Finding myself with some time on my hands I thought I would explore haiku that deal with our senses beyond sight. So there will be a themed post once a week for the next four weeks. I’ve had fun finding and selecting these poems, so I hope you’ll enjoy reading them.
Taste and scent are and likely the most difficult senses to weave into a haiku. I catch myself writing ‘the taste of …’ far too often so then must stop and figure out another way of saying exactly that. It’s been fun discovering or re-discovering taste-sense haiku where the authors have found ways of making their poem bold, fresh and vivid.
oozing from a fig
from The Wonder Code (Girasole Press, 2017)
mononofu no daikon nigaki hanashi kana
the bitterness of pickles
in the talk
Basho, tr Jane Reichhold
from Basho: The complete haiku (Kodansha, 2008)
The translator’s note for this haiku written in 1693 says Basho has chosen to pair ‘daikon’, a large radish that is often pickled, with ‘nigaki’, meaning ‘bitter’. Both the pickles and the military men’s stories left a bitter taste. She believes the haiku also references the Japanese proverb, ‘the ambitious man eats strong roots’.
a taste of the mountain
from your cupped hands
Peggy Willis Lyles
from Montage (The Haiku Foundation, 2010)
a little something extra
in the tea
Adelaide B Shaw
from Another Trip Around the Sun (Brooks Books, 2019)
Valentine’s Day –
a cherry tomato
bursts in my mouth
Michael Dylan Welch
from Haikuniverse, Feb 14, 2017
on the ghost train
Ron C Moss
from the ‘Freshly Caught’ sequence, Kokako 2 (2004)
the way English tastes
on my tongue
from naad anunaad: an anthology of contemporary world haiku
(Viswakarma Publications, 2016)
no longer friends
of imported ale
from A New Resonance 9 (Red Moon Press)
notes of diesel
in the chilled cherries
from a hole in the light (Red Moon Press, 2019)
waga aji no zakuro ni hawasu shirami kana
tastes like me
enjoy it, little louse!
Translator David Lanoue says: In the prescript to this 1820 haiku, Issa recalls the legend of a mother demon who went about eating children. The Buddha recommended she switch to a diet of pomegranates, which supposedly taste the same as human flesh. See R. H. Blyth, Haiku (Hokuseido, 1949-1952/1981-1982). In this hard-to-translate haiku, Issa catches one of his lice, and, instead of killing it, places it on his surrogate, the pomegranate.