Haiku 2013 Project



This haiku project started with the ambition of writing one a day for the year of 2013. The unfulfilled and very uneven result follows. I am no haiku writer. If this project has a point, it's that practice improves the making of things even if progress doesn't lead to mastery. Thanks to Jenni Backs for the short lesson on haiku she presented in November at The Polk Street Review launch party. Thanks also to my old poetry buddy Jeff Likes for his enthusiastic support, as well as to all those who have liked or favorited these when they appeared in social media.






The moon in frost clouds,
scrubbed clean, has outshined the light
of ten passing cars.


It won't do much good
brooding the sidewalk's cold.
Sun's already up!


Aircraft in cold blue.
A breeze down here just as chilled.
Sun does slow work.


Snow gone. Brown shows
how far cold weather sank in.
Sit. Watch it turn green.


This cold wind in March
comes with sun a' blazing.
Now colder, brighter.


Can I ask for much
beyond ink, pen and paper?
Sunlight! And a tree!


Linc joins the boxes:
dead wood fastened to hold
strong, growing gardens.


The mower coughs out
wet grass. The trimmer deafens.
Now a clean, green slate.


Cold again, and here
tulips brighten. Why complain?
It all happens now.


Mow the lawn, and then
a two-stroke engine to trim.
Buzzing hands. Job done.


Thin showers steam up
then leave us shivering.
These are easy thrills.


Humidity now
and ragged clouds where cold pours.
I scan them. Hoping.


Green leaves flat and hard
in the sun: how they like it.
Me: sweat in my eyes.


Noble I am not.
And down goes the thermostat
five ice-cold degrees.


Morning: mist on things
turns up the humidity.
Here's a gray, hot day.


Heat is our world now,
and we expect no new worlds.
Next comes September.


Heat comes back today.
Pruned shrubs try growing more leaves
in the year that's left.


And this morning's cool
speaks of time ahead. I drink
warm coffee and smile.


Two-part cicadas'
counterpoint tonight. Have I
succeeded or not?


Cool now. The forecast
hot. We put on robes and chant
with the morning bell.


And so these thistles
do come to age in sere air:
dull down, sharp needles.


Dew on tops of cars
says rain, but we walk upon
dry paths, unrelieved.


Summer's dusty blue
leaves everywhere. Gold collects
in gutters, in drains.


And so four days in 
September hold on to heat.
Fluke? Or our greenhouse?


Air conditioners
roar so we may fan ourselves
and frown anyway.


Painters knock windows
scraping. Hard, fast work before
the temperature drops.


Cool the whole day through,
a fever passes, and a
bluejay scolds us all.


For better or worse...
No, drop them both. See this deep
green tree in sunset.


It's a brighter sun
in October: cold and all
these green leaves on blue.


Harsh light on farm sheds.
Soft browns of harvested ground.
One lark flies quick, straight.


This light that Van Gogh
lived for returns: 10 am,
brisk Indiana.


One dead boxwood branch
clipped, leaves checked, soil: already
I think survival. 


We will call it hot.
We will call it cold. Autumn.
What is in a name?


Clumps of my hair dot
cold white tile. One yellow leaf
on pavement skitters.


He sweeps a blower
over leaves on rain-slicked grass.
A living. Wet boots.


Hung in bare branches,
blocked by clumps of leaves: this sun
that follows me home.


So while this chilled light
shines the cold glass of windows,
let me take a nap.


Turmeric, chilies,
garam masala with beans.
Cold day. A crock pot.


A house covered in
wet brown shingles. Beside it
a dim, red tree.


The sun tears holes here,
and five miles off shades twist
a new November.


Pulled clumps of gray grass.
Coiled hoses to their last drops.
Sweat. Remove my cap.


The sun sets as clouds
arrive on this warm evening
before ice returns.


Houses turn upside
down in these streets of metal:
rain on cold asphalt.


I would give you a 
moon made of ice to treasure,
but just look up now.


Before sunrise sheer
sky of stars. An empty bed.
Alarm clock unrung.


Cereal sugared
all over the lawn. Grab a
broom. It's breakfast time!


Calligraphy for
a card on the altar. Ice
on fallen leaves.


All over again
the leaves start to fall, and I
grip the steering wheel.


In wind the shelter
for the bonsai has flown. Now
a glass-blue sky shines.


At morning many
paired lights made thousands by drops
on a cold windshield.


Warm, shoeless I think
about Christmas and stare at
these cold, unraked leaves.


Sickness today, but
thirty years ago we ran
across those rooftops.


December's warm day
throws thin rain on the windows
and chills dry fingers.


An unexpected
guest leaves broken crusts of snow
in his fresh footprints.


The sun's frozen fog
penetrates the streets, even
my hand held as shade.


The snow shovel hits
frozen ridges of the work
I have left undone.


It was silver. Now
drained through street grilles, that ice
leaves rain and rough green.


Voices audible
where snow melts near the house,
Christmas lights at dawn.


I have overslept
this year. Brisk air and gray skies
all over again.