IN203 Honors Seminar: Global Haiku Tradition
Dr. Randy Brooks • Spring 2006

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Melanie McLay

Fallen Firefly

Travel Haiga

Essay on Geert Verbeke

under the rose petal
a collection of haiku

Melanie McLay

Melanie McClay is a freshman Vocal Music Education major, and plans to teach general music in a bilingual elementary school.  “My favorite color is green, and I enjoy people watching.”


“Under the Rose Petal” is a collection of haiku I wrote during January-May 2006, while taking Dr. Randy Brooks’ Global Haiku Tradition Seminar. My personal definition of haiku seemed to change every day in that class, and so this collection has turned out to be rather eclectic. After re-reading all the haiku I wrote throughout the semester, I picked twenty of my favorites—twenty different haiku that each encompassed its own unique “haiku definition” all the while connecting with a much larger idea of what haiku can be. The title of this collection comes from my signature haiku:

stormy skies
under the rose petal
a ladybug

Of all the haiku I have written thus far, this one is for me the most quintessential example of what a haiku could and should be: it is brief and imposes no ideas on the reader, and it contains a vivid image of something small, average, or regularly ungraceful. For me, that is what haiku writing is all about. Thank you for taking a look at my collection. I hope you enjoy it! —Melanie McLay


Most of us claim that we write from our own experiences, but when the chips come down to it we’ll make anything up. I do it, you do it, we’ve all done it at one time or another. It’s a good way to get things done quickly. But I know for a fact that Melanie McLay writes solely from her own memories. If it’s not something she’s seen or done, she can’t write about it. This is not because she is refusing to, it is simply because she cannot. She does not have the ability to make up situations of her own memories. That is why each haiku is special and worthy of our time, because we know them to be legitimate and true. Take “quiet girl/walks away from her past/in hot pink pumps.” That can only come from a girl who knows. —Mark Beanblossom

streetlight silhouette
on the snow:
two lovers

red roses
for his Valentine—
Mother’s tombstone

surrounded by cool stone
the ceiling echoes
only your sighs

smoke and wine
aroma a blue note
from across the bar

a half-empty pint
of Guinness:
foam mustache

a candy heart

the street minstrel
with his accordion
and a few teeth

amid the flowers,
a concrete goose
without its head

magnolia trees
in full bloom—
the soy factory!

even the stone walls
green with the landscape:
budding ivy

stormy skies
under the rose petal
a ladybug

My grandmother lives in a neighborhood for the elderly, though lately she has spent most of her time in and out of the hospital. She is eighty-one years old, but the stories she tells are only about her younger years. Her favorite story to tell is about her senior prom. She tells it the same way every time: “When I went to prom, my sister Ruth bought me a white dress and bright red shoes. Boy, did I think I was hot stuff! My date was this boy from Feitschens School, and let me tell you he was fat. But boy could he dance! He was this big around but he could dance, and we did the Shag and the Charleston all night! I remember those bright red shoes—you know Ruth bought them for me. Boy did we used to fight over doing the dishes. I’d get her down on the ground and beat her!”

meeting her grandchild’s beau—
she wears a bathrobe
and red lipstick

the captive caterpillar
set free
crawls in circles

he bends over the edge
to snatch a flower
and her heart

late August silence
the snip-snip of scissors
on construction paper

chocolate pudding
skins peeled by Mom
still warm

buried in the closet
an old Barbie
with both shoes on

quiet girl
walks away from her past
in hot pink pumps

walk home from aerobics
stale sweat
freezes my shirt

a starless sky
I find my way home
by memory

© 2006 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois
all rights reserved for original authors