ABOUT

The Haiku Collective presents haiku submitted by various contributors. As we proceed through the year, each passing week is commemorated by a new offering — be that a private moment, an amusing curiosity, a culture-wide observation, or a far-reaching truth.

The point is not that the haiku be a perfect poem of the Japanese form, meaning with a 5-7-5 syllable format. The point is to capture small instances of our lives, and to share them with others.

Another anomaly to this collective is that contributors’ names don’t appear with each haiku; instead, they are grouped with others’ at the bottom of the page. In this manner we may contemplate each offering as an entity separate from its maker.

This collective is inspired by the book The Haiku Year (see SIDEBAR). As Tom Gilroy states in his Haiku Year introduction: these are meant to be “just little gifts to one another across space.”

We hope you will contribute your own moments to this collective. And those who would like to receive each new offering can join the weekly mailing list. Thus we can all share our year, trickle by trickle.


HAIKU

Inaugural (and accidental) haiku, as said to Jeremy Bigalke by the proprietor of a Korean-American market in San Francisco’s SOMA district when he asked her to spot him 28¢ so he could buy both milk and Oreos:


If I had dollar
for each time they ask for dime
I'd sell you my store.


2012


Big, old, black schoolbus —
On the side’s been painted
NOW IS ALL YOU HAVE







Drugstore window display
Box of tea-light candles
melted in the sun







Young hippie on Telegraph
selling blown glass
and talking on her cell phone







Django Reinhardt's "Louise"
Whispering in that sad café
every little breeze
a guitar sighs







Two little girls
tricycles, ice cream cones.
Quintessence.







Kitty catches mouse
Woman frees mouse
Kitty mad at her







"So this is what it comes to,"
Thomas quips, "shopping at Merrill’s."
The manager scowls.







Pigeons peck the crumbs
she throws. Feathered rainbows
at her feet.







Park bench picnic with Oliver
chocolate chunk chookies
and ice tea







Summertime fog banks.
Depth of field now dense white-out.
Twain's coldest winter.







Two men in the library:
"So what if I got bad breath —
I still got my gold tooth."







Splendid day with Carl
photos all over the city
no film in the camera







Unwrapped package on
the floor. Cat sits in
the box, licks the tape.







Tattered paper sign:
Missing since last April 1st.
Thinks he knows his name.








Shopping at Walgreen's, helped
a man choose lipstick to match
his blue opera gloves







Child wails by hot dog stand;
Mother chides: "You know
you're vegetarian!"







Nighttime walk through Sutro Baths
holding hands in the dark tunnel







Boy in father's lap
sharing a Mexican plate.
Quiet affinity.







Ron could talk for hours, sometimes
bored me. Then his psyche broke.
Wish I could call him.







U-Haul parking lot
two stray cats, tails entwined
in a Sailor's knot







Footprints on the sand
let the wind blow over them
then walk away







Scuff of heavy boots
Castro District Christmas cheer
drunk Santa pub crawl







Caught in the undertow
surrender, not resistance
will keep you afloat


2013


windblown snow
ashes of the new dead







stray green mittens
scrunched into
a peace sign







soft kissing sleeping
valentines entwine and heat
the waking Bosque







February's annual warm spell
tricks plum trees into blooms
soon rained away







pink petals on the
wet black bough
now on the dry black car







kid from the projects
wields a Kung-fu kick, drops his
pomegranate juice







Old woman with
painful misshapen feet
Toenails painted bright red







spring beginning
          dove in her nest
                    cat in a crouch







Supreme Court protest sign:
Jesus had two dads, and he
turned out just fine








skinny, smiling child
gnaws her way through a
dry Cup o' Noodles







boot crushed
on muddy trail—
first bloom of spring







Unexpected compliment
Protest? No
Bathe in its sunshine







Syrian father: We have no house.
Daughter: We are going to fix it.







watched 6 spring goslings —
each 3 inches of soft down and
determination







the mother points out
the rainbow while the daughter
holds the umbrella







Church clock's 12, 3, 6, 9
read: Joy, Hope, Love, Faith. The time?
Ten minutes past hope.







