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

My voted and zero haiku in the Feb Shiki kukai: a self-critique (Or what’s a mirror flashing as signal in the copse all about?)

February Shiki kukai

kigo (spring fever) – 5 pts.

spring fever—
shoots among the lilies
she can’t name

free format (mirror) 0 pts.

flashing in the copse—
signal she missed

What? A vague haiku, the kind no one should send for a kukai, but at least it wasn’t to a haiku journal, hence, it didn’t waste a minute of an editor. Yet when I wrote it, the image and the ‘moment’ seemed quite clear; it haunted me later though–what if the kukai pariticipants have no idea of the practice I recall in my teens? That’s so long ago, decades ago!

Decades ago when ‘secret loves’ ruled teenage lives and parents had eagle eyes and iron hands (sorry for the cliche); my growing up years in the Philippines, when the ‘mirror flashing in the copse’ served as a secret signal for assignations. Telephones would reach our town generations after I left–farther away into the future when cell phones and ohhh, facebook that has since taken away the thrill of getting caught halfway through the ‘verboten’ (an old HIgh German word for ‘forbidden’ that sounds so archival these days) love-pledges and assignations.

In my early teens, conservative upbringing by families who lingered on the fringes of a now-weakened colonial past treated girls as if we were all novices for a convent. For example, even on weekends, no prowling the streets for me because someone for sure–as my father, especially, drilled into my mind–waited to entrap my eyes, hiding in bamboo groves, in a copse of wild goat-berries or behind hefty trunks of aged acacia trees. Girls, like me and my friends, invented cunning ways to give in to the hunter’s trap. So that’s what the mirror/ flashing in the copse is all about–we used it to send signals though the more inventive among us, could frame words and phrases. Of course, because when and who does the signalling and for whom could hardly be confirmed, part of the thrill would lie in the surprise–but then, it could be missed as whoever awaited could have dozed off, hence signal she missed.

Conclusion? My free format entry wasn’t a haiku but a ‘micro story’ perhaps. Here’s the rest of my mirror haiku from which I chose what I sent that could have fared better.

she stares
at her stare

she sees her flaws
in his eyes

her mother’s lips
pursing like hers


March 4, 2011 - Posted by | critique/self-critique, haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Ooh, I like the new “mirror” ku, hermana! Especially, I think, the first one, which is quirky. I like quirky. As to the “kigo” ku, I think I might have voted for it, as a shameless gardener obsessed with little nameless shoots among the lilies. One thought in re-reading it is that the syntax is off. Because as it reads now it sounds like you can’t name the lilies. Perhaps should read: shoots that she can’t name/among the lilies. My 2 cents . . .

    Comment by Margaret Dornaus | March 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Mil gracias, mi hermana! I like that first “mirror” ku, too. It’s so true, isn’t it? And we don’t just stare at our stare, we somethimes ‘make faces’!

      Thanks for seeing the ‘broken syntax’ in the kigo ku! Here it is as you suggested:

      spring fever–
      shoots that she can’t name
      among the lilies


      Comment by alee9 | March 5, 2011 | Reply

  2. oh. if i could rewrite the way you two rewrite i might rewrite more often. ha. way cool.

    aloha Alegria (and Margaret too)

    i agree the first mirror – she stares – that does it for me. because it is such a familiar moment that most anyone who has used a mirror KNOWS so well. you’ve defined that moment of the mirror.

    i like the spring fever you’ve rewritten – wow, yeah, now that one steps up the level another notch.

    i also noticed… you have really great phrases in your prose talk. and i just wondered… and looked… and saw this:

    entrap my eyes
    in bamboo groves
    the hunter’s trap

    i’d probably change one word. entrap. it’s a great first line (imo) but it’s too close to the final word of the ku. so i might try to find another word for that place – catch? steal? ensnare? yeah, may be ensnare altho i suspect there are some better still. … cool ku material Alegria.

    i also wanted to say thank you for the encouragement to enter a Shiki Kukai. it’s on my mind. . .

    Comment by Rick Daddario | March 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks again, Wrick!!!

      See? You do well with prompts–you even found some in my prose! Really, you should try to join a kukai the way I suggested.

      And as you had intended, why not gather all the haiku you’ve sprinkled on your comments in Melissa’s, Margaret’s and here, and try to submit to haiku journals. I believe not just a few but some will be accepted.

      Keep it in yuor mind…commit! Even just for a while.

      Comment by alee9 | March 5, 2011 | Reply

  3. Nice haiku’s, a bit minimalist but i like that.
    It’s straight to the point

    Comment by Artswebshow | March 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for coming by and your very encouraging comment! Yes, haiku is supposed to be minimalist but ‘pregnant’ with ‘light’! I invite you to read on it. It can be a deeply satsifying poetic form.

      Comment by alee9 | March 5, 2011 | Reply

  4. Very nice! And how wonderful to read a self critique, I was enraptured. You write so, so magestically, I can’t believe you’re Phillipine! Oooch, don’t know why I said that, I’m Kenyan and our English is very good! I didn’t know the British were in the Phillipines.

    OK, enough of that, I really enjoyed the post.

    Comment by kolembo | March 6, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you! Thank you!

      That I ‘enraptured’ you with my ‘majestic’ writing is a world of a ‘jornales’ (wages) in itself! Yes, the British did occupy the Phillipines but only for four years in the 1700s–the Spanish Armada vanquished the British fleet in a sea battle often harking to the Battle of Lepanto. The Armada then protected the Phillipine archipelago, which the Spanish empire colonized and ruled for 400 years until the Americans during the Spanish-American War took over and ruled until 1946.

      So how do I know English enough to write the way I do, humbled as you so wonderfully think? The Americans introduced an unfailing educational system that has made of Filipinos English-American reading,writing, speaking people. But we are born with our own dialects, 87 of them, and our national language, (I was born with a distinctively Austronesian rooted dialect called, Iluko) Pilipino has blended Malay and Indo languages with Spanish. I believe I write the way I do because of the intricate threads of cultures entangled in my spirit–its from where our thoughts spring, isn’t it?

      Thanks again and again for coming by!

      Comment by alee9 | March 8, 2011 | Reply

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