Short Short Haiku Stories
Global Haiku • Millikin University • Spring 2012
One evening, on a quiet beach in California, a teenager named Bob walks along the coast line. He is a quiet guy most of the time, taking in his surroundings and processing them in his own mind. Normally he walked only around a half mile and turned around, but he decided to keep going on today for some reason. As he kept walking, Bob came across a small house with smoke coming from it. Curiosity got the best of Bob and he decided to investigate this small house. As he approached the house, an old man wearing a Hawaiian t-shirt, rough beard, and a notepad in hand.
“What are you writing about, sir?” Bob asked.
“Whoa there, man. You gotta warn me before you just walk up on me. The Man has been after me for awhile now,” the man replied, almost as if he was stoned.
“Sorry about that...man. What are you writing?”
“Haiku. What do you think?”
The man began to recite his newest haiku.
“That's cool,” Bob replied. “What else have you written?”
“Oh, you know, this and that. I wrote this one yesterday after surfing.”
“This is really interesting,” Bob replied. “Will you teach me this haiku thing?”
“Sure, man! Let's get started!” the strange man exclaimed.
You Just Gotta Feel It
The old man reached for something in the dark and handed it to Bob. Bob glanced at the plant the old man had given him.
“What is this for?” Bob asked.
“ You gotta smoke it man. It'll clear your head. That's the first step,” replied the enthusiastic old man.
“Are you sure about this?”
“Positive. Don't you trust me?”
At this point, Bob wasn't sure exactly what to think of this old man telling him to smoke this long plant. But Bob decided to give it a shot. He wanted to be more creative and not such a plain thinking guy.
“Yeah let's do it,” Bob replied nervously.
The old man grabbed the mystery plant and rolled it up for Bob. While doing this, Bob sat there nervously, wondering what would come from this situation. The man handed Bob this rolled up plant and lighted up for him. Bob took a puff of the plant and looked at the old man.
“Just sit and relax, man. Look out at the waves, the stars, the moon. You just gotta feel it, man.”
Bob sat there for an hour, staring, observing, thinking, and puffing that plant. Soon, Bob was overcome with the beauty of the landscape.
“You're ready,” the man smiled.
A Master is Born...kinda
“Okay, what stuck out to you?” the man asked Bob.
“The moon was pretty chill. The waves were pretty awesome too.”
“They are pretty cool aren't they?” the man agreed. “Now write something.”
“I can't, man. I can't think straight right now and I'm not as creative as you.”
“Give it a shot!”
Bob looked at the old man one more time, and began to stare out at the ocean again. In a sudden spurt of excitement, he grabbed the paper from the man and quickly wrote this haiku down.
“That was great, man! You're a natural! You just needed to let go and feel it, man.”
“I can't feel anything,” Bob replied worriedly.
He quickly scratched out one more haiku:
Butterflies in Paris
Samuel had two broken legs. It was spring, and Samuel had two broken legs. He was in Paris, France, it was spring, and Samuel had two broken legs. The problem with this situation, besides the two broken legs, was that Samuel was a poet. He was a writer of haiku – three line poems about observations, memories, feelings, etc. He loved art and beauty, and he had come to Paris with the hope that he would be inspired to write. His inspiration often came from the smallest moments with the most feeling. It could be something as small as a butterfly resting on a flower, but when he wrote about it, he included all the sensory elements that accompanied this occurrence. Samuel wanted his readers to remember seeing what he was writing about so they could feel what he felt. For example, he might write something like this:
spotted glass reflects
Samuel was thrilled! He wanted to thank Adélaïde for her advice. She was right. There was beauty even in his dingy old hotel room. Of course he would prefer to walk the streets of Paris writing haiku about the obvious beauty of the city, but with two broken legs that was nearly impossible. Like taking one bite of a buttery croissant, he had experienced a moment of hope, despite his unfortunate situation, that quickly melted away. When Adélaïde next stopped by to drop off some food for Samuel’s lunch, she was still quite annoyed at Samuel’s constant complaining. She set down a tray with warm French bread, sliced ham, and cheese and gave a curt nod. Before she could leave, Samuel offered a sincere apology, and explained that he was grateful for her advice. He showed her his newest haiku, but Adélaïde only sighed. “What?” whined Samuel in exasperation. “With two broken legs, you’d think you might be able to see the truth,” she replied and quietly left the room. Samuel wondered what she meant by “truth.” As he sat in his room with two itchy, smelly broken legs, what truth was he supposed to find. Frustrated, he glanced out his window and saw the scruffy old dog had come back. It was just sitting on the step watching a large monarch butterfly, the kind Samuel liked to write about, fly by. Suddenly, the dog jumped three feet in the air and snatched the butterfly out of the air with its sharp teeth and swallowed it whole. Samuel laughed out loud, grabbed the napkin that was still sitting on his lunch tray and wrote:
Patrick used to really love his art. Haiku was a wonderful release, a way for him to express the beauty he found in the world. Even the caterpillar, slowly and blissfully eating a leaf on a sunny day was a beautiful creation of an all powerful being. Patrick truly believed this life was blessed, and that each waking day was another opportunity to express his joy to merely exist.
Scene II, The Dismay
Patrick truly knew that he could never love or trust again. Apathy set in, which relieved the anxiety attacks he had begun to feel on a daily basis. Instead of worrying about the issues he feared, he merely did not recognize them. He cared not whether he continued his education, whether he saw the next day, or whether his friendships were maintained. He became an ever-bitter mess, and the bottle started to look more and more tempting. It had released him once before, why not again? It would stop his hands from shaking.
Scene III, The Question
The slump grew deeper, as his initial vices, which he had fought so hard to release, began to come back strong and more tempting than ever. His tone became more monotone, the once expressive and beautiful bounce in tone he possessed had long vanished, and his communication became short and angry. All he wanted was to feel normal yet again, to be happy young student, and be able to write the happy and joyful haiku he once had. He knew not whether any of these things would ever truly come to fruition.