Elderly stranger —
"Well, have a good life. Watch out
for Republicans."







raccoon bandit on the fire escape,
our cat's tail a bottle brush







sidewalk, sofa, man,
book, turtle, plastic pool.
lounging, reading, sunning.







Driver of packed Market Street
bus to waiting crowd:
"Oooh, they lookin' mean."







she loves her
he loves him
let freedom ring







I.

Los jovenes, lithe,
At play beside the river—
Black rocks, deep current.



II.

Summer air spirals,
Flowers lose their petal skirts
As they turn to fruit.







a puzzle
coming together
changes shape







gavotting little girl
prances right out of her shoe,
replaces it giggling







dressed for a 20s party,
they paid the bridge toll
for the car behind







four raccoon bandits
on the fire escape,
my tail a bottle brush







kiddies laugh as they
struggle to learn jump rope







Obeying the SLOW sign,
the worker idles on the
silent backhoe.







she lives by the Bay Bridge
sees it as a friend
is sad when it's hurt







boy: "I've been eating
lots of watermelon this summer."
clerk: "AWE-some!"







man & canoe
paddle up Mission Street
without a creek







foiled by my HTML code:
my kingdom for a semicolon







work call, street café
guy's notes: "May I be candid with you?"
Stayed 'til he said it.







MS Word's Track-Changes
speaks my new mantra:
accept, and move on.







"Now, it's not pure gold,"
Oliver explained, giving
the man his fake ring







two ripe autumn pears
on the ledge, rainbow Skittles
on the pavement







Malala says: I'm at risk anyway;
I'd rather speak up, then die.







woman giving my
flu shot said she cried
when she got hers







"Gregor, ring the bell and say 'Trick or Treat!'"
     [ring]
     [door opens]
     [pause]
"Please, may I have some candy?"







Man to blind friend: "She's got that
early last century thing goin' on."







Not sad. But sad not
To be sad. But only a
Tiny little bit.







twelve speckled blackbirds
bathe in a junkyard
lake puddle







Scruffy guy, Thanksgiving train.
Blue plaid, dirty sneaks.
Reads Dostoyevsky.



Train seat's outlet doesn't
work. Each new passenger
moves eventually.







Child's poem on sidewalk

Bathing in hot cocoa I go.
It feels joyful,
swimming in my heart







the cat fades into
dappled shadows;
eyes of iridescence







Chinatown corner
tot & dad peek-a-boo
mom holds mini Christmas tree







December twilight
Café Gratitude cumin air
old man, Tai Chi


2014


Lying abed, my bright new
cup of java
blowing smoke rings







Snoring red Dachshund
Sinewy in sleep
Awakens my bliss







Street engineer said,
The tree’s supposed to be here.
The house isn't.







giant noble oak tree

saw tearing her limbs
silent screams of agony

heard

I cried







After surgery
the loving hands of friends
heal me







rusty, trusty red wagon
double-locked to a bike rack







he practices Tai Chi
watching
Sunday football







Lowell said he'd acupuncture
the state to end the drought.
It rained.







deprived of a garden,
our cat chews on
plastic flowers







day before Valentine's
huge line at Walgreen's







day after Valentine's
eating out my heart







as I eat my scone
a passerby asks if I
read the Tarot







soggy skein of red yarn
trailing from the trash bin
pins strewn on the street







Turmeric caution:
dyes all things bright, acid
yellow … like FOREVER.







