f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

June 29, 2007

iPhone indifference

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 12:37 pm

Not only am I not breathlessly awaiting the newest thingy from Apple, which is premiering today, I’m not even among the merely skeptical. The only line you are likely to find me in this afternoon is this one with Union College professor Yu Chang.

watch out, kids!
don’t let those red mushrooms
cast a spell

…… by ISSA (translated by David G. Lanoue)

erasingSF Call me an old luddite, or helplessly behind the times, but this self-proclaimed podriah is going to stick to single-purpose telephones, while enjoying the haiku and senryu of Honored Guest poet Tom Clausen:

strip mall —
the shimmer of leaves
on a new tree

muffler shop
a man managing
his cough

in our doorway
a man reads to me
a bible passage

beginning late . . .
the under attended

the cashier
holds another large bill
up to the light

from the flower vase
returned to the garden

old friends talk —
each holding
car keys

breakdown lane
with political stickers

dining room
next to my wife’s chair
her dog at attention

……. by Tom Clausen from Upstate Dim Sum 2007/1

p.s. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to give up punditry (or even consumerism) cold-turkey? If you’re wondering about the economic and policy implications of America’s $850 Billion current-account deficit, see “Debtor Nation,” in the latest Harvard Magazine (July-August 2007).

June 27, 2007


Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 9:19 pm

It was ironic that the Harvard weblog server was upgraded this past Monday (June 25). I had, coincidentally, planned to announce this week yet another punditry hiatus here at f/k/a — again stopping my commentary, and limiting new posts to haiku and related forms of poetry (with an occasional pointer to a particularly noteworthy article or event, or a prior On This Day at f/k/a posting). However, rather than enjoying new independence offline, I found myself mired for the past two days in a weblogger’s nightmare, scrambling with trial-and-error solutions, a string of formatting catastrophes, and hundreds of broken links. In addition, because the old one was incompatible with the new server, I was forced to choose a new “theme” that would again change the appearance of f/k/a.

With the assistance of Harvard’s friendly TechHelp Team, I’ve solved the most pressing problems, while deciding on a new theme/look for f/k/a that I think is pleasing to the eye and creates a minimum of formatting issues for prior and future posts. Therefore, I can now declare an official 2007 punditry hiatus at f/k/a, and remind you that there will continue to be frequent new posting of “real” haiku, senryu, haibun, and tanka (and maybe even rengay and renku), written by our venerable Honored Guest Poets, as well as our resident pretender dagosan. In addition:

Please come back in a day or two, when I will reveal the new f/k/a-related project that will be monopolizing my time. Thanks for your loyalty and camaraderie over the years. Feel free to pine for more punditry, and savor the poetry.

90th birthday
my dad and I
blow out candles

home again
how easily
my eyes fill with tears

power failure
relearning the language
of flames

summer cottage
the nails
mother straightened

light wind
a maple armada
leaves the shore

ebb tide
seagulls peck
their reflections

kissing time
mountain gorse in bloom
all year

….. by Hilary Tann, from Upstate Dim Sum 2007/1

Speaking of quick pointers, check out:

  1. New Poll Finds That Young Americans Are Leaning Left,” New York Times, June 27, 2007.
  2. Thomas Friedman’s column “The Whole World Is Watching, New York Times (June 27, 2007, subscription req’d, but find extensive excerpts and discussion at The Moderate Voice weblog), where you will learn that technology has made us all public figures, made your past ever-present, and made it necessary to get your “how’s” right. (read more about Dov Seidman’s new book, “How“).

June 25, 2007

morphing one two three

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Giacalone @ 10:38 pm

ooh Harvard has once again “upgraded” its webserver and — once again — left this weblog with a formatting nightmare, and the unwelcomed need to change its “theme” (which controls how the weblog appears). We should soon be able to choose a new theme/look for f/k/a.

update (June 26, 2007, 1 PM): Please excuse our dust while we experiment with “themes” to see how they look and what they do to our complicated formatting.

first hot day . . .
dog and master jostle
for one spot of shade

………………………………by dagosan

June 22, 2007

solstice solace

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 10:30 am


summer solstice —
a rack full of hats
at the barbershop
… by michael dylan welch,
Click here to see the original photo-poem,

summer solstice ~
a tail appears
from the nettle bed

………………………………. by Matt Morden – Morden Haiku, June 23, 2006

the slow ferment
of a darker beer—
summer solstice

 …………. andrew riutta – simply haiku  sunMountains

summer solstice
the measuring tape reels back
into its case

………………………… by carolyn hall – The Heron’s Nest

stepping out
with my holey socks
summer stars

summer heat –
into the shade together
the scorpion and I

…………….. by Yu Chang –frisbeeFlyingF

the late glare
of a summer sidewalk —
winos pool their change

….. barry george – The Heron’s Nest VIII:4 (Dec. 2006)

a surfer
carrying a surfboard…
summer solstice

………. by ed marksowski

hawk flight – celebrate the new season with the Summer Solstice 2007 edition of HaigaOnline (Vol. 8-1), including a half dozen new haiga by david giacalone and arthur giacalone.