“It can’t end like this,” she thought, gripping the green scrap of paper wrinkled in her small, sweaty palm. Jack had spent so much time, so much effort, into making sure that she would make it to the shelter. If she died now, his death would have been for nothing. She looked down at the words again, pain stabbing at her heart at the sight of his handwriting:
“What does it mean?” she thought to herself, desperate to find the shelter before nightfall. The last clues had been so easy, so… Jack. He made all the clues about their life together, about their memories together from the good times… before They came. She shuddered, and immediately put the thought of Them from her mind. She didn’t have time to think about it, she only had time to survive.
Hmmm… Jack had whispered so many things in her ear, she had no idea what that could be.
we have other ways
What is he talking about? Just then, a breeze swept through the abandoned town, and the leaves of the trees shivered, making a swish sound fill the air.
That’s it!!! She ran to the park, or what was left of it, as fast as she could—and there it was. A large oak tree, dead and rotting now, with a big hole in the side near the top. Swiftly, she scaled the tree’s branches, desperate to reach the next clue from Jack. She plunged her hand in side, relief sweeping through her as it gripped another scrap of paper. This one was blue, it read:
money isn’t life
Her heart leapt. She knew exactly what this one meant. She climbed down the tree as quick as possible, breaking into a dead sprint when she reached the bottom. She arrived at the old pizza parlor within minutes, its old sign destroyed by Their weapons. Once inside, she ran to the back, and started to pull the bags of flour in the storeroom aside. After a few seconds—there it was, the door to the underground safe. She should’ve known this is where he would make the shelter, it’s where they first met, 23 years ago. She was a teenaged waitress, he was a cute college boy visiting for the summer. She pulled open the hatch, and repositioned the bags of flour to cover the space once she was down inside. The small room still had money in it, thousands of dollars actually. But that meant nothing now, all the value this room held anymore was the fact that it’s shelter. But there was something funny about this room… Jack spent the last weeks of his life preparing a shelter for them, one where they could survive for weeks, together. He left the house a month before she did, insisting it was too dangerous to travel together, that he would leave her clues so she could find her way to him. And that he did, just before They got him.
She relived the night in her mind. The month was up, and she was about to set out and find the first clue. It was supposed to be in their mailbox, but it wasn’t. She looked everywhere, but couldn’t find it. She feared that he had abandoned her—that’s what happened to all her friends before they died. She went back towards the house, stricken with grief, and saw a little pink slip of paper poking out from under the doormat. There was Jack’s writing:
Came back for you, too dangerous to go alone. They followed me here, I can’t let them find you. No clue in mailbox, too risky, They check them for messages now. I’m going to lead them off your trail, don’t think I’m going to make it. Do whatever you can to make it to the shelter, it’s safe there. First clue is on the bottom of this paper. Love you forever, Jack
Of course, that’s where her journey started, but here she was now—she actually made it. She switched on the light, to see what Jack had done to prepare the shelter for them.
But there was nothing in the room. Nothing had changed.
She was at the right place, that clue couldn’t have meant anything else… and then, she saw it, etched into the floor with a knife, in Jack’s same handwriting:
did you really think
Short Story Haiku
Once upon a time there lived a little boy named Peter. He was going for a walk around a pond because the outdoor tranquility is where his inspiration for haiku arrives. He walks along the pond, hoping to feel something special- something worth writing about. That is when he stopped, looked, and listened. His attention drew to a baby duckling chirping. He bent down to inspect it and say hello to this new life in the world. He wondered why this poor fellow was all alone at this early stage of its life. But he was not concerned. Afterall, he had haiku to write! So he kept on his way of walking and thinking and brainstorming. But the little duckling kept following him. Finally, he turned around and slowly and tenderly, picked up the duckling. Peter said, “You want to be my friend? No one has ever been a loyal friend to me my whole life! That is why I am best left on my own to write haiku about my misery and boredom.” The duckling heard this, but did not budge. Peter was thrilled. He had been let down many times by his so called “friends”, but for some reason his heart was willing to let him give the little duck a chance. They both were alone in the world, so why not be alone together?
So Peter named the duckling Darla. He took care of her by feeding her food, giving her baths, and even taking her on his haiku walks with him. They swam together on hot days, and stayed inside on cold days. Darla’s soft, fluffy feathers finally grew into real feathers. Peter couldn’t have been more proud when Darla took her first flights. She would flap her wings and fly above their house, but Peter would always call her back before she flew too high. He cared about her and wanted her to be safe. Darla was all Peter had for a friend because he spent all his time pondering on haiku and brainstorming new haiku. But as Darla grew older, Peter knew that a human life would never make her happy. Darla was a duck and belonged with other ducks. He wanted to keep her with him because she was company. But who was he to decide if his happiness is more important than hers?
Peter remembered a saying that his grandmother once said. “If you love something, you must set it free. If it comes back to you, it is yours! If not, it never was”. So Peter knew what was best for both of them. He went for one more walk with Darla, gave her a great big hug, and said goodbye. He then let her fly as high as she pleased and did not call her to come back.
Weeks went by and there was no sign of Darla’s return. Peter missed his friend, but knew that if she was not back, then she must be enjoying duck life greatly! The thought of her freedom made him happy. Then, he heard her chirp! He turned around and saw Darla flying towards his house. Peter was so happy that his friend came back. Because Darla came back without being told to, he knew that they were true friends. Peter and Darla trusted each other and were never going to let the other down.
they bid farewell back then
The Wisdom of a Haiku Turtle
For as long as Cici could remember, she wanted to be a poet. There was one problem with this: she lacked the artistic motivation that seemed to flood all those around her. She grew up in a crowded home. Cici had 8 brothers and 4 sisters—and she happened to be stuck in the middle of all of them.
