IN203 Honors Seminar: Global Haiku Tradition
Dr. Randy Brooks • Spring 2006
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
sung by John Denver and Jim Henson
Ripping open the box, she can barely wait to see what it contains.
Shes spent an eternity waiting for this moment. And now, after
what seemed like forever, she looks inside the first box...
My baby ornament, her six-year-old voice squeals with
delight. She reaches in and picks up the delicate ornament that
she holds so dear. Out of all the Christmas ornaments that get hung
on the tree every year, this one is one of her favorites.
She works with the excitement and enthusiasm of the young. Each
crumple of newspaper reveals another forgotten treasure. One by
one, they make their way onto the enormous evergreen tree that will
reside in their family room for the next month.
And its a big one this year. The size of their tree seems
to grow with every passing year. As she and her brother grow, they
insist that the tree be as gigantic as the last. The result will
one day be a tree that brushes their 8 foot ceiling.
with the tree stand
Finally, the moment has arrived. Since the year is 1992 (an even
year), it is her turn to put the angel on top of the tree. Her dad
places the plastic angel in her hands, and she cradles it in the
crook of her arm. Looking down at the fragile face, she feels as
if she were holding Baby Jesus himself.
Her dad grasps her firmly by the waist and lifts her to his strong
shoulders. Placing a hand on the ceiling for safety, she stretches
an arm, already long for her age, across the seemingly huge gap.
She gently sets the angel on the top of the Christmas tree.
walking on the ceiling
his hands on my waist
dad blinks away plaster
Once more returning to the earth, she looks up at the tree. Someone,
her mom, probably, turns the lights off. All is silent, save for
John Denver and RoIf the Muppet, singing their peaceful harmony.
Sitting in the darkness, she is happy. For though at six years old
she doesnt realize it, this is Christmas.
Part of That World
From the Disney movie The Little Mermaid
Please, Dianna, the five-year-old brunette begs her
best friend. Please, lets sing it. She watches
the young blonde next to her, waiting for an answer. Shes
on the edge of her seat. She wants more than anything in the whole
world to sing, the Little Mermaid song.
rewinding the video
for the 58th time
Mom unplugs the TV
Dianna finally relents, and sitting up in their kindergarten bus
seats, they begin the song. Look at this stuff. Isnt
it neat? Wouldnt you think my collections complete?
Like every little girl, she wants to be a princess when she grows
up. But not just any princess. She wants to be a mermaid princess.
Like Ariel. She wants to explore the ocean with her fish friends.
She wants to search for human artifacts amongst sunken ships. And
she wants to fall in love with a handsome prince who will whisk
her away to a castle by the sea.
stuffing two legs
into one pant leg
Look Mom, Im a mermaid!
But since shes banished to the land, she lives vicariously
through her imagination. Her dolls morph constantly from human form
to that of mermaids. Her friends in the backyard take on the role
of her mer-friends. And when all other medias are unavailable, she
closes her eyes and lets her imagination take her to the depths
of the sea.
And now, on the bus, their song is coming to an end. They slowly
slip from their seats to the floor, as Ariel once sunk to the ocean
floor in despair. With eyes of innocent hope, they reach towards
the ceiling of the bus for things they dont yet understand.
But they will. And one day, they too will long to be part of another
wanting to be
a ballerina or a princess
. . . either one will do
Never. Not even once. Since the moment she first became conscious
of the shape of her body, she has never been happy with the way
it looks. No matter how often she looks in the mirror, no matter
how much she pulls in her stomach or sucks in her cheeks, no matter
how many crunches she does in the dark of the night, shes
still not satisfied.
But in her mind, its justified unhappiness. Really. Her thighs
are too large, and shake and jiggle like Jell-O when she moves.
Her stomach is entirely too flabby. Never mind the four perfectly
toned abs, the result of hours of crunches and Pilates. The
stomach muscles between her bellybutton and pelvis are hidden under
a layer of fat, and its not attractive. And that butt! In
her opinion, the worst part of her entire anatomy. Its huge!
