XVII:2 June,  2002

A Journal for Linking Poets   


HAPPINESS BUDS AGAIN by David Bachelor & Cindy Guentherman

TONIGHT THE SNOW by Marjorie Buettner & hortensia anderson


TRACINGS by Martine Joseph, Shelly L. Hazard, Decia Lazarian & Courtney Johnson

CUPID & THE WOMAN by Ann Jones, Marie DisBrow, Lisa McCool

SNOW PATCHED EARTH by Giselle Maya & Jane Reichhold

LATEST JOKE by marlene mountain & carlos colón

Marlene Mountain &
Francine Porad

A BASKET by Marlene Mountain & Francine Porad  

REPEATED STORY by Marlene Mountain &
Francine Porad

LOUISIANA SPRING by Carlos Colon & Alexis K. Rotella

Carol Purington & Larry Kimmel

THE LAST DANCE: 3  - RHYMES WITH EEE by Kris Kondo, Marlene Mountain & Francine Porad  


David Bachelor

Cindy Guentherman

hummingbird drinks from
long scarlet blossoms
trip to the bank

warm December
blue snow shovel
keeps its cobwebs
backyard lilac
buds again  

piles of brown leaves
about my ankles
I think about my life
a child dashes by
shrieking "Catch me"

New Year's Day
she lines the bird cage
with recession news,
pauses to glance
at "help wanted"

in an August
a leaf wafted onto my desk
I stopped my job
gave up memos
read trees now

I turn the cup
as seasons tumble on
mingle in my mind
tea warmth
on cold fingers



Marjorie Buettner

hortensia anderson

tonight the snow is as light
as one thousand silken moons
balancing so perfectly
on boughs of pine trees

the pale glow of our one moon
as it shimmers on the snow
illuminates from within
the soul of the pine

the snow falls as various
as our lives unflowering
each crystal with its own face
reflecting starshine

with the approaching daylight
as we emerge from our dreams
all has drifted to oneness
beneath the vast sky



Martine Joseph
Shelly L. Hazard
Decia Lazarian
Courtney Johnson

stem quivers
under pink mimosa                           CJ
mantis waits
nightfall bringing life and death         SLH
flowers close, hunters stalk
morning mauve
hemlock branches rustle                   MJ
hawk wings silent
clouds collect, thunder promised       SLH
downpour, raging wind, lightning
notes of flute drift
bridge, or stepping stone?                CJ
dew falls to shadows
black panther footfalls
under the Elephant Ear                     MJ
peanut shells and straw
concrete sub-Sahara                         CJ
weight shifts
Atlantis across the way
rising crystalline towers                    MJ
intuition fine 
sonar better investment                    CJ
off the Keys
flamingo smile puzzles
monstrous birth in the lagoon            MJ
the Charles chops, scrolling
white triangles hobnob
flutter, bob, weave                           MJ
on the porch
a glass of lemonade                          CJ
dragging a chair
pennies in the top drawer                  CJ
candy aisle riches
watching eyes, round with wonder      SLH
memories, distant and full
summer winds beckon
laughter at the water hole                 SLH
bass and perch swimming
first set of keys. road sings.
you in the passenger seat                 CJ
hair whipping, breath caught
blurry landscape rushes by                SLH
flying, whole new view
ginger-skinned swimmer
clenches papyrus in mouth                MJ
rinse cycle ending
machine's centrifugal dirge                MJ
wakes winter women
the pull of an ovoid moon
synapses and stars, firing                 CJ
sunk about her heart
haha fences foil                               MJ
musky invaders
smooth texture of skin
warm breath, hot hands slide across   SLH
midnight quickening
dawn brings coffee kisses                  CJ
world of sequined snow
billow brash of ardent burr
around the body bare                        DDL
inverted desire
stalactites for stalagmites                  CJ
icicles, yucca
your touch silken power
every wheel on fire                            MJ
passion rages wild
growing hungrily, burning                   SLH
craving for release
spent matches
letters in the fireplace                        CJ
against freezing odds
roseate Betty Boop shoots                  MJ
chives and meadowsweet
drifts turn to meltwater
rivers swollen, buds burst forth            SLH
relucent gemstones
on the grass a crumpled coat               CJ
old baggage
gentle showers, gray skies
earthen browns turn to green              SLH
squirrels race, vining
old dog sniffs the air                          CJ
sun warm on his hips
green foam crests chase toes
tidal tracings of mica                          MJ
air crisp with life
heavy with fragrant blossoms              SLH
and musical trills
spring calves
beneath a changing sky                      CJ


Ann Jones
Marie DisBrow
Lisa McCool

Indigo waters.
Cupid steps from the sea.
His foam-flecked house.

Grubby hands on green backpack.
Her small campstove.  Boiled coffee.

Shining arrowheads.
Bracelets of woven leather.
She watches him.

His bare feet.  His tangled hair.
His eyes.  His mouth.  His tongue.

In his satchel:
tequila, massage oil,
chocolate, and Trojans.

Ebb and flow of fleshy tides.
Cupid, woman: their legs twine.

Segmented shrimp
on a bed of crystal ice.
Tin spoons in the sink.

Pink iridescent seashells
lie among tangled seaweed

Murk, stirred delta silt.
Squeals from delighted girls
Muddied sundresses.

Burned driftwood on white sand.
Champagne bubbles.  Tinfoil crowns.

Cupid's arrows fly.
The Earth spins on its axis
1000 miles per hour.

Seagulls peck beer cans,
sandwich rinds, each other.