All things turmeric bright …
Caution: Like dying, forever …
Acid.







watched the giant, glowing sun
set like a match burning out







red spray paint on sidewalk
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MUMITO







Mom, 70: "I
think I might try wind surfing
as my new challenge"



Going on 72:
surfing the web is
more than enough







If you can't cover me
with lilacs when I die
choose sweet peas instead







file name: My Homework
Paper About the Number
of Cows in My House







Ninth Street billboard cautions:
Remember: eternity is forever!







cold, rainy freeway
underpass bumper sticker—
The Grass is Green







passed my cobbler in the street.
we smiled, looked at my shoes







Powell Station: mom & kid
balancing-on-one-foot
contest; both win







double fire orchid rose
in a coconut water can
by the car's driver door







Lowell wants a plaque
in every country
for the unborn soldier







Poster: Hamlet, Prince of Darkness
Print run: 500
Catching error in time: priceless







two red tricycles
on an empty green
basketball court







little girl joins friend,
flops on grass. Says,
"Ah, man!"







Sweet Little Man-cat
lets me hold his tiny hand
in my giant paw







Woman reads flyer on hot day:
"This sounds good. It's revolution."







Ramadan pigeons
Gunshots in Mostar
Where is our steel umbrella?







jazz floats through my window
cat sleeps in my lap







white caps on the bay
trees dance, windows rattle
wait until August







Gregor in my arms
quietly breathes his
cherry lollipop







baby bottle in crosswalk
still dripping milk
no stroller in sight







Miss Rat's relatives
feasting on kumquats

munching and muttering
as I read in bed







17 Ways to
throttle an HR director:
Throttle. Repeat.







If Hitler had been
a good artist, would we have
been spared the horror?







Sir cat, gaze inward
fades into the shadows of
his favorite sun perch







"Answer the phone. Answer the phone.
Why don't you pick up when I call?"







Steeped in despair,
I notice the sticker:
Caution—driver is singing







Blood on the pedal?
Just keeps on riding. Mom’s one
badass biker bitch.







the sign read: Sorry
for this inconvenience
of your understanding








A butterfly is
looking over my shoulder
      staring at my pain







After I passed
the young lad hummed:
Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack …







The sign read:
"COMPLETE AUTO SERVICE.

No closing quote mark; not complete.







commuter, coffee in hand,
rides his unicycle in the rain







Thanksgiving CalTrain
packed to the grills with cheerless
49er fans







Made a Simpsons reference
to an Amish woman.
Don't think she got it.







Mom to tiny tot pushing their cart:

"Take your time, my friend.
It's a tricky business."







it seems
things that made me stronger
weren't trying to kill me
after all







Quiet snuffles
Squirming warm bodies
Whiskery kisses
The pack sleeps


2015


Trekkers far above across the slope
ellipses on an ice-white page







ants ants ants ants ants
ants ants ants ants ants ants ants
so tiny, so many







Orange oil to ants
Like the sun to the shadow
so fragrant, so lethal







The new year is old
Already it wonders what year
What day this is







warm January day
yellow onion on storm grate







stranger takes our picture,
counts in fast succession:
one, two, [ click ] three!







kid drops the Spanish
Jehovah's Witness brochure
in the street







her pre-dawn inner voice says:
"Since you're awake,
let's discuss your schedule"







He said read the full Ferguson report.
There's hope around page 90.







Ides of March Uniquity

A SHORT PLAY, GENDER INTERCHANGEABLE

She looked out the window.
He looked out the door.
She saw the forest.
He saw the garage.
She took a walk.
He took a ride.
She came home.
He kept driving.







yard-sized Happy Birthday sign
rainbow-chalked on her sidewalk







buds of life
from my friend dead of AIDS
his gift of the lilac







he planted a hundred daffodils
for every friend he lost

this spring, they plant for him







16th & Valencia
long-haired black cat
pink & red necklaces







bar sandwich sign:
LESS UNHAPPY HOUR







texting on a flip phone—
Damn me and my
sesquipedalian vocabulary







while we eat she speaks
to the tattooed face
reflected in the mirror







Taking a known path
A gentle brush with etiquette
The answer is yes







College Avenue stroll
dead bees inside
every store window







parrots chatter in
the palm tree, each frond
heavy with green fruit







boy to dad:
"Don't deconstruct it.
I'm trying to alienate you!"