fireflies join
the solstice party
…………………………………………… [dagosan, 06-20-04]

June 18, 2007

frisbees, flying saucers and space cadets

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 10:16 pm

frisbeeFlyingF When I posted Michael Dylan Welch’s “old frisbee” haiku over the weekend, I wasn’t aware that the nation is in the midst of celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Frisbee. [See, for example, “Frisbee still flying high after 50 years: Disc’s inventor never thought name would fly,” AP/San Diego Sun-Tribune, June 16, 2007; and purchase the Wham-O 50th Anniversary 175g Ultimate Frisbee Disc for a mere $11.99.] Along with a bit of fun nostalgia for us Baby Boomers, frisbee stories present good lessons for students and practitioners of intellectual property law. For example, although its designated inventor Walter “Fred” Morrison thought it was “insane” to rename his Pluto Platter “frisbee,” the AP report explains:

“Frisbee instead became insanely popular, making the name as synonymous with flying discs as Google is with searching the Internet and Kleenex is with tissue.

“But Wham-O doesn’t allow the Frisbee name to be thrown around indiscriminately. When the Emeryville-based company sees Frisbee used to describe discs made by other manufacturers, lawyers dispatch legal notices seeking to protect the trademarked term.”

fading sun at low tide —  frisbee50th
teeth marks
in an old frisbee

………… by Michael Dylan Welch, Frogpond XVIII:3

If you want to know how the Frisbee got its name (hint: a bunch of Yalies were tossing pie tins from the Frisbie Pie Co. and yelling warnings), The Ultimate [Frisbee] Handbook has the scoop, in a piece calledWhere the Frisbee First Flew: The Untold Story of the Flying Disc’s Origin 50 Years Ago in SLO,” by Jeff McMahon. More interesting for lovers of the sport of litigation, is the “untold story” of the unheralded and unrequited co-inventor of the frisbee, Warren Franscioni. McMahon opens the tale:

“Two men held a circle of plastic over a heater in a San Luis Obispo garage in 1948, trying to mold a lip onto the disc’s down-turned edge. One of those men would be hailed as the inventor of the Frisbee. The other would die unknown, just as he began to fight for a share of the credit and millions in royalties the Frisbee generated.”

Frisbeeplayers Morrison, now 87-years old, says he won’t answer questions about Franscioni, because “I’m so tired of this shit.” Coszette Eneix, Franscioni’s daughter, says she cringes whenever she hears the name “frisbee” (which should be called “Flyin’ Saucer“) and won’t let one in her home. She complains:

“When you read about the history of the Frisbee, you always hear Fred Morrison. Fred Morrison did this. Fred Morrison did that. Bullshit. Excuse my language. Bullshit. It was Warren Franscioni and Fred Morrison. It was a partnership. I think they should have equal billing.”

I’m a bit surprised that Franscioni’s family let the death of the Air Force major keep them from suing for millions of dollars in royalties. Legal experts in the field (and on the playground) will have to let us know whether it is too late to see compensation.  In the morning, I’m going to dig out an old plastic flying saucer.  But, for tonight, I’m satisfied savoring a few frisbee-ku cooked up on the spur of the moment today by our friendly, famously prolific, Honored Guest Ed Markowski.

frisbee tournament frisbeeFlyingF
the sudden dip
of a red dragonfly


ufo photo…
the chipped edge
of a silver frisbee

a Pluto Platter hovers
on the desert wind

frisbeeFlying  mid-summer heat
the retriever watches
the flight of a frisbee

Starship reunion
the frisbee’s flight
triggers a flashback
……………………………….. by ed markowski

frisbeeMorrison Fred Morrison as a frisbee-promoting Spaceman (from Schenectady Sunday Gazette, “Flying for 50 years,” June 17, 2007, $ubscr.