More of a growth than an actual muscle. Oh, happy would be the day
that she could just lop the entire thing off! Really, how could
anyone be happy in a body like hers?
three hours later
she finally finds jeans
that dont make her butt look big
And if things werent depressing enough, she has chosen to
surround herself with beautiful bodies five days a week. One look
around the dance studio and anyone can understand why she is so
hard on herself. Long, sleek legs. Tiny waists bend and sway. They
are everything she wishes she were. Standing next to them, she feels
over-sized, frumpy, and fat. Thats really what it is. She
Standing up from her comfortable sitting position on the floor
during a Wednesday Dance Alliance Repertory Company rehearsal, she
winces as her joints pop and crack. She begins to amble to her place
on stage left when shes stopped short. Alright ladies,
her dance teacher yells, lets lose the clothing.
She inwardly groans. She hates having to strip down to a leotard
and tights. Wearing spandex pants and a tee shirt over it is bad
enough. Stripping down to the minimal layer puts her ego in a headlock
and reduces her to a water buffalo. Steeling her nerves, she rips
off her out layers of clothing.
As she walks across the room, she tries with everything in her
to avoid looking at herself in the mirror. Maybe if she doesnt
look, shell forget that shes fat. But the reflection
in the mirror is like a ghastly car accident; she cant help
but turn her head and steal a disgusted glance in the mirror. She
turns away quickly. Its too unbearable to see.
avoiding the mirror
the picture in my head
prettier than the one
in front of my eyes
But to her own amazement, she glances again for a second look.
Its not as bad as she had expected. She stares at herself
in the mirror. Whoa. Where did all that leg come from? They seem
to go up to her armpits. Studying her figure with a critical eye,
she takes note of the curves that she cursed only days before. Theyre
not as bad as shed thought. Rather womanly, really. She lifts
her chin. Attractive. Like an Amazon queen, she thinks with a smile.
Hearing the introduction of Rhapsody in Blue, she waltzes
to her place. Peeking at herself above the heads of her classmates,
she cant help but laugh. Shes been beautiful all along.
She just had the wrong eyes in. She is beautiful.
by Christina Aguilera
Everybody has one. A place where they go to escape. She has one,
too. Its nothing special. Not even recognizable, since it
changes form with circumstance. Her special place is anywhere with
a flat surface about 10 feet wide and 10 feet long. Her special
place is anywhere she can dance.
And now, as she plods across the floor to stage right, she needs
that place more than ever before. Life is choking her. Wood smoke
in her eyes. Burning. Choking. Its distorting her vision.
Weighed down by the pressure of life, she closes her eyes, hoping
to make it all go away.
the chill fall rain beats them down
Young girl, dont cry. Ill be right here when
your world starts to fall. Its as if the song were meant
As she steps out onto the dance floor, the smoke clears, Its
peaceful. Cooler. It is the soft, clear, white light of a naked
light bulb glowing softly. The shell of her stress and tension is
left standing, frowning on the side of the stage. The one that dances
now is her soft, vulnerable side. Like Brie cheese after the outer
skin has been removed. She has no concern, no care, except the dance.
Its then that she experiences the true euphoria of dance.
It makes her want to cry, except that she is so intensely joyful
that she cant; all she can do is move her body to express
what she feels inside.
a leotard and jazz shoes
thats my therapy
Leaving the dance floor, she must return to the smoky outside world.
But somehow, the smoke is a little thinner than before. The pressure
is a little lighter. And out of the corner of her eye, she can see
the comforting glow of a naked light bulb.
for the first time
since she woke up
Just a Little Girl
by Amy Studt
She surveys the room grimly as she falls into a split. Pressure
is so dense in the room that it could be eaten with a fork. One
of them will walk away with a scholarship. Three million of them
will not. Competition is fierce.
But today shes not competing with the other dancers in the
room. No, her opponent is much more dangerous than that. To come
out victorious is going to take every ounce of skill and focus in
The man to beat is her dance teacher.
Adam has made it quite clear that hes not happy with her
absence from the two rehearsals preceding this competition; he even
went so far as to threaten to cut her from dances. The only way
to regain his favor is to win this battle. All she has to do is
make the first cut of this audition.
and head between my legs
I notice a run in my tights
Easier said than done. Generally only one dancer from their company
makes the first cut, and its always one of the more advanced
dancers. It will take everything shes got. But she has got
to prove her worth.
All too soon, the dancers are herded to the side of the room to
perform the combination theyve just learned before a panel
of judges. Shes visibly shaking, but she knows what she has
to do. Do or die, she whispers to herself. Sending a
silent prayer heavenward, she joins the ranks of the first group
to go across the floor.
And she dances. Not perfectly, mind you. Her triple pirouette comes
out as a double, and she knows that her large body size is a strike
against her. But when they line up in front of the judges, she holds
her head high as if to say, Here I am, take it or leave it.
She holds her breath as one of the judges jumps down off the platform
and circles around behind the line. Though she knows her chances
are next to nothing, her heart is pounding as she prays for a nudge
in the back, indicating that she can stay. She can feel Adams
eyes boring holes in her back, and she prays.
adjusting my dress
hands shake and breathing shallow
I wait for my fate
And suddenly there is the feeling of a knuckle in her spine, and
her heart leaps. Suppressing the urge to jump in the air, she cannot
suppress the huge grin that spreads across her face.
Turning her back to Adam, she swaggers over to the side to sit
with the other finalists. Slowly dropping into a straddle split,
she smirks to herself. She made the cut. She wins. Adam will never
admit it. But they both know it. Dont underestimate me, Adam,
she thinks. Never ever underestimate me.
since their fight
he opens the door for her
Waiting For Life to Begin
from the Broadway musical Once on This Island
Arms full, she must juggle a dance bag on one shoulder and balance
the grocery bag on her opposite hip in order to extract her key
from the bundle. She finally finds it and manages to open the door
to her Manhattan apartment before everything falls to the floor.
Once inside, she carries the paper bag to the kitchen, where she
begins to slowly unload groceries. The four hours of dance class
and rehearsal have taken their toll on her body.
She finds a note lying on the kitchen counter. Went to the
gym for an hour, it says.
Dinners ready in the oven. I love you, baby.
She smiles. Despite the two years that have passed since their marriage,
her husband can still make her smile with the tiniest gestures.
Turning, she takes a peek in the oven. Lasagna, her favorite.
Returning to her task, she glances at the clock on the wall. Three
hours until shes called to the theatre for the Thursday night
show; she smiles with excited anticipation. No one expected Wheat
Toast and Marmalade, the biggest hit on Broadway, to take off as
quickly as it did. After a year as the lead role of Annika, an up
and coming dancer, she never tires of performing it. She still lives
for the rush that accompanied the rising of the curtain and the
roar of the crowd at the end of a performance.
The sound of the lock being opened causes her head to pop up, and
a huge grin to appear on her face as her husband walks in the door.
Sweaty though he is, she cant help but throw her arms around
his neck and plant a kiss on his lips.
A beautiful apartment, an amazing husband, and the job of her dreams.
Life is perfect...
Shes suddenly brought out of her daydream by a piercing squeal
and giggling that only makes her headache worse. The beautiful visions
in her mind are gone, and she finds herself once again in a crowded
classroom in a broken down high school.
collecting in buckets
rural high school
She watches as the prom queen chases after the quarterback, who
is holding her left shoe high above his head. Whats wrong
with these people? she wonders to herself. What is this, kindergarten?
Shes amazed at the lack of maturity surrounding her. Seniors
like herself, theyre all headed off for various colleges,
also like herself. What desperate college accepted them?, she thinks
to herself. I give them two weeks before they drink themselves out
Turning her head the other way, she can hear discussion of last
weekends beer bash. Listening to stories of throwing up and
passing out, she wants to stand on her chair and scream. She feels
so far beyond them all; six weeks of college last summer have taught
her whats important and whats not. She knows where she
wants to go in life and how to do it. And shes ready to do
But in the meantime, shes stuck here with a classroom full
of children. Its like theyre stuck in a bubble, she
thinks. They have not idea whats coming, nor do they care.
