Friday, May 10, 2019

I Wish I'd Written This

from Iron Haiku 

our fingers entwined–
the dusky blush of daybreak
mirrored in your face

the rising sun–
my finger traces
along your lips

asleep on a bench
the hard rap of a nightstick
startles him awake

dark rain–
wet newspaper
her only refuge

an empty city–
young maples rise up through
the broken sidewalk

an old plow–
by the forest

the darkness complete–
standing on the precipice
shouting at the void

the village green–
I hunt for the
elusive middle

each time you leave me
it gets a little harder
to let you back in

terra cotta–

under the pot
the door key

hushed elevator–
the open doors close once more
leaving us alone

frosted glass–
winter air
seeps in

lighting up the sky–
the glow of paper lanterns
adrift in the night

evening stroll–
the dance
of fireflies

I close my eyes and
before sleep overtakes me
I pray for those I’ve killed


earplugs in
a darkened room

By Jason Goldfarb

Jason Goldfarb contributes to Haiku on Friday, a facebook group I administer, reposting from his blog, Iron Haiku. These are a random selection from those I especially liked – difficult to choose, as I tend to like most of them.

I have been intrigued by his habit of posting pairs of haiku, one with 5-7-5 syllables, the other the shorter form known as English Language Haiku. He explains:

My writing is typically based on the 575, then I figure the theme from that and then write the ELH Haiku to fit. Most of the time I’m writing to beat my self imposed deadline of midnight.

Initially I wrote only the 5-7-5, as that was what I was taught haiku was in school. I still enjoy the restrictions the syllabic restraint provides, I feel it makes the writer think laterally in order to craft their work to fit the structure. After writing that way for a while and posting my work, I began to get critiques from poets who attempted to educate me on the broader strokes of Haiku, and also on the genre of English Language Haiku. I balked at first, but after some research I thought I might give it a try and found I did indeed like it. The concept of writing both to reach to a wider audience appealed to me, and I liked the idea of making the work a couplet, linked by the hashtag, even if only tangentially. I’m fond of thinking that the reader might come to the same conclusions and see the same images I did when I was writing, and possibly even see the link between the two as I do. Ultimately though, the imagery is up to the reader, I can only hope the poems provoke some thought and that they get some form of enjoyment from reading my work.

I always enjoy reading both versions (and particularly like the fact that they can differ in content whilst addressing the same theme) but I find myself usually preferring the shorter one – not, I think, merely for the further brevity in itself, but the immediacy it produces. 

I asked Jason to tell me a bit about himself for this feature. He responded:

I live with my wife and daughters in a small suburban Connecticut town with some remaining rural accents. It’s close to the shore, but you still have to drive to get there. In town we have a few horse farms, a fair number of people keep chickens, and there are even some llamas! All in all a wonderful community, with good schools, caring people, and a great family atmosphere.

I grew up not far from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, went to public school and then to the University of Connecticut. I have a degree in fine art that is somewhat languishing in a corner somewhere. I work as a computer consultant and spend the bulk of my time working, raising my family with my beautiful wife, keeping house and managing all the day to day things a partner in a two income family does. (My wife does way more…). To unwind I do word puzzles, read (not enough), and we watch as much quality BBC programming as we have time for.

His relationship with one of his daughters has everything to do with his haiku habit. As explained on the blog:

The idea for this blog started out as a simple exchange of text messages between myself and my daughter Samantha. Every once in awhile, when I thought of it, I would send her a text with the heading “Your Daily Haiku”. This was followed by a haiku of some sort just based on whatever I felt like writing that day. ... After a time, she began to respond to me in kind and before long we were having extended haiku battles via text messaging.

I thought a wider audience with some more participation would be fun, and so, the Iron Haiku was born. I started by posting a status update starting with “Iron Haiku”, and then added a secret ingredient, something the haiku would be about, even tangentially. I then posted a haiku and waited. The idea was that people would see it, maybe like it, and hopefully post a response in haiku form as well.

He went on to invite participation from other writers. 'Why iron?' I asked him. He said:

The iron in Iron Haiku was inspired by the Food Network’s program Iron Chef. The idea was that each Haiku would have a theme or keyword, and that would be the key ingredient, a starting point for the poetry. This would be shared by me and others could write their own variants on the theme. On paper, a nice concept, in practice, it never really panned out. I keep doing it out of habit now, I guess.

I asked, 'And do you write other stuff too?