All of Cici’s siblings were artistically inclined in one way or another, too. For example, Cici’s younger brothers, George and Patrick, had been playing the piano and guitar ever since their little fingers could manage it. Cici’s older sister, Rose, had an absolutely beautiful voice. Not only were her siblings musically inclined, many of them had also been drawing or painting ever since they could hold a paintbrush. Strangely enough, Cici had not found her niche in her artistic family and longed to discover where her passion and talent would lie.
This is the story of how Cici eventually found her poetic muse.
concentration fails her
As the sun came out and the spring flowers began their bloom, Cici decided that she needed to find her poetic inspiration—and she needed to find it now. Without leaving any sort of note, Cici decided to pack her notebook, pen, and enough food to get through the day. You may think it’s odd that Cici chose a pen to write poetry but she certainly had a justification for this choice. You see, Cici believed that there was no need for erasing when it came to poetry. She thought that the original, raw ideas were the most precious and could not bear to erase anything that she had already written.
At any rate, Cici felt confident that today was the perfect day to find her poetic muse and she knew just the spot to head towards. Cici’s home was located right smack dab in the middle of nowhere—and she loved it. At the base of Gothic Mountain about 3 or 4 miles off the path there was an absolutely gorgeous waterfall. To add to the serenity, there was a perfect rock for sitting and mulling over the week’s stresses. This is exactly what Cici intended to do. But first, she needed to sneak by her siblings’ bedrooms—she knew she would get absolutely no work done if her younger brothers or sisters decided to tag along.
The farther that Cici got from her house, the more relaxed she began to feel. With so many talented siblings, Cici often felt overwhelmed and out of place. She knew that her parents loved her as they loved everyone in the family, yet she constantly had the feeling that she lacked a real home. She longed for a home where she could be the center of attention and where her parents would dote on every accomplishment she had. Don’t get her wrong, Cici was not a self-centered or arrogant girl—she just longed to feel that she was important or special instead of feeling lost in the mix.
Along the trail, on her way to the waterfall, Cici spotted a commotion in the distance. As she came closer, she realized that a giant hawk was continuously circling a small clearing. Because Cici knew quite a bit about animals, she knew that this meant there was either a dead animal in the clearing or some small, helpless pray that was trapped in an open space. Being the curious girl that she was, Cici decided to check out the situation.
As she entered the clearing, Cici saw what the poor, helpless animal was: a turtle. Now, Cici had a soft spot in her heart for turtles and could not bear to let this little guy become dinner so she decided to help him out. Cici quickly ran over and grabbed the small turtle, taking him to her waterfall destination where there would be plenty of hiding spaces. As she walked, Cici decided to attempt to talk to the little guy and began to vent all of her troubles. Now, Cici was not foolish enough to think that the turtle could respond to her complaints; nor did she think that he could even hear. But maybe that’s exactly why she felt the need to talk—no one could talk back to her now.
When she arrived at her destination, Cici had talked through all of her troubles and felt much better. She went to her favorite rock and set the small turtle down wondering where she should let him go. As she sat and pondered, something incredible happened. She watched the once timid turtle pop out of his shell and begin his journey off the rock and confidently into Cici’s safe haven. Suddenly, Cici came to a realization. The turtle did not need Cici to find him a new home because he had his home all along. At that moment, Cici sat down on the rock and wrote:
turtles remind us
As Cici studied her new haiku, she realized that maybe she had been trying too hard before. All her life, Cici had worked to be noticed and to create a masterpiece haiku that would make her family proud of her. Now, however, Cici was beginning to realize that maybe the reason she never felt fulfilled was because she had been creating poetry for all of the wrong reasons.
Cici sighed as she watched the turtle slowly make his way through the thick, green grass. Oddly enough, instead of feeling envious of her siblings, she now felt a strong sense of pride for all of the talent that she was surrounded with and, with that, came a new motivation. The motivation to create art…for art’s sake.
she turns the page
Jerry loved epic poems. He would lay awake in his bed every night near his dim bedside light reading John Milton and Homer, dreaming of one day writing his own epic poem that would last through the ages. However, Jerry had one problem when it came to writing: his attention span. He would sit in front of a blank moleskin notebook, ballpoint pen in hand, and as soon as he would begin to write, his mind would wander far from the task at hand.
Alright, time to write my epic poem, he would think to himself. Now, I’ll write my epic where a great hero goes on a long and treacherous journey … man my stomach is grumbling loud right now. I wonder what I’m eating for lunch. I wonder what I’m eating for dinner. Is that a squirrel outside? I should go outside, the grass looks so green today… Finally, an hour would pass, and Jerry would have done nothing but stare out the window.
Jerry finally decided he needed some inspiration to help him with his poetry, and he decided to talk to his English teacher, Mrs. Bentham. “Mrs. Bentham,” he said to her, “I want to be a great poet, but my attention span is so short, I can never finish a whole poem.
“Have you ever thought about just writing a shorter poem?” Mrs. Bentham asked. “Try writing haiku!”
“But I don’t know anything about haiku,” Jerry said.
“Haiku is easy, anyone can do it,” his teacher replied. To demonstrate, she came up with one on the spot:
As they walked together, Jerry thought of his first haiku:
Jerry’s attention span was so short, it turns out, that by the third line of his haiku he had noticed a completely different thing to write about, and changed direction. He was so excited to get home and write more.
Tom was staring into his cereal, when his father slightly startled him, blurting a question out.
"What?", Tom said.
"Can you hear me? Have you been filling out your college applications I gave you?", his father replied, with a bit of annoyance in his voice.
