Yesterday’s haiku, “Spring Days” was the first haiku I have written in forever! Okay, I am being a little dramatic and hyperbolic. It has been a few months maybe? I don’t know. I didn’t go back to check.
What’s the point here?
I have not been regularly writing new poetry of late. I am actually in the middle of “finishing” a new collection of poetry, which I am excited to finish, but I have felt like it has been a long time (for me) that I have written new poetry, haiku and other Japanese-style poetry that I used to pump out constantly.
The other day I was telling my kids about a 4th or 5th grade class where once a week our class had a Japanese language instructor come in and teach us Japanese. Now, I don’t remember very much of what we learned. I think we attempted to write our names in calligraphy. I know we learned the basics like hello (kon’nichiwa), goodbye (sayonara), thank you (arigatō), colors, numbers, the months of the year, and probably a lot of other useful words and phrases.
But my favorite part of that class was learning about haiku. Nature poetry with a 5-7-5 syllable structure. This class was taught by a Japanese woman, fluent in Japanese, wanting to impart to some restless American pre-teens different aspects of her country and her culture to us. As a thirty-something-year-old adult with some more advanced poetry experience under my belt, I understand that there is more nuance involved with the poetic form of haiku. Honestly, the true nature of haiku as practiced in the English language is still hotly debated in some forums.
I remember falling in love with the form. It was so simple, but dynamic. There are so many different ways of structure you could produce even though you are limited by the number of syllables in a poem. Japanese poetry was so different from what I saw of the poetic forms I had learn in my young life to that point. The reasons why and the how of it was different. It was enthralling.
I wrote my first haiku and shared it with that Japanese teacher and she loved it. She shared it with the class as an exemplary haiku. I heard some of the other students’ poems and I withdrew. They didn’t understand. They didn’t listen or didn’t care about what the teacher was sharing. They couldn’t write haiku, even if they had the write syllables, they were trying to put their Western mindset into something other.
I kept writing though. I wrote more and more of these nature poems with a unique structure and an underlying “message” that was under the surface, but still there, obvious. I knew after that class. I knew that I wanted to keep writing poetry. There is something exhilarating and liberating in writing poetry that my soul needed. I needed to write about the world around me. I needed to share it with words sometimes subtle and other times loud and clear.
Last night, when I wrote this new poem, “Spring Days,” I felt something break free. I felt some lightness return. I felt freer and more alive. I was writing again for me. There were words that needed to be let out and shared with the world that had been held back. I didn’t even know they were there. But when I let those words out, more and more soon followed.
from twisted dead sticksSpring Days by Jason A. Muckley © 2021
buds form all along the branch
I felt like this haiku describing the buds that appear in the springtime from brown, barren branches and then burst into life was, for me too, a resurrection of passion, desire.
Life is not stagnant. Life is change. Life happens, every moment.