At the moment, no. Being a father, a husband, working full time, and all the other responsibilities of life afford me little time for the distractions of creativity. That’s ultimately why I chose haiku; I can write and post in a span of 30 minutes or less if I’m inspired. Typically that’s just before I turn out the lights at the end of the day. Some day I hope to get back to my roots in the visual arts, specifically sculpture and figure drawing. Maybe if I’m feeling particularly motivated I’ll compile some of my work into a book, but that’s a fantasy for now.

In the absence of a book, we can be grateful for the blog. I'm also glad he posts to Haiku on Friday.

Material shared in 'The Living Dead' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, where applicable (older poems may be out of copyright).


  1. Thank you for the introduction to this poet, Rosemary. His haiku are evocative and intriguing - very visual. I pictured each scene, that came alive in his words. Very wonderful!

    1. There are so many more I could have chosen. He seldom falters.

      I like the idea of a haiku at bed-time. I might adopt it!

  2. I like haiku, and other shorter verses, that i have another blog just for all these stuff (at the moment it is pretty much neglected, and after reading today's post, i will try to coax it back to life).

    so yes, today is a real treat for me, and i will happily devour all of Jason's tasty snacks. The idea of writing a 5-7-5 haiku linked by a hashtag with a modern English Language haiku of the same theme is a rather refreshing idea.

    I loved the selection of haiku that you curated. They are lovely, and I am really intrigued by the last one.

    Thank you, Rosemary, for the link to Iron Haiku. I will bookmark it and maybe participate in the near future. :)

  3. these are amazing...some of them breath taking...nice write..bkm

  4. Such a delightful and visual appealing selection. And a haiku at bed time is a wonderful idea. It's more like an entry in a gratitude journal before going to bed. I enjoyed everything about this post. Thank you for sharing and introduction.

  5. Oh, I really like his haiku. My favorites are the one about the old plow, the one about each time someone leaves, and the "I close my eyes" one (which I assume is not true). I like the way he started writing haiku - by sharing with his daughter Samantha. Having a haiku battle with one's daughter is pretty cool! Thank you, Rosemary, for this feature.

    1. Yes, it almost makes me want to start texting haiku to someone – but I'm not sure who.

  6. Thanks so much for the opportunities to be featured in your blog! I truly appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me to get my work in front of your readers. Your kind words and the wonderful commentary from your readers is inspiring!
    My nightly poems can also be found on Facebook and Twitter, just search for ironhaiku! ❤️

    1. Thanks for coming back to comment, Jason. I'm glad you've had a chance to read of the delight that others, too, take in your writing.

  7. The last pair shook me to the core. Also, I can see why it was so hard to choose. Thank you so much for sharing, Rosemary.

    1. Yes, I can well imagine those two would particularly affect you, being a former Marine.

      He is prolific, and consistently brilliant.

  8. An interesting read. Haiku is my work-in-progress form … thus far, I haven't quite been able to strike on the knack of getting to where I want to go with it - so I very much enjoy reading the talented work of others. Thanks for this, Jason and Rosemary.

    1. I think haiku is at once the easiest and most difficult kind of poetry to write. Or perhaps I mean deceptively simple. One can meet al the criteria and still produce something that falls short. I think most of us only achieve a really good one occasionally. Jason is one of the few exceptions. (Of course, he does practise a lot!)

  9. luv the "evening stroll haiku" as well as the others, i am familiar with Jason's work at facebook. Thanks for the up slose here at Poets United

    much love...

  10. Loved this introduction to Jason Goldfarb and his haiku - and was also glad to learn about Haiku on Friday.

    1. Oh goodness, that's been going so long I forget not everyone knows about it. Hope you will find us on facebook and join – to participate, to read others' contributions, or both.

      It could more properly be called something like 'Haiku and related verses' as we accept a broad range of variants. It was either that or be forever policing those who didn't adhere to the 'rules'. It seemed better to broaden our parameters and keep it fun. That being said, most participants do try for haiku as such.

  11. Rosemary I requested to join your Haiku on Friday group. Good to learn about it!

    1. Thanks, Toni, have added you now. As explained to Richard above, we are a pretty relaxed group and do include other kinds of short verses as well. But at least you won't get ill-mannered idiots taking you to task for breaking rules which they themselves haven't the faintest understanding of – as happened in one group you and I were in very briefly. On the other hand, we don't go in for much discussion at all, just sharing our writing.


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