Market Street Wall Street protest—
man, baby, stroller, sign







Apropos of nothing
Mom said,
"I hate piñatas"







He adamantly
opposes the tyranny
of the early bird







I'm leaving again
A one-way ticket to go
Return uncertain







when he ran out of
treasures to give me, he offered
his tooth fairy cache







Berkeley Subaru
PEACE stickers, SAVE THE PLANET
snails through the red light







I am Cato to your fruit fly
my kitchen a battlefield







Little Free Library
2223 Post Street
Take a book, leave a book







Office of the S.O.L. County Clerk

"Henceforth, no fishing
licenses distributed.
Clerk is now vegan."







Whither shall we go:
Austria? Germany? the
bottom of the sea?







a Bodhisattva
must take human form —
but how to explain
this nine-pound cat?







Bicycle messenger's
bag and basket
brimming with flowers







Two friends
six feets
walking life's path together







Kinko's customer inquiry:
"Do you have any holy paper?"







Your hands are on fire
The angel said
Some blackout scars ago







Fifth wheel sits near his
mates; smiles, pretends he's part of
their conversation.







almost silent trees
whisper in the wind
swiftly I sketch slow shadows







hanging the curtain,
I recall the smile of she
who sold it to me







The nursing student
eyed my veins with a downright
vampiric gaze. Eek.







From Jane Gennaro’s “Heebie-Jeebies”

I've been in a coffin
once in my life so far







rusty pine needles
rain down in the
Autumn breeze







Sign in window:
There will be no compassion
until further notice. Sorry.








her hair is one big
dread, a beehive piled
above piercing blue eyes







  I'd
 smash
the mirror
before me
but I'd only
 shatter
  myself







_____ P. :
There's an unbelievable
story I want to tell you.
Please let me.







Ronan to Carl :
"I want the present that mama
hid in the closet."







As I tighten my
scarf the homeless man shivers
under his blanket







well into the night
only one window still lit
beautiful depressing town


2016


the hills of San Francisco
certain streets
not even mapped







dog collar in the
crosswalk, 2 of ♥, Ace of

under the seat








red truck cab
black passenger seat
white cockatoo







Through lamplight a blonde hair floats —
sliver of moon into brackish pond







I have no diamonds
for you. Only a poem.
Is that forever?







Ghetto kids role-play
getting arrested. The "perp"
smiles, face to the wall







Couldn't help but rub
out the sign's extraneous
chalk mark







She runs the field where
Taliban played soccer with
women's severed heads







     Barking eucalyptus fog
      Shrouded doggy bay
       Gray haze without depth or teeth







If I strung up fake
mouse heads, would my resident
rodent get the hint?








imaginary contract negotiations
cleaning the cat box
I'm an April fool.







Ratty, crazy old
man two-step shuffles in
the empty courtyard







Erase the meaning
yet I know it can be good
so I continue







the pregnant squirrel
folds her little hands over
her swollen belly







young mother idly caresses
a tiny pink soft foot







hourly
the sound of cough hits my ears
just before
the smell of pot hits my nose







spitting "pollen shit" into her phone
she steps in dog shit
and says "fuck."







To Professor Mousiarty:
I quote Charles Manson in telling you
"It's just a matter of time."








Josh wrote: Feel free to
pray for me—that is, if you're
connected that way.







grandpa & grandkid
ride the shopping cart
down the Costco slope







Signing off, she said:
"WD-40; over and out."







the last puzzle piece,
though fallen, hidden,
couldn't elude me forever







Each morning his oma
examined and greeted
every rose in her garden







I close my eyes and
nose my childhood sniffing deep
within flapping sheets







IKEA hand dryers
blow big ripples on my skin.
Cool.