Frisbeeplayers Spaced Out Over Supreme Court Clerks:  The New York Times published some awfully spacey commentary today, with an op/ed piece by David Lat of the Above the Law tabloid weblog, titled “The Supreme Court’s Bonus Babies” (June 18, 2007).  Lat  writes about the $250,000 signing bonuses that law firms have been giving to young lawyers as they leave clerkships with the U.S. Supreme Court. [Each of the nine justices has four law clerks.]  He points out that the bonuses are paid on top of starting salaries approaching $200,000. “Thus some former clerks, in their first year practicing law, will earn twice as much as their former judicial bosses (the chief justice earns $212,000 a year; his colleagues earn $203,000 each).”

huge trees in the park–
a different dog
chasing the stick

………………… by gary hotham – the heron’s nest (April 2001)

Lat notes that the bonuses are controversial and wonders how rational it might be for firms to be paying so much to junior laweyrs — and therefore having to charge corresponding high fees to clients.  What seems far-fetched and half-baked (but don’t forget that tabloid-monger Lat does like pulling our cyber legs) is his suggestion that although “the astronomical Supreme Court clerkship bonuses may be dubious investments for law firms, they are good news for our legal system.”  He argues:

“Here’s why: by promising clerks a financial windfall on the back end of their clerkships, firms encourage bright young lawyers — many of whom carry loads of educational debt — to render service to the court and country. The bonuses place clerks in a similar (or superior) position financially to their classmates who went directly into private practice instead of clerking for two years (the first with a lower-court judge, the second with a Supreme Court justice). The bonuses can be viewed as an after-the-fact supplement, paid for by the private sector, to comparatively modest clerkly wages (less than $65,000 a year).

Lat further explains that “The financial freedom supplied by these bonuses can allow the clerks who decide against a corporate career to move on more quickly to what truly interests them — academia, government practice or public-interest law. Law firms end up in effect subsidizing less wealthy precincts of the profession.”  You don’t have to be as cranky as Prof. Yabut to reply: What a crock!  Each year, there are hundreds of law school graduates who have the intellectual capacity and advocacy skills needed to perform with distinction as Supreme Court courts.  It is asinine to believe that, because they only receive about a $65,000 salary, an insufficient number of the best and brightest graduates would be available to fill the sixteen most prestigious positions available to anyone coming straight out of law school.

WrongWayN  If the honor, the excitement and challenge of dealing directly with the most important legal issues faces our courts and nation, and the future prospects that come with a Supreme Court clerkship on your resume, are not enough to lure any particular graduate; if, instead, an extra quarter million dollars are required to convince him or her to take the job, I say: “we, as a nation and a profession, do not want you in such an important position. Take you skewed values and machinations elsewhere.”

You’ll find lots of comments on this issue at Above the Law; response to a post by Jonathan Adler (June 18, 2007) at Volokh Conspiracy; and at the Althouse weblog, in  “Harnessing irrational law firm egotism” for the public good” (June 18, 2007). I don’t understand why the usually astute Prof. Althouse needs “to think about this one some more.”  But, I agree with Ann that “You can make up all kinds of theories about why some ridiculous behavior is actually for the good.”  Caution: If silly, nasty, greedy, or envious carping gives you agita, I suggest you avoid reading the Comments left at the weblogs that I just mentioned.

long night
pencil shavings
on the station floor

……………………………… by Tom Painting – Frogpond XXX:2

exitSign  No Space in the Inn: I was greatly disappointed to read in our Schenectady Gazette on Saturday that the city’s Democratic mayor, Mayor Brain U. Stratton has jumped on the Sex Offender Residency Restriction [SORR] bandwagon.  (see “Stratton endorses residency measure: Sex offenders forced out of city by new law,” B1, June 16, 2007) As we wrote last week, in our post on Schenectady’s PanderPols, the Schenectady County Legislature passed laws on June 12th that would make it virtually impossible for anyone labeled a sex offender to live in the populated portions of Schenectady County.  Rather than being a voice of reason, Mayor Stratton (who coincidentally opened his re-election campaign last week) has reacted to Republic complaints that he has not done enough to reduce crime, by giving “a ringing endorsement” of the county’s new SORR — saying the ban is a “fundamental” piece of the city’s effort to improve safety.  That’s right, a law that will surely not make one child safer is fundamental to safety.  Stratton says he plans to enforce the law — evicting any sex offender still living in the City — as soon as it goes into effect on October 1st.

One ray of reason: District Attorney Robert Carney stated that he would not prosecute violators under the new misdemeanor legislation.  The County Attorney will have to take action in civil eviction actions. In addition, our new Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett was reminded that parole officers and social workers in other cities have assigned sex offenders to live under bridges or trees, because no housing was available.  Bennett worried, “Oh, my God. That’s not the answer either.”  See “Homeless Sex offenders told to live under a bridge,” Local 10 News, Miami, March 23. 2007.

For another sign of how crazy and complicated this banishment of sex offenders is becoming, see today’s Boston Globe, “Many sex offenders end up at shelters,” June 18, 2007:

ExitSignArrow  “In a recent review of 77 Level 3 sex offenders — the category the state uses to define those with a high risk of committing sex crimes again — who list addresses in Boston on the state’s online registry, the Globe found that 65 percent reported they were living at homeless shelters.”

The Globe article notes: “They say the glut of sex offenders listing shelters as their address raises questions about whether they have anywhere else to go, whether they are more likely to commit additional sex crimes, and whether they list shelters as their address to evade registration.”

