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  • The only people for me are the mad ones,
    the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk,
    mad to be saved, desirous of everything at
    the same time, the ones who never yawn or
    say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn,
    burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles
    exploding like spiders across the stars and
    in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop
    and everybody goes "Awww.”

    I hope it is true that a man can die and yet
    not only live in others but give them life, and
    not only life, but that great consciousness of life.

    Jack Kerouac

    I love writing haiku!

    Why? There are many answers I can give to this question, but let me share with you one that is especially satisfying to me.

    This is that quality of timelessness that haiku writing carries with it.

    For me, haiku stops time.

    The discipline of searching for, finding, and capturing a “haiku moment” in the midst of daily pressures and chaos, is for me a meditation.

    Used as a form of meditation, writing haiku brings me a calm, centered sense of purpose, and allows me to step aside from the ‘ten thousand things” and visit an island out of time, a place where time ceases to exist as I normally know it.

    Perhaps it is the intense focus on a single, pure concept.

    Perhaps it is the sudden, almost overpowering discovery of vibrant beauty in the midst of the ordinary.

    Perhaps it is the invitation to step outside of myself and see with new vision, fresh perception.

    For whatever reason, the writing of haiku creates for me a unique, sacred space where I can catch my breath and become awake to a higher order of beauty and mystery in the world around me.

    Haiku invites me into a magic garden where I can be fully present and alive to a single moment, one which will probably never be repeated, or revisited.

    It is in this “haiku moment” that I feel a connectedness and oneness with all things.

    Haiku moments can be found anywhere and everywhere, once we decide to see with our “haiku eyes.”

    For example, imagine:

    A single bright red maple leaf floating on a dark pond…

    A seagull, writing its winged calligraphy against a yellow dawn sky…

    A black caterpillar bristling its way up a jade green stalk of bamboo…

    These can be turned into haiku poems:

    red maple leaf floats
    free and alone on black pond
    the first sign of fall

    white seagull flying
    into the sun, spring morning:
    lemon yellow sky.

    black caterpillar
    bristling, climbs higher, higher
    along jade bamboo

    The classic haiku structure is five syllables for the first line, seven for the second, and back to five in the third line.

    While this may seem to be demanding, it is also profoundly liberating. As you enter the moment with all your senses, and also with appreciation for the beauty you have encountered, you will find that everything falls away, and you are left in a special communion with your subject, whether it be maple leaf, seagull, caterpillar, or your own discovery.

    You will find yourself suddenly invigorated, refreshed, and newly awake to the thousands of haiku moments all around you, all the time.

    There are many ways to write haiku, but the classical form described here is an excellent place to start because it involves intense discipline.

    However, as you practice, you may find yourself developing your own style, as Jack Kerouac did, where he focused not on a strict form, but on just catching a fleeting moment, a fragment.

    Kerouac called these moments “pops.”

    If you have not tried haiku writing before, look around you, right now, and jump in!

    Find an image, a moment, a little story that speaks to you, embrace it, and put it into form (either classical or informal, as a fragment).

    Then, consider sharing as a Sprout here in Cowbird and let’s create a community Haiku Garden!

    (Photograph by Alex in Kyoto, in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life)
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