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Rt. 9 Haiku Group-Tom 3-23-06
Home | Home page | Bio for Tom | Haiku & Senryu -definitions/ thoughts | Haiku Chapbooks ( 1) Autumn Wind in the Cracks (1994) | (2) Unraked Leaves ( 1995) | (3) Standing Here ( 1998) | Homework (2000) Snapshot Press, UK | being there (2005) Swamp Press | Tanka chapbooks (1) A Work of Love (1997) Tiny Poems Press | Growing Late- (2006) Snapshot Press | A Haiku Way of Life | Assorted Haiku | Assorted Senryu | Assorted Tanka | Haibun | Favorite Links | Dim Sum -Tom | Robert T. Clausen | Favorite Haiku | Favorite Senryu | Favorite Tanka | Zen Entries | Memorable Quotes | Dalai Lama | Death Poems | Cat Poems | Dog Poems | Train Poems | Longer poems | Song Lyrics | Rt. 9 Haiku Group | Rt. 9 Haiku Group-Tom 3-23-06 | Haiku Circle (6-02-07) | 4-21-09 Mann Library reading | My email address:

Rt. 9 Haiku Group Presentation at Mann Library - March 23, 2006
A presentation and reading by John Stevenson, Hilary Tann, Yu Chang
and Tom Clausen. We read sections from two issues of Dim Sum, John differentiated haiku from senryu and read examples of both choosing selections from his own haiku and senryu and those by others. Hilary described our group practice and process and read Yu's haibun, "Refridgerator". Yu read a selection of his haiku and Tom read a few of his poems and some favorites by others.
the haiku reading is now up and viewable. Go to :
and click on the podcast link to download and view on your computer (broadband needed).
( this was what Tom had prepared to present )


Rt. 9 Haiku Talk- Mann Library- March 23, 2006


Thank you to everyone here for giving us a chance to share with you something we very much enjoy. As far as I know this is the first haiku reading in the 54 years of Mann Library. You are attending a very rare event, perhaps a once in a century type of thing. I’d like to publicly thank Janet McCue for her support and encouragement of haiku and my particular haiku habit!

In Japan haiku can be found on the front page of certain daily newspapers and even on cans of tea. Haiku has yet to reach the mainstream masses here in the U.S.-western world despite the fact it is often taught in elementary school. I believe haiku has wonderful potential to become a form that many can enjoy reading and am very appreciative of being given a chance to share the haiku I love with the patrons of Mann Library.

Haiku in Mann Library began sometime in 1989 when a custodian in the old Mann building, tired of removing scribbling from the stacks elevator walls, decided to put up a blank sheet of paper. He hoped those inclined to write might use the sheet of paper which could be changed when necessary. Whenever the graffiti was something unrefined and inappropriate I was notified and would put up a new blank sheet. The custodian said it was like changing a diaper. Shortly after this practice began I thought it might be a positive way to start the day by placing a haiku on this sheet and soon I was placing several on the sheet and receiving some modest positive feedback... and even some red ink corrections to my grammatical mistakes and from that same staff person I received fairly regular criticism that what I was posting was not real haiku, which he had learned had to be structured in the 5-7-5 syllable arrangement that most are taught is the norm. I routinely explained that in Engl! ish most practitioners and experimenters with haiku had moved away from following that exact syllable arrangement.

It was great fun choosing haiku to post in that elevator yet when we were preparing to move into this new Mann addition ( in 2000) I assumed that I would not be taping up a sheet of paper in the new elevator. If you noticed how nice our elevator is today and remember the old one you can easily understand why a diaper made sense then but would not fit the interior decor of today’s elevator. I now post a daily haiku ( and a daily tanka) on a dictionary stand located in the first floor lobby right next to the new book shelf. I’ve also been very generously given a link on the Mann Library home page for interested patrons to click on and see a daily haiku that has allowed me to feature one poet each month, a tradition that has achieved interest and a following well beyond the users of Mann Library. Again I am very grateful for this rare opportunity to share a personal passion and as far as I know we are the only major university library with a Daily Haiku!

