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Volume XV, Number 2: June 2013.

Haiku Pages:  1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8,  9,  10,  11,  12,  Archives


Editors' Choices
writing cursive
my unspoken fear
of dancing

Yu Chang
Schenectedy, New York
. . .

steeping tea
the time it takes to lose a street
to snow
Ben Moeller-Gaa
St. Louis, Missouri
. . .

spring sky
one twirl before the girl
settles in line

Alison Woolpert
Santa Cruz, California



The Heron’s Nest Award


writing cursive
my unspoken fear
of dancing

Yu Chang
Schenectedy, New York

. . .

There are several styles of writing Chinese letters; block, semi-cursive and cursive. The characters for ‘cursive’ (sohsho in Japanese) mean ‘grass-writing.’ Elegantly, the letters flow like a river. In this haiku, the poet’s name becomes, in a way, the fourth line. It adds depth. Though China is famous for acrobatic dance troupes and gymnasts with Olympic medals, I feel ‘dance’ in this haiku is a western element. Yu and I, like most immigrants, try to assimilate within the American culture, but at the same time, we never forget where we came from. This haiku is a great example of weaving one’s heritage. Also, it makes me feel the country in which we live is the place where we can enjoy and admire multi-culture.

This haiku reminds me of a Japanese movie titled “Shall We Dance?” Some of you may have watched the Hollywood remake featuring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez. I remember a scene, in the Japanese original: a middle-aged, tired businessman stood in the train station and looked up at the window of a social dance school. In the movie, dancing opened a new door for him and rejuvenated the passion of a female dance instructor. Yu writes about his ‘unspoken fear.’ Does he feel he has become too American? Does he wonder if he is still too Asian? When the sumi ink dries, he may have decided to follow the wind as if he were a dandelion puff. It never knows where it will land, but there is always hope it will bloom again in the new place.

I like a haiku that involves me. I tend to imagine the scene a poet describes. This haiku brought me back to my early days as an immigrant in New York City. When I quarreled with my boyfriend who was born and grew up on Long Island, I went to Chinatown by myself and looked at the store signs. Unlike in Tokyo where I grew up, I was a kind of exotic goldfish he could show off to his childhood friends. Sometimes I felt excitement like a new kid on the block. Other times I was a little depressed wondering if my decision to move to the U.S. was wise. There was no Internet then. I did not have enough money to gorge myself with authentic sushi in midtown. Though I don’t speak Chinese, I can read the characters. Japan imported them from China. Roaming through Chinatown aimlessly, I felt I was once again in the majority. I managed to regain my strength.

I still have a thick accent despite living here for decades. I have no ear to distinguish between R and L sounds. I am notoriously bad about when I should use ‘a’ or ‘the.’ I have many ‘unspoken fears.’ Yet, I became a naturalized citizen believing my steps on the dance floor would be good enough. I might be a weed and never will be a rose everyone admires. But I have a calligraphy brush in my hand. One day, I may be able to write cursive as a master, joking about my unspoken fear.

Associate Editor–Fay Aoyagi
San Francisco, CA