Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Weightlessness

Weightless forms racing in the hallway;
In the eyes of children
Visions of Christmas
 
 23 Dec 09

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Buzzing Fingers

The lost beetle;
Holding it by the antenna,
My buzzing fingers

May 30, 2001

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Winter in Lebanon

Searching lights in the gray clouds, beat music on my windshield;
it's winter.

13-12-2009

[searching lights: the strong projector lights placed next to restaurants or night clubs reaching towards the sky and moving]

The Gutter

"After the rain,
 Waters in the gutter
 Flow like a colorless bloodstream"

 10/11/2009

Monday, 23 November 2009

Parting

The long journey home;
Tears on her face
Run like diamonds in the sun

July 6, 1999

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A Spider

In the middle of the road,
A spider hangs
On a thread from the sky

11 nov 2009

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Ice Cream

Sunshine on the streets;
The wet pink tongue
On colours of ice cream

July 6, 1999

Friday, 23 October 2009

The Jasmine

"A hot polluted day;
 The jasmine's fragrance
 Soothes the air"

20/10/09

[walking on a hot afternoon, the humid air blending with the cars' smoke, only by the side of the road, the jasmine's scent, soothes the aching atmosphere from pollution]

Whiskers

Whiskers trembling in the breeze,
The cat stares at the
Blackness of the night

March 10, 1996

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Summer Shower

A sudden summer shower;
Under the cars
The ground is still dry

June 7, 1993

Friday, 28 August 2009

Rainbow

"A hot morning;
At the bottom of the waterfall
Shines a rainbow"

June 4, 1993

[Same day as the haiku below (Waterfall), same place. In this shaded, densely forested, and hidden part of the valley, where the small waterfall was splashing on the thirsty stones, a "mini-rainbow," not bigger than two persons standing side by side, magically appeared on the stones...]

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The Autumn Leaf

"The autumn leaf in my hand:
 Wrinkled cheeks
 On a grandmother's face"

12/08/09

[Early in the morning,arriving at NDU,a dry yellow tree leaf which I picked
of the floor and laid in the palm of my hand, reminds me suddenly,
 of the inevitable fact of old age and death.]

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Waterfall

"A hot day;
Deep in the valley
The waterfall refreshes the stones"

June 4, 1993


[Somewhere in the north of Lebanon, we were hiking with friends and went down a very luxuriant valley. It was very hot and probably before mid-day when we reached the lush bottom of the valley. The sound of falling water led us to an almost hidden corner where a mini-waterfall was splashing on the rocks. In this secluded place, in the surrounding silence, in the heat of the day, at least the stones were happy!]

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Poplar Tree

"Poplar tree leaves,
 In the wind:
A clapping audience !''


Laqlouq 26/07/09

[On a summer day, we were invited at Laqlouq for an outdoor lunch,150 people chatting, when suddenly, not a word, the loud music stops,and out of nowhere, a fresh wind shakes the countless rounded Poplar leaves,making them sound like a soft clapping of hands.]

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Diamond Drop

"The drop,
An instant before leaving the faucet,
Becomes a diamond"

March 23, 1993

[Cool, early morning; same kitchen, same stillness. Something catches the corner of my eye: the sink's faucet, just below the window, is slowly dripping and, as the drop takes shape before falling, at that very split-second moment, a ray of sunshine strikes through it and wondrously transforms it into a shining, multi-coloured diamond!]

Friday, 17 July 2009

Lizard

"A cool December morning;
In the courtyard the lizard and I:
Both in the sun!"

December 7, 1992

[A friend of mine, interested in antiques, had passed by me early in the morning to go to Tripoli where a traditional glassblower was making Phoenician-style glassware. When we arrived to the artisan's shop, we had to wait a few minutes in the courtyard. It was a cold day and I instinctively walked to a place where the still feeble sun was shining. It was then that I saw the lizard; it, too, was in search of a sunny spot and we both stood there, both of us animals driven by our primeval need for warmth.]

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Beats Haiku

In Jack Kerouac's famous novel, The Dharma Bums (1959), the Beat-generation writer tells about his climbing Matterhorn Peak in California with his friends, among them "Japhy Ryder" (in real life the poet Gary Snyder) an expert in Far-Eastern cultures and languages and Kerouac's Buddhist inspiration. Below is a passage where the climbers are throwing haiku left and right:

'Look over there,' sang Japhy, 'yellow aspens. Just put me in the mind of a haiku . . . "Talking about the literary life--the yellow aspens."' Walking in this country you could understand the perfect gems of haikus the Oriental poets had written, never getting drunk in the mountains or anything but just going along as fresh as children writing down what they saw without literary devices or fanciness of expression. We made up haikus as we climbed, winding up and up now on the slopes of brush.

'Rocks on the side of the cliff,' I said, 'why don't they tumble down?'

'Maybe that's a haiku, maybe not, it might be a little too complicated,' said Japhy. 'A real haiku's gotta be as simple as porridge and yet make you see the real thing, like the greatest haiku of them all probably is the one that goes 'The Sparrow hops along the veranda, with wet feet." By Shiki. You see the wet footprints like a vision in your mind and yet in those few words you also see all the rain that's been falling that day and almost smell the wet pine needles.'

'Let's have another.'

'I'll make up one of my own this time, let's see, "Lake below . . . the black holes the wells make," no, that's not a haiku goddammit, you never can be too careful about haiku.'