Reading haiku I believe can be a way to re-calibrate the senses and can serve as an antidote to the excesses of our age (these times) We live in a world rife with bigger and faster being equated with better. There is a certain madness to our momentum and unless we take time to tune our selves to the myriad nuances in nature, including our own nature, we are increasingly at risk of losing our reverence for all sorts of relationships with the simple and subtle goings on that are always there for us if we allow our selves to be open and ready to receive.. I consider haiku like little gifts and celebrations of (a kind of) awareness. There is a spiritual dimension to the practice of reading and writing haiku. Haiku are focused in the present tense and require us to closely examine things in our now. Experiences are momentary and fleeting, we are all informed with a consistent recognition that what is here today can be gone tomorrow.

Haiku is all about awakening relationships while we are here that can be taken for granted and easily overlooked. Haiku is a sensibility, a perspective and can become a way of life.

Some advantages to the reading and writing of haiku:

1. It is highly portable, a favorite haiku can be easily remembered and carried in mind for solace and reflection, as a reminder of some special moment. You can easily work and puzzle with haiku creation while walking, riding bicycle, driving, while waiting in lines, in waiting rooms, while doing the dishes... just about anyplace or anytime.

2. Haiku is free! Very little equipment is necessary, just a pen or pencil and paper. Most of us who have a haiku habit carry a little pocket notebook and like a detective we go about our day jotting notes, looking for clues about our season, observing signs of changes, recording what we feel to be personally meaningful with hopes it might extend to be universally meaningful. Some haiku "moments", as we call them, practically write themself. The moment powerfully dictates exactly what to write. More often a haiku is written after considerable puzzling and is the result of field notes being worked with and refined until it becomes clear, concise and feels just right.

. ( some haiku poets have stated they have worked on and off on an individual poems for many months if not years.).

3. As mentioned, we are all painfully aware and burdened by the struggles and suffering in this world. Haiku is one form of recognizing that while we each grapple with personal losses and frustrations we can celebrate and enjoy our world ever more by being open to the wonder and poetic correspondence that is everywhere, every time we keenly become witness to the infinity about us. Haiku are a tool of recognition, a way to tune, awaken and inspire our sense of being here now. Haiku are attempts to see and feel our place in this seemingly endless parade of nature.

Haiku give voice to that which is voiceless and to that which we know by intuition. Very often haiku acquaint us with something "known" but until we read about it and feel it, we were not connected to that knowing. The haiku serve as bridges between our unconscious and our conscious.

If you think you sort of like haiku at all I encourage you to go haiku hunting! Look up haiku on the internet, or seek out books or anthologies of haiku and see which ones speak to you. Once you find one, you’ll likely find another... and another. Reading widely the incredible variety of haiku will enable you to find what haiku resonate and are relevant to you. Once you have examples of haiku that have moved you the spirit of those poems can begin to inspire your own attempts at writing. Remember, all you need is a little pocket notebook and a pen and pencil.

Go for a walk, beside the good exercise you will find yourself taking notice and engaged in what you see in an exciting, new way. You can write about practically anything; your family, friends, your cat or dog, your coworkers, your workplace, birds, insects, flowers, wind , water, trees, the moon, the stars, sticks and stones, certain slants of light, rain, snow, clouds, mud, whatever it is and you can give voice to these things in a way that will allow the participating reader to share meaningfully in what you discovered. It may look easy to create a haiku but for it to be meaningful to others there must be something beyond the ordinary. Haiku take the ordinary and show us the extraordinary that is there.

Here are some of my haiku, senryu and tanka and some favorites by others ( if time allows) that I hope have hints and glimpses of something worth sharing...





