Favourite Haiku by Carlos Colón

My Top Three Favourites

k k k k k
c c c c c c c
o o o o o o
c c c c c c c
a a a a a
e e e
p

– Marlene Mountain
The Haiku Anthology, 2nd Edition (Touchstone, 1986)

This poem was very inspirational to me. I had been writing concrete poems for about 20 years when I discovered this and other “unaloud” poems by Marlene and decided to attempt some concrete haiku. “Peacock” is a good poem to use in a classroom setting. You show it to the students and watch for the aha moment when one of them realises what it is.

Blackbirds
lifting
the field.

– Alexis K. Rotella
(from the renga “Lifting the Field” with Florence Miller), Yes: A Dozen Linked Poems (Jade Mountain Press, 1994)

In a trick of memory, I now have come to envision this poem as a one-liner.

blackbirds lifting the field

My mind now sees it as a visual poem about to take flight. I can see the letters lifting off the page.

After confession
skipping
home.

– Alexis K. Rotella
Looking for a Prince (White Peony Press, 1991)

Being a cradle Catholic, I know the benefits of a good confession, where you can unburden yourself without your sins being revealed by a former best friend.

Other Top Favourites

During our little talk
I tear a daisy
to shreds

– Alexis K. Rotella
(from the haiku sequence “After An Affair”) The Haiku Anthology, 2nd Edition

This is another poem I use when teaching students haiku. They understand the daisy and “he loves me, he loves me not”, and they can deduce from the powerful words “tear” and “shreds” that this “little” talk is not so little and that the poem does not have a happy ending.

a butterfly lands on Park Place

– Alexis K. Rotella
The Haiku Anthology, 2nd Edition

Love my Monopoly, although I am more of a Boardwalk Baron.

Late August
I bring him the garden
in my skirt

– Alexis K. Rotella
The Haiku Anthology, 2nd Edition

A lovely erotic poem.

The snow is melting
and the village is flooded
with children.

– Kobayashi Issa (trans. by Robert Hass)
The Essential Haiku (The Ecco Press, 1994)

I love the twist in this haiku. It inspired one of my own:

hose left on-
the low spot in the yard
filling with sparrows

Haiku Headlines XV.5 (2002)

neworldisorder

– Martin Mikelberg
Modern Haiku 23.3 (1992)

I believe Robert Spiess used to call these poems “minimals”. This one and Emily Romano’s “minimals” inspired many similar haiku, and I even wrote 16 versions of “OPENEDOOR”, a 12-link renga using overlapping words, with Zane Parks, Jeanne Cassler, and others when Lynx had a “Participation Renga” section.

Valentine’s Day
a cyclist signals
with a long-stem rose

– Robert Gilliland
The Heron’s Nest VI.3 (2004)

My top pick for the 2005 Valentine’s Award for The Heron’s Nest and still one of my favourites.

Satire-Worthy

The following classics are rife with the potential for satire by me and other poets.

Climb Mount Fuji,
O snail,
but slowly, slowly.

– Kobayashi Issa (trans. by Robert Hass)
The Essential Haiku

The man pulling radishes
pointed my way
with a radish.

– Kobayashi Issa (trans. by Robert Hass)
The Essential Haiku

one fly everywhere the heat

– Marlene Mountain
The Haiku Anthology, 2nd Edition

Muttering thunder . . .
the bottom of the river
scattered with clams

– Robert Spiess
The Haiku Anthology, 2nd Edition

Additional Favourites

These last three favourites have also stayed in my mind throughout the years.

night train
two men at a barrel fire
flash by

– John Stevenson
Something Unerasable (n.p., 1996)

the hills
release the summer clouds
one     by one     by one

– John Wills
The Haiku Anthology, 2nd Edition

In the falling snow
A laughing boy holds out his palms
Until they are white.

– Richard Wright
The Haiku Handbook (Kodansha International, 1985)

Author’s note: I have included the publication credits for these poems based on where I first experienced them, which is not necessarily where they were first published.

Editor’s note: Carlos Colón, of Shreveport, Louisiana in the United States, is the Caddo Parish Poet Laureate. He has published more than 1,000 poems and is the author of Haiku Elvis: A Life in 17 Syllables (or Less) and 12 poetry chapbooks. His work has appeared in Modern Haiku, Writer’s Digest, Journal of Poetry Therapy, Louisiana Literature, Louisiana English Journal, and in two recent anthologies: The Southern Poetry Anthology (Texas Review Press, 2011) and Haiku in English (W.W. Norton, 2013) as well as in Tazuo Yamaguchi’s Haiku: Art of the Short Poem, a DVD documentary. A retired librarian, Carlos is a very funny man with the impeccable manners of a gentleman from the American South.

He died suddenly, aged 63, in October 2016.

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