Thursday, 30 December 2010

The Chase

The grey clouds;
Rusty leaves on the road
Start chasing the fast truck


Thursday, 23 December 2010


Cars on fire?
In the half-covered parking
Reflections of a late afternoon sun

August 21, 2009

Friday, 10 December 2010

The Human Condition

fatal endings
wailing mortals;
your mundane third law of motion by Newton.

(10-12-2010, I just learned that my friend's sister died)

Thursday, 9 December 2010


Walking back home;
Near the entrance 
The moon smiles back at me


Friday, 3 December 2010

Poplar Tree

Going out for a walk,
A crowd of green hands
Start waving 'goodbye'


Monday, 22 November 2010

Upside Down

The inflamed edges of the clouds
Are touching the horizon;
The sky is upside down!


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Black Mug

Drying the black mug with a towel;
At the bottom, a shiny, wet swirl

December 27, 2007

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Almost Whole

The dimmed blue;
A shy face is shimmering 
Over the mountain's shoulder 


Monday, 23 August 2010


A hot evening indoors;
The flying mantis
Settles on the kids’ drawing of a plant

June 7, 2007

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Web

Through the entangled cables
The sun shines 
Like a spider


Friday, 13 August 2010

The Haiku Handbook 4

Another passage from Higgins' The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku (previous passage is here):

Haiku work, as we read them, by giving us a moment to look at some thing, some event, and see it more clearly than we have perhaps seen it before. The author had to stop to take note of this object, this event, and to write it down (...) Haiku not only give us moments from the writer's experience, but go on to give us moments of our own. The central act of haiku is letting an object or event touch us, and then sharing it with another. If we are the writer, we share it with the reader. If we read a haiku, we share that moment, or one like it, with the writer.

Being small, haiku lend themselves especially to sharing small, intimate things. By recognizing the intimate things that touch us we come to know and appreciate ourselves and our world more. By sharing these things with others we let them into our lives in a very special, personal way. (6)

So, sharing is important here. Haiku is by nature small because the flash of recognition (enlightenment?) itself is small. Make it longer and it fades into intellectualization, as the reader (and also the writer) has more time to play with the language.

Indeed, language is, in a way, the "big enemy" of direct experience (witness the many spiritual schools which prefer silence over big speeches). As Jacques Derrida wrote, "language is always metaphorical," meaning that it can never immediately and fully represent reality, being always deferred.

The problem, then, is how to share insight without spoiling it with language, the vehicle of deferral and intellectualization. One cannot remain silent forever, and one of the graceful solutions invented by the Japanese was haiku (the Western world had equivalents, of course, with the Imagists as the most famous).

Size is not enough, though. The writer must pay attention not to concentrate too much of his/her own "translation" of reality into the haiku, or else there is not enough space left for the reader's own reaction and understanding. Conversely, the haiku cannot be too dry and impersonal, or else there is so much space for the reader that the reaction and understanding find no place to anchor themselves.

Balance, therefore, is the key.

Not too much, not too little.

The "Middle Way."

Sunday, 8 August 2010

The Race

A blow of wind;
Tree leaves race on the pavement,
The rustling sound


Friday, 6 August 2010


Pale is the moon;
A sudden light reflects rainbow
on a shattered glass


Saturday, 31 July 2010


Away from home;
The moon, here and there,
Is the same


Saturday, 10 July 2010

A Dream

the road is a snake;
one corner suddenly bends
with closed eyes comes death


Friday, 9 July 2010


Late afternoon;
The red Hibiscus flower
Folds itself to sleep!


Wednesday, 30 June 2010


Water on the road?
No, a mirage,
Just shadows of the trees


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The Haiku Handbook 3

Third excerpt, prompted by my "aha" comment earlier, also from Higgins' The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku. (Previous passage is here).

The other day as my wife and I were going over the checkbook in the dining room one of our daughters, in the west-facing living room, called us to come look at the sky. She saw how the clouds' ragged edges took light from the sun, intensifying both the dark gray of the main body of the clouds and the pale blue of the late autumn sky. She was touched by the lovely picture it all made. She felt that we should see the sky for ourselves, should share directly the experience that triggered her feelings. So she called us.

As we looked at the sky, we saw what she saw. And at the same time we thought back to other skies we had known. I felt the mixed feelings of time passing, the loss of the heat of summer and the beginning of the rush toward the winter holidays and the New Year. My wife spoke of the deeper colors that would come later, with the reddening of the sunset. As the three of us looked at the sky, almost wordlessly, we felt a sharing that goes far deeper than the words I have just used to describe the event can ever penetrate. (4-5)

So it is indeed the sense of recognition which is important, and the sharing of that moment between haiku writer and haiku reader.

