Friday, October 25, 2013


Junkyard cars rusting
Under crushed metal thunder


Anonymous said...

Even though it's not really written in the Japanese spirit (not that you tried to), I like it. It reminds me more of what Ezra Pound might have written -- has a more modernist/imagist sensibility.

Jim714 said...

Good Morning:
Thanks for taking the time to comment. And, naturally, I'm glad you liked it.

In terms of seasonality, I think of this Haiku as 'Fall'; that is to say if I were to place it in a Saijiki, I would place it in that season. My reason is the keyword 'rusting', which, I think, has an autumnal resonance. This is affirmed with Line 3, 'animosities', if one thinks of animosities as happening at the closing of a relationship.

It is true that this is an urban Haiku; but my take on the tradition is that Haiku are embedded in the season and that can be expressed in the natural or human worlds. One of the main cateogires within the season in a traditional Saijiki is 'Occasions'; meaning holidays and celebrations in the human realm.

Thanks again,


Anonymous said...

Actually, when I think of rust, I think of midsummer -- hot and dry -- which makes no sense given my background, but there you have it. Maybe I always saw the scrapyards in the summer time?

But trying to import a kigo sensibility into our own culture is a long-shot I think.

But, anyway, that's not what I was referring to when I wrote that it wasn't written in the traditional sense. Basically, you've written a simile-poem. This is the way most westerners think of haiku -- but it's very rare in traditional Japanese haiku.

You could re-write your haiku like this:

Junkyard cars rusting under crushed metal thunder are like


Animosities are like junkyard cars rusting under crushed metal thunder.

If you can stick "is/are like" in the haiku, then (in a sense) you've written a simile rather than a haiku. This is what Pound did in *his* famous "haiku":

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.


The apparition of these faces in the crowd are like petals on a wet, black bough.

Test it for yourself. Take a look at any translation of traditional Japanese haiku and see if you can turn them into similes. Then try the same with Western haiku. I think you will find, as I have, that many, many Western poets mistake similes for the traditional haiku.

None of this is to say that I think any less of your western haiku. :-) I like it.

Jim714 said...

I see what you are saying; that makes sense. I wonder, though, just how important juxtaposition is in Japanese Haiku. I know that it is strongly emphasized among some ELH haijin, but I'm not convinced it is essential. My sense is that in Japanese juxtaposition actually is a type of metaphor, broadly understood. The comparison between the two sections of the Haiku, the thing that ties them together, is an understood essence (not in an Aristotelian sense, in a felt sense). And isn't that rather like a simile? or other figuration? And if it is a figuration, then doesn't that open it up to such usage in English? I'm asking here, not advocating.

One of the reasons I admire the haiku of Richard Wright is that he seemlessly integrated the usages of the western poetic tradition into his haiku. You will find figurative language, personification, alliteration and assonance, etc., in his haiku. From my perspective that is that great virtue of Wright's haiku. Personally, I think some ELH haijin have been too intense in advocating for not using these kinds of techniques.

And, of course, glad you still like it.

Best wishes,


Jim714 said...


That should be 'seamlessly'