EN340 / IN350 Global Haiku Tradition
Dr. Randy Brooks
Millikin University PACE Summer2003
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Angie Short

Essay on Kiyoko Tokutomi

Baby Steps
Haiku Collection

Angie Short

Angie Short was born in 1970 in Mattoon, IL, the second of three children. She both lived and attended school in Shelbyville, IL, and upon graduating from high school in 1988, entered Millikin University in Decatur, IL in the education program. In 1990, her life changed, as she became a mother and her status as a student was put on hold.

However, in 2003, and three children later, she returned to Millikin University in the PACE program in an effort to achieve a teaching certificate in Illinois. Angie is active in her church and loves the Lord. She also enjoys being a full-time mother to three beautiful children: Connor 13, Lauren 8, and Grant 4, and enjoys swimming and being in the sun. She resides in Shelbyville, IL with her three children and recently widowed mother.

This collection is titled "Baby Steps" because it is a collection of haiku that I feel best represents quality in the haiku tradition that I have most recently been exposed to. They are attempts that have occurred over a four-week period of studying haiku masters such as Bashô, Buson, Issa, and Masajo, along with modern day Western haiku poets.

Upon reflection, I can see a shift in my creations from the first attempts to the latter. Since the goal of haiku is to condense a whole moment in just a few words, I have tried to choose haiku that best reflects this effort.

I have also tried to consider other haiku guidelines such as the importance of bringing two fragmented thoughts together with a break on line one or two that causes the reader to pause when reading, therefore raising a question and causing the reader to anticipate. Also, haiku should use words that stimulate the senses and help the reader form mental pictures that appeal to things we already know. It should have a personal connection, but not so personal that no one else can get it—it must be open to interpretation.

The true haiku spirit calls for the poems to be honest and sincere to feelings, thought-provoking, in the present tense, have a time element of a brief moment, be descriptive, reflective, and symbolic, use as few syllables and words as possible, and begin right in the middle of things. Quite often haiku includes elements of nature and has a sense of color that helps set a mood. Tone and balance are also important to consider when writing haiku as is taking the “self” out of the poem. Most haiku are three lines in length and use minimal punctuation.

Themes in haiku may vary, but the spirit of haiku reflects an instant, whether a personal experience or memory, and offers the reader a passage way to a captured moment in time.

I hope that you enjoy this collection of haiku titled Baby Steps because that is exactly what it is, baby steps toward learning the true art of writing haiku. It has been a pleasure to learn from Dr. Randy Brooks as he makes both haiku and rengay seem so easy and fun.

Gazing at the harvest moon
A scarecrow sighs—
My teeth sink into pumpkin pie

A weak barrn twig
Holding on with all its might—
Oh, the burden of snow

Longing for comfort—
I turn to the black book
on the moonlit nightstand



Becoming one
with the night sky—
My heart is on that plane

Grandma's kitchen—
canned cucumbers
line the countertop



Silhoetting a crimson sunset
a sacrifice pierced
for love

a torn wedding photo
all of this for nothing
I cry myself to sleep



The Ugly Duckling

standing near the water's edge
I despise
the muddy reflection

hunger pains, inner regrets—
where did it all go wrong?

honking in the hazy sky
I wish
to fly away

different from them all—
I try to learn their way
the hurt inside is deep

white lilies rest
basking in the sun

I, too, choose to rest
my reflection
becomes clear

(Angie Short & Jamie Sims)

Precious Moments

dust particles floating
in a stream of sunlight
She sits in the old wooden pew

shuffling of little feet
Sunday's new black patent shoes

the old book of songs
held in aged hands
open to her favorite hymn

melodious notes fill the air
as small voices strain—
a joyful noise

her eyes close softly
as her mind drifts back

memories of a prayer doll
she grasps her tear-soaked hanky
bells of yesterday chime

(Angie Short & Kris Wolbers)


weight watchers on Monday—
my fork glides
through the chocolate layers

crisp autumn chill
the ultrasound shows nothing
I pack the booties away


His running shoes
have worn out—
cold February morn

giggling at bedtime
while feathers fly—
last summer eve


©2003 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors