existentialist cafe

life is sacred

Tag: haiku

The things that have helped me over the past year or so

This is a list of resources that have been an important part of my eudaimonia over the past year. I am excluding things that would not be available to most people – such as, for example, my friends. They are not in a particular order. Many of them were somewhat serendipitous. I will explain how I came by each of them so you can see for yourself!

They are vaguely in chronological order in terms of when I started paying attention to them.

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One poem and one haiku

The Pangs of Memory
Even in the city, I remember the stars;
In the winter, I remember the bath of spring;
In loneliness, I remember laughter;
In the cold, I remember the salty sea air;
In adulthood, I remember the wooded kingdom;
In the town, I remember the Brandywine;
In my body, I remember the garden;
In the city, I remember the stars.

in Pennypack Park:

as the red-tail soars
a single maple leaf falls
and floats towards the sea

Two haiku about the winter wind

I think everyone north of the Mason Dixon line has been very cold this week.

On epiphany
a devouring winter wind
is the city’s gift

Fire-warmed voices
talking about the smell of
the sea’s salty air

Three haiku about the sunrise

I don’t know, I have been writing more haiku lately.

Blue, yellow, and pink
I never knew that sunlight
Could be so fragile

Philadelphia
you winter-beaten city
your nerves are exposed

After a cold night
Happy to see the kestrel
Lit by the sunrise

Two haiku

spring-born maple tree
struggles to hold his own now
that winter is here

the sweet taste of bread
on the cold walk home from church
lingers in my mind

Two winter haiku

pigeons overhead
flying straight as chariots
of the winter sun

all alone at night
I still have the memory
of dogwood blossoms

First snow

The first snow fell this week in Philadelphia. I wondered what Basho might have said about it – he wrote many beautiful haiku about the first snow.

New Year’s first snow–ah–
just barely enough to tilt
the daffodil

The new year’s first snow–
how lucky to remain alone
at my hermitage

First snow
falling
on the half-finished bridge

I did not have any verses to write about the snow, but it was beautiful and brought to mind that awe is still a viable response to the world. Despite many snowfalls, snow is still quite reliable in its ability to transfix me. This, even though I have also come to dread it. My changing attitude towards snow is quite possibly the signal of my transformation to adulthood. Enough of that, though! It is a vestige of childhood delight that greets the blazing white blanket as I step outdoors. No matter that evening will bring biting cold, and cars will bring dirt and slush. I thought I was wise when I grew out of my wide-eyed childhood wonder, but this was really the beginning of my foolishness. Now I must make effort to recover that wonder. The snow helps.

Haiku: fall

Fall: squirrels become
mindful of what they own
that’s good for squirrels

Billboards: anti-haiku

Billboard advertising is like anti-Haiku. In a short phrase or two, it expresses much. It is subtle, though. It does not tell you that you desire consumption, but presents consumption in such a way that you desire it. I think maybe I will see if I can collect a few. But here is one I saw for the Burlington Coat Factory:

“I’m classically handsome.”
Style says it all.’

I especially love the wonderful ambiguity of “style” and “all.” It could mean that this particular style says all that needs to be said about you being classically handsome. Or it could mean that style, in the abstract, is all that can be said. In other words: you are your style.

2 Haiku about the rain

light autumn rain
the clerk says it will snow
maybe tomorrow

light autumn rain
no one wants to sit down
just hurry home