Contents

 

 

 


Sketchbook 

Editor's Choice Roads Haiku Thread
 

 

 

 

John Daleiden, US

Aesthetically, snow flakes are beautiful; knowledgeable scientists tell me that no two of them are alike. I have lived for 72 years in the Midwest part of the United States—and for 72 years I have experienced winter in its many degrees of mildness and rage. In July 2007 my wife and I moved south to the Sonoran Desert—we actually live in a west suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. And even though it is far to warm here for snow, for the four weeks of December 2007 I have lived in a virtual snowstorm of "paths" haiku. The Sketchbook writers have posted 96 haiku to the December road thread; 16 poets from 7 countries participated.

As I began to examine these haiku looking for the "choice" gems I was suddenly struck with the similarity between well written haiku and snowflakes—both can be exquisitely beautiful, unique in their own way, and quite beautiful.

The road haiku mentioned below all have beautiful and unique qualities. Individually, I can not say I prefer one more than the other, but collectively they have an impact and I wish to comment on some of their unique qualities.

Because it is winter, and I have only recently come to live in a desert where there is no snow and little rain, I was emotionally drawn to two snow haiku:

Snowstorm at daybreak—
two snowmen arm in arm
on the country road

# 66. Serban Codrin, RO

Line 1 establishes a winter snow storm setting; line 3 provides more setting details and establishes conditions of isolation in a dire setting. Line 2—provides an interesting scenic detail that is ambiguous—are the two figures "arm in arm" snowmen, figures built out of snow, or are they two real humans engulfed in the storm at daybreak?  In this haiku the outstanding quality is ambiguity about the "snowmen".

after the storm
black ice on the road
sliding, sliding, sliding

# 08. Betty Kaplan, US

Any one who has lived where snow falls on the roads has participated in the experience described in the setting of the first two lines—a common experience. In this haiku line 3 uses the unique qualities of three exact repetitions and parallelism. Generally, it is bad haiku form to use exact repetition in any single haiku—but here the repeated word, "sliding" effectively emphasizes the moments of fear drivers experience when they are in this situation. The three words can also be described as being parallel in structure—a graphic imitation of the action being described in the third 3. These devices are subtly used in this poem; they are unobtrusive and effective.

a cloud
between you and I
this lonely path

inspired by Li Po
# 58. Karina Klesko, US

In this haiku all of the details are devoted to establishing a physical setting— 1) a cloud, 2) this lonely path, and 3) two individuals with a cloud between them / separating them.  Read only on a physical level the haiku seems only to be a physical description. However, if one permits the subtle use of figurative language, then it is easy to see that the cloud represents a problem between two individuals and this problem is the cause of "loneliness". In this poem the cloud is a metaphor for a problem or trouble between two people. Additionally, the relationship of the two people is ambiguous—are they lovers, friends, a parent and a sibling? Or is there some other relationship? Are they the same or different genders? How old are they? The use of line 2 as a pivot line is also an exceptional construction technique in this poem. Essentially, the pivot line extends a three line poem into a four line poem of two lines each:  "a cloud / between you and I"  and "between you and I / this lonely path". The unique qualities in this haiku are the subtle uses of figurative language—metaphor, ambiguity, and the pivot line structure.

under the full moon
a lone traveler on the path
to nowhere

# 50. Vasile Moldovan, RO

The pathos the reader feels for the "lone traveler" in this haiku is greatly enhanced by the juxtaposition of the visual images of a "the full moon" and "the path / to nowhere". In this haiku the author evokes the reader's compassion for "a lone traveler" on this journey.

at the cross roads
indecision . . .
left or right

# 18. Betty Kaplan, US

The two phrase structure of this haikuthe long phrase first (lines 1-2), followed by the short phrase (line 3). The natural caesura at the end of line 2 is enhanced by the use of ellipsis causing the reader to pause longer than the natural pause after a long phrase. Line 3 "left or right" appear to be typical driving directions, but again if ambiguity is permitted then the terms "left" and "right" can carry social or political implications. In this haiku these techniques are used with a subtle and deft touch.

full moon
crossing the bridge
one step at a time

# 04. Ed Baker, US

This haiku uses the second line as a pivot—thus, the two phrases of the haiku convey two different messages. In the first phrase, "full moon / crossing the bridge" we perceive an image of a rising moon—its light gradually creeping across the bridge. This technique gives the illusion of the moon rising over a duration or period of time. In the second phrase, "crossing the bridge / one step at a time" we are given the perception of a person walking across the bridge. The two images appear to be in motion, the first a nature image, the second a human image. Taken together we are given the illusion of motion over a period of time—a very unique use of time, since most haiku are a snapshot moment. The focus in this haiku seems to be on depicting an ongoing duration of time. Of course the bridge can be read as a metaphor—a connection allowing movement from point A to point B and it is also a construction devised to allow a safe crossing over a hazardous space. Once again we see the subtle and non-traditional use of figurative language in an excellent haiku.

open gate…
how narrow is
that path!

