The most important characteristic of haiku is how it conveys, through implication and suggestion, a moment of keen perception and perhaps insight into nature or human nature. Haiku does not state this insight, however, but implies it. In the last hundred years—in Japanese and English-language haiku—implication has been achieved most successfully through the use of objective imagery. This means you avoid words that interpret what you experience, such as saying something is beautiful” or mysterious,” and rely on words that objectively convey the facts of what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Instead of writing about your reactions to stimuli, in a good haiku you write about those things that cause your reactions. If you remember nothing else about crafting haiku, remember that. If your haiku take advantage of this technique, your readers can experience the same feelings you felt, without your having to explain them.

Michael Dylan Welch, Becoming a Haiku Poet,”

Anthology —

February 28, 2019

Right Work

You moths must leave now;
I am turning out the light
And going to sleep.

(Richard Wright)

A bare pecan tree
slips a pencil shadow down
a moonlit snow slope.

(Etheridge Knight)

Campfire extinguished,
the woman washing dishes
in a pan of stars


but, child,
there is no song
in the egg you break

(Raymond Roseliep)

spring wind—
I too
am dust

(Patricia Donegan)

Hammering a dent out of a bucket
a woodpecker
answers from the woods

(Gary Snyder)


(Paul Reps)

Breaking my yellow crayon
to draw
the barley harvest field

(Kei Hayashi)

crescent moon
would I look at the clouds
without it?

(William J. Higginson)

fluttering down
mulch for the field
cherry blossoms

hara-hara to hata no koyashi ya sakura kana


the river
the river makes
of the moon

(Jim Kacian)

halfway up the stair —
white chrysanthemums

(Elizabeth Searle Lamb)

Where there are people
there are flies,
and there are Buddhas


Right Attitude

September 20, 1930. Westerners try to conquer the mountains. People of the East contemplate the mountains. For us, mountains are not an object of scientific study but a work of art. Patiently I taste the mountains.

November 9, 1930. What Fayan said, Each step is an arrival.” * Forget about past walking, don’t think about future walking; one step, another step, no long ago, no now, no east or west, one step equals totality. Get this far and you understand the meaning of walking Zen.

*Fayan Wenyi (885–958) was the founder of the Chinese Fayan school of Chan, or Zen.

Taneda, Santoka. For All My Walking (Modern Asian Literature Series). Columbia University Press. Kindle Edition.

February 28, 2019

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