'How about making them up real fast as you go along, spontaneously?'


(Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums, London: Penguin, 2000, 52)

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


















The setting sun at the horizon,

Shimmering lights of boats,

The economy of sound

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Orange Juice

"A cool sunny morning;
Pouring orange juice,
The sound of the foam"

November 11, 1992


[A cold but sunny morning; very early morning, in fact, like maybe 06:00. The house is quiet as everybody is still asleep. I go to the kitchen and again all is "clear" and still. I get the bottle of orange juice from the fridge, stand in front of the kitchen window, open the bottle, and pour the juice into a tall glass. After that, in the still, sunny morning, there is only the crystal-clear, almost-too-loud sound of the orange juice foam in the glass.]

Saturday, 27 June 2009

The Haiku Handbook

I've just started what seems to be a very interesting book, The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku, by William J. Higginson, McGraw-Hill, 1985.

From the Introduction:
The primary purpose of reading and writing haiku is sharing moments of our lives that have moved us, pieces of experience and perception that we offer or receive as gifts. At the deepest level, this is the one great purpose of all art, and especially of literature. The writer invites the reader to share in the experience written about, and in the experience of the shared language itself. (v)

It's a very basic definition, and the author is aware of it, of course, but it's nonetheless a good starting point.

The important words are "moments" and "pieces," indicative of the brevity of the haiku. A flashing insight into the reality and concreteness of an event/vision/experience cannot be overburdened with words.

Another important word is "gift," and a haiku is, like the tea ceremony, offered in the spirit of sharing a precious "something" in a fleeting world.

More excerpts soon as I go through the book!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

When I looked at a New Born Baby

maps traced on a white covering. blue and green paths from an origin.
a baby's skin oh so delicate!

23-06-2009

(This is an image I got when looking at a new born baby; he was only wearing diapers and his skin was so sensitive and white, almost translucent.)

Monday, 22 June 2009

Out on the Balcony at Night

"Out on the balcony at night,
Silvery streaks
Of a summer rain"

July 21, 1992

[In Lebanon, summer rains are quite rare, but when they do happen, they take the shape of quick and powerful showers lasting only a few minutes. It is night-time, the air is thick with heat, and the cicadas are singing not too far away. Suddenly the shower starts, builds up, and the drops, against the clear dark night, appear like silver spears hitting down the earth.]

Monday, 15 June 2009

Trees in the Yellow Moon

"Trees in the yellow moon;
A few seconds
And they will be gone!"

July 30, 1991


[It is a hot summer night, and the yellow moon is exceptionally big; as it starts its journey upward, it passes behind a wooded hill and, suddenly, the trees are silhouetted against the moon. Quick! The beautiful illusion lasts only for a few seconds!]

Saturday, 13 June 2009

My First Haiku: Black clouds over Beirut

"Black clouds over Beirut;
A hole in the sky
Reminds me of summer"

January 10, 1990

[It's a winter afternoon, and black clouds are weighing heavily on the capital. Suddenly, the clouds shift and a ray of sunshine pierces through a hole not meant to be there; the sun had always been shining, unknown to us!]

Friday, 12 June 2009

The Smoker


A pack of cigarettes lies on the table,

Comes the smoker and opens it.

A pack of cigarettes lies on the table,

Leaves the smoker addicted to it.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Everyday Encounter



burnt noodles tall and in mid-air
this girl's head with curly hair

(30-05-2009)

Hung from the Ceiling




a fan is 3 that serves 15 within the 3 months of summer throughout the 15 credits of a semester

(28-05-2009)

Friday, 5 June 2009

How this Blog will Work

If you are a Lebanese living in Lebanon, a Lebanese living abroad, or a non-Lebanese residing in Lebanon, and you have written some "good"* Haiku, send me an email (look in my profile), introduce yourself, and I'll send you an invitation to join as author/contributor.

Throughout the years, I have written (what I think are) a few "good" Haiku, so I will be posting some of them every now and then.

Comments are moderated, so there's no danger of getting offensive or disrespectful messages.

As author/contributor, please follow the simple layout below:

"Haiku"
Date
[Your own comments, if any]

_________________________
*What makes a "good" Haiku is quite a thorny issue, but the comments are there to help.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

How it Started

Back in the late 1980s, I had finished my Licence at the Lebanese University and was starting an M.A. in English literature. The campus in Fanar had a lovely library, with a long but small reading room and, at the back of it, double doors opening onto the shelving room. The room was huge (by Lebanese standards), very well lit (with big windows on the sides), and spacious enough between the two rows of shelves.

This is where my interest in the Far-East in general and in Buddhism in particular was given substance in the surprisingly rich collection I found there. From Buddhism to Zen to Haiku, the journey is quite natural, and I ended up breathlessly but ecstatically going over R. H. Blyth's four volumes on Haiku.

I remember spending many hours inside the sun-lit library appreciating the brevity, directness, and, paradoxically, the suggestiveness of a three-line poem from which everything but the essence of the moment had been removed.

Standing like small jewels, Haiku are a reminder of the ephemerality of all things, but also console us that the "here and now" is well worth living and experiencing.

Welcome!

Welcome to "Haiku from Lebanon"!

We will be posting original haiku along with links to, and original research on, this unique form of Japanese poetry and its applicability to Lebanese poets and writers.