Haiku Kick-Start


Photo by Pedro da Silva on Unsplash

I am reviving the shed this morning, giving it its life back, The power strip borrowed to help my in-laws with a electrical and water issue at their condo during the Midwest’s Polar Vortex has been returned and I’m re-plugging in the lights, the coffee maker, and the heater and reclaiming a space the frigid weather had stolen. And not only am I reopening the shed, I’m also reawakening my writing routine. That’s not so simple.

When life happens, when you have had to stop your usual process and pattern for whatever may have knocked you off  your course, how do you best get back on track?

Most of the time for me, I just step back into the work. It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle left on a dining room table that you’ve not worked on for days, then you sit down one morning  and found that elusive corner piece. But this time, it wasn’t working.

I’ve read the advice of others.

Give yourself a word count goal and write to it unedited and without overthinking. 

Write to a time. Give yourself fifteen minutes and then each day add some minutes. 

Write only one chapter or one scene. That’s it. 

All good ideas. But I just needed something different, a little primer like the little bit of gasoline through an engine’s choke.

Years ago, when I was the Writer-in-Residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, I tried haiku. Jack wrote it; why not me? I was terrible at it. For many years, poetry escaped me. I had a hard time with Shakespeare in my high school days. Besides, my poets back then were Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young. But through the years I found Dylan Thomas, Yeats, and Billy Collins. And in time, poetry sunk in. I’m no expert. But I know what I like.


Courtesy: Worddance.com

And that was what I needed. Get back to haiku. Those simple three lines.

I started playing around and reached out to a poet in the Caribbean who had published haiku. Through emails he has critiqued some of my work. It has been exactly what I needed. The form and the simplicity kick-started my writing. I’m now writing one haiku a day and with the shed toasty warm, I’ll be returning to writing the novel I’ve been working on.

Here are three haiku I wrote recently. I am not sharing these to look for praise, or be boastful. Hell no. I have a lot to learn. But these haiku and several others—good or bad—got my writing going again. It might work for you when you need it.

The Mail

Behind the wool mask                                                                                                            Postman guards his naked skin                                                                                                    Love letter so cold


Candle flame gives light                                                                                                            Writer’s pen to a notebook                                                                                                          What will the heart say?

Earliest Morning

Deep gray of dawn sky                                                                                                                  Silhouette of maple trees                                                                                                              Light in a window

8 thoughts on “Haiku Kick-Start

  1. Thanks, David.
    I, too, am SO not a poet, but I AM an appreciater.

    Back in high school, when we were learning Haiku, we were given many mimeographed sheets of samples as illustration before we had to plunge into the form on our own. The one that I will always remember completely exemplified the essence of the single emotion each poem can make. It probably isn’t PC today, but it’s still beautiful.

    From the Japanese:

    My nagging wife
    If only she were here
    This moon tonight

    Thanks for reminding me with this lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rita, thanks for sharing that. PC be damned. 🙂

      Here are two from Kerouac that I love. Although he does not stick to the traditional 5-7-5 syllables.

      In my medicine cabinet
      the winter fly
      has died of old age

      Crossing the football field
      coming home from work
      the lonely businessman


  2. I love the form and have always adhered to the 5-7-5 structure in my own haiku writing. And I’ve tried to follow another classical tradition: incorporating a natural, seasonal element.

    For me, haiku is a perfect way to distill one’s thought and expressiveness. As with sumi-e art and Zen itself, it relies on the unspoken as crucially as what is written, thereby inviting us to perceive reality as through a crack in the universe. It tantalizes us to abandon intellectual dissection in favor of apprehension through intuition.

    An offering of mine from this season five years ago:

    Withered leaves murmur
    Through biting February chill
    The snow hare crouches.

    It’s good to see warmth and light back in the Shed again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I college professor once commented on a short story I had written. (On the side, not part of curriculum) “Write to the concrete – Haiku.” Had not a clue what “haiku” was, too many new, fancy words in college, so little time! I get it now. How few words can pack a punch. I think of his words always when I write.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was lucky enough to have a broadcast news background. In many ways it is the “haiku” of journalism.(In terms of brevity and succinctness, not in terms of beauty, that’s for sure.) 🙂


  4. Hi David, I enjoy reading your she’s postings. Speaking of Haikus, you should check out my friend Jenny Bienemann on facebook. She is a singer songwriter and for over a year, she has been writing a daily haiku and pairing it with an iPhone photo she takes. Around the holidays she published a book project with the haikus. Jenny regularly plays around town and plays the first Friday at FitzGerald’s every month. Hope all is well with you and Leslie, Take care, Tom.

    Sent from my iPhone



    • Tom! So nice to hear from you and on a very cool subject. I just checked out her twitter feed. Full of haiku. I’m offering it up here. @jennybienemann
      Her book is also intriguing.

      I’ve been thinking about the idea of a haiku book, but driven by some connected piece. I would love my son, the photographer, to be a contributor. But I’m not sure yet what the connected piece would be. I read recently about a writer who did a poetry book connected to small pieces of found paper he put in a typewriter and wrote the poems on only what would fit on each found paper. I want to find some unique connectedness like that to the haiku. Hopefully it will arise someday.


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