Friday, September 26, 2008

Travel Haiku

Various haiku and haiku-like poems from the road trip, more or less in chronological order. Some of these work better in classical Chinese four-line forms, perhaps. And I am still writing some haibun around the haiku. These are not necessarily finished pieces, but a work-in-progress towards a longer haibun travel journal. No doubt rewrites will occur. I present these as a sample, a log, a foretaste.

I thought of how many times Basho revised Oku no hosomichi, and I thought of how it might be interesting to present a piece at various stages in its development, for comparison's sake.

Camped at 10,000 feet above sea level, Wheeler Peak in the near distance above the campground. Great Basin National Park, Nevada. Other people in other parts of the campground, but far enough away that I feel alone here, under the stars and the wind. Planes going by overhead are low enough to see and hear. Across the basin 7000 feet below, I can see Notch Peak in Utah, which I saw from the other side as I began my day's drive.

moon, stars, aspen, pines,
the mountain peering over my shoulder:
silent companions

Dayton State Park, Nevada. A little pocket park by the Carson River, five minutes from the small downtown, but still feels isolated and in the countryside. A covey of quail ran away from my tires when I pulled in. Out in the darkness, coyotes are mocking an anxious, frenzied barking dog.

sleeping under stars
even filtered by city lights
is healing medicine

Bats circled overhead at dust. My feet puffed up the dust by the sagebrush. The fire keeps away the dark, primitive fears.

one last look at the stars
before settling in for the night—
a satellite, a shooting star:

Driving into the dry playa salt-pan basin region of northwestern Nevada, the harsh land is sometimes leavened by surprising emerald strips of growth, like putting a lawn on the moon. East of the road, a thin lake lies between flat-topped mountains, absolutely mirror-still.

mesa stretches out
its own dry lake
to reflect in

Sunset at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, CA. The thin ribbon of waterfall falling to the beach, in its circular cove, the northern slope covered with pink day-lilies the locals call "naked ladies." A pair of deep blue Stellar's jays work through the lilies, while the sun settles into a pool of gold far out over the ocean, on this cold and cloudless evening.

calm ocean mirror
reflects the setting sun—
the sickle moon

Morning after camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park:

crows caw in the trees
around my resting place—
morning alarms

At the Monterey Bay Aquarium:

pale white drifters
pulse slowly, tendrils floating—
moons in the sea

sea of tentacles
blue, orange, white on the seabed:
mouths to feed, children

the hammerhead shark
cruises close by the tank window,
turns to show his teeth

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Blogger Dave King said...

I liked these a lot, particularly the longer ones.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks, Dave. They're all pretty short, though.

I was thinking recently about how I've been so into haiku for so long, I've been letting the strict form for awhile, and not tying myself strictly to it anymore. It expands or contracts a little, depending what I have to say.

12:31 AM  
Blogger Dominic Rivron said...

Just what I needed this Monday morning. I live in the Yorkshire Dales in the UK so I see people out walking, camping, etc, all the time. Saw some people with rucksacks only yesterday and thought 'I need some time to freewheel.'
Your post let me freewheel for a few minutes this morning.
10,000 feet... Here, the biggest hills are 3 or 4,000 - anything over 2,000 is considered impressive.

2:00 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Hi, Dominic, thanks for the thoughts. I went over and read your blog, and I can confirm that there are indeed highways in the USA that are longer than the entire UK end to end. I've driven some of them. It's one of my favorite types of road trip, the long quiet highway in the middle of nowhere.

Glad you could freewheel. We all need more of that, I think. Just back from a long freewheel myself, I really wish I could I be out there longer, and not have had to come back home. Oh well. Next trip!

Thanks again.

10:44 AM  

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