Student work: Fall haiku

I propose to students, in this exercise, that haiku as form (three lines of 5 7 5 syllables) is less helpful to us than haiku as genre (quick bright trace of an instant of perception), and invite them to let their poems be absolutely simple.

They work gamely at it but often the temptation of complication maintains its hold. So when their haiku come in, I pick one by each student and pare it back to the bare bones of perception I sense in it. Not to edit their poems but to model a process.

Then I ask them to do likewise with the other four. Doubled up on a verb? Pick the one right one. Added texture with an adjective or an adverb? Try getting rid of it. Straining somewhere for effect? Lighten your touch. Be absolutely simple. Tap into everything a word is and does.

Here are some of the results, which I think are quite lovely, with their edits retained, when they made some.

          An apple
rots from rain,
          never picked.

          This field —
six feet high, dizzy
          dried and dead.

Gray fur coats
the carpet, as the cat
sheds away the summer.


black dirt speckles
cell blocks in knotted veins
an alligator‘s skin

          Wind eats silence
with whistle and whimper
          debris takes flight.

          Dew crowns blades of grass —
Regal autumn mornings rise,
          No one is awake.

One hour,
stowed away,
for what?

Crop burning fills
lungs with harvest air.
I am displaced.

Rain, rain,
go away —
or don’t.

In the old, blue, houses
          the moisture pleads,
“Can I borrow your coat?”

Even on the sea
leaves of fall
          find me

Black pavement
littered with gold,
trees shed their skin.

moon at its fullest,
leaves float.

          squirrel cracks open
an acorn on the floor
          Basho’s head rolls out

          Rich gravy runs
over white mountains
          on to burnt tongues.

A crow
from the rotting pumpkin
raises a cry.

          Golds litter wet ground,
The bronze moment of the year
          For which I was named.

The day the dead rise,
one night of freedom.
They want candy.

One pumpkin
half dead from of frost
earth eager for earth.

          Inside the bus —
under boots,
          the painful heat wrenches my skin.

          The bus stop —
wet leaves
          on toes.

scents of green
hollowed out skies
rain is falling

The leaves recorded
Eyes are video cameras
switched to on standby

The wind
pushes against the walls
house creaks

Raindrops onto
A red bridge over
Blue waves.

Gravity pulls
Leaves succumb
Trees bare all

Dried roots
Rotten Memories
Snaps of ginger

Uprising mushrooms
Puddles gathering round
Fall mornings

The crunch of leaves
gives way to the coming rain
and soak filled groans.

leaves the rain

block my view
of plants.

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I write draw teach blog in and from the Pacific Northwest of America.

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