Red Crayon: Selected Haiku

Megan Klein

Global Haiku Tradition
Millikin University, Spring 2001

red crayon

author preface

haiku is a form of poetry that is in one sense very restricted, owing to its japanese roots: usually three lines, it must be very short and concise. yet in another way, it is very freeing, in that so much is said in those short lines. adapted from the traditional japanese haiku, which follows a three line, 5-7-5 syllable format, haiku in the west has lost the syllabic structure, owing to less language fluidity of western languages than japanese, and occasionally, loses the three line structure. kerouac once said that "a haiku must be very simple and free of all poetic trickery and make a little picture . . . to say a lot . . . and to pack in a whole vision of life in three short lines."

kerouac’s definition of haiku rang true to me when i read it. i realized that is exactly what i was trying to do with my haiku- make a little picture in three short lines. i experimented with two-line haiku and concrete haiku, which is literally make a picture with text, but i found my best work in the traditional three line format.

my haiku come from two places. the first is my own memories. i try to find meaningful or memorable experience and put it into haiku. I find that the best haiku are those that the reader can relate to, so trying to put my unique memory into a relatable form while still retaining its individuality to me is a challenge. the other place my haiku come from are experiences i imagine the reader might have had; common occurrences that though I might not have experienced, someone else reading the haiku might, or can imagine. for example, one of my haiku is about a company picnic. while i have never been to a company picnic, i have heard enough about them to create a haiku that most people can relate to, or understand. these common occurrences or knowledge is where some of my haiku come from, and I try to adapt my memories to this common knowledge.

my collection is entitled "red crayon." it is a line taken from my signature haiku:

red crayon
             on the white wall
valentine for daddy

i chose this for my title because i like to think of my haiku as red crayons. i hope they stand out, yet are simple enough to be appreciated by many, much like a simple, but brilliant, red crayon.

—megan klein
                        14 may 2001


reading partner preface

Megan’s haiku are a reflection of her personal experiences. I enjoyed reading her haiku very much. They express how she feels and reacts to many life situations. She has spent much time preparing work that is based on events in her life. Megan has the potential to become an excellent haiku writer. Many of her work has been "born" and recognized in class. She is great at putting her thoughts into words and she makes it easy for the reader to relate to her work. It is obvious through her writing that she understands the true spirit of haiku. She can capture a moment or a feeling like none other. For example:

red crayon
on the white wall
Valentine for Daddy

This actually happened to Megan. She drew her daddy’s valentine on her living room wall. She relates her experience in a way that others can remember similar events that happened to them. It is such a simple, yet such an effective haiku. Megan truly is a great writer.

—nicole bilyeu
14 may 2001

red crayon
            on the white wall
valentine for daddy

across the hall
phone rings again
I check my ringer

in the rain
alone      remembering
last night in dublin



callused fingertips strum
gentle chords
lit only by the bonfire

in the darkened theatre
she fumbles for
his hand



one-eyed cat
the street boy’s
only friend

he thought it was
now she’s gone



i hear his laugh
as i brush the snow
from his gravestone

moving again
a rusty hamster wheel
in the bottom drawer



debutante ball
i meet my twin
in the ladies room

speechless at her news
his gaze drops
to her navel

(Best Senryu, Spring 2001)



  i wait for a
he just walks by


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