EN340 / IN350 Global Haiku Tradition
Dr. Randy Brooks
Spring 2003
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Under the Blanket
Haiku Collection

Jessica May

. . . in fourth grade we had a poetry unit. We learned about limericks and ballads and haiku. My teacher strictly told us that all haiku had to be about nature and that all haiku had to have a structure of three lines with a pattern of five, seven, and five syllables.

I hated haiku.

I could never get the words to fit right and what if I didn't want to write about nature? It took me eight years to get over fourth grade.

I learned about Jack Kerouac's conception of the Western haiku, and Michael Stipe's idea of sending a postcard to a friend, every day for a year—each with a haiku scribbled on the back. It was then I realized haiku is about simplicity. Haiku is purity, a flicker of inspiration, a teaspoon of beauty poured into everyday moments. Everyone can write haiku, because beautiful, ordinary things happen all the time. You just have to see them.

Children see haiku best. They know about little things, like unwrapping a candy bar, or whispering from the bottom bunk. To see haiku you have to watch like a child watches: you have to appreciate the gift in common things. Things like an unmade bed, a leaf falling, or ice cream melting, and then take and compose them into polaroid images, little pictures of beauty hidden just under life's most childlike, most simple, and most unexpected pleasures.

— emily evans •  may 2003

. . . that's okay. Skip over this part. No, really. In a world like today, there's hardly time to read an introduction to . . . anything. Delayed gratification is a thing of the past; these days it's all about how fast we can get something. In conversation, we find ourselves sighing, "Get to the point already!" And so I shall.

Haiku does not seek to satisfy the reader with a bevy of details. The author provides a mere suggestion of an idea, and leaves the audience to fill in the rest. And it's the real meat of the idea that the author skips around; rather, they provide snapshots, previously unnoticed, unimportant details to an event—and probably one that no one would ever think is worth noting.

This year has been an interesting one for me. I have found myself an observer more often than a participant in life. Luckily, haiku met me half-way and we formed a fine friendship. Haiku has taught me the delight in small things, the importance of what happens when the back is turned and the eyes are shut, and more importantly . . . to breathe.

I urge you to breathe many times throughout reading this collection. Relish it. Then inhale again.

— j. may •  may 2003

the crunch of snow
four missed calls

next to the gift shop
balloons and smiling bears
a last breath

the child watches
the dog watching
her sandwich



I drop the host
the priest
shoots me a look

spring break's end
I catch myself calling
campus       home



coffee shop
outside, a newspaper
     turns itself

midnight mass
the priest knocks back
the remaining wine




pounding rain
I watch his mouth



the blind man trips
I adjust
my glasses

as the funeral procession
a leaf falls



under the blanket
two pairs of legs
fumble for warmth

audience applause
the curtain falls
I go home.     alone.


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