Haiku Kukai 1 Favorites

Fall 2010 Haiku Roundtable • Millikin University

the phone rings
I admit
my biggest secret

from the mouth of babes
I extract
Daddy’s secret

secret smoke break
spying my wife down
a shot

Susie Wirthlin (7)

The speaker and his wife clearly have no trust for each other. They hide their vices. I can’t help but wonder if smoking and drinking aren’t they’re only secrets. Maybe one or both of them is having an affair and in their paranoia about being discovered, they do everything secretively. The speaker spies on his wife and she very well could be spying on him as well. Since the speaker is aware of his wife’s secret vice, he should feel no need to hide his own, so I think this is about more than smoking and drinking. There must be bigger secrets in this marriage. Nora

This is my favorite on the page. I love this mess of a relationship I see portrayed. They have their vices, they keep them secret (because of shame? or pride? or purely for the sake of secrets?), and I do wonder if this is their way of coping with each other. Can they not stand to be married to one another without smoking or drinking? Is love simply not enough? In this, I find the fundamental ruin of a marriage. And a story I would love to tell. Ky

slow lunch hour
the owners speak
in their native tongue

a crisp clear night
walking side by side
feeling so invincible

Joseph Sparks

Ahh, love! It's like when a relationship first begins. I've felt like this. I feel invincible, but at the same time, butterflies are fluttering around in my stomach. This poem is very sweet and delicate... it may be why I like it! Tara

backyard sprinkler
a leaf spirals
into late summer

compact mirror
safely tucking away
her many moons

Jade Anderson (5)

This was my favorite haiku from this week’s Kukai. I like layers and this haiku has several. By focusing on objects and actions directly related to women’s lives, the author celebrates the many phases, selves, roles we play. This simple gesture communicates insecurity, doubt, difference, otherness, and secrets. What are these many moons?  The many faces we don to please those whose expectations we are always hoping to meet, but always falling short somehow? The many stages of a woman’s life—from the sexual desires of adolescence through menopausal hot flashes?  A woman’s monthly cycles and the many hormonal changes that happen in these periods marked by the moon’s movement?  Whoever this woman is, she somehow manages to “safely” tuck away these variations of her life and self-identity. Should she? Carmella

I love the different ways that the term "many moons" can be applied in this poem: the phases of the moon, how old "she" is, the different masks (personalities and makeup). The mirror helps her hide away these different things--it keeps her secrets. At the same time, she tucks it away in her pocket or in her bag so that no one can come across it, and she will have it for when she needs it. Overall, the haiku has a fairly consistent beat and rolls off the tongue. Aubrie

I chose to write about this haiku because I didn’t like it until I heard Susie’s explanations. It was really powerful to think that this woman could just tuck away her age and hide it from the world. I bet most women wish they could do that! I also like the play on the word tuck because when some women get old they get things lifted and tucked, but this woman just tucks away her mirror. Becky

cemetery at dusk
our daughter touches
your engraved name

Becky Smith (12)

In this poem we see a family that’s been completely torn apart, yet in this scene, they are together. The surviving parent addresses the deceased spouse and speaks with the inclusive pronoun, “our”. The daughter, maybe too young to understand the finality of death, touches the headstone in some attempt to feel a connection to her parent.  Maybe the speaker is still coping with the finality of the situation and still perhaps in denial about the loss. It’s somehow endearing and heartbreaking at the same time. Nora

I love the imagery!!?! It reminds me of all the sad movies where the father sits back expressionless while the child is standing inches from the gravestone, confusion etched on their face, as they try to wonder why moms' name is on this rock. It reminds me of friends who lost their mom while they were in middle school, the "why me god, why?" feeling they went through. but it also brings about a beautiful picture. a picture of a elderly couple, looking through the holes in heaven yo see their daughter place flowers on their grave. It is [after all] their anniversary! their daughter runs her hands over her mothers name as a light rain pours from her parents eyes, tears of joyous pride. Joseph

I love the way this one starts. The scenery is perfectly set by saying at dusk. This immediately sets the stage with a somber mood. I picture a small girl who never met her mother being taken to her mother's grave by her father. I picture the father trying to explain to the daughter about where her mom is and how she died. The reason I love this is because the amount of emotion that I feel is in this haiku. Garrett

mirrored sunglasses
shirtless Frisbee players
i stare

crippled man
looks forward to my presence
rummy time

Tara Goheen (2)

gasping for air
I hold my breath,
please flush . . .

