marlene mountain
september 1986


a favorite haiku

Few haiku poets write humorous haiku. So, we rarely if ever have an opportunity to burst out laughing after reading a haiku. As I recall, this has happened to me only once. At the time I just happened to be stewing about what can be written and what cannot be written in haiku--a rather tiresome, but nonetheless a regular and consuming occupation of mine. In particular, I had been stewing about sex in haiku--having been told recently by an editor that some readers were not particularly interested in my sex life. Something to that effect. Or worse. In the editor's next letter, perhaps as comfort to me, he included a haiku that would appear in an upcoming issue.

  When I raised my face
    from between her thighs
it was already dark

One rarely knows a poet's intent. Perhaps my experience of the poem goes beyond the original pure expression of an erotic moment. And erotic it is.

Because of the beauty of the linked poem form (in this case a solo renga), this haiku gains from the haiku following it. It is given added dimension, beyond the humor, beyond the erotic--yet it retains these qualities within it. The second haiku is very moving--extremely moving--and the two belong together.

   When I raised my face
     from between her thighs
 it was already dark

learning to please
 took twenty years *

* Hiroaki Sato, 'Renga on Love,'
Wind Chimes #9 1983

Modern Haiku 20:1 1989


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