Tom really had no idea how he was going to handle this. Ever since last year, he only dreamed of one thing, becoming a poet. He was scared and didn't want to change himself and fit into a mold. He didn't want his life to become a neatly structured plot. He wanted freedom to feel, and to dream. How could he explain this to his dad? He wished his dad could love him for who he was, and not we he wanted him to be.
"I'm working on it", Tom assured him. "Good," his dad said sternly, "my college boy is going to make me proud."
After breakfast, Tom brushed his teeth, getting anxiety about what he was going to tell his father, or how. He hopped in his car and drove off to school, his mind stormed with worries.
"What if I don't want to go to college?", Tom uttered, "What if I want to be a poet?" It was dark in the living room, with the glow of the tv and the nearby lamp.
His dad was watching the football game intently. His father's face twisted into a strange mixture of anger and confusion.
"A poet?! What do you want to do, live at home forever and write in your notebook?", he said almost mockingly.
"I was thinking I could get my poems and stories published, and write for a living," Tom managed to reply, "It's what I love to do."
"Well I'd love to sit and write and not work too! That would be swell, but I actually have to make money to pay my bills!", his father fumed.
"It's a lot of work, it's just a different kind of work," Tom tried to convince him.
"If you want to live in this house you're going to decide on a real career, and choose a suitable college!", his dad concluded.
Tom stumbled off to his room. He couldn't manage anything except to lay and stare at his ceiling, his mind in agony.
nothing to say
Tom had this planned for months. He had money saved, plenty of good poems and stories to get started, and a friend to stay with. He was taking off to California, where he could dream and feel free. He was almost certain he could do it, his teachers could hardly contain their astonishment for how captivating his work was. Mr. Storlum already helped him get a few of his poems published. He believed in his most imaginative student. He was Tom's favorite teacher.
"Yes, I'll see you in a couple of days. Bye". Tom finished his phone call at 12:46 AM. He took one last look at the house from the driveway. Then his car came to life, and the engine and his heartbeat both started racing. He pressed the pedal, in hot pursuit of his dream.
Stan woke for work, expecting his son to wake any minute. All he found was a note, and he gazed down the driveway.
Writing Response 4:
hug from behind
I once mistook a man in Kroger's for my uncle. I poked him in the back, ready to say "Hi uncle Rick." As he turned around I was just shocked and said sorry, and walked away quickly to find my mom. I was pretty young, and didn't know what to do. I felt so stupid
Short story with haiku:
Springtime. Flowers on the trees, a fresh breeze blowing, green everywhere you look. In a poet’s world, the season of growth. Spring offers the best inspiration, whether it is the growth of nature or the sprouting of a new relationship.
hand in hand
Whatever the subject, the creative possibilities are endless. But not for Tyler. No, his punishment for this sunny afternoon was mother-mandated solitary confinement until the last of his homework was finished. “It’s probably all because of what happened last week,” he thought gloomily to no one in particular. “I said I was sorry, what more can I do?”
mowing the yard
“Now I am the only kid in the entire neighborhood forced to be inside on a day like today, and to make matters worse, my homework is to write dumb poetry! Poetry is for girls! And what is a haiku anyway?
As he longingly stared out the window, he thought back to his baseball game last weekend. He had been the only player on the entire team to hit the ball over the back fence, even though he was one of the smallest kids in the league and this was only his second year on the team. That would show those older boys not to tease him!
That had been one of the proudest moents of his life; he had felt invincible, as if he could do anything, be anything. What’s more, the whole town it seemed like had been there to see it—his parents, his best friend Coby, his old babysitter, even his English teacher had been there!
Tyler whined to his empty room, “If only our assignment could be about baseball. That would be easy, not some lovey-dovey poems about flowers and girly stuff!” Frustrated, he tried to remember what his teacher had said during class—
Wait! Hadn’t she said something about inspiration? He thought harder…Yes! She had said that they could write about whatever they liked. Now that Tyler thought about it, he was pretty sure she had even mentioned sports as a possible topic! Suddenly excited, he grabbed his pen, already anticipating the warm spring sun…
only just begun
Hello! Nice to meet you!
Hello!...no wait…My name is… no wait… greetings!...no wait. Oh whatever! Here is a short story of my life, haiku form. I live in a one-room home, if that’s what you want to call it. The walls are bare along with my life. Every night, the owl outside of my one window keeps me company. It is like we talk in my sleep. My bed sleeps one and I have one chair. One pot for cooking. One cup for drinks. One fork, knife, and spoon. One person, one life. I am singular and have no purpose but to keep the owl company. I have spent eleven years in this place…home. Hoping to find my voice, but have only lost it. I left immediately after college. I picked up my bed, my fork, knife, spoon, my chair, and my pot and hit the road. Only 111 miles outside of town, I am a quick one week walk from town, but have never went back. Should I go back? Is the one thing I need to find my voice not here?
Once again I turn to my paper. I scribble a line and quickly scribble it to black. Over and over and over again. Nothing sounds the way it does in my head. Alls it will take is one haiku, one right haiku. my one attempt, close to success, but still far away…
into the silence
Vacation to Home
I start my trek early morning. Sleeping is the worst. With only one blanket, I get rather cold. I left my bed to try to save time on my journey. Somehow, the owl follows me and is with me every night. Day after day I attempt to find my voice. I try to fill the page with meaningful words. Day after day, I fail and fail. I leave a paper ball trail behind me. Step after step…day after day…fail after fail… the owl and I, a pair, make our trek.
Two days in I come into a bend in the road. Should I go left? Do I go right? Two choices…which should I choose. I chose right. I hope it was the right choice to go right of the two. I could not handle another upset. At the end of day two, I write before I close my eyes for the night. Two lines in and I feel like I am almost there! I am on the verge of
Visiting a Home I Will Never Leave
It is day 7…7o’clock in the morning. I knock on a door now foreign to me only to be welcomed by a foreign but yet so familiar voice of my mother. I left her eleven years ago only to return in a deeper rut than ever.