Tom Haiku
& Senryu




a few about my family:




in the dark

through the window light

my wife and child










a whole year...

stirrings of our children

Christmas morning










autumn nightfall

dropping my son off

for something else










my wife drives a nail

in our daughter’s room

grandmother’s crucifix












my daughter asks where

we are going...











mid day

my son’s bear hug

still with me







a few about our cats and dog...






alone with the cat

the look between us

held awhile...











my cat comes up close

then shies away

alcohol on my breath










outside the glass door

our old cat has forgotten

it wanted "in"









to the cat:

"that’s complete and

utter nonsense"










in my lap the new kitten

I didn’t want











for the lost cat...

wind chimes














red wing blackbird calls-

the dog tugs for

another scent











after day one

the new puppy

dog tired










stuck inside

the dog gets up

and turns around










ordinary walk-

our dog at the end

of his leash








another morning

she says goodbye

to the dog










a few about the workplace:




light snow...

the students study

in silence










most of his studying


out the window










a stranger smiles-

the elevator closes

and goes up









always takes his time

the custodian watches

the floor dry








a selection of other subjects:





alone in the waiting room

checking the plant

for reality











sidewalk sale-

wind twists a lifetime

guarantee tag











at the empty crossroads

the signal blinks











left and right

he follows the way

of his kicked stone










she wanders away...

her snail disembarks

the matchbox truck










another full moon

my checkbook

still unbalanced










letting her

walk all over me










where I sit

on my usual bench

remains of a nut









one tree

one bird, one song

the dusk










empty parking lot

some wind collects and swirls

leaves into a shape









on the way home

more geese

on the way home...











from the bread truck’s roof

frost swirls








the spread of stars

wind moves the snow

from where it fell






in the cold rain

their snow fort





a few senryu:



sneaking M & M’s

the crunching

in my ears






wanting my old life

when I wanted

my present life





after the party






now that I’m over

my bad mood

she’s in one






she admits

she is not perfect

but is glad I am





home from work...

the little one brings me

an empty wine bottle









the repairman tells me

any fool can do it








in the shower

an economy-size bar of soap

lands on my toe









older and older

the strangers saying hello

to me








on the bench

a young couple carries on

as if I’m not there





Tom Tanka

she’s not here

to see it

but after breaking the stick

I perfectly fit the broken ends

back together again






every few bounces

the robin pauses on the lawn

to look and listen

as if that were all

there was to do










we work briskly

into the momentum of the day

a long list of what to do,

once all there was

was to fall in love









some days seem

altogether too much

but then

so welcome it becomes

the night






how many people

can you connect to

and lose in a life

without feeling

quite lost











I believe is what

I’ve come to sitting here

watching wave after wave

land itself





Favorite haiku, senryu and tanka by other poets ( selected by Tom C.)



free at last, the fly

flew out the window- and then

right back in again

- James Hackett







when I have sat long enough

the red dragonfly

comes to the wheatgrass

-Laurie Stoelting








fence fallen away

I close the rusted gate

behind me

- Yvonne Hardenbrook









Across the fields

a swallow carrying one hair

from the plow horse

- vincent tripi









yesterday’s paper

in the next seat-

the train picks up speed

- Gary Hotham









music two centuries old-

the color flows

out of the teabag

- Gary Hotham











far at sea

a tiny bird

rests on flotsam

- Margaret Molarsky









autumn twilight:

the wreath on the door

lifts in the wind

- Nick Virgilio













phone call

from a far away friend

the cat starts purring

- Penny Harter











beach walk

the stick I tossed


- Tom Painting











waves crash

against the pier- the bottle

slips from my hand

- Michael Ketchek












That breeze brought it-

a moment of moonlight

to the hidden fern

- Foster Jewell












two crabs

grappling with locked claws

taken by a wave

- Robert Zukowski











still ahead of us

the storm

we’ve been driving toward

- John Stevenson














cloud shadow

long enough to close

the poppies

- Christopher Herold













the thief left it behind

the moon

at the window

- Ryokan












       so many boulders

in the stream    all of the water
       finding its way

- David Elliott











warm evening

an open door

to someone’s living room

- John Stevenson













after the garden party the garden

- Ruth Yarrow












running his fastest

to right field

last child picked

- Mike Dillon





channel dispute

she aims the clicker

at me

- Dee Evetts






new flypaper

she waves her arms

to get them going

- Dee Evetts











20,000 feet

traces of masking tape

on the jet engine

- Dee Evetts











loud applause

for the last speech

before lunch

- Dee Evetts










bad movie

I’m only awake

during the explosions

- John Sheirer










eye exam

I stop trying

so hard

- Hilary Tann













a man in cowboy boots

asks for latte

- Yu Chang













running away ,


helps me pack

- Adele Kenny












the tethered dog

watches the guide dog

enter a deli

- John Stevenson














we drive in silence

and even though I offer

occasional smiles

you know you’ll never reach where

it is that my thoughts wander

- Jean Jorgensen












if its not the headlines

it’s a dead deer by the roadside

or something else

I just keep tripping over

the first noble truth

- Michael Ketchek













The huge reservoir

beyond the dam

thinking of my wife

I realize the great value

of holding back my words

- Michael Ketchek













not a single star

out of place in the

milky way-

the garden gate

left ajar all night

- Pamela Babusci











vacation’s end

the highway still unraveling

when I close my eyes

how many parts of myself

have I left homeless behind

- Marjorie Buettner












I tell my guardian angel

I’ll happily die

in April

alas, each April comes

and I tell her I’m not ready

- Pat Shelly










I had read

your love poems

and now,

having met you,

read them again

- John Stevenson











far down the valley

she waves and calls to me

I love her more

in the time it takes

her voice to arrive

- John Sheirer



in the curve of light

the crash and spray

of the full-moon tide;

for a moment with arms crossed

the power of my youth

- Jeff Witkin













A subway train

traveling beside ours,

veers up and away,

My feelings for you

go where they go

- John Stevenson














Writing a poem

of longing for her

I’m irritated

by the interruption

of her phone call

- George Swede












with a man

who was once

the center of my universe

I discuss

interest rates

- Fay Aoyagi













weeding in the garden

humming to myself

suddenly a mourning dove

calls from me some sadness

I can’t quite name

- Mary Lou Bittle-DeLapa














Several languages

and a thousand theorems

safe in his cranium

how serene my father

looks in death

- Marianne Bluger


















a sudden loud noise

all the pigeons of Venice

at once fill the sky

that is how it felt when your hand

accidentally touched mine

- Ruby Spriggs













Wind, do not tease me

do not muss my hair

My joy is too large for the house

and I cannot go in

to await his coming

- Pat Shelly








listening to you

talk about him, about you

about them, about me

and now, here it is, somehow

the dinner I made for us

- Christopher Herold




Tom Seasonal haiku:









spring sun

good enough

right where I am


spring wind-

a kid in the neighborhood

has a new whistle


in the middle

of some construction

a lilac blooms



removing the neighbors

from view


spring in the air

so many false starts

in my heart


keeping quiet

the day’s last light

on new grass



my daughter whispers

something she knows












left and right

he follows the way

of his kicked stone


letting her

walk all over me



she wanders away...

her snail disembarks

the matchbox truck


sidewalk sale-

wind twists a lifetime

guarantee tag


late afternoon sun

noisy blackbirds swarm

the transformer


one tree

one bird, one song

the dusk


having brushed off

several small ants

an extra large one...








potluck luncheon-

a yellow jacket cleans

its antennae


autumn colors-

how assertive

she becomes


where I sit

on my usual bench

remains of a nut


empty parking lot

some wind collects and swirls

leaves into a shape


on the way home

more geese

on the way home



from the bread truck’s roof

frost swirls



fall colors

in the lake-

one thought after another
















the spread of stars

wind moves the snow

from where it fell


picture window

in all that white

a cardinal



in the cold rain

their snow fort


first snow gone-

this steady need

to practice


snow filling

our tracks into the woods

by heart


a few snow flakes

entering the woods



in love


into the snowstorm


winter stars-

our meeting









Closing haiku:



glancing back

the woman I passed

grows lovelier


- Jeffrey Winke



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