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Choose your favorite haiku from the past year

Voting deadline:
Jan 15, 2002

The Heron's Nest

a haikai journal ...


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Volume IV, Number 1: January 2002.
Copyright © 2002. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

Editors' Choices • Commentary • Haiku Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 • Index of Poets

Heron's Nest Award

      late moon rising
      the click of burro hooves
      on cobblestones
                                            Carolyne Rohrig

Carolyne Rohrig wisely does not name a locale for her haiku, thereby allowing us to find it in our own memories and imaginations. Whether we have done our traveling physically or vicariously from an armchair, this author’s vivid imagery is an invitation to return to a place of long siestas and evening promenades, of red tile roofs and market stalls piled with exotic fruit. For me, it is a small town on the Argentine border, where children offer visitors fresh orange segments dipped in raw sugar, and toucans roost in the eucalyptus branches. I am reminded of a line by Mario Puzo: “There was a heavy fragrance of flowers and lemon trees.”

The sweet scent of citrus blossoms comes on a breeze between open shutters. No traffic or mechanical noises here; a man’s voice singing of a lost love fades in the distance; a dog on the outskirts of town barks a few times, then falls silent. I turn out the kerosene lamp and lie in bed, gazing at stars framed by the window . . . and a curve of the rising moon. Then I hear them, faint at first but drawing nearer–the small, steady clicks of a burro’s hooves on the cobblestones. Perhaps someone is just coming home from work, or from a tryst with a sweetheart; it could be a priest called out to comfort a family, or a midwife on her way to deliver a baby. As the gentle, yet purposeful rhythm of hooves grows briefly louder, then slowly disappears, I am left with a feeling of pure contentment, and a bone-deep yearning to carry the tranquility of this place with me when I leave.

Carolyne’s opening phrase “late moon rising” promises more to come, and the author skillfully delivers. She subtly reveals the deep, comforting quiet of a village at rest by focusing on “the click of burro hooves.” A familiar, homely sound, it does not break the silence, but enhances it. The poet succinctly employs vivid imagery within the classic, traditional construction to denote season and time and set a peaceful mood. Assonance, consonance, and onomatopoeia in fine balance strengthen the poem’s resonance and aesthetic appeal. Slowing the pace, the soothing long double-o sounds in “moon,” “burro,” and “hooves” also lend a sense of restfulness. The repeated “k” sound in “click” and “cobblestones” echoes the cadence of hoof beats. The poet's artistry is evident in the flawless blend of images and fluid transitions from line to line.

Thank you, Carolyne Rohrig, for sharing the profound experience of this enchanting, timeless haiku.

  Ferris Gilli
January 2002

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