“Oh son! I have missed you so! I love you so! I hope you have grown while you were gone because I never want you to leave again!”
q …at the moment she pulls me in for a hug I realize the one thing I needed all along was home. That night I lay in bed with my paper and pen and write the best haiku I have ever written in eleven years…
laying in bed
The next day I sit down to write…
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Melrose. She was an average teenager, went to a nice university, held down a part time job, and had a great circle of friends with a good social life. Every week, she went to work at her job at an office where she was a client care representative. Everyone at work loved her, except for one person, Sherry. Sherry was a thirty year old woman, and was jealous of Melrose, and went out of her way to make Melrose’s life miserable. She would talk behind Melrose’s back saying nasty things. She would talk to the bosses about Melrose and make up lies, and she would invite everyone but Melrose to little parties at her house.
she threw sticks and stones
Melrose knew that she was going out of her way to try and hurt her feelings, but she knew it was better to act like it didn’t and do the work in which she was supposed to. However, week after week after week it began to eat away at Melrose. She was tired of being treated so badly at her workplace, but she was too shy and afraid to speak up for herself. Little bylittle, she started to break down inside.
on the outside she appeared
One day, she was crying to her best friend, who encouraged herto stand up to Sherry. Her friend said, ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’ That quote by Eleanor Roosevelt really hit home withher. She realized no one should make her feel that awful in her place of workwhere she had been working for two and a half years, whereas Sherry had onlybeen there for five months. So one day when she was at work, and Sherry was mentioning a little party to the six other people in the room while Melrose stood by the wall, she finally stood up for herself.
Melrose stepped to the center of the room and said, “So Sherry when do I get invited to one of these shindigs? You always talk to everyone else in the room but me about it, and I was wondering when I get my invitation. But some to think about it, if you have to be that classless about inviting people—or should I say publically excluding people, I don’t see why anyone would want to come at all. Remember Sherry, you’re at work, not high school, so try to remember that,” and confidently walked away with Sherry dumbfounded.
head held high
Her name was Alice. She was tall and slender, with bones that peeked through her tight skin no matter how much she ate. She was quiet, one who usually kept to herself. She wasn’t astoundingly intelligent, but enough time absorbing the world around her provided her with an unusual sense of insight. One day, Alice took her usual trip down the empty alley that kept her house hidden. As she approached her front door, she realized that something was not right. A particular ray of light found its way through the house and out the barely open door, drawing Alice into her living room. There, her mother lay on the couch; her long term cancer had obviously put its final grip onto her mother’s life. She was breathing heavily and rapidly, trying to gasp her final tastes of air. Alice and her mother were not particularly fond of each other, but this dying moment was enough to remind Alice of what her mother loved most: haiku.
Alice rushed to her mother’s room and picked up the tattered journal; this was one of very few items in this house, but it was certainly the most important thing to her mother. These haiku, the ones that her mother had recorded throughout her entire life, would help guide her to calmness until help arrived. Alice kneeled by her mother’s side and opened the cover. A shaky hand reached over and closed the journal. “No…You…” gasped her mother. Alice was astounded by this request; she knew nothing about haiku, let alone how to compose enough to guide her mother to a peaceful death.
Alice let a tear fall. All of the nasty that had ever occurred between she and her mother was irrelevant now. This moment was all that mattered, and Alice had no idea how to handle it. Her bright orange, old and fat, cat meandered his way to Alice’s open lap, where he flopped onto his back with a muffled purr. Her mother was still struggling to hold her grip on life; Alice felt helpless. Then, as if by magic, the cat sat up and stared into Alice’s tear-blurred eyes. She gazed back at the cat, as if to have a silent conversation with him.
Alice’s tears picked up their pace and started to fall in heavier batches. Maybe it was because she thought she was insane for talking to a cat, maybe it was because her mother was almost gone. But Alice knew it was because she was too afraid to open her heart. But still, she nodded in agreement with the cat’s conditions: anything to help her mother.
The orange cat walked away and left Alice and her mother with nothing but the sounds of whimpers and strained breaths. Alice didn’t know how to feel, no one ever gave her that chance. How would she learn how to feel in only a matter of minutes? She didn’t even know what feeling felt like. There was no hope for writing a haiku to soundtrack her mother’s exit.
The sound of the tiny radio across the room startled Alice; it turned on out of nowhere. Alice’s mom’s Josh Groban CD was inside, as it always was, and his voice began to escape from the speakers.
Alice shuddered at the eeriness of the lyrics to this moment. She had no idea how the song began to play, but the second it was over the radio shut off. What did that mean? Remember? Was this supposed to relate to haiku? Alice replayed the lyrics in her head.
if you listen
Alice had stopped crying by this point, now more freaked out by the past few moments than anything: First a conversation with her cat, now a message from the almost broken-down radio in the corner. But Alice was still confused by these signs, though, wondering how remembering and feeling were supposed to come together and create the perfect haiku for her mother. Alice noticed it had gotten suddenly very quiet in the room, and Alice watched as the heavy breathing had stopped. Her mother’s chest was hardly rising. Alice stood up and pulled the tattered blanket from the back of the couch. She unfolded it and draped it over her mother’s frail body. At least this cover would conceal the inevitable goodbye for a little while longer.
Just as Alice tucked the edge of the blanket under her mother’s chin, Alice’s mother’s eyes fluttered open. They made eye contact, bringing Alice’s tears back to life. Her mother brought her weak hand to Alice’s cheek, and graced it very gently.
Alice, by this point, was completely paralyzed with emotion. She fell over her mother, who stroked her hair back with every ounce of energy she had left. Alice laid there until she felt the life completely leave her mother’s embrace. The tears had stopped falling and the sobbing ceased; there was no point in trying to hold on anymore. Alice’s mother was gone.