Garrett Derman

The reason I like this haiku is because I can relate to its content in a big way, and yet it’s a great metaphor for things bigger than the actual situation it illustrates. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a toilette clog on you before, but, take it from me, it’s a terrifying experience! In that light, I was really struck by the differences of the first two lines, they almost seem to present a contradiction, but really they just illustrate a split-second change in reaction. What I picture is a toilette slowly filling, and just as it reaches the cusp, when you need oxygen the most to react quickly and make sound decisions, you hold your breath. The Haiku seems to present a general commentary about tight situations, and our “fight or flight” reactions to them. And the final line is the best, it wraps everything up. “Please flush,” just as when we are presented with any tight situation, we hope it resolves itself. And even the three periods at the end seem to say “there will be no particular resolution for this situation.” It really is a great haiku. Alex

orange butterflies
sharing the trip
back from lunch

one day at a time
my father’s copy
drunk driving

retirement home
my grandson visits
for money

Susie Wirthlin

I wish I would have brought this haiku up during kukai. I watched my great grandparents on my dad’s side go through a retirement home and it was brutal. I dreaded going to visit them, not because I did not want to see them, but because the place breathed despair and loss. It was a place where people went to die. They just sugar coat it with a lot of fancy words to make it seems different. That was the reality that nagged at me every time I set foot in that place. But for someone to visit their grandmother in such a place and ask anything of them, let alone money, would be terrible. The turn in this haiku really brings this idea home. The first two lines are very casual and nice, but the third line reveals the motive of the grandson, opening up the tale just enough for the reader to see the grandson’s true intentions. Jackson

goodnight kiss
my dad and I acting

Susie Wirthlin

When I read this haiku, I first imagined either the daughter or father sneaking in late after too much to drink, only to find that the other was in the living room/kitchen, in the same situation. Given neither are supposed to be drinking (maybe especially the daughter), and the father feels he can't punish her if he's not leading by example. So when they have their encounter, both simply act as though nothing happened and that they're not actually as drunk as they are. Pretending to be sober, they give each other a kiss and go to bed. Aubrie

sunlight dances
on the carpet
she didn't say yes

Aubrie Cox (7)

I knew I liked this haiku when I first read it but I did not completely grasp why I enjoyed it so much until we began discussing it in class. I don’t remember who pointed out that the sunlight dancing on the carpet is a romantic image that brings to mind a couple dancing, but it was spot on, and it packs the last line with an even bigger punch. The third line is what brings it all together though. The fact that it reads ‘she didn’t say yes’ as opposed to ‘she said no’ makes it much more tragic. She was expected to say yes. It was an almost realized dream that never made it to reality. Jackson

starry sky
she undresses
at gunpoint

Garrett Derman (10)

This one was so intense. The beginning makes it sounds romantic. The starry sky sets a quaint mood for the haiku and I love the drastic change at the end. The middle part, where she undresses also goes along well with the starry sky part. It is romantic and it seems as though maybe two lovers are having a date night and they are not ready for the night to end, so they are going to consummate their relationship, but then it all changes with the very last line. All of a sudden the reader feels terrible for the woman who is in a star filled sky. I think it’s just very powerful and well written. Hollie

The brevity of this poem makes the scene even more startling. The juxtaposition between the beauty and possible romance of a “starry sky” and the violence of the action makes this image work. It reminds me of a scene from a David Lynch film, where we see both the beauty and violence of humanity. The sexual undertones here gleam like the barrel of a sterling silver pistol. Carmella

I LOVED this haiku. Garret did a beautiful job of fitting in the twist in the end to really shock you. The words paint a beautiful picture in my mind of this girl with tears running down her face…that picture is hard to look at. It kind of hits you into reality that not only is this haiku written about this, it happens in real life! Becky

This haiku seriously scared me. A starry sky is usually a beautiful symbol, and a girl undressing under that sky would normally be taken as romantic or sexual. The third line completely throws the reader off—this girl does not want to be taking her clothes off. The starry sky is far from beautiful; it’s like a bunch of eyes watching her be victimized. Jade

This poem is so scary. It starts out beautiful, then comes to the realization that she is about to get molested or raped. Is this natural to be going through a person's head? It saddens me that the girl cannot undress at her own will. Tara

