under this blanket
ancient oak-grey —
smells of rain
stripped of all context,
gloom’s revealed a myth
It was a pretty cloudy day in Bismarck yesterday, and I composed the haiku when I realized that I was actually enjoying the ambiance of a cast-over day, spring showers ready to dazzle the ground with meteorological refreshment. The asphalt was wet, of course, and you know the smell . . .
Then I grasped the tanka. I think I get it; sure, people associate rainy, cloudy days with gloom. It’s gloomy and sad and wah wah wah, unless you’re part of the British Invasion, and then you share your umbrella with pretty girls to get married — perfectly good reason to be happy, yeah?
But the tanka — when we write haiku, we’re describing a moment suspended in time. Senses come into play: what’s here, now, how do we perceive that? Forget the rules, throw them out the window; we follow rules to develop form, and then when we ditch the rules we create art. In that “haiku moment”, when we open the floodgates to our senses, are we drowned?
If so, at the very least one can write haiku. But like the last two lines of the tanka, the “tanka moment” follows the haiku moment immediately, and transports the experiencer from sensation to inspiration. It’s not terse little bits of information like what the senses deliver, but a more complex composition of personal and emotional realities fusing into an instant, a philosophical nanoparticle, and that’s why those last two lines are given almost as much voice as the three preceding. It’s a realization that demands reason, an elucidation of existence.
When the bus stops, how do you know whether to get on, or is there something more to discover?