Giselle Maya
Jane Reichhold

snow patched earth
on the horse's chestnut mane
rays of rising sun 

freezing winds in a sister's hair
sewn into the talisman 

in his geta through the clouds

still in the flowing river
the child's lost sandal 

together and apart
we vacillate
phases of the moon

as dew and the autumn sea
this striving to be joined

on a blanket
by the empty fish pond
fishy smells

smooth and cool in my hands
shells brought by slate waves

the grit in the oyster becomes
her necklace

love notes in cedar box
faded and unanswered

e-mail piles up
the pondering of a link
topples nothing 

who is that ancient bard
on the far side of the globe?

I am you -
the shining stone warmed
by a summer moon 

brushed by a cool breeze
pale petals of sunflowers 

flesh-colored cliffs
they too have known
hard times 

fire-hollowed tree
will it become a shelter

trying it on
the bee wiggles into

after spring rain
migrating monarchs 

early spring villagers
from their houses peering
snails at sunrise

lured in by stale beer
the bottle-trap works

tossed to the stray cat
leftover chicken carcass
a woman who drinks 

from the Fountain of Youth
awareness of fragile bones

a heron has come
in the round water basin
only poplar leaves remain

a colder wind blows
skaters off the ice 

the river's silver
remember how close we were
on that high stone bridge 

the shock of sleeves touching
static electricity flares blue 

we walked together
pools and white roses
mirrored in your eyes

the reality of an argument
and each of us is right 

autumn moon
seedpods spill their glossy seeds
into hand-shaped jars

vacant lot overgrown with weeds
tin cans and used condoms 

under a lid
the heart answers the bell's tone
with two swallows

scent of fresh tea spirals 
from the ash-glazed bowl 

a whiteness
the memorial of Hiroshima
burns in my brain 

a letter consumed
under the cherry tree

we had agreed
to meet here in spring
leaves on branches 

meadow a deeper green
a grazing mare and her foal  



marlene mountain
carlos colón

latest joke politicians prick about another's 'lies' pass it on

god watching the polls

she faces & asks what are your feelings leaves him in the trees

sales receipt wrapped around an engagement ring

the other woman blown out of the water news of a pregnant bonnie

behind the searchlights storm troopers


holocaust victims a second time swiss bank accounts empty

   concentration lost yet cucumbers under a full moon

heckled comic rotten tomatoes flying toward the audience

dna material on material & more graphic material cumin'

miniature cornfield an acorn cup on the broom-straw scarecrow

homer fights another male sport more statistics to keep

cowhide crystal ball with his crown maris passes on his asterisk

a plan to put a note on my foot: haiku is a nature poem

traffic jam between two southbound lanes blue of the harley

in an inner tube no one as lucky as me such dirty pool

booster club seat cushions my own personal exploitation device

we raised bonsai –johnmyth –like we raised peanut butter


flynt's millions for bigwig affairs outhustles the wrongwingers


take off a happy face and frown the world frowns with you

lithium does the entire universe need to be on it?

radiation therapy begun she wonders who will get little jenna

our halloween scene: the scarecrow in the iron mask

up late i crave a video by marilyn manson smooth-talking & all

quadraphonic speakers the who rattling my windows

lift-off here & now just as ambiguous as it's always been

perth lights up the cosmos

from a green plastic lean-back a scan of my shadow in the leaves

hound dogs a bark's distance away from the fox


between the hoe two                       halves of the snake

still saving myself for a hominid but nothing's forever

popeye looking green as a fistfull of spinach 'et tu, bluto'

words words words corrupt my visual world

woman with no arms painting a portrait of venus

what does a vegetarian beat

Aug. 21 - Nov. 17, 1998



Marlene Mountain 

Francine Porad

far from falling bombs American flags replaced with Christmas lights

three years and counting a witch hangs politely

'Wicca' and the word 'victim' in English have the same derivation

sucked in by another religion that kid from california

Thai gardeners available December 25th to wrap up the year

health and unemployment package dead in the water


arthritis here and there clouds cover these old mountains at dawn

psychic message of sadness received but from whom

if our spooks hadn't been asleep no 100-day marking of you-know-what

hot spots alphabetically: Afghanistan, Argentina...

warmer in the kitchen but little interest in getting up a head of steam

Jacuzzi preferred to a Mexican gecko in the shower

from now until then the days longer whatever else might happen

brass-monkey cold under regular clothes 'jammies

in the valley just to say i was if only i'd better mulched the transplants

To Do list: geranium starter plants in decorator pots

in a hurry to waste time a broken plate the second it's spotless

Jeff's immaculate home in Bend, OR and his new number


winter wind pigeons relocate to the 72nd SE telephone wires

from a distance the pickup truck still red

news of John Walker* I expect Bernard will 'bah-humbug' all day

high-powered speechwriter childlike speechifier

Stephanie's e-mail: hi Grandma I love your pantings they are pritty

knock on plastic unaffected by the viruses going around

steering clear of sneezes, runny noses and those with sore throats

subdued in-flight strange sneakers with a man attached

Person of the Year** choice in simplistic terms good versus evil

the tumbling down date of jericho in ruins

shave and a haircut popular with Taliban dissidents in Kabul

a steady rain on the roof over my head


larger than life the dead pine full of pileated woodpecker holes

darting little birds crest of a Steller's jay

all the fat man's deer*** misnamed it's a patriarchal world everywhere

geezer shorthand I coin IIRR for IM's on AOL****

five or six number-&-letter groups for one dang html-colored page

worthwhile project gift glows in firelight

*American Taliban terrorist [[ John Walker Lindh ]]

** Rudy Giuliani, New York City Mayor [versus bin Laden]

*** male but not female reindeer shed their antlers before winter

****IIRR=if I'm remembering rightly; IM=Instant Message; AOL=America Online

12/16/01 –12/24/01



Marlene Mountain 

Francine Porad  

a basket of clothes to the line the pins just beginning to thaw

sun rays glitter the frost endless airport wait-time

a jar of peanut butter just for the wrens & other frequent flyers

heads up duck decoy near an ironwood eagle

5m imprisoned mother on drugs to justify society's pedestal ideal

great new lawyer TV show The Guardian


one advocate can make a difference voters swarm the town meeting

i decide to do one thing end up doing another

an attitude like Scarlett O'Hara's I'll think about it tomorrow

the land imprinted within more to feel than to see

snow in the distant foothills bleak and deep quarry of sand and gravel

cave by cave what's a mother nature to do

bonds that bind both adopted best friends discover they are brothers

what about our rensmate kris you think she's ok

silence surrounds the silence within finding the right words

behind the scenes hope i hope among the enemies

father of the neighborhood bully applauds his son's 'gumption'

meanwhile back at the white ranch


unfortunately a gardening book opened a raised bed of tomatoes

trellis home of one wrinkled leaf

'exercise common sense' dr scholl's shoes wait near the wood stove

...but where is Osama bin Laden running

fake social security number a deadbeat dad in the next county

'String him up!' Richard Reid will get a fair trial

a ball to fall a ball to kick two more potentially-bad days coming up

'What's good about it?' response to 'Good morning!'

bored with the stash of so-i-won't-have-to-go-anywhere food

chick-flicks eight-hour tape of romantic comedies

whatta joke one of the most violent countries praises its way of life

awake all night planning a haibun of sorts The Last Word


another opinionated editor my thanks to Werner for his feedback

self-spooked i refrain from closing the can of worms

not even a pretense of plans for New Year's Eve maybe build a fire

bedspread from my sixteenth year 'modern' design

homemade chutney in a fancy little jar the flavor of plums

winter solstice just keeps on giving

12/25/01 – 12/30/01



Marlene Mountain 
Francine Porad

our longtime marriage an often-repeated story still makes us laugh

unfocused the poem slipped through

the kid explains: it's a thing that you have little things that are colors

one of those days i'm older than i am

on hold waiting for an airline representative only five minutes more

too cold to wash dishes too cold not to


if creosote hadn't run down the pipe's outside perhaps no house at all

and now the furnace guy...sun in the forecast

do we watch 'times square' for what happens or what doesn't happen

commuter: I'm not very romantic my wife tells me

lucky to be out-of-love a mind of irises and scrappy pieces of art

I sketch a dozen bushtits hiding a fat-filled feeder

cheese with something those exercises when the climate turns over

back to the drizzle one visitor only New Year's Day

doubts that the old toyota will start are deer pregnant in the valley

car ad no payment 'til 2003 no interest 'til 2004

seven hundred forever owed on the broken mac winter's green grass

good-bye note taped to the TV heart before signature


IceCreamKiddo: Who is Grandpa doing (I believe she means how)

so many words sayable if i remember which

it's all semantics frustrated builder calls rockery an outcropping

'latest development' he's still on the loose

laid-back writers at the haiku meeting five poems apiece

bits of snow more than twice-bitten in this retreat

estimated tax tally scraps of paper scattered throughout the room

unbalanced checkbook for a jillion wobbly months

stranded in the south need an atlas to hone up on geography

broken frames fixed with floss such intelligent eyes

sawtoothed shape Classic migraine aura without the headache

dang 'em old translators screw basho but bad


the choice between this and that sometimes the choice of nothing

biorhythmic low should have created more last week

a walk on the tame side little shrubs follow the way of their curb

complementary twosome nary a compliment

did a fly on one of walls file a report: the pet store now a pet clinic

  how long until the world spins joyously




Carlos Colon
Alexis K. Rotella

Louisiana spring –
along the bayou
six herons and a hawk.     

Floating away
on a cream puff cloud.    

Christened infant
a crown of
baby's breath.          

Easter lily pollen
on the priest's nose.     

my face back
into the mirror.                  

My old mother asks,
"What's good for wrinkles?"         

Helpful husband
Third-degree burns
on the ironing board.                  

A hundred years pass –
still he hasn't finished his sentence.        

"Over my dead body
will you build that house,"
screams a neighbor.                                  

Policeman's knuckles
on the front door.                                      

Everyone gets invited
to their party
but us.                                                         

He enters the conversation
even the moon drifts away.                        

As I walk my dog
this early morning,
sneer from the bigshot.                             

Does he realize
he gave us the "evil eye"?                         

she gives my heart
fifty of them.                                                  

Oklahoma City
death toll: 169.                                              

Sweet sorrow
the sugar binge.                                           

My flavored water
watered down.                                             

When I open my eyes
a seahorse
sharing my pillow.                                       

the baroness and the burr.                         

Chamois skirt
clinging to
her curves.                                                   

Water spot
on the black Corvette.                                 

Stamp collection –
it's worth

So tiny
the tongue tattoo.                                     

Feeding the goldfish –
how some try
to get it all.                                                  

Season's first football game
packing a poncho.                                      

An osprey
circles the stadium
before heading south.                             

Nostradamus prediction:
dynamite-eating goat visits Mayberry.      

my fingernails before
boarding the plane.                                     


no longer
in vogue.                                                   

Absolut ads missing
from all the magazines.                             

The landscape
of the big apple
changed forever.                                     

Like "Cats" –
reluctant to leave New York.               