Finally, tonight, for a recent, well-written, 36-page opinion, from the Kenton District Court, refusing to enforce Kentucky’s SORR (which which has no grandfather clause) and declaring it to be unconstitutional ex-post facto  punishment, read Kentucky v. Baker, Case Number, 07-M-00604, etc.,  Martin  J. Sheehan, District Judge (via David Hess at The Parson.net).

dog drool on my frisbee dogBlack
— she worries about
centrifugal force

…… by dagosan

June 16, 2007

the pond warms up

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 10:29 pm

HSALogo It’s always a pleasure to find a copy of Frogpond, the thrice-yearly journal of the Haiku Society of America, in my mailbox. Frogpond Vol. XXX:2 (Spring/Summer 2007) arrived two days ago, with another fine collection of haiku and senryu, plus other Japanese short-form poems and essays. Of course, like going to an art gallery, it’s also fun to quibble with some of the selections, asserting independence from editorial tyranny. Don’t worry, though, I’m not going to subject f/k/a’s readers to my brand of literary criticism (nor unleash the Tell-em Police). Instead, here are some gems from Vol. XXX:2, the newest Frogpond, written by several of our Honored Guest Poets:

fading sun at low tide —
teeth marks
in an old frisbee

written in red ink,
my new year resolution
to eat more veggies

under the afghan — napperTrunk
reading Huck Finn
by penlight

………………. by Michael Dylan Welch
“fading sun” reprised from Frogpond XVIII:3

my daughter’s voice cracks
across two continents

……… by Roberta Beary

after the handshake
we sit down for pasta
al dente

sumoS …………………. by Yu Chang

passed down
from my parents
dust pan and brush

……………………………. by Tom Clausen

hopscotch —
a few stones frozen
to the first square

……………………… by Alice Frampton

wind in the pines
I reach past
my fingertips

…………………………………. Peggy Willis Lyles dandelionClock

after the funeral
the weight of potato salad
on a spork

……………………………….. by Andrew Riutta
spotlightS – I’ll share more haiku and senryu from Frogpond Vol. XXX:2 next week. But, today, I want to humbly tell you about an award announced in the new Frogpond, and take this opportunity to spotlight and thank two Honored Guests and friends of mine, John Stevenson and Yu Chang. As described in the posting “renku’d into submission” (Jan. 28, 2006), John and Yu dragged me kicking and screaming into the collaborative world of “renku” writing last year. The prior post describes the renku genre (which uses “linking and shifting” of a multitude of topics, such as flora, fauna, the moon and seasons, love, and more), my painful initiation, and my oath never to write another renku. Thanks to the patience, persistence and skills of Yu and John, an all-day drafting session resulted in a jointly-written, 12-verse (jûnichô) renku called “Chinese New Year.” Now, in an irony that has left me quite bemused, Chinese New Year has been awarded First Place in the Haiku Society of America’s Bernard Lionel Einbond Renku Competition for 2006.

YChang ……………….…… by yu chang

……………………………..……… by John Stevenson JohnStevensonS

It goes without saying, that John (who served as “sabaki” – lead poet) and Yu, who are two of the very best haijin poets writing in the English language, deserve virtually all the credit for creation of this prize-winning renku. Nonetheless, I am pleased to ride along as the caboose on their renku train, and I’m proud to post Chinese New Year online for the first time tonight:

sumoS Chinese New Year – by Yu Chang [b], David Giacalone [c], and John Stevenson [a]

clearing the table
for a party of twelve
Chinese new year – a

the tea kettle whistles
under a leaky roof – b

a dueling pistol
recovered from
the shipwreck – a

cattails sway
and sigh – c

her warmth
my down jacket – b

we much prefer
candlelight – c

the antipope’s
excommunication – c

cloud shadows
on orange blossoms – b

vanity plates
tell me it was a doctor
who didn’t stop to help – a

the bathroom mirror
has secrets – c

harvest moon
as full as
it ever was – a

room for all
on the hayride – b

You’ll find “Chinese New Year” at the HSA Einbond Renku Collection page (and the judges’ commentary), along with prior winners.  You can learn more about shortform renku in Practical Guidelines for the Jûnichô Renku Form, by Seijo Okamoto, Master of the Haikai Sesshin, translated by William J. Higginson and Tadashi Kondô.