Alice took a step back and pulled the blanket over her mother’s quiet face. She took the haiku journal from the table and held it close to her heart. In that moment, she realized that she did know. She knew exactly what her mother meant: be true to who you are. Alice sat in the middle of the floor and opened her mother’s haiku journal. This was the first time she had ever been close to her mother’s work, everything her mother lived for. Her eyes filled back with tears as she read poem after poem. It was true, all the secrets that had just been revealed to her; each of these haiku embodied feeling, remembrance/memories, and who her mother truly was. Alice knew then that she had had the power to create haiku as beautiful as her mother all along; her mother had passed her gift on.
Alice opened to the first empty page of the journal and let her own scribbly handwriting join her mother’s.
only in my heart
The art of writing haiku; to some it probably sounds pretty easy. Three lines, and they don’t even have to rhyme. Draw from past experiences, moments in time, or memories and there you go: you’ve just written your very own haiku. Simple right? WRONG!
I have undertaken the challenge of writing a series of haiku because one of my college professors thought it would be a unique writing challenge for me. He said that it wouldn’t be that hard but that I would learn a lot. As of right now, it is hard and I haven’t learned anything! I am confused and have had writers block for at least a week now. Every time I sit down to right I get distracted and the words just will not come together. For example, here are two of my first ever haiku:
Life and love
I have been doing this project for only a few weeks now and I am already to turn in the towel. How am I supposed to continue this project for the rest of the semester if I am struggling with it now?
Take a Break
At this exact moment, a thought has occurred to me. Why not just take a break from haiku and come back with a fresh frame of mind after the weekend? Maybe, if I am away from it for a while I will appreciate it more. With that thought in mind, I reach for the phone and make a call to an old friend.
The next day I find myself amongst old friends in a bowling alley across town in hopes that some distraction might be good for me. The night begins well, but after a while, the conversation had died down and no one is quite sure what to say next. At that instance, I realize that this is one of those moments that haiku writers dream about. The awkward silence creates tension so thick in the air that you could cut it with a knife. This is one of those real life, human experiences that has inspired countless poets before me. Quickly, I come up with the words that encompass the moment perfectly and make a note of them on my cell phone.
The distraction technique worked! I just wrote a haiku that I am actually proud of. Is it going to be famous, no, but I like it and it just may be the start of some really great haiku. It is all about experiencing life. From now on, going out and doing things will be my haiku inspiration.
Trial and Error
Since my epiphany at the bowling alley, I have begun testing out my theory on writing haiku. I have been going to the park, going to the movies, helping people I don’t know; just experiencing new things. My hope was that I would be able to write and abundance of haiku in no time at all and be done with this project like that. While I have gotten some pretty great haiku out of some of my experiences, not all have been as beneficial. I really like this haiku about the time when I helped an old man carry his groceries out to his car:
A glimpse of surprise
Later in that week, I volunteered at a homeless shelter thinking that it would be a haiku writing gold mine, however I was disappointed in the fact that all my haiku seemed fake or almost forced. I thought that I would be able to write tons of great haiku from my volunteer experience, but I did not. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed helping people and felt good about myself afterwards, but it provided me with little inspiration:
the look of a hungry man
So, I began asking myself, what is the difference between the bowling alley and helping the old man with his groceries opposed to the homeless shelter. Was I just suffering from another case of writers block, or was there something else going on here? After pondering on this issue for about an hour, I decided that the difference was the spontaneity of the experience. The first two just sort of happened, while the homeless shelter action was more forced. Volunteering is fantastic, but volunteering in order to find haiku inspiration does not always work.
In the days that followed, I began letting my haiku as well as my life be less planned and more accidental. I wrote when something came to me, and I did whatever crossed my mind. I gave up on trying to force things to happen and settled with a much more easygoing frame of mind. Just today, I was taking a walk when I noticed to little girls drawing with chalk on the sidewalk. They both looked incredibly happy and content with what they were doing.
When Mary was ten she had seen the most beautiful creature on the face of the Earth. Her father had not yet come home from his job at the castle, and mother was busy cooking what little meat they had for dinner. She decided that this rare down time was the perfect time to walk through the woods and gather flowers to give to her father. The woods on the edge of her little town were not as dangerous as some, and she visited them often.
As Mary sat under the ancient branches, her feet dangled in a shallow stream, she daydreamed about the old wives tales that her mother told. Faeries, dragons, and griffons—all were said to live out here in the forest, ever present but always unseen. Her favorite though, was the unicorn. Her mother told her that if she sat in the forest long enough, she would see a unicorn, because they are attracted by the purity of a young girl’s heart. But year after year, no mater how long Mary sat, she never saw one. Suddenly a noise broke her musings—a gentle rustle of bushes on the other side of the stream. Timidly, a beautiful white stallion stepped into view. Even in the dim shade of the oak trees, his coat shown a pearlescent white and a thin horn grew where his forelock lay.
Mary was stunned. She jumped up to welcome him, but her sudden movement spooked the unicorn and he turned and fled.
It had been six years since Mary had seen the unicorn—but those years had all blurred together. Nothing else could compare to the animal’s purity. The rest of the world seemed covered in a thin layer of grime in comparison.
An Unexpected Turn
As soon as Jackson was born, everyone knew he was different than the rest. Being the runt of the family, he had white fur instead of black, brown eyes instead of blue,and stopped growing when he turned two. His mother, father, brothers, and sisters tried to hide this little mouse from the world. They didn’t want to be embarrassed by this small, ugly mouse that they were related to.
A beautiful creature
Throughout most of his life Jackson stayed at home. There seemed to always be something for him to do inside the house. His parents even claimed he was more special than the rest to go to public school, so they home schooled him. Though they fed him these lies, Jackson looked right through them. Comparing himself in the mirror to his family surrounding him, he knew he was different.
