Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Spring 2008, vol 6 no 1


Running Away
Richard Straw


Along a nearly empty divided highway, church lots are full this Sunday morning as I drive alone, windows down, toward the Piedmont of North Carolina. The sun glares, another heat mirage on the van, which is slowly crossing a land scraped by glaciers as it takes me toward ancient hills that ooze water through exposed rock. Someone else now owns the house my parents lived in for four decades.

summer's end
the date of dad's death
carved in stone


Whether Together or Apart

A bumblebee sits motionless for at least 10 minutes on our deck near the kitchen door. Ants go up to it tentatively. It moves slightly, turns around finally, with an adjustment of its left hind leg and a stretch of its wings, which had been folded back. Its furry yellow patch is square and contoured to the shape behind the head. One ant tugs a leg, stirring the bee to fly over thin brown grass.

no one else home
African violets
strain for the light

People say they dream of me, but I don't remember dreaming much at all, let alone of them. Their dreams are very vivid and personal. Mine are usually flat and sketchy, hardly ever retold to myself or to others. What should I think and say when they share their detailed dreams of me? How can I hide my embarrassment and sense of failure?

standing knee deep in waves
a surfer paddles out

In the spot I use, a weed and a seedling grow in two cracks. I park between them and avoid stepping on them. Eventually, the landscaping crew will whack them, or the sun will dry them up. Nonetheless, today's rain should keep them green for a while.

silent prayer
the church's furnace
kicks on

What was it I told myself last night before going to sleep? Just before the headlights dimmed against the wall, after the last neighbor pulled into the parking lot outside my window, I'd promised myself something that I can't remember now, even though with three cups of coffee drunk and a fourth one brewing on the hotplate. I haven't been able to remember anything lately unless I wrote it down.

winter night
losing track of my breath
at a kitchen table

I remember November days as a teenager in Ohio. Slow-moving clouds shaded the leaf-covered courtyard during an afternoon study period, 11th grade. I had plans to do something after graduation, if I could wait that long. Now, having done something, I wish the anticipatory feeling would return. Sometimes, it almost does.

monks loading hay
a few bales snow-topped
under a cross


Richard S. Straw Richard S. Straw copyedits technical documents and prepares bibliographic databases on health and substance use. He has lived in or near Raleigh, North Carolina, since 1984. Before then, he lived in central Ohio, where he taught freshman English composition at Ohio State University, edited technical papers for a trade journal, proofread for a digest of news from the former Soviet Union, and graduated from Ohio State University (BA in English, 1977; MA in English, 1980).

He has collected and read books of haiku, senryu, haibun, and haiga since 1966. In the late 1980s, he served as an editor of Pine Needles, a quarterly newsletter for the North Carolina Haiku Society (NCHS). He self-published A Hiker Sees His Shadow (2001), an eight-page chapbook dedicated to the memory of his dad. Selections of his published haiku are available at, courtesy of Dave Russo of the NCHS. Along with other NCHS members, he attends monthly haiku meetings, ginkos, and the annual NCHS Haiku Holiday.