Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Inspired, perhaps, by my most recent publication in Short Stuff or, maybe, my happy finding of a Mead composition book just waiting for it's college ruled lines to be filled with my mad scrawl, I have recently begun keeping what I refer to as - for lack of a better title - a haiku journal.

I have kept a running notebook - in which I scribble poems, stories, odd thoughts and varied mental detritus - for more years than I could tell but this is different. How? While I have written haiku in my notebooks for years now, they have shared the pages with other works from my head such as metered rhyme and free verse dabblings in poetry and prose. I have never kept an exclusively haiku notebook - or, as I really prefer to call my experiments in the ancient Japanese art, haiku inspired forms (or HIF's).

My motivation in keeping this haiku journal is to keep a record in words of specific moments from this tiny life of mine. Scroll through the last four posts below and you will see examples from four different days. I aim to make regular entries, two or three a week at least. I have resisted imposing too strict a deadline on this as I have found that to be a creative burden in the past.

I have discovered in the two weeks since I started this experiment that, beyond a mere exercise in writing, this journal is becoming something akin to a meditation. Yes. My long time enthusiasm for zen and haiku has brought me at last to this ideal form of meditation (at the moment and for myself, anyway, who can never sit still long enough for Zazen) . The Way of Poetry.

Of course, this way is not new and is, in fact, well trodden. Basho, the father of the haiku form, laid this way long centuries ago and describes best what I, aspiring for unity, can only hope to achieve through the vehicle of poetry.

What is important is to keep our mind high in the world of true understanding, and, returning to the world of our daily experience, to seek therein the truth of beauty. No matter what we may be doing at a given moment, we must not forget that it has a bearing upon our everlasting self which is poetry.

- Basho, quoted in Matsuo Basho and Zen Haiku, brought to you by The Minnesota Zen Center -

Indeed! Every moment is Holy and through the awareness which the capturing of the haiku moment entails, one is made increasingly. . . well, aware of that single line of poetry that runs through everything. And I do mean everything.

Coughing up his soul,
our neighbor across the street.
Every day
a new piece lost. . .

- the first entry from my journal, 4/9/03 -

spin cycle rumbles
washing machine shakes and rolls
unbalanced load

- 4/13/03 -

From the life altering mundanity of illness to the daily chore variety, it is all worth something more than we can imagine. My goal in working with HIF's is to realize that and, what's more, to remember it every moment.