The process may be put like this: event (can be natural, social, or whatever) is seen/experienced; writer uses the medium of haiku to translate the "aha" experience in a very short but very suggestive way, effacing him/herself behind it; reader reads haiku and, if it is a successful one, will almost get the event in its original impact and (hopefully) experience the "aha" moment, albeit in a slightly different, and specifically personal manner.

Now, whether it is actually possible to transport the same moment even when the actual event is not there anymore is of course open to discussion, but it is admirable that the haiku at least tries to do so with such an economy of words and with such evocative power.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Tap Dance

Tap dance in the kitchen?
The boiling water
Is shaking the pan's lid!


Saturday, 12 June 2010


Books and papers all over the desk;
In my hands
A heavy head.


Images of dead children in Qana;
I draw red flowers
On my kids’ outstretched palms

August 2, 2006

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Big Leaves

Sticking out like palms,
The big tree leaves 
Are begging for a handshake! 


Sunday, 9 May 2010

The Haiku Handbook 2

Another excerpt from The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku (previous post here):

We often see or sense something that gives us a bit of a lift, or a moment's pure sadness. Perhaps it is the funnies flapping in the breeze before a newsstand on a sunny spring day. Or some scent on the wind catches us as we step from the bus, or bend to lift the groceries from the car (...) Haiku happen all the time, wherever there are people who are "in touch" with the world of their senses, and with their own feeling response to it. (Higginson, 3-4)

I think that a good haiku is a combination of impressionism, i.e., how we experience the event/apparition/scene itself in a "sensual" (through the senses) manner, and of suggestiveness, i.e., in not telling everything and allowing readers to respond the way they want.

Of course, the event/apparition/scene is also always suggested to us in the first place, and never imposed on us directly. As it is discreetly suggested to us, it is only fair that we should reciprocate by discreetly suggesting it to our readers.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Steaming Mug

The steaming mug;
On the surface of the tea
Clear white clouds are gliding

December 25, 2003

Old Age

An old bent tree
bathing in the sunset
warms its crooked joints


My brother came up with this haiku yesterday, if we can call it one, because he doesn't know a thing about haikus and asked me to post it to see if it is a legitimate one.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Wild Berries

The fallen berries;
Under my shoes
Squashing sounds!

16 April 2010

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Tree Leaves

Fresh afternoon;
Sharp and wet tree leaves
Stick out like insolent tongues !

1 April 2010

Friday, 26 March 2010

Book Covers

A puff of wind;
The covers of the books
Move in unison

August 5, 2003

[It's a hot summer day, and I'm on the balcony with half a dozen books in front of me on the table. All are closed except the one I'm reading. Suddenly, there's an unexpected gust of wind which gets inside the covers of the closed books and pushes them up, all of them at the same time, and then all of them drop back together, as if invisible hands had lifted them for an instant and pushed them back...]

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The Runaway Cat

The collared white cat,
Stealing a moment in the sun 
Rushes to chase the jumping robin!


[Walking on a road full of fruity trees when I encounter this beautiful clean white cat wearing a red collar, sitting straight looking at me. For a moment I thought that such a cat might not be used on the wild life when suddenly a bird jumps in between us. Instinctively the cat runs and chases the bird down the bushes forgetting all about the luxury back home.]

Monday, 22 February 2010

Graduation Day

Graduation day;
A baby mantis
Is perching on the top of my shoe

July 2003

[Sitting on the podium in my full gown and cap with the other faculty members; graduating students behind us and audience to the front. I cross my legs and suddenly find a very, very tiny praying mantis on the very top of my shoe, completely oblivious of the whole show.]

Monday, 1 February 2010

The Lake

   Frozen lake;
       The moving blue and white forms
  Reflect the sky

[ I took this picture with my phone in Faraya while I was walking.]

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Snail

Strong afternoon rains;
The heavy rose is bent
But the snail moves on and on

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

We and They

The retarded boy jerks and yells;
Behind the window,
Hurrying airport passengers

September 3, 2001

[While at Athens airport waiting for a flight to Madrid, a young boy (15-16?) with mental and physical disability was violently jerking and yelling next to us. Just behind him, facing us, was a glass panel where passengers could be seen coming and going. The contrast between what the boy was going through, and where his life and fate were taking him, and the passengers (us included) hurriedly moving in conscious, but feigned ignorance of non-normality (the yells were audible to all) was both striking and touching. I have kept the term "retarded" despite its offensive connotations nowadays in order to stress the perceived difference and the pathos involved. Life can be sometimes terrible.]