This haiku is my favorite type. I love how it sets up a seemingly romantic scene, and then totally turns your expectation on it’s head. The last line is like a gunshot: it is quick, loud, and painful. I actually felt myself recoil at the last line. Rape is something I fear intensely, and this haiku really made me feel empathy and horror at the subject. Susie


woman who says
life is too short
watches butterflies

Jackson Lewis (5)

a crowded CTA train
everyone hears
no one listens

stink goes unnoticed
until my neighbor
apologizes for it

she waits for the text
not paying attention
to his motives

Alex Kitchens

The boy is a jerk. I don’t know exactly what he’s aiming for (though I suspect his final destination is in her pants), but I don’t like him. In fact, I dislike him. The girl is innocent and naïve, and wanting more than anything to be loved. The angst herein is fantastically portrayed. I had a back-story semi-developed in no time flat after reading this. I think the best Haiku are capable of creating this instant spark of inspiration in the reader, and this one most certainly does. Ky

casting stones
into a stagnant pond
alone together

Jordan Pennington (7)

I mentioned [in class] how this poem reminded me of the first day of school. how no one knows each other, and everyone is trying to find a place where they fit in. well, there is another way i see this poem as well. I come from a dysfunctional family. the parents never ask the kids how their day was, they just complain about their own. they cook dinner, but never eat with the kids unless we're out in public (i.e.; went out to eat). there was no real relationship, no bond (besides that a child has with a distant parent). they were obsessed with facebook and TV reality shows while we were obsessed with our own reality. This haiku brought back the memories, and i never really though of my family as such until i read this poem. i must thank the author for opening my eyes, and i think i will. i have him (Jordan) in my intro to american edu. class as well! Joseph

I don't want to over analyze this because I believe that one of the brilliant parts of this is how many different ways this can be interpreted. What I want to talk about is the contrasting ideas of casting stones and stagnant pond. I interpret the stagnant pond as a quiet sanctuary, and the casting stones as making love. The alone together is just the perfect wrapping to the entire haiku. Garrett

endless conversation
the river runs
through my fingers

Aubrie Cox (9)

I love the present tense of this haiku. I feel like I am on the bank of the river, listening to my friend talk quietly. We have no responsibilities—not a care in the world—except to just sit and ponder the world. My other idea about this haiku is that this person is watching the water effortlessly pass her fingers, and it reminds her of how time does the same exact thing. People are so focused on their present situations that they let life pass right by them. Jade

I really liked this haiku for several reasons. The combination of physical objects (river and fingers) mixed with communicational objects (conversation) plays very well on each other. Also, the action of the river running creates the same endlessness of theconversation. Tyler

late night walk
i trip over that same
bump in the sidewalk

Aubrie Cox (6)

This one was my immediate favorite. I feel as though it was an older man going for a walk. He used to go walking every night with his wife, but she passed away recently. This is the first time that the old man is going for a walk since her passing, and he is taking the route that they always took together. It is during this walk that he trips over a certain spot, the same one that his wife always tripped over. Hollie

This haiku was extremely well written to leave it so open ended yet so definitive. I picture a man walking back from saying goodnight to his girlfriend. He’s caught up in the happinessshe’s created within him and, like many times before in similar situations, he trips over a bump in the sidewalk. This is interpretation made it a romantic haiku to me. Tyler

asphalt baking
the squirrel’s tail
ruffled by the wind

Jade Anderson

To me, these nine words create a whole panoramic scene, a vivid picture that has its own interesting story and very seasonal and natural elements, despite its mundane, urban feel. Clearly, it's a boiling hot summer, but my imagination supplies a suburban setting, a subdivision full of yellow houses such as where one of my friends lived back home, with a squirrel resting motionless on the side of the road, just having been struck a mortal blow by some passing vehicle. The squirrel is baking hot, but so powerless from its encounter with the, let's say, motorcycle, that it can't move. So it just lays there, only its tail twitching slightly in the faint breeze. It's just a fantastic snapshot of a moment in time. Jordan

I really love the imagery of this haiku, and the fact that the author could take such a nasty topic and make it sound poetic. The first line of asphalt baking immediately made me think of a hot day, the kind of day where you feel like your skin is boiling. The second line of the squirrel’s tail made me think maybe of a park, a scene where a little squirrel is playing in the sun. But...no. This squirrel is dead, baking on the pavement, with the hot wind ruffling it’s lifeless tail. Susie

my prom king
asks to dance
with the girl next to me

a starless sky
on a warm summer night keeps
my secrets

Hollie Logsdon (3)

doorknob turns
the smell of alcohol
dad's home

© 2010, Randy Brooks • Millikin University
All rights returned to authors upon publication.