ScaliaHandGesture [original Peter Smith/Boston Herald]

To get back to our usual level of discourse, I’ll leave you with a peak at our Referer Page, where I learned that someone made the Google query Issa and piss early this morning. Because our Honored Guest David Lanoue has translated almost 8000 poems of the Japanese haiku Master Kobayashi Issa at his HaikuGuy website, it was no surprise that the first two results for the Google search were from Lanoue’s website (which contains 40 poems on the lowly topic). I had to smile, though, to see that the third result for that search was our posting about Justice Antonin Scalia, who had dissed the “appearance of impropriety” concept under which judges are expected to recuse themselves from hearing a lawsuit. Google found our post, because I had written:

For some reason, thoughts of Justice Scalia often lead me dandelion
to a theme touched upon frequently in the more earthy haiku
of Master Issa:

little chestnuts
pissed on by the horse…
shiny new

hey boatman
no pissing on the moon
in the waves!

laugh at my piss
and shudder…

mosquito2 I had planned to nag you all again about energy savings and conservation. But, I’ve got to get up early to drive to Rochester and see my Dad for Father’s Day. So, I shall merely point you to the New York Times article “Putting Energy Hogs in the Home on a Strict Low-Power Diet,” by Larry Magid (June 14, 2007), and trust that you will take appropriate action — such as increasing the energy efficiency of your computer by checking into its energy management options.

June 15, 2007

you want to build what? where?

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 1:11 pm

BigStore I’ve let my twin brother (and haiga collaborator), Arthur Giacalone, do the legal heavy-lifting in our family for the past decade. Arthur has a solo law practice in western New York State, where he specializes in zoning/development law, focusing on the representation of homeowners (usually in opposition to environmentally harmful projects). Today, he shared his experience at an Erie County Bar Association CLE program entitled “You Want to Build What? Where?: Public Input in Private Development” (June 15, 2007), which focused on “issues confronted in the development process, including wetlands, zoning, the Brownfield Cleanup Program, and organized opposition by citizen groups.” Although the thickly annotated, 5-page outline that Arthur prepared for the seminar relates to development and environmental law in New York State, I think the information and insights deserve a wider audience. Therefore, I’ve posted it here at f/k/a: see Zoning Challenges: Overcoming Obstacles (by Arthur J. Giacalone, June 15, 2007; also available as a Word Document, with working footnote links).

road crew –
bright orange jackets
circle the old tree

……………………………… by Hilary Tann from Upstate Dim Sum

bulldozer In the Zoning Challenges outline, you’ll find citations to the most relevant laws and court opinions. The major points Arthur makes in the seminar materials include:

  1. Contrary to the complaints one often hears from developers and their counsel, residents concerned about projects proposed for their communities have always faced an uneven playing field. The obstacles are political, legal, bureaucratic, financial, etc.
  2. An increasingly hostile legal system, political climate and media have contributed to an environment where protection of the interests of residents becomes a more challenging task each year.

Giacalone says an Atmosphere of Intimidation has been created to discourage residents from asserting their rights and interests: “Some advocates of so-called ‘progress’, including some developers, public officials and members of the media, are engaged in a concerted effort to belittle and silence neighborhood residents who dare to speak out against a proposed project. The residents are castigated as obstructionists, labeled NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard), and even called ‘Un-American’. Developers are portrayed as saints, residents as villains.” Meanwhile,

WorkAreaAhead “It seems that developers and property owners are frequently threatening to sue municipalities and/or government officials for money damages if their proposed projects are denied. They claim ‘regulatory takings’, violations of ‘vested rights’, due process violations, etc. Such threats are intended to have a ‘chilling effect’ on local officials.

Given the level of hostility exhibited towards residents, Giacalone says “it is fortunate that both the State Legislature and the courts have taken steps to protect their rights to petition their government and to express their opinions.” If you’re interested in issues raised when development is proposed near residential neighborhoods or environmentally-sensitive areas, I recommend that you read Zoning Challenges: Overcoming Obstacles, by East Aurora attorney Arthur J. Giacalone, as a starting point.

March wind —
more garbage
in the trees


construction crew
the blackbird

10:01 PM
the mall fountain
falls silent

intersection ExpectDelaysN
a chance to view
distant mountains

traffic jam
the man ahead
raises his cup

……………………………………. by Hilary Tann from Upstate Dim Sum

nplantriver p.s. If you’re looking for haiku relating to fathers, check out our postings from 2005: “a haiku father’s day” (with poems from several of our Honored Guests) and “glimpses of fatherhood” (featuring poems from Tom Clausen‘s classic collection Homework)

June 13, 2007

Schenectady’s PanderPols vote to evict sex offenders

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics,Schenectady Synecdoche,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 8:50 am

follow-up (March 27, 2010): The Schenectady County sex offender residency law was voided yesterday by State Supreme Court Justice Barry Kramer, who held that the law was pre-empted by New York State laws covering restrictions on where sex offenders may live. See “Sex offender law tossed out” (Albany Times Union, March 27, 2010).  The case was brought pro bono by the Albany law firm of [Terence] Kindlon Shanks & Associates, which has successfully challenged similar laws in Albany, Resselaer and Washington Counties.  Attorney Kathy Manley handled the Schenectady County case for the Kindlon law firm.