Sunday afternoon
teamwork: dad and young boy,
sweeping their sidewalk







ugly-headed headwind
keeps her speed record at bay







little kid from next apartment
can't take out the trash
without singing







we sat and watched the
night-blooming cereus on
the widow’s windowsill







little girl and her
beloved plush rabbit pulled
safe from the rubble







between cracked curtains
sparrow on the phone line
against an empty sky







IKEA fake flowers
Earl Grey dirt
workspace therapy







blue-haired grandma
skin-tight jeans







Japanese woman in cargo pants
walks as if in a kimono







into my dreams waft
the strains of power tools and
Spanish radio







faded basketball
stuck in the pigeon netting







For Yom Kippur

Years ago he kicked
his dog. Today, contrite, he
carts her everywhere.







he joined me on the
balcony; we watched the
dancers swirl below







Iraqi father:

We used to have tasty food, and livestock.
Now we eat the food of livestock.







Brexit? Cal-exit?
Soon there’ll be nothing left
to exit but our minds







system failure not found
thanks for nothing, mission control
atmosphere approaching







cold eye of nightmare
watching them, devouring
tramples hearts and dreams







He sent me a picture
of the last rose of the year







He closed the letter:
"Live life! Me,
I'll think about it."







Marginalia of an Illuminated Manuscript From "Marginalized: Notes in Manuscripts & Colophons Made by Medieval Scribes & Copyists," in Maria Popova's Brainpickings, crediting Lapham’s Quarterly, Spring 2012.

Now I've written the whole thing:
for Christ's sake give me a drink.







Little Christmas tree,
did you cry when you left your
friends in the forest?







Man's T-shirt:
BOYS WILL BE BOYS
HELD ACCOUNTABLE


2017


the words come then go
even their shadows fade
remembering remembering







dark red Teran
deep pink in sinking sun
slo moon rising in bottom of glass







garbage collector
jumped on the pogo stick
the first chance he got







woman in sleeping bag
on sidewalk
asks me the time







game on the radio
guy painting mural
mimes latest play
to workers inside







he saved all
the earthworms
stuck in the gutter
swollen with rain








lonely, open umbrella
upside-down on the sidewalk
in the rain







longtime MUNI employee
reads while waiting for her train







spotted two brilliant
field poppies, teasers for the
bounty to come







Mom assured me: "That's
not chocolate on the cookie box—
it's a beret."







CONTRIBUTORS

Anon, Anonymous NYC ninth-grader, Claire J. Baker, Stephanie Baker, John Bergez, Jeremy Bigalke, Wing Biddlebaum, Michael Cantrip, Zipporah Collins, Holly Marie Cooper, Shem Damien, Lowell Darling, Philip Daughtry, Tom Doskow, Henry Fishman Klimp, Erik Gille, Tom Gilroy, Daniel Godston, Kelly Graham, Greycloud, Lyall F. Harris, William “Gatz” Hjortsberg, Kirsten Janene-Nelson, Edward Ka-Spel, Beth Lapides, Rosie Lieber, Jeremy Lindston Robinson, Evie Magellan, Aubrey Mandrake, Gail Maree, Persse McGarrigle, Michael Iago Mellender, Lisle Middleditch, Marlene Milne, Teddy O’Malley, Rosita Ottilie, Jeanne Pimentel, Norwood Pratt, Pseudonymous, Anthony Quinn, Desmond Ragwort, Lady Rapunza, Baron Felix Ravenna, Angelique Ravensborn, Kathryn Rossetter, Vila Schwindt, Penny Skillman, Trixie Smith, The Society for the Preservation of Lowell Darling, Odile Sullivan-Tarazi, Frith Tiplady, Dog Woman.


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We also welcome submissions of your own haiku.

You need not adhere to the traditional 5-7-5 syllable style. (For more about “Western haiku, read the foreword from The Haiku Year in the sidebar.)

Please include how you would like your name/moniker to appear in the list of contributors.

(Should you ever wish to be removed from the mailing list, simply add UNSUBCRIBE in the Haiku box of the Contact Form linked below.)

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