend’s sleeping head
resting on my knee.
What does she see with her eyes
when she looks at me?
Watching an ant cross a big waterspot.
Then out of the leaves popped a sleepy-eyed head
Like the color of clay or a strange rusty-red.
I wanted to ask how the heck it did that, but
Before I could speak it leaped onto my hat.
I waved my hands wildly all over the top
But the thing disappeared in the leaves with a PLOP!
Here’s one by Wendell Berry for the adults in our children’s lives:
The Peace of Wild Things
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Happy reading and writing during Poetry Month, and every month of the year.