Hidden in the trees
A solitary dove calls.
Again, my heart breaks.
Whenever I go to Hawaii, I fall into a haiku mood.
Not sure if it is the Japanese influences there, or if it’s all in my head, but I start thinking in short bursts.
Frankly, between the sun and the water and the tropical drinks, it’s a wonder I write anything at all. Maybe 5-7-5 is all I can muster in such taxing conditions.
Here are a few from my recent trip to Maui:
At Haiku Marketplace, Maui
Tried to buy poems
But they weren’t selling any.
Torpid Maui days
Lazy, languorous, and slow.
Kiss writing good-bye.
Give Maui credit
As for my wife, I must say,
She looks younger here.
Kapu is kaput,
The old gods are long banished.
You wonder who lurks.
So long Hawaii
Sure hate to leave your warm sun.
I have things to do.
I never really understood Issa’s haiku about the roof of hell until I visited Hawaii’s Big Island. We hiked for miles around the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
It was like walking on the moon. Except with full gravity. Over jagged rock formations. Boulder fields. Through pebble fields. Past sulfur-stinking steam vents. Up and down. A death march. There were times when you could look around and swear you were on another planet.
It inspired a few syllables of my own:
“We walk the roof of
Hell,” said Issa. He must have
Issa’s original poem went like this:
In this world
we walk on the roof of hell
gazing at flowers
Much more profound than mine. But I appreciate his inspiration.
Issa was a poet and Buddhist priest who lived from 1763 to 1828. Which means he was coming of age just as American was becoming a nation.
He’s considered one of the four great haiku masters along with Basho, Buson, and Shiki.
His full name was Kobayashi Issa, but he went simply by the name Issa, which literally means “cup of,” or “one cup of tea.” What a great name for a haiku master!
I like his stuff and I’ll likely be coming back to it from time to time.
On a trip to Hawaii several years ago, I wrote a lot of haiku. Something about being closer to Japan in a land influenced by Japan, I guess. On the big island, there are bands of feral cats. I tried to make friends. Of course, I had no control over the situation at all.
Today I bring cheese
my little wild black cat, but
you will not be bought
The haiku masters often mentioned cats. Issa wrote some of my favorites.
A spitting image
of his mother
Some of the most often quoted of Issa’s cat haiku involve the cat’s love life.
He sleeps, he wakes
he has a big yawn
the cat goes courting
Another master, Basho, also wrote about a cat and love.
Why so scrawny, cat?
starving for fat fish
or mice . . .
Or backyard love?