The truth lies
As a release, Jackson wrote haiku. This was his one way of expressing himself to the world. He hid his haikus from his family, knowing they would never appreciate the kind of beauty he wanted to share. As Jackson got older,he became a little more confident in himself. He thought “there must be others like me out there somewhere”, so he decided to take a journey.
One dark, quiet night, Jackson snuck out of the house to begin his journey. Everywhere he went he learned something new, and kept track in his haiku diary. One day,as Jackson was strolling, lost, down a small grassy path, he was startled by the shouts of a mouse nearby. Coming from a small shack on the side of the road, and old mouse waved and shouted for Jackson to come on over. Jackson had no idea where he was, so he decided to take a step of faith and trotted over to the man.
“Why hello there young son! What brings you here to this neck of the woods? I never get many visitors round here!”
“Well to be honest, I’m not really sure where I am.”
“Well I can help with that! Why don’t you come on inside for a quick drink then I’ll help you find your way back to the city!”
“…Alright,” Jackson skeptically agreed. He didn’t understand why this man was being so nice to him. After all, he knew he was different, he was assuming people would be afraid of him or something.
“What’syour name son?”
“Nice to meet ya Jackson, I’m Harry. Also known as the crazy ole coot who lives byhimself out in the field,” he said as he chuckled. “It’s been awhile since I’ve seen another mouse in these parts. What brings you out here?”
Jackson watched Harry pour the lemonade as he replied, “well to be honest, I ran away from home to see the world, to learn, and to teach people.”
“What could a little kid like you want to teach?”
“Ihave this book of haiku that I have been…”
“YOU WRITE HAIKU?! Oh please share!! My late wife used to write haiku. As small as they are, they were always very clever and powerful!”
So Jackson proceeded to pull out his haiku diary as the two mice started to get lost in a deep conversation about life. They talked through the night, and Jackson ended up staying with the ole coot for a couple of days helping him clean up house and yard all the while teaching him how to write haiku in honor of his late wife. Jackson had found out that Harry’s wife was blind. Just like Jackson, being blind was a trait not acceptable for society. So Harry bought this house away from everyone and lived a long happy life with his wife untilher death. After about a week had passed, Jackson decided it was time to move on. As he walked out of the house to begin traveling again, he knew his journey was already successful.
The ole coot
Jackson gained a new set of confidence by talking to Harry. He taught him that being different doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. He also taught himthat being nice goes a long way. Jackson wants to spread this idea to the world. Armed with his haiku book, he hikes his way into the city to try tostart changing everyone’s minds. Because his haiku had meant a lot to Harry, Jackson decided he wants to publish his book in his honor. He wants to wait to reveal his identity until after the book is published and sold throughout the city. He is going to prove that although he looks different, he is just the same as everyone else. Jackson conjures these ideas as the sun shines first light on the city before him. His real, difficult journey is about to begin.
Light shows the path
I sat one day, under a shade tree near the border of Mexico and Texas. From my seat under the tree I watched the day laborers. One in particular caught my eye. He was such a hard working man, eager to do whatever task the boss had in store. He was a humble, quit worker. His eyes never seem to lose focus, even when the other were taking their afternoon siestas. He had a goal.
I watched as he interacted with his fellow workers. During lunch, everyone was just shooting the breeze. He sat away from the others. If someone came up to him, he would considering his thoughts and words before expressing them.
slow to speak
After lunch, he picked up his shovel, and when right back at it. Working harder than any man I have seen work. Sweat was pouring off his face and down his back in the big ol’ Texas sun. When the work day was over, after hours and hours of intense labor, the workers packed up. They formed a line before leaving. The boss came around to pay them. I watched carefully as the boss placed $20 in the hands of the man. He was the hardest worker around, yet $20 was all he got for the labor.
he works so hard
In a world...where writing haiku...is a sport. It is called, Haiku-ball.
One young soul named, Big Boy, had a passion for the sport. In his native country of U.S.B. (United States of Boombada), Haiku-ball is the most popular sport. His dad, MonSTAR, was an All-American in Haiku-ball in college so Big Boy had high expectations to live up to.
He made it into a division I college with a full-ride scholarship from his outstanding performances in high school. His most popular Haiku granted him his popularity throughout college:
Going into his senior year, he made it to the top of the leader boards with his long time rival, Pretty Girl, placing 2nd right behind him. In Haiku-ball, the genders are not split up due to intellect not being different between man and woman.
The national championship tournament soon arrived in Juice-opolis, where all the best athletes were being gathered to battle for the national title.
One after another, Haiku-ball athletes were being defeated with ease by Big Boy and Pretty Girl. No one could stop them...
Soon, the final match was about to be held. It was between the top two haiku athletes: Big Boy and Pretty Girl. Both had a deep hate for each other.
They were lead into the Haiku-ball ring and the coin-toss was about to be underway. Pretty Girl is given a choice of Heads or Tails, since she is the number 2 seed. The coin falls on Heads, giving Big Boy the first Haiku throw.
The way Haiku-ball is played is by each competitor writing a haiku on the ball given, and throwing the ball at the other competitor. The other is supposed to catch it, and reply with another, better haiku. If the beginning player cannot come up with a better haiku after that, then the opposing player wins.
Big Boy scribbles his haiku onto the ball with his lucky pen:
The haiku is announced by Big Boy and a roar of applause fills the stadium. He chucks the ball at Pretty Girl, but she catches with ease.
Pretty Girl hesitates...but a breakthrough in her mind has occurred! She scribbles:
the clock-tower chimes noon
She exclaims the haiku into the microphone and a louder applause erupts from the crowd. She tosses the ball back to Big Boy, who hesitates...and hesitates...
