Through the Paper Telescope: Selected Haiku

Melanie Hayes

Global Haiku Tradition
Millikin University, Spring 2001

Through the Paper Telescope

A collection of Haiku
Spring 2001

Author’s Introduction

This is my second semester working with haiku. My first haiku class was a one-credit course that met once every week. I enjoyed this first class very much, so when I was offered a second chance I was quite pleased. Over the past year I can see how much my haiku have developed into a stronger voice and clearer image. This semester I have tried to capture the innocence of childhood that readers can relate to as human beings. Many of my haiku are about my own experiences growing up. I have noticed how much more spiritual my haiku have become. Several include an insight on children and their connections to God and Christianity.

It is humorous to think about my first introduction to haiku. I was in the sixth grade at William Harris School. My teacher stood at the chalkboard and wrote the word "HAIKU". I can remember trying to pronounce the word in my head and failing miserably. I pronounced it "hey-coo". At that time, my teacher taught my class that haiku had seventeen syllables and was arranged in the 5-7-5 pattern. He also said that are nature related. My first attempt at haiku was trying. I found it difficult putting words together that made sense and to not go over or under the seventeen-syllable limit. I created a haiku about birds migrating south for the winter. It’s funny because today I am not fond of the creatures, nor have I written any haiku pertaining to them.

Throughout this semester, I was able to study haiku in greater depth by interviewing an amazing haiku author, Bill Pauly. Bill attended the Global Haiku Festival hosted at Millikin University in the spring of 2000. It was here, where I heard him read little of his own work and more of others’ work. He read haiku by Raymond Roseliep and his students. I found him to be a very caring, humble, and modest man; and because he read only a few of his haiku he became a very interesting man. Bill helped me see haiku in a new light. Before this interview, I was not aware of how others approached haiku as a poetic form, where ideas developed, and why.

I have titled this collection Through the Paper Telescope. I feel that it is a perfect image to draw readers into my work. It creates a feeling of innocence and wonder. When I was younger, I used to sit during the church service with a rolled up bulletin to my right eye. I could see everything through my paper telescope, from sleeping church members to bowed heads in prayer. Today I sit in the choir loft at church and am amused by all of the small children peeking through their paper telescopes.

It has been an honor this semester sharing my haiku with others in the class, as well as others sharing their haiku with me. I was fortunate enough to be included in a group of great writers with such amazing, fresh talent. My experiences of haiku have been even more rewarding this semester with the thoughtful editing suggestions and praise of Kathleen Bernard, Kay Millikin, Kathrin Walsch, and Amanda Young and good friend Kristin Boryca. I could not have asked for a more gratifying semester of haiku.

—Melanie Hayes
May 2001


Reader's Preface

This spring I was offered a second chance to read the wonderful haiku of Melanie Hayes. While taking the Haiku Roundtable class with her in the spring of 2000, I began to notice her fresh, newborn style that brings a smile to my face with every image. This spring Melanie’s haiku has developed to an even stronger voice in its precise images of perfect, and sometimes not-so-perfect events! Yet her voice is not so powerful that she embraces the haiku fully; any reader can relate to her witty and often laughable situations. For example:

silence during
the People’s Prayer
my stomach growls

Melanie has an exceptional talent for displaying other sides of formal events and occasions as in this haiku and others; matters that are to be taken seriously and are often seen through a child’s point of view captivate us with the nostalgia of being young. Another great example of this is one of my all-time favorites:

peeking through
tiny holes—
first confession

Many of her haiku are about youth and childhood experiences, and she is truly wonderful at capturing the funny innocence that we share as children. Yet she also captivates the important moments in our lives we share as adults:

spring break—
a romance novel
on the nightstand

Melanie truly has a talent to capture the inward reflections we share only with ourselves, and share them with each other. She firmly grasps the meaning of being human, and often holds mirrors up to ourselves that we are not ashamed to look at.

Finally, we cannot forget that Melanie also writes wonderful haiku about nature, capturing the beauty of the world around us in an ego-less, simple portrait:

a trail of lilies
to the wooden cross
Easter morning

Yet even her simplest portraits of nature do not leave the human element absent, for here we see a representation of spirituality that many humans connect with, especially in Christianity, and this connection evokes emotion from us.

Melanie’s style of haiku writing is very well crafted and skilled. She writes well in many different situations, but almost always draws that human element out in each of us, bringing an emotion into her haiku. With such a knack especially for children’s haiku she shares her inflection on the human experience with us, in a way that connects us all as readers.

—Kay Millikin, reader
May 2001

mother daughter talk—
tiptoeing around
the dirt mounds

(Best Parental Unit Haiku, Spring 2001)

through the paper telescope
bowed heads
in prayer

picking dandelions
three pennies
in my pocket



her hair caught
in the clothing rack

ripples on water—
the paddle glides
to the movement of the moon



evening prayer
a single star
through my bedroom window

silence during
the People’s Prayer
my stomach growls



low vibration
the young girl sleeps
on her father’s chest

grandma’s kitchen—
    cherries still
    too tart for pie



grandpa’s hair—
short, black comb
with two teeth missing

a trail of lilies
to the wooden cross
Easter morning



her pucker after
the sip of wine . . .
first communion

peeking through
tiny holes—
first confession

(Modern Haiku , Winter 2002)



after the hike:
tasting the redbuds
of spring

first spring day
tiny seeds roll
from my palm



whispers in the dark
sister speaking
of their futures

spring break—
a romance novel
on the nightstand



the talk—
even the birds and bees
stop to listen

my dad says
            four stars—
cockroach      on the wall



Valentine’s Day—
another box of chocolates

through the paper telescope
another telescope pointing
back at me


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