Closing her eyes, she conjures up the image of her apartment in
the city. But Im here, and Im ready. Just waiting for
my life to begin.
her professors tell her
shes working too hard
by Justincase, featuring Michelle Branch
Gritting her teeth, she tries to steel herself against the salty
drops of pain hovering in her eyes. Her jaw trembles from the effort,
for this is no time to cry. Chicago traffic needs every ounce of
skill and focus to get through. This is no time to cry.
But despite valiant efforts, she can feel them trickle down her
face. Reaching for her sunglasses, she attempts to hide her pain
from the intruding eyes that seem to come from all sides. And she
This wasnt supposed to happen, she whispers.
Im not supposed to love. I cant afford to love.
But as the lonely twang of the guitar echoes through speakers, a
similar ache echoes through her chest. She realizes that despite
all efforts, she does love. Is there any other explanation for the
tears that bathe her cheeks?
the happy couple
I remember the last time
How will I go on without you? the two voices question
each other. How indeed? With every mile she puts between them, a
parasite called love eats away at her heart, bite by bite. Her chest
heaves painfully as she tries to understand the ache in her heart
and the river of tears on her face. Something about the way he had
looked at her through honest eyes, held her with protective arms,
and stroked her face with a Midas touch has softened her protective
barrier. Despite all intent to distance herself from him, she now
realizes that she never can. Not without throwing out a piece of
Glancing back behind her, she wants nothing more than to get off
at the next exit, get back on Westbound 1-94, and drive back to
Chicago as fast as she can. But for once, it isnt the lure
of the big city that calls to her. It is the call of a deep voice
and a gentle laugh. It is Greg. It is the potential for love.
calling him to tell him
I forgot my hairbrush
and my heart
by Pink Floyd
Shes drowning. In silence. She tries to take a deep breath,
but her lungs will only take in inefficient gulps of air. Not nearly
enough to sustain her. Her face is turning a brilliant scarlet and
she has to clench her fists to keep them from shaking.
Theyre all looking at her. Staring. Very blatantly. She averts
her eyes away from her classmates, hoping that maybe theyll
all disappear. They dont. They sit there, waiting for her
to speak. She cant.
I try to tell them
why I cant talk
Shes starting to panic. She has to read that word. Theres
a whole monologue yet to be read out loud. The word has burned itself
onto her brain, reverberating against her skull. She opens her mouth
and tries to say it again. Nothing.
The longer she stands there staring at the word, the more panicked
she becomes. And the more stuck the word becomes. And the more panicked
she becomes. Until she can do nothing but shake and wish she could
melt into the wooden floor.
This isnt supposed to happen to people like her. Shes
smart. Shes confident. Shes a freakin theatre
major, for cryin out loud! People like her dont have
speech problems. People like her dont stutter.
family, firemen, foot rubs,
and the power to speak--
things you take for granted
Finally, she manages to spit the word out. Its bitter tasting,
like the juniper berries she used to try and eat from the backyard.
The room breathes a visible sigh of relief. And somehow, she manages
through the rest of her monologue. Everything is back to normal.
The illusion that everything is just fine has been resumed.
Trying to explain
my little problem
. . . so uncomfortable
The Skyline Firedance Suite: Prelude to the Dance
by David Lanz
the ring of a phone
Hey, hon, its Janelle?
Hey Janelle, whats up?
I just wanted to call and congratulate you on making Dance
Oh, havent you seen the cast list yet? It went up this
Shes absolutely shocked. Though she auditioned, she didnt
actually expect to be accepted into Millikin Universitys advanced
dance performance group. Stammering a thank you and good-bye to
Janelle, she shoves her feet into the closest pair of shoes, snatches
a purse, and charges out the door for the callboard. Upon arriving,
she stands and stares. There it is. Her name. Sandwiched right in
the middle of the group.
alone at the call board
I sheepishly take a picture
of my name on the cast list
Weeks later she finds herself in rehearsal for the dance concert.