All of a sudden, MonSTAR appears in Big Boy's sight, and cheers Big Boy on. "You can do this, son! Beat her!", MonSTAR yells. The perfect haiku is brought to Big Boy's thoughts. He can't believe that he is about to win the national championship!
But Big Boy does not want to win. No one knew his true love for her because he kept it a secret. He cannot get himself to beat her. He loves her too much for him to take the championship away from her. He takes the ball...and drops it on the ground.
The crowd jumps off their feet chanting, "PRETTY GIRL! PRETTY GIRL!" The referee comes over and lifts her on his shoulders and she is given the trophy.
From Big Boy's view, her smile couldn't get any bigger...
Haiku Short Story
Fan fiction based on the television series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko
Summary of Avatar: The Last Airbender:
“In a lost age the world is divided into four equal powers: Water Tribe, Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation, and Air Nomads. In each nation there's a group of gifted people known as Benders who have the ability to manipulate their native element using martial arts and elemental magic. For thousands of years the nations lived together peacefully. But then disaster struck. The young ruler of the Fire Nation, Fire Lord Sozin, began a war of world conquest. The only one who could have prevented it was the Avatar. The Avatar is the human incarnation of the Spirit of the World, he alone can master bending all four elements. But, just when he was needed most, he disappeared. Now, 100 years later, a young Waterbender named Katara and her older brother Sokka stumble upon the long lost Avatar, Aang, who was encased in an iceberg for 100 years. Now, they must help Aang master all four elements before summer when Sozin's grandson Fire Lord Ozai will use a comet to deal one last deadly strike against the other nations and claim a Fire Nation victory. But, all that is easier said than done with the Fire Lord's determined and hot-tempered son, Prince Zuko, hot on their trail.”
In this time of fear and despair all hope is turned to the Avatar…Aang, a young boy of twelve who is expected to restore peace to the world. As Aang struggles to master the remaining three elements with his friends there is one other person who can help him on his journey.
Within the fire nation lives a family that has plotted the overthrow of the fire lord since the death of Avatar Rokku, the Avatar before Aang, and to aid the new Avatar in whatever ways possible. Their last descendant is a young woman named Elaina. By marrying between nations Elaina is a genetic miracle, in that she can also bend all four elements much like the Avatar. Elaina and her family have kept this precious ability a secret as she grew up among the prince and princess of the fire nation. Elaina’s father is a trusted advisor to the fire lord and a distant relative to Princess Ursa, who is a descendant of fire lord Rokku as well. Elaina has already mastered the four elements by training with her four grandparents, each grandparent is a different type of bender. After waiting over one hundred years for the Avatar to return their family began to lose hope and with the birth of Elaina a new plan had been formed. Instead of helping the Avatar Elaina’s father arranged a marriage between Elaina and the fire lord’s son, Prince Zuko. Once Elaina and Zuko were of marrying age it was up to Elaina to assassinate the Fire Lord Ozai so her husband would become the new fire lord. She would then be able to manipulate her husband into ending the war and bringing peace back to the four nations. But, as is the nature of life, things never go according to plan.
Love Haiku 107
“I sit and watch the tides roll onto the sand in the moonlight and I contemplate my destiny.” Elaina has just celebrated her 13th birthday at her family’s beach home at Ember Island. Once again she has been reminded by her family the importance of spending time with Prince Zuko when they return to the capital city. “After trying to meditate I find my thoughts too clouded with my future and the role I am to play. I have found it difficult to have no one to share my true feelings with, I fear if I told my family they would not understand. So I have come to writing haiku in an attempt to express my fears, hopes, and dreams I have for this life which could end at any time should the fire lord discover our secret.”
As she warms her hands from the cool ocean breeze she notices the simple gold band on her left hand. Although she knows that she must use Zuko’s feelings for her against him when the time comes she has realized that she has succumbed to her feelings for him. As she stares at her engagement ring in the moonlight she feels herself pulled in different directions. Which to follow her duty to her family and the fate of the world or her duty to herself and the love she feels for Zuko?
Elaina quietly heads back to her room as the night air becomes cooler, taking care not to wake her family, she slides the door shut behind her. As she prepares to go to bed the ring continues to catch her eye, causing the feelings to resurface.
a night in winter—
Love Haiku 64
Mother and father are gone . . . they all are. Our greatest fears have been realized. I do not think that Ozai had discovered my secret but he has found our plot to overthrow him through my betrothal to Prince Zuko. As I was on my way home, late this evening, from being with Zuko at the palace I saw a great column of smoke rising to the sky. People were frantic and panicking. As I began to get closer a sudden realization came over me and I found myself running towards home hoping that I was wrong. As I came up the street I saw the source of the fire was my home. My family was asleep when the fire started…they had no warning. I knew this was a pivotal moment. I didn’t know how much Ozai knew about us but no doubt he would be after me next. So I made my decision. In front of Zuko and all the spectators I fled into the inferno. I ran to the basement and through the hidden door to the training room. I knew I would be safe from the fire so deep underground. Though we hoped this day would never come my family had prepared me for this moment. Through another hidden panel was a small satchel of traveling necessities, a sleeping roll, food, a map, and the few heirlooms my family had left for me. I was surprised to find a kimono made for me by my grandmothers. They have made this kimono based on the different styles of each of the four nations to symbolize who I am and where I have come from. I have also found my grandfather’s air bending staff, grandfather’s earth bending gauntlets, grandmother’s water tribe betrothal necklace, and my family’s fire nation seal. I shall rest here for until the next evening and then I intend to find Ursa and hide with her until the Avatar returns. Zuko must never know that I am alive . . . I have to leave this life behind me now.
sadness on a journey—
Love Haiku 44
summer kimono sash—
Love Haiku 33
© 2012, Randy Brooks Millikin University
All rights returned to authors upon publication.