Roma Café –
two blood puddings
to go.                                                         

Waitress fondling
a Franklin.                                                   

March 29, 2001 - February 12, 2002




Carol Purington

Larry Kimmel

finally we're off! -
"home for the holidays"
on the radio
as bumper to bumper
we watch the gray clouds speed ahead  

putting out birdseed
a verse about thankfulness
on the place cards
in calligraphy the names
I say most often

night of heavy snow
back from the barn by flashlight
footsteps already blurred -
in the window
the red-tipped electric candle

over the crèche
a music-box angel spreads
golden wings
lumpy Christmas stockings hang
by the unlit fireplace

"Auld Lang Syne"
under a starry sky
sparks from a hilltop bonfire
what's done is done
and some things best forgotten 

snow-mulched garden
wind batters the frozen stalks
of unpulled weeds
remorse nibbles like a mouse
in need of forgiveness

out of a pearly sky
a few snowflakes fall
through black branches -
utter silence . . .
but for a woodpecker at work

jellybeans hidden
high and low in the kitchen
for kids to find
after the sunrise service
coming home by a different road

FROM OTHER RENS Book Five & Six)
Kris Kondo
Marlene Mountain 
Francine Porad   


the little-bitty pond with a scummy space for whatever needs it

mother and child view the rain puddles

how many times a day do i actually stop time with a blank stare

on hold things needed to be done on paper

art exhibit of floral watercolor paintings hoping for a surprise

mindset of the president of the garden society


m  k  f

parking lots golf courses other artificial turfs the world's come to

how people love to label what's wrong with me

now a post-nasal drip against my better judgment I ask: what next

'business lobby' even more in charge of life & death

learning to scratch my head rather than my eyes cypress pollen allergy

a named ailment for each complaint


  m  f

under a macaroni bear 'thanks mom for always watching over me'

lots of dough to contemplate a suburban zen garden

to feel 'dolled up' the macaroni or wax-candle-drippings necklace?

another new-fangled gadget for the Goodwill box

one of the dandies 'stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni'

was he the guy who discovered wireless telegraphy?


  f  m

always want to add another 'd' 'cos it seems like a long odd trip to me

a haiku journey through time and space

deadly pursuit of a woman's rights thru the crap of 'maledumbination'

after 30 years a vegetable plot to trek to

travels of a slug from tomato plants to marigold seedlings

mama nature creates the way a tadpole becomes a frog



don't you remember you 'discovered me' at the last dance?

to open up with wrens and flock together

beyond the laptop glowing on the kitchen table stars come out

crescent moon one lifetime is not enough

'the discovery channel' a continual discovery of adjectives & adverbs

the first leaves of the first potatoes i ever planted



no need to agree at Old Country Buffet eight desserts on display

let's all agree that it's ok to disagree

'fear' a common word in the media for another drop in stocks

trapped by a phone survey on journalism

we conceded the paradox of marriage ah the moon's reflection!

after a long drawn-out process i agree with myself

March 13-24, 2001


Werner Reichhold
Larry Kimmel

For some time in the poetry scene we have been watching a tendency to interbreed, to hybridize and amalgamate genres. Given a chance to make your own case about it what would you as a writer like to state and discuss?

Everything is in motion. It is the nature of the universe to be in a state of constant creation and evolution. To resist that is to invite neurosis. That is a general metaphysical principle that I always have in mind. It is as applicable to art as it is to any other area of human endeavor, social, political, religious, whatever.

Having said that, obviously it is in the nature of things that art, poetry in this case, will always be in a constant state of evolution, whether we will or not. The mixing of genres is as natural as the blending of ingredients in a chef's gourmet dish. It is an aspect of creation.

Everything evolves of itself, of course. We still write sonnets, but (and I might say here unlike the clinging to a past aesthetic we hear so much about in the haiku community) we no longer even attempt or desire to write sonnets like Shakespeare, and neither did Shakespeare try to emulate Patriarch, but devised his own English-language rhyme scheme. So we look at the sonnet and we see how it has evolved from Shakespeare up to, say, e.e. cummings. This happened without much effort or deliberation, I think. But the mixing of genres is a more conscious and deliberately controlled kind of evolution, but evolution it still is and must be. Can't help but be.

We've just come through one of the most exciting centuries ever. The 20th century has been a tremendous adventure for the artist. Everything has been available to us. We have had the ability to experience Bach and Charlie Parker, Botticelli and Dali, Beowulf, Genji, and Hemingway, all on the same day, if we like. We have both the past and the moment and the complete freedom to blend and experiment with them.

I agree, yes, mixing genres is not at all a new phenomenon in literature. There was always a tendency to interbreed genres at a time when societies in the west developed themselves socially and politically at a certain stage of history. Mixed genres reflect mixed races. Artists followed and had been often clearly ahead of new perspectives. We live in an open society. Here, writers felt always free to study foreign poetry forms and integrate them. The spirits seemed to blend a process of growth. We are used to looking at controversial processes, and we are convinced that critique in the arts is a necessary instrument and supports change. Collision, decay and even disaster in daily life have become motives strongly reflected through the mind of the artist. Distortions of existing forms are in the eyes of Westerners a naturally occurring advancement, a progressive step toward a more matured state of consciousness. In this respect I would like to say that I do strike out for the unknown, consciously or by chance. To explore the so called 'unknown' is my declared goal. If existing forms expressing energies cross my way, I analyze them for possible integration.

Here follows an example:

It Passes

A shade occurs
     the cross marks its door
                        passes over
( it may later move a stone)

Saturday that warm               dresses will be losers
"I am not home on Easter Sunday   think of hiding
eggs           as an arrangement referring to Semites’
rose water sweets, you know they come powdered"

communicants   their questions   dipterous and tizzy

do I
want to lay myself down in grass
desire to swell with breath that keeps swelling
request to move with water that is gushing
wish to go with marbles’ faster rolling
yearningly ask to switch to chalk’s white growing?

                  flux     oozing
this amount of  April rain.

'Form follows function' is a principle that is not kept strongly enough in mind by those writers caged in a clubby situation in Europe as much as it is in the States. Most Westerners, who in a first step studied the very small forms of haiku and tanka, stayed for too long writing single verses. They overlooked the fact that historically seen Japanese writers didn't have a chance and the guts to free themselves from ruling group leaders. Abroad, even participating in collaborative writing sessions, the grip on each individual person to write in a restricted and manipulated way seemed to cut them spiritually and physically off from any attempt to promote the advancement of the haiku form. In the States, where most editors from the early beginnings supported this foreign thinking and stopped short for both, first for a change in subject matter, and secondly by not encouraging writers to use the haiku form itself adequately to western poetic developments in the 20th century. The integration of Japanese forms into western poetry concepts had not been even seen as a valid consideration and to speak or to write openly about it became branded as a sacrilege until up to the early 90's when Jane Reichhold and I explored the possibilities publishing multi-layered single poems.

How would you suggest, or what sort of suggestions, would you have for the adequate use of the haiku to western poetic developments?  I mean by this, do you have any thoughts of change in the size, structure, or nature of the haiku form.  I'm not speaking here of subject matter.

Larry, I feel it is the strength of our dialogue to keep thoughts in a stage of transition. After letting your question sink in deeper for a while, I would like to say I would rather want to leave the use of a three-liner as open as possible. By a screaming love for language and by the naturally implemented amount of chaos hidden in it, the innovative poet will find a way to break through existing forms of relations. We'll watch the strategies of the rebels: they may carry features of destruction until their work takes on shapes acceptable for a growing audience. Seen from this point of view the fates of the haiku lie in the energies of writers to invade the form.

Here is the place to mention that forms of writing are always reflecting new spiritually based concepts. The starting point from where to go on is neither the small form of the haiku, tanka or other verses nor is it an experimental thinking that may bring us to 'a mix of forms'. What comes first, and asks for a long investment into freely swirling energies, is the desire, the obsession to prepare oneself for the visualization of so far unknown, unexplored territory. Only then begins the investigation of techniques and strategies to find the adequate language for the mysteriously offered message. And only after that time consuming work and in a second state of creativity we may consider blending small Japanese forms as an important detail within the bigger western poetry concepts.

I would like to mention that with the publications of Handshake and Tidalwave in 1989, and with Bridge of Voices in 1990, I myself combined my artwork- mainly consisting of drawings collages, photographs and installations- with haiku, tanka, renga, sijo, ghazal, free verse and prose. Since 1997, with, CYBERTRY II, I intermingled prose with haiku sequences, prose with tanka (haibun-like, using 25 syllable tanka written like prose + haiku), free verse with dialogue, tanka and haiku ( introduced in two short plays), sijo sequences and prose, ghazal with free verse and prose.

With most of the forms mentioned above, Jane Reichhold and I also wrote collaboratively. Here an example:

Watery Colors

It is painful waiting for the noise of someone undressing.
The light dimmer works; sweets comparable to syrup.
Hours with the cook, her treatment of steam balances the soup.
Spices - may I see tears, almost a puddle?
Wasn’t time always running between ‘help yourself’
and ‘get acquainted’?
How much dream-work is used in hands splicing hemp?

at the end of spring
the bookstore lowers the prices
for calendars

Suppose an embryo marks itself into the territories
of a woman’s brain cells. Light is the subject.
Watery, the game about a new entity ends
as a play concerned with only one subject matter.
Trustworthy, a little feverish, then soon obligations

hard to go
into sleep when the dart
what shape
is pure enough to call
food for the white dreams

It starts snowing in the name of winter. We put hot chocolate
on top of ice cream. What a thrill of a soft encounter
sinking a spoon down through such a warmth. Hungry?
Yes, but the main interest is aimed at the apple that is never
allowed to be tasted spreading its smell over Cézanne’s canvas

painting the kite
the color of home.

I coined the term 'symbiotic poetry', recognizing the need for an English language term to indicate the many different ways to write collaboratively. Put it another way, my basic principle always was composing text similar to what in the visual arts is called 'collage', or respectively 'installation'. I learned and took off from the inventions of the early symbolists and surrealists in Europe, changed, mixed and added the use of Japanese genres to the spiritual purposes that fits my western concepts.

And here, I think we are back to our theme: blending forms.

Perhaps we are having a reaction to all this freedom. I know for myself, that I prefer to work within a form, as to working in a too organic, or too free a form, meaning vers libre, that strange, contradictory term.

But for my purposes, in working with form, I do not mean a strict form. Not 5-7-5 syllables, for example, but a flexible form. A haiku that has shape and form, yes, as Jane Reichhold has named it, "fragment and phrase," though fragment and phrase of an approximate length. Eleven syllables or fourteen, or whatever, as the need of the poem requires. Form, but flexible form. And here, I hope I have come to the need and reason for the mixing of genres. A constant need and search to accommodate the inner needs of expression, whatever that may be to any particular individual artist. And to acknowledge, as well, that without evolution and/or deliberate experimentation to keep art fresh we have stagnation. Or, in a word, boredom.

I don't see myself as an innovator, but as one who takes the building blocks that are available and find what I can do with them to satisfy my own artistic needs. In the process, perhaps, some innovation takes place.  But I am not trying to strike out into unknown territory, but to take tradition and freshen it for the need of the  new moment. This happened for me in a form recently written about in an article between myself and Linda Jeannette Ward, who also found a similar solution to artistic expression in what she has named the tanku. In my case it is the tanbun, which is simply a very short haibun. The prose text being 31 syllables or less, capped by a haiku or tanka. Linda's tanku is quite similar, only she has linked a tanka with a haiku, the traditional shift in tanka often coming between the two poems. In my tanbun what we have really is a tanka presented in prose format capped by a haiku or tanka.

To get back to my original point about accommodating needs of expression without really being an innovator, this tanbun form came about by the fact that I had a tanka that was not really working as a tanka, there wasn't a strong shift within it, and while I pondered those five lines, I remembered a haiku that complemented it. And I brought them together. And something interesting happened.  Another early tanbun came about (and this is more significant to our discussion), when I had a tanka with additional material left over. It wasn't quite a two tanka sequence, however, and as I tried various ways to accommodate my need of expression within our western haiku tradition, I reverted to my earlier experiment of combining a prose tanka with an already existing but related haiku. You can easily see how my need of expression, the need to include the whole experience works in this second experiment, or mixing of genres:

Winter Cottage

Unworldly wind, and dark the midnight forest.
So cold the branches click like antlers. Beyond
that, not much to know.

       in the black of nothing
                phantom bucks


Here the "additional" material, that became a haiku after the tanka text, is italicized, for what I hope suggests the ghostliness of those last three lines, and adds a little something extra typographically to the poem. And here, too, in this particular mixing of genres, I think I have discovered a potential for something new in haibun.  Because of its very conciseness the tanbun will often work as a lyric, rather than a prose text followed by a linking haiku.

As much as I like to support any kind of innovative work, I would like to express my strong aversion for giving each attempt at changing a form a new name. I think we end up in confusion giving the reader the feeling that he/she is dumb and does not know about form and evolution. Further more -and here I myself end up with resistance- I have not the slightest intention of rearranging Japanese sound units or mix them with English syllables for the purpose of naming new poetry forms. When I talked with writers in Japan, they see that as highly problematic and even as an unwelcome approach to their language and culture as a whole. They are right, since we are talking of a product of English language poetry so far not exercised in Japan, one can state that in case there is an urge and a true reason to name a form anew then an English word should be created. One more reason to avoid using Japanese terms for English language poetry is the fact, that mainstream poetry qualifies such attempts as 'a dilettante's mania'.

Huh. I hadn't thought of that. But I can tell you this, that if I were submitting the work, my tanbun,  just quoted above to a mainstream magazine, I wouldn't have named it. Why did I name it? Consciously, I'm not sure, but subconsciously, perhaps, I felt that I was alerting a haiku editor and a haiku audience that I was still working with the haiku and tanka "English-language" tradition in mind. I'm speculating retrospectively here. Still and all, being human, I feel a slight need to justify myself. If we didn't have names of forms we couldn't speak of them, or refer to them quickly and easily when having discussions such as this. We would have to give a long preamble in which we named its defining points each time we referred to it.  You yourself coined the term "symbiotic poetry" to indicate different ways to write collaboratively, granted, however, you were not naming a new form, rather indicating a more comprehensive technique, still ...

But getting back to my tanbun, I do see it as a distinct form, not only a mixing of forms. A form, to me, as distinct as the sonnet. A form, like the sonnet, that can by played with, but that has a fundamental shape and internal organization that make it namable. It began as a mixing of two Japanese forms, the haiku and the tanka, and became something else.

On the other hand, I am troubled to think of having named a form with a Japanese word, a coin-word at that, when in fact the form in question is an English-language form. I can see the offensiveness in that, which I regret. As far as being identified with `a dilettante's mania', I can live with it. I did it and I'll own it. But in truth, I was not comfortable with the name I came up with from the start, and if I get a chance to rename it, I may. To answer your feelings of aversion to giving each attempt to change form a new name, I can see that. It would become quite a mishmash if each, and often a once in a life-time,  new and organic form were given a name. Still, Werner, I think that the way I am using this 31 syllable or less text capped with a haiku or a tanka, is unique, and I must insist on it as a new form, though the jury is still out as to its ultimate name. But name it must have if other poets are to work with it, understand it, speak of it.

I recognize the innovative part in it. But in case one writes less than 31 syllables, takes out the pivot line and its function to blend two different things, disregard line breaks, then I ask what's left there to be called a tanka?  It appears as text or prose, and yes, one may combine it with a haiku. Right, you can call it a very short haibun but I don't see it as a new form only because it's shorter than haibun normally appear.

I feel sometimes quite uncomfortable with poetry societies because there is something going on – like a race to become the accepted "inventor" of a form. Since early on I myself have chosen another way – I presented my hybridized materials as an offer to readers interested in innovative change. I patiently didn't underline that it can be recognized as a 'new form', but I am glad that after years a growing number of writers come along to share the same path.

I would like to mention Paul Celan, recognized as a master of contemporary short poetry. Reading his poems (all of the highly difficult poems are outstandingly well translated into English) one feels that, living and writing mostly in France, he got acquainted with haiku and tanka. But here again is my point: Celan did create his own new forms but never claimed that haiku and tanka have been resources he studied. That's all right, because he integrated both Japanese and Yiddish forms organically so that his poems became unique creations: form and content are one thing.

Yes, Celan is an exciting poet, an exciting master of the short poem, and I think you are probably correct in saying that haiku and tanka informed, or was an influence, in his innovative work, but his forms are not what I would call FORMS with capital letters. That is, they are each and everyone organic, each of a certain manner of writing that we can easily say "this is Celan", but still each poem has its own organic form. To me, to speak of a form is to speak of a structure that is repeated each time a new poem in that "form" is written. It is, even if somewhat flexible to line length or syllable count or whatever, it is always recognizable as the same form, not a newly evolved organic form for the need of each poem, but a set form into which each new poem must be poured.

Berryman's "Dream Songs" would be an example of such a form, each being eighteen lines, but beyond that quite open to variation. A very flexible form. And that is what I am looking for at the moment, form, but form with a certain ability to expand or contract.

I would like to express why I have my qualms about hearing this: "here is a prose piece capped with a tanka, or capped with a haiku". It refers painfully to an antiquated Japanese thinking and is not in line with contemporary western poetry. To me "capped" looks outdated, much too close to "added". But in fact that's what we often read in magazines and anthologies publishing haibun. There, the content of the prose part is somehow repeated in a verse when indeed we wish to find a poem, new in every poetical aspect, seemingly in contradiction to prose and yet occurring as a part of the whole that enlarges the prose part unexpectedly and vice versa. Getting prepared to hybridize or amalgamate material is a singular creative act, each time different in concept and strategy.

Well, I haven't any argument with that. There is too much recapitulation of text in the so-called "capping" haiku or tanka in much of the published haibun I've seen. One does yearn to see more of a leap from text into poem that lets a gap in which something unexplainable can resonate, or be felt.  The technique of non-sequiturs should be explored more, for example. As to whether it is called "capped" or not, I'm somewhat indifferent.

After thirty years, most writers get disgusted with the boring work group magazines still print. There are new strategies how to write an English language 3-liner or 5-liner and combinations of genres. Most poets are used to offer them through their works without claiming 'rights on the form', and generally speaking I would state, that American haiku are occurring as 'the fine hair on the body of a poets complete value of work'. To put it more humorously, the Japanese haiku is not dead – it is integrated into our short poetry. Long live the one, two, three and more-liner!

Again, putting aside any differences of the naming of forms or not, I must agree that after working within the haiku form for a few years, I did become disgusted with the still born work being published by most of the magazines publishing that genre, and I must stand with you, shoulder to shoulder,  in proclaiming the long life of the short poem. Interesting, though, is the fact that while the first four of these "tiny haibun" which I restricted to a 31 syllable or less text for the resistance it gave me (and I like a certain amount of resistance in creative work, because it often causes me to work harder and to write better), that while the first four of these were given the name of a new form, I did published some half-dozen or more, later, presenting them to the editor of one of our prominent haiku magazine, as simply haibun.

So what I am thinking, now, is that I will continue to think of these "tiny haibun" as a distinct form, having certain limitations placed on them, as to an approximate size/length, controlled by syllabic count, but that I may not be so quick to give them a name. Of if a name is called for, to give them a name English in origin.

Yes, as I've said, from time to time I feel like I am watching kind of a race between the members of so called poetry societies in an attempt to declare a certain way of writing a "new form". It's an uncomfortable feeling for me. What one writes is an offer, an offering of poetry. That's it, after that we calmly can wait for others who may like the work that much so that they decide to create a variation of a particular poem. Only after that may one conclude that in some ways the work done years ago was potentially close to a new form or not: was interesting, maybe a good poem but really not at all "a new form". It's five years ago when I amalgamated existing material for a poetical concept of mine. It didn't come to my mind to claim a new form.

Still, I think there are times to name a form. Going back to this rather unpleasant broad-siding type term from the mainstream 'a dilettante's mania', I'm thinking, so what!? If a writer creates a structure, a form, that is useful to him and he gives it a name, that's his prerogative, and if someone else wants to take a pot-shot at it, fine, he's allowed. Whenever an artist creates something that steps away from the current status quo there will be name calling, it's the sort of thing that comes with the territory. If, however, this "new form" helps that particular artist to write in a fresh and effective way, it is of little importance what detractors have to say. If the "new form" catches the attention of other poets and they use it and it becomes useful to many, the detractors initial reaction falls by the way. Whenever there is new ground broken there will always be detractors around to try and tear down the new structure being built on this new ground. One can't really regard them much. In the time one takes to respond to their arguments one might better use the time and energy for a new poem.

You know, I'm beginning to think that our dialogue is becoming more and more a discussion of the short poem, rather than the mixing of forms. Short poems that have been informed, perhaps, from other short forms, but short poems, period. And in the writing of short poems, however influenced, I would agree, there is no need to be naming each poem as a new form. Harkening back to Celan, how could he have named his poems as individual forms? They are the voice of a unique artist, they are of a type, but they are each different is size and shape, so to speak, and do not denote a new form, but unique structures born out of the growth of singular thoughts.   He could be said to have been working with new concepts in poetry, but not namable forms.

And further more, I think that we have gone not only into the area of the short poem, but within that area we are also speaking of two different things that are going in regard to the short poem. One, there is the short poem that is organic in nature, however much it has been or has not been influenced by an already existing short form, say the haiku or tanka. And two, the short poem that has a specific structure that can be and is repeated. When a short poem always insists, say, are being six lines then you have a form. That is overly simplistic, I realize, but for the sake of argument it is a six line poem, albeit not much of a form, but it can be named. It might be called "the six-line poem." Obviously an unnecessary form to be named. But if the form becomes more complex, and carries with it certain expectations, one might want to name it. If for no other reason than that it can be quickly refereed to and discussed.

Of course, if I am the only one using that form, why name it? It could be referred to as the short poems of Larry Kimmel. I'm thinking again of Berryman's "Dream Songs." I don't think he named the form. We speak of his "Dream Songs" but that is because that was the name of the collection when it first appeared. And I don't think that his eighteen lines have ever become a form emulated by other poets. Maybe by a few, but it is not part of the canon of forms, as is the sonnet in western poetry.

You were saying that if I am using 31 syllables or less in my prose text and not regarding the pivot line and its function to blend two different things, to disregard breaks in the tanka form, then what is it but a prose text followed by a haiku, in short, a short haibun. This is true. And many of the tanbun that I've written are in fact, simply short, let's say tiny', haibun. BUT, even then, I feel, that these "tiny haibun" are something not quite a haibun at all.

They become lyric poems. Part of it formatted as a prose text with a leap into a second, lineated poem, that at its best, resonates with the first prose formatted poem, forming one unit, a nameable form. There is something about the controlling of the size that takes it out of the arena of the traditional haibun. It is no longer a prose text "capped" by a haiku, but a two part poem (which admittedly could be all lineated), but still a two part poem, originally inspired by the  complex of haikai techniques as understood in the west.

