Afterwards: Selected Haiku

Mary Gamble

Global Haiku Tradition
Millikin University, Spring 2001

Mary Gamble

Mary's Rengay

Her Essay on
Gary Hotham

Comparison Essay
Comparing Nature in Haiku: Kobayashi Issa vs. Gary Hotham


Author’s Preface

When I write haiku, the most important thing to me is capturing the moment. I care little for the particular rules of the three line, 5/7/5, 17 syllable rules. Instead, I concentrate my energy on attempting to write a poem that gives a glimpse into a particular moment in time. I think that some of the most striking haiku are the haiku that immediately take the reader to a brand new place.

Ideally, these haiku create an internal feeling of experiencing this moment. I attempt to write haiku that completely removes the reader from his or her current state and places him or her in a new and interesting instant. I hope that, in reading my haiku, you experience this state of relocation.

The key to a good haiku is brevity. It is in this brevity, that each reader creates his or her own interpretation of the moment briefly described.

Haiku is a poem of the moment. The moments that I write about are usually natural and unplanned. In addition, the moments that I choose to concentrate on are most often everyday happenings.I have chosen to call this collection of work "Afterwards." Originally, I got the idea for this title from a line in one of my own haiku:

blonde head snoozes
on his bare chest

However, the more I started thinking about using "Afterwards" as a title, I became more and more intrigued by the word. This word, like haiku, lends itself to so many different interpretations. In addition, "Afterwards" creates a sense of some sort of interesting outcome. I feel that this word accurately describes much of my work featured in this collection. I often write haiku about relationships. Relationships, to me, are an incredibly important part of life. This belief probably comes from my background, as I grew up in a large family surrounded by five siblings. I find that relationships are interesting to write haiku about because there are so many different kinds of relationships in existence. Romantic relationships are fun to write about because they lend themselves to many different outcomes.

Haiku about friendships are particularly meaningful to me as well. Many of my haiku stem from personal experience. However, I do not often refer to myself in a way that is intrusive to the reader’s interpretation of the moment. I attempt, in my writing, to create an image that can be pictured by anyone and interpreted in numerous ways. Each haiku I write means a great deal to me and I hope that these haiku also positively affect the lives of my readers.

The following is a collection of some of my personal favorites from my haiku collection. Featured in this collection are works centered on romance, friendship, loneliness, trials, and several other topics. I always welcome feedback from my readers. Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts on this collection at:

Gamble Publishing House
c/o Mary Gamble
1425 South Whittier Avenue
Springfield, IL 62704

Thank you for reading and appreciating my work.

—Mary Gamble

Reader's Preface

Mary Gamble’s haiku collection Afterwards captures unique moments within relationships and life in general. Her poems are both fun and insightful, as she leads her readers through universally shared moments. The poem:

new strapless dress
he’s preoccupied
with the barmaid

captures an uncomfortable, and yet universally understood moment between a man and a woman in which the woman is attempting to gain the man’s attention and he is unresponsive. This haiku is also an excellent commentary on the high levels of materialism that infect our society today. Here, Mary illustrates this materialism as she depicts a woman who believes that the purchase of a new sexually stimulating dress, rather than her personality and/or character, will attract the man she desires.
Mary works well with moments outside intimate relationships as well. Several of her haiku depict scenes in everyday life, or traditional moments that often go unnoticed. In the following poem, Mary captures both the frustration and the fun of one such moment.

blooming magnolia
girls fidget
for Easter pictures

This is a moment that many families can associate with as most people who have spent time with small children understand the frustration of attempting to have them hold still long enough to take a picture. Here, Mary’s use of the magnolia nature reference adds a beauty to the haiku and also serves to remind the reader of the spring season. The young girls and the "newly born" images of spring work well together as they compliment the idea of energetic children.

I also worked with Mary on some of the class assigned rengays, as you will see from one of her chosen additions to Afterwards. She was fun and easy to work with as she had several good ideas for broad use of our group’s chosen topics. She added a great dynamic to our group’s creative output.

Overall, Mary’s collection was well put-together and an enjoyable read. As a part of her group throughout the entire class, I was able to see her progress from beginning to end, and I believe it is obvious that she has come a long way in understanding the objectives and purposes of haiku. Her haiku are meaningful and thought-provoking and inspire readers to view everyday occurrences from new perspectives.

—Sarah Lutz

alone at the restaurant
surrounded by happy couples
waiting, again

blonde head snoozes
on his bare chest

new strapless dress
he’s preoccupied
with the barmaid



her sigh
leaning over dirty socks
on the floor again

men’s cologne
I breathe in deep—



Valentine dinner
our conversation goes
into the darkness

lakeside campfire
conversation suddenly ceases
warm summer night



standing on the green—
golf ball headed straight . . .
past the hole

windblown hair

she is human



blooming magnolia
girls fidget
for Easter pictures

fighting over
          scrabble rules
Easter afternoon



dried roses hanging
on the wall
he doesn’t try anymore

the silent ride home
the doctor’s words,



visiting mom—
Easter Lily
on the gravestone

©2001 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors