I’m just back from the dentist and a bit wobbly, so forgive me. The good news is that I don’t have Covid. No, I wasn’t worried. I’m not sick, but they give you a test at the dental clinic and it is nice to know. I have been sleeping badly, in part because of my now repaired broken filling, and in part because of the big Wolf Moon of January. It’s been “as bright as a reading light,” as the lovely song, Night Rider’s Lament goes. It’s cold too. Three degrees at 4 am. At least I could stoke the stove, since I was up anyway.
During a Zoom book talk the other day with the Tenakee library I was asked if I consider myself a “woo-woo”person after I noted that the thought I had just expressed to them might sound a little “woo-woo”– but it was the truth. I forget what that brilliant observation was (blame my numb tooth) but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with heart. With feelings. I am certain however, that I replied that I am definitely not a woo- woo person on the outside– but on the inside? I am full-on, all-in, totally woo-wooey. I love church talk, yoga thoughts, seeing ghosts in my dreams. I do not think my rather reserved WASP mother realized when she called me Heather that all the letters in heart are in my name. I did not either, until a poet friend pointed it out to me last week. (That’s why she’s a poet.)
Anyway, in the Zoom writers workshop at the library in Haines on Monday night, Sitka writer John Straley joined us to share his knowledge of, and composition tips, for haiku. When one of the writers in the group asked John how he could tell if a haiku he’d written was any good, John said it will cause a “rising in your heart.”
He suggested writing a daily journal, beginning with the date and the weather report and some real news– like who is president and what stuff costs, because “it’s cool” to read in old diaries that Abraham Lincoln had this to say in Springfield today, or that someone paid nine dollars for a horse. After that he said write a haiku that is anchored in the season and the moment. Nothing fancy. Just put down what IS, to center your mind and start the day right. 17 syllables worth. (Write two if you are on a roll, he said.)
Night writer’s lament
Blue shadows of trees on snow
Keep the fire burning
The moon is my lamp
Who was Camp Cookie?
I know why he sings.
Don’t worry that your haiku is not good enough to share. Every poet has to start somewhere, and the world needs more poets, so don’t delay. Trixie liked mine. Pretend you are a kid and have fun counting those word beats. Naomi Shihab Nye wrote, “Nothing a child ever does is trash. It is practice.” And yes, that is a poem too, titled Nothing.