# 27. Rita Odeh, Nazareth

This minimal 9 syllable haiku ( 3 4 2) utilizes a juxtaposition of two opposite conditions: 1) the openness of the gate, contrasted with 2) the narrowness of the path leading from the gate; this results in an interesting irony. Although the author has designated the second phrase, "how narrow is / that path!" as a declarative exclamatory phrase with the designated exclamation mark (!) at the end of her sentence, she could have also punctuated the sentence as a question or interrogative by using a question mark (?). This second reading of the long phrase could also be viewed as a juxtaposition.

frosted roses
removing her ring
she takes a new path

# 05. Trish Shields, CA

Symbols can be powerful visual statements! In this haiku traditional symbols aid the poet in conveying the resolution of the narrator to end a decayed relationship and to begin a new one. Roses are a traditional symbol of love, but these "roses" are "frosted"—the imagistic language tells readers metaphorically that in this situation the love has "died". The "ring" is also a traditional symbol demonstrating a pledge of troth, loyalty, or faithfulness, but in this haiku the ring is "removed" and the narrator "takes a new path". The simple, unadorned language of this haiku quietly masks well crafted poetic techniques. The juxtaposition of the "old" traditional symbols (roses and ring) in the long phrase (lines 1-2) are nicely placed in apposition with the traditional symbol (new path) in the short phrase (line 3), that is being taken.

Windy Mountain
going up not as easy
as coming down

# 13. Ed Baker, US

Word play adds delight to any poem. In this haiku "Windy" can have two different meanings. "Windy" may mean the turns and twists and the climbs and descents that are typically found on a "Mountain" road. Or, "Windy" may refer to the movement of air that will typically be found on a mountain road. In fact both meanings are appropriate to this poem; through the use of word play the author has compressed multiple meaning into a few words.

The long road
through dust and fog—
sweet home.

#93. Zhanna P. Rader, US

All journeys must come to an end, and the final selection for comment takes us to the ultimate destination—"sweet home". In this haiku the juxtaposition of two sets of objects emphasizes an almost sentimental end. The long phrase, lines 1-2, contain two images: "the long road united with "dust and fog"; together these images suggest trial and tribulation, but juxtaposed with the short phrase, line 3, the sentimental image of "sweet home", all the trial and tribulation vanish. This juxtaposition focuses on the differences between the two objects—it provides a contrast. This final image in line 3 is also an example of literary allusion because I am reminded of the closing scene in the movie The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy exclaims:

"Home! And this is my room—and you are all here! And I'm not going to leave here ever again, because I love you all! And—Oh, Auntie Em—there's no place like home!"

This month the topic of roads, by-ways, and paths has taken me on a journey. Above I have explored some of the unique qualities that I observe in these haiku—qualities that make these captured moments superior for me as a reader. Here is a summary list of those unique qualities: ambiguity, exact repetitions, parallelism, figurative language, metaphor, pivot structure, caesura, ellipsis, two phrase structure—long phrase, short phrase, social or political implications, illusion of motion (a duration of time instead of a snapshot in time), illusion, juxtaposition, contrast, irony, symbols, imagistic language, apposition, word play, compression, contrasting juxtaposition emphasizing differences, literary allusion.

Each of the haiku discussed above is like a snowflakeeach is uniqueeach skillfully utilizes structural elements of composition that make them well crafted examples of haiku writing.

And finally, after reading these compositions many times, it occurs to me that these haiku can be placed in a meaningful arrangement.

John Daleiden

 

 

The Long Journey

A Haiku Arrangement

Snowstorm at daybreak—
two snowmen arm in arm
on the country road

# 66. Serban Codrin, RO


after the storm
black ice on the road
sliding, sliding, sliding

# 08. Betty Kaplan, US


a cloud
between you and I
this lonely path

inspired by Li Po
# 58. Karina Klesko, US


under the full moon
a lone traveler on the path
to nowhere

# 50. Vasile Moldovan, RO


at the cross roads
indecision . . .
left or right

# 18. Betty Kaplan, US


full moon
crossing the bridge
one step at a time

# 04. Ed Baker, US


open gate…
how narrow is
that path!

# 27. Rita Odeh, Nazareth


frosted roses
removing her ring
she takes a new path

# 05. Trish Shields, CA


Windy Mountain
going up not as easy
as coming down

# 13. Ed Baker, US


The long road
through dust and fog—
sweet home.

#93. Zhanna P. Rader, US

 

 

 

 

Read all the Roads haiku

 

 

 

 

 

 


to the top

Copyright (c) 2007 Sketchbook and Poetrywriting.org  All rights reserved.