Shes never had such an exhilarating experience as performing
with this group. Running around, jumping on each other, and exchanging
cheek kisses, this is like no other choreography shes ever
performed before, yet it is more thrilling than any dancing shes
ever done before. Unable to wipe the enormous grin off her face,
she charges across the stage and leaps, landing on her partners
back. This is the dancing shes dreamed of; the kind that makes
her feel complete.
the piano drives
my body into the air
celebration of love
By the Verve
Walking into Her dorm room, She cant help but be relieved
that the room is empty. The day has been long, and She is beyond
tired. She needs some time to relax and get Her thoughts back together
before Her roommate, Heather, returns from whichever of her millions
of activities she is at now. Ever since shes been diagnosed
with bi-polar, Heather has gone through a medley of different emotions,
and each one more extreme than the last. Her struggle with the turmoil
inside her head requires much support, and she has relied on her
roommate for all of it. It is getting to be too much. As She lay
on her bed, She wonders what mood Heather is in today. As the minutes
pass, She begins to drift out of consciousness
the drugs that dull her pain
Suddenly, She is snatched from Her snooze by the sound of heavy
footsteps running down the hallway, accompanied by the sound of
sobbing. Heather bursts into the room and collapses on Her bed.
Her sobbing is so uncontrollable that She has a hard time understanding
what shes saying, but one word comes through loud and clear:
cant. Shes scared to death. Despite Her soothing words
and pats on the back, She cant get Heather to stop crying.
Heather begs Her to take her to the hospital, and She dives for
Her car keys. Leaving Heather in the care of their neighbor, She
runs for the car.
Heather continues to sob uncontrollably the entire drive to the
hospital. Her sobs are intermitted with pleas to help her, that
she cant do it anymore. Speeding through a red light, its
all She can do to keep driving. She feels completely helpless.
youll be okay
do I lie more
to her or myself?
Rushing into the hospital, they are taken to a small examining
room, where Heather is administered some form of a sedative. Standing
beside the bed, rubbing her back and watching Heather drift into
fitful sleep, guilt starts to overtake Her. She knows that She hasnt
been the nicest to Heather lately, bowing under the combined pressures
of full-time classes, a part-time job, and dealing with the stress
of living with someone with bi-polar.
Despite what the nice nurse has told Her, She cant help but
feel as if She is responsible for the state of the girl crumpled
on the hospital bed. In quite of the dim room, She holds Heathers
hand and prays that she doesnt loose Her best friend to herself.
what can I do
to ease your pain?
perched on the hospital bed
I read her some haiku
eyes glaze over
Origin of Love
from the movie Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Leaning on the black iron railing, she looks off beyond the Mexican
resort below into the ocean. The cool breeze of evening has begun
to overtake her, but shes too hypnotized by the blazing sunset
that is intensifying over the ocean. Deep pink streaks fly across
the indigo sky, and rose bellies of the clouds rest gently of the
horizon. Its like nothing shes ever witnessed before.
in his eyes
Suddenly there is a warmth behind her, and a pair of long arms
wrap around hers. Though there is no doubt in her mind as to who
owns them, the kiss on her jaw confirms it. Turning to look into
the technicolor eyes of her boyfriend, Greg, she cant help
but smile. This is only the second Christmas they have been an item,
but to her it feels as if he has always been a part of her life;
or maybe thats just the way she feels that it should be.
two left feet
I salsa anyway
just to see her smile
Diving into his strong embrace, she wonders how she ever got on
without him. She always used to say that she wanted a man who simultaneously
excited her and protected her; that is exactly what Greg is for
her. He is her sanity and her excitement, and more.
He breaks away from her arms for a moment, and when he returns,
the sweet music that is their song is floating out onto
the balcony. Her eyes cant help but fill with joyous tears
as she comes to the realization that she has discovered so many
times before; Greg is her other half. To be without him is to be
without part of herself, and that just cant be. Holding him
as tightly as she is able, she wishes she could simply meld together
with him. Theyve made the attempt before, but always at some
point they have to once again separate into two beings. She knows
one thing for sure, however; no matter how far they must separate
their bodies, they will always be part of each other. They are one.
gripping his biceps
in the dark
we transform into one
© 2006 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur,
all rights reserved for original authors