In practice this could still break down into being nothing more that a "tiny haibun", but it has a potential worth exploring as a form.  What I am looking at now, and what I quoted as a tanbun above, is just a hint and a suggestion of something to explore. It grew out of an extension of the tanka, but it is no longer tanka or haibun. What is it? Perhaps only a structure that helps me create within certain limitations. (And all art, all poems, have certain limitations placed on them or they would not exist except as a gas ever dispersing.) Well, whatever it is, it is for me a useful blueprint for a certain type of short poem and it is nameable. Though I do wish I had given it a less questionable name. That much I give you.

Larry, I feel good watching you work at the Japanese haibun. One day, after the influence of the Japanese form on western literature is clearly seen, the term itself probably has to go. Why? The haibun- not even written in Japan anymore- was somehow 'a journal of a journey'. With the exception of Shikibu Murasaki's The Tale of Genjj, there have been little literary requirements for the educated reader. For us Americans planning to go on using prose and verse together I think we are in agreement that there can be no limitations to subject matter, content or composition.

I might add here, that I do not consider syllabic count to be a strong poetic technique in English. It has little meaning in English, as we all know, beyond the fact that it may help me, or some poets, some of the time, to create a resistance; a form, or a structure, in which to hone their ideas. This is useful to me some of the time, at other times it is meaningless and inappropriate. This is experimenting, I think, with form, but it is has not much to do with mixing form. For example, one could say, well with syllabic count you are mixing a Japanese practice into your English practice, but I don't think this has much of a reality. As we have found, a strict adherence to syllable count in the English-language haiku and tanka is dubious and moot.

I would say that we have learned of an interesting form from the Japanese in the haiku and the tanka, but once applied to the English-language poetics, it does become something different. It cannot replicate the original, it can only suggest a new direction, or new form, in English, or whatever new language it is being used in. Although, I do believe that the under lying structure, Jane Reichhold's fragment and phrase theory again, is a fundamental structure that exists in the cosmos, as surely as, say, the blues form or the AABA form of the swing era does in music. And as a universal form it belongs to all. The Japanese first discovered it and developed it according the structure of their language. We have learned of it from the Japanese, but must develop it according the structure of our language.

But I have somewhat gotten away from the main point of our dialogue here, which is the mixing of forms.

I believe our readers will be tolerant and glad to watch us reaching out into areas of widespread interest.

Another reason for mixing genres is this "harkening back to a wistful past" that we are seeing so much of in English-language haiku and which is destroying a good thing. Have you noticed how many magazines are publishing formulaic material? Even to the point of naming, and not very originally, a season, then making a flat prose statement. Like "winter/ the cat curled/ in the window." By simply naming the season, right away a precious syllable (and the whole fragment) has been wasted. A more skilled approach could have been to integrate the season into the phrase of the haiku directly and by suggestion preferably, leaving room for yet another contrasting image. So rather than concerning ourselves overly much with a season word, we should seek ways of indicating the season directly into the very meat of the poem.  If, in fact, the season needs mentioned.

Scholarship has its place and I am always appreciative of scholarship and good translation of traditional material, that keeps alive what was once a great concept and practice, but this is a touchstone from which to create anew. While I am all for experimentation with the mixing of genres (and I think here we are talking to a great extent of mixing Japanese traditional forms with western poetics), while I am all for experimentation, I will admit that there is the HAIKU, in capital letters, which is a form and a certain content and an aesthetic tradition, and that it can be truly great when it works. But to try to hold it there is to limit.

And limitation, of this sort, limitation not of form but of the evolutionary processes of the universe, is futile and has been the cause of a great many woes in this world. In the political and governmental areas it is easy to see how limitation leads to punitive governments. How can it be any different with poetry? Limitation of this sort is to stifle creativity.

The Japanese haiku, a shortened form resulting out of the waka or tanka, holds as you said certain contents and aesthetic traditions in the country from which it is handed over to us in the West. This is the reason why we can, after intense studies, admire and learn from haiku. It sure tells us a lot about Japanese history and environment, religions, Zen and cultural developments. This is exactly why, appropriate to background and expectations, our own three-liner needed a different technique to be built and another poetical strategy to reach out for people searching to find their own identity in the mirrors of poetry. The American three-liner is a new kind of western poetry, standing by itself or integrated into bigger concepts.

True. The American three-liner is a new kind of poem peculiar to western poetry.  I think, Werner, that I've said about what I have to say for the moment.  You asked, "What as a writer would I like to state and discuss?" Simply this, creative work by its very nature and definition is evolutionary and that I am opposed to all attempts to stifle this natural process. In regards to our discussion here, lets take a traditional form, or forms, the haiku and the tanka and the haibun, and see what we can do in regards to experimenting with its evolution. Not for experimentation's sake alone, but to increase the potential of these forms. Because I don't care how much claim is made as to how much can be done, say, in the haiku form, it is not possible to do everything. I've heard that there is a famous statement that whole novels can be contained in one haiku. I take the point. But the way these things get brandished around it becomes total nonsense.  There is no handmaiden to all poetic needs.  Believe me, I know.  I've looked for it. So we try new things. We expand. We mix genres. We create new forms out of old forms. We let happen what will happen without trying to stop the endless creative churning of the universe. In short, we wave it on change with flags and banners.  I think that about sums up my answer to your opening question.

Thank you, Larry, for sharing your thoughts in regards to my opening question and for the dialogue that followed.

It's been a pleasure, Werner, and thank you for asking me.

April 2002

Hit Counter

  Submission  Procedures

Who We Are

Deadline for the next issue is
September 1, 2002

  Poems and comments Copyright © Designated Authors 2002.
Page Copyright©  Jane Reichhold 2002.

Table of Contents

I would like to know more about Renga.