for a moment of joy or moments no one pays for, i give myself a ‘jornal’. this makes me rich. try it.

ember/beggang (iluko/english haiku )

morning ember
by broken word

beggang ti agsapa
ti puted a sarita

I wrote the original in Iluko, the language I was born with but hardly spoke and never written with as an adult, trading it with English, a borrowed language I thought was really mine. Iluko of the northernmost edge of the Philippine archipelago traces its roots in Austronesian language. Rediscovering it has been exhalarating! The truth is, I am writing in both languages now with a deeper sense of where both seem to spring from–my being.


November 16, 2010 - Posted by | haiku, language views, poetry | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I have loved haiku’s since long time.. and this one got me beautifully… what a beautiful imagery… Thanks for sharing..

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya
    Twitter: @VerseEveryDay

    Comment by Shashi | November 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks, Shashi! I, too, love this haiku. It’s an imagery from the dawns of my childhood in a coastal town back in the northernmost edge of the Philippine archipelago.

      As a child, I remember how the old folks gathered before dawn around a small fire they made out of twigs and leaves they swept in the yard. I could hear them murmuring and mumbling as they squatted around the fire, warming their hands. By the time dawn had arisen and I was allowed to go down and join them, the fire would have been dying into embers and their talk would have died down.

      What I think crystallized this haiku is my having written it in Iluko. I’ve been saying a lot about this but I’ll say it again–when I do write in this language I was born with but hardly ever used until now, I know I’m writing with my whole being.

      Comment by alee9 | November 18, 2010 | Reply

    • I read your haiku and poem for One Shot Wednesday but could not post a comment. Here it is: Both wonderfully written. The poem struck me as the cries of a tortured soul wanting to be freed of what weighs it down. And in crying, his soul settles down or takes flight to have a peek of nirvana.

      The haiku are deeply meditative. I love them. Thanks, Shashi!

      Comment by alee9 | November 18, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] Imperial has appealed to my well-known predilection for foreign-language haiku by reproducing a haiku she originally wrote in her native language of Iluko alongside her English translation of it: morning ember fanned by broken […]

    Pingback by Across the Haikuverse, no. 4 « Red Dragonfly | November 22, 2010 | Reply

    • What else can I add to my words of appreciation and thanks for my haiku efforts that you so kindly draw out of the twilight, Melissa? Your “predeliction for foreign-language haiku” it turns out as I read more books on translations lies the “heart of understanding” a haiku. I’m at a stage when I’m reading past the “words” like for instance the “nightingale” in Shoushi’s “Deep within the dale/Wrapped in veils of evening mist,/Sings the nightingale”. The haiku appears a “nature ‘presentation'”. But to me, it’s a haiku of sadness and longing and dreaming–the nightingale is hardly ever seen, like the heart-spirit unseen where sorrow or its opposites lie, it is known to exist in mist. The “ember” in my haiku is also a presentation of a reality that in its simplicity skids beyond what’s simple. I’ll write about this sometime.

      Comment by alee9 | November 23, 2010 | Reply

  3. I am so glad you are getting so many comments! Your haiku are truly special.

    This one makes me think of a woman who has waited for her lover by the light of a fire. She waits and she waits but he never comes. Still, she hopes. She blows on the ember against a broken heart.

    Comment by upinvermont | November 23, 2010 | Reply

    • “… blows on the ember against a broken heart…” broken by a broken word! You got to the heart of my haiku, as usual, Patrick! Thanks so much, again and again!

      Comment by alee9 | November 23, 2010 | Reply

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