ExitSignArrow Talk about child abuse. More than a dozen Schenectady County high school students were “shadowing” our county legislators at a public meeting last night, and they got an unsavory and unvarnished civics lesson. Not only were the youth kept in their seats for four hours, but they had to witness both the ugly refusal by the Chair (Susan E. Savage) to permit debate on what is surely the most controversial piece of local legislation this year, and the nasty sight of posturing and pandering politicians, who “did something to protect children” by passing a means-pirited, shoddily-drafted and predictably ineffective set of residency restrictions on sex offenders. (see a FoxNews23 video covering the story) As today’s Albany Times Union explains, in “Law aims to shield kids: Schenectady County passes housing rules for sex convicts (June 13, 2007), under County of Schenectady Local Law No. 03-07 & 04-07, no matter what their risk level, the age of their victims, or the nature of their crimes, sex offenders may no longer reside near places where children congregate (that is, any elementary, middle or high school, child care facility, public park, playground or swimming pool, or youth center). Not only are they prohibited from moving to a residence within 2000 feet of such places, but:

“The change requires sex offenders — at every level — to leave their homes starting Oct. 1, should they reside within 2,000 feet of public parks, pools and playgrounds, as well as schools, day care and youth facilities.” (emphasis added)

Indeed, if any of those facilities are built, relocated, or licensed within 2000 feet of the residence of a sex offender at any future time, he or she must move within ninety days. These draconian restrictions were passed yesterday by an 11 to 3 vote of the county legislature, with only former judge Michael Eidens, former Schenectady mayor Karen B. Johnson, and Carolina M. Lazzari voting “no.” The legislators who voted “yes” knew two things: (1) many aroused voter-citizens, who are fearful for their children and angry over having sex offenders live near them, want the County to do something; and (2) there is absolutely no evidence that proximity restrictions in any way reduce recidivism, and much research and expert advice that says they are likely to make things worse (by destabilizing the offenders, removing social networks, and making it harder to locate them). Despite the latter fact, the politicians decided to bow to the politically-urgent former one.

SchdyCountySeal In case you’re thinking “they surely aren’t doing this for political advantage,” let me point out that the nine co-sponsors are all Democrats, who would not permit any Republicans to co-sponsor the bill — not even Joseph Suhrada, who had first proposed the restrictions two years ago. (The procedural bullying done by my party, now that they have local and federal legislative majorities, often embarrasses me). The Democratic legislators only became aware of the importance and urgency of the problem when a sex offender moved on the block of one of them, and the folk in one town got very loud in their demands for action. Frank Quinn, a town supervisor (who spoke for four others whose towns would likely be the destination of many offenders displaced from the more populous parts of the County) complained they were never consulted, and said last night: “There’s no reason to do this tonight. . . The problem of how to effectively manage sex offenders has been around for thousands of years.” As the TU reported, he added, “This legislation is really designed to influence upcoming county elections by pandering to selected voters and their fears.” [also see CapitalNews9, “Schenectady County legislature considers sex offender legislation,” June 12, 2007]

eviction notice —
a moth ricochets
in the lampshade

. . . by Alice FramptonThe Heron’s Nest (March 2004)

When I first wrote about sex offender residency limits in April 2005 (and the related Halloween Political Tricks), I had no idea that my little County would be passing the most restrictive laws of any of the jurisdictions in our region. In 2005, there was a spurt of activity by politicians in many states and localities rushing to out-do each other in being tough on sexual predators — by pretending to do something that would actually make a difference and protect children. One spur was the Doe V. Miller decision by the 8th Circuit federal appellate court, which upheld the residency restrictions in Iowa against constitutional challenges. Since then other states have upheld similar laws, but not laws that failed to grandfather in current residences or forced offenders to move if a children’s facility moved near them. The restrictions (with or without grandfather clauses) have not been tested in New York Courts. I believe they should be struck down as violations of important civil liberties. As the Associated Press reported on May 30, 2007, a Missouri circuit court judge has struck down the retroactivity feature of a Missouri residency law [in the case rel L. v. Dept. of Corrections]. “Missouri judge tosses part of law keeping sex offenders away from schools, ” KansasCity.com/AP (via the Sex Crimes weblog)

moving day– exitSign
warm rain
on cardboard

………………….. by Alice Frampton – New Resonance 3 & The Heron’s Nest (2002)

Many viewpoints were expressed at least night’s public meeting. Having represented many children in abuse cases, I believe sex abuse is a serious and terrible crime. I told the County Legislature, however, that they ordinance was not a serious attempt to solve the problem and was terrible policy. I’m sympathetic with the fear of so many parents, but I believe they must be told that there are better alternatives for dealing with this problem and residency restrictions will only produce a false sense of protection. The TU article describes the message of “David Hess, a registered Level 1, or ‘low-risk,’ sex offender — and now a minister from Henrietta in Monroe County.” Hess warned that the changes would cause sex offenders to move underground and commit more offenses. The TU continued:

He noted nothing keeps them from visiting locations they will no longer be permitted to live. “This law says sex offenders cannot spend their nights where children spend their days,” he said.

now with homeless eyes
I see it…
blossoming spring

…. by Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

You can find a very good discussion of issues presented by the residency restrictions on sex offenders by Lior Strahilevitz and many commentors at PrawfsBlawg‘s “Sex Offender Residency Restrictions and the Right to Live Where You Want,” Aug. 3, 2005, and Michael Cernovich reviews many of the relevant legal issues at Crime & Federalsim, in his posting Doe v. Miller: The Legal Theories. Residency restrictions have been in the news a lot recently, and have been covered well by Corey Rayburn Yung at Sex Crimes (e.g., here), and by Prof. Douglas A. Berman, at Sentencing Law and Policy weblog. Last year, Prof. Berman pointed to “A potent and important prosecutorial statement against sex offender residency restrictions” (Feb. 9, 2006). The document was released by the Iowa County Attorneys Association, an organization of county prosecutors seeking “to promote the uniform and efficient administration of the criminal justice system.” In its five-page statement ICAA explains that Iowa’s broad sex offender residency restriction “does not provide the protection that was originally intended and that the cost of enforcing the requirement and the unintended effects on families of offenders warrant replacing the restriction with more effective protective measure.”

in the scent of summer
a homeless man

autumn wind—
a leaf and homeless man
cross paths

……………………….. by Andrew Riutta
“deep” – Roadrunner (Winter 2005)

WrongWayN For further reading on this topic, I suggest:

  1. An important amicus brief to the Ohio Supreme Court, which is quoted at length in the Sex Crimes posting “Amicus Brief in Challenge to Ohio Residency Restrictions” (June 5, 2007). Among many cogent points, the brief argues that “the Ohio statute may increase the risk of recidivism by forcing many sex offenders to move from supportive environments that reduce the offenders’ risk of re-offending. See, e.g., JOAN PETERSILIA, WHEN PRISONERS COME HOME: PAROLE AND PRISONER REENTRY (2003) (concluding that positive social support is critical to the success of released offenders.).”
  2. The Sun Sentinel article “Offender fights Palm Beach County ordinance: Tough laws limit where they can live, but critics doubt their effectiveness (June 3, 2007).
  3. The Newsday story, “Residency laws for sex offenders under microscope:
    Restrictions aim to prevent repeat crimes, but critics say all laws do is prevent offenders from rebuilding lives,” Dec. 2, 2006.
  4. More limits on sex offenders won’t help, advocate tells board,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 7, 2007, covering the consideration of residency restrictions in Wentzville, MO.
  5. [update: June 14, 2007] “Patchwork of sex offender laws leads to confusion,” CapitalNews 9 [Albany, NY], June 13, 2007.
  6. Montgomery County reacting to Schenectady sex offender restrictions,” WNYT.com, June 14, 2007. [“We’ll take a look at what we have here on the books already, do an assessment in order to keep them from making a mass exodus from Schenectady County or any other county into our county,” said Tom DiMezza, chairman of the Board of Supervisors.] And, “Sex offender says he has no place left to go,” WNYT.com, June 14, 2007 (focus on Richard Matthews, a registered sex offender living in Scotia, NY).

I believe the policy issues presented by sex offender residence restrictions are important for the integrity of our society. Notwithstanding the example of the current Administration in Washington, we cannot react to fear (especially exaggerated fear) by unduly restricting the civil liberties of an undesirable or unpopular class of people. The issues are important enough, that I told the County Legislature last night that I would come out of retirement to help bring a declaratory judgment suit or other challenge to their actions (that really brought them to their senses). Since I’m a bit rusty (as well as under the weather a lot), I would appreciate any volunteer assistance in this battle. If you don’t know how to contact me, just leave a Comment below.

StrockCarl Carl Strock

update (June 14, 2007): Columnist Carl Strock, of the Schenectady Gazette (which is only available online by subscription), continued his excellent coverage of sex-offender issues today — attempting to focus on facts and reason in the face of hysteria and political pandering. We’ve mentioned Carl at f/k/a before (e.g., here, there). In my own quixotic role of self-appointed Ethics Advisor to the legal profession, I often feel kinship with Carl. As a journalist with an opinion and sharp pen, he must enjoy having targets like our local politicians, who are so often engaged in easy-to-lampoon behavior. As a citizen, however, Carl must feel very frustrated by the futility of his mission. In a column titled “Sch’dy law speaks to primal fears” (June 14, 2007), Carl exercises his “customary restraint” and calls Tuesday’s meeting of the Schenectady County Legislature “one of the most shameful displays of pandering that I have ever seen in a lawmaking body.” Carl asks “Pandering to what?” and replies:

“To the deep primal fear that your child or mine might be raped and murdered by some slavering, out-of-control, subhuman monster. . . . “

Noting that sex offenders are officially called “predators” and “have become in the popular imagination a separate category of human beings,” Strock shows that the idea of a lurking bogeyman has captured the public and left our Legislature beyond caring about facts and reason. They have passed a law that is very likely to make things worse but don’t care. “They have spit in the eye of the bogeyman, and that’s enough.” On the Gazette‘s opinion page today, the lead editorial, “Lousy laws on sex offenders,” also gets it right, saying that the new legislation “not only plays to public hysteria, but promotes it.”

What makes this law so despicable to me is the fact that our legislators do know better. They’re not overwhelmed by the fear of the bogeyman. They are instead willing to exploit those fears for political advantage.

Personally, I have no problem having a sex offender who is struggling to straighten out his life living on my block. Right now, I’m more worried about the power and bad example of our pandering politicians. I’m relieved that I don’t live within 2000 feet of Ed Kosiur, Bob Farley, Sue Savage, Tony Jasenski, Vince DiCerbo, Mike Petta, Gary Hughes, Philip Fields, Brian Gordon, and Judy Dagostino. Please warn me if any of them move to my neighborhood. [Update: July 18, 2007: For a recent, well-written, 36-page opinion, from the Kenton District Court, refusing to enforce Kentucky’s SORR (which also has no grandfather clause) and declaring it to be unconstitutional ex-post facto punishment, read Kentucky v. Baker, Case Number, 07-M-00604, etc., Martin J. Sheehan, District Judge (via David Hess at The Parson.net).]

update (July 30, 2007) See stop kosiur: my first single-issue election (July 31, 2007)

update (Aug. 8, 2007): See our post “NYCLU Letter threatens lawsuit over Schenectady County sex offender law” (Aug. 7, 2007)

update (Aug. 9, 2007): see “not one repeat child-molesting stranger: Strock,” covering Carl Strock’s findings about child molestation cases in Schenectady County over the past two years.

update (Aug. 23, 2007): “Schenectady’s (d)evolving sex offender laws“. And see

Sex Offenders: A Flawed Law: from Gatehouse News Service.


June 11, 2007

bites and borks: mosquitos and other pests

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 4:09 pm

mosquito2 What do you get when a controversial, tort-reforming, conservative member of the legal establishment files a One Million Dollar personal injury lawsuit? You get a lot of what is the best and the worst about the world of weblogging — first come both kneejerk attacks and blindly loyal rebuttals (mostly in Comment sections, from anonymous and angry ideologues, reacting to blurbs done without much reading or reflection), but eventually the adults take over and produce thoughtful responses on the law (substantive and procedural), the policy and ethics of the situation. This is how Eric Turkewitz of the New York Personal Injury Law Blog describes the less than edifying portion of the response to Judge Robert H. Bork’s complaint against the Yale Club:

“Due to his prior advocacy for tort reform, he has been lampooned, mocked and otherwise pilloried for having engaged in excessive claims over what appears to be a routine trip-and-fall action at the Yale Club.”

The case is Bork v. Yale Club, 07-cv-4826, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The WSJ Law Blog has posted the complaint, and has a discussion on June 7, 2007, which explains that the now 80-year-old Bork “was at the Yale Club last June to speak at an event sponsored by The New Criterion, a monthly review of the arts and intellectual life. According to the suit filed in federal court in Manhattan, the club failed to provide steps and a handrail to climb onto the dais. Bork fell backward as he was attempting to climb the dais, striking his leg on the stage and his head on a heat register, the suit says” — resulting in severe injuries that required lengthy rehab. Learn more about it in Turkewitz’s earlier post “Robert Bork Brings Trip/Fall Suit for Over $1M, Plus Punitive Damages And Legal Fees,” which links to many other web sources (and see Overlawyered.com and LegalBlog Watch; plus the updated account from Bloomberg News).

BorkDOJ Bork, is of course, the namesake of the verb “to bork,” due to the rejection by the U.S. Senate in 1987 of his nomination by Pres. Ronald Reagan to the U.S. Supreme Court. (see The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Ed.) As explained at Worthless Word of the Day, bork is “[an eponym from Judge Robert Bork] U.S. political slang to defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usu. with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way.”

Today’s post at NY Personal Injury Law Blog eschews “mockery or political criticism” and instead asks what Bork should do next, “given the error-riddled Complaint that has contributed to the scorn.” (“What Should Bork Do Now?,” June 11, 2007) Eric makes many good points, including the dropping of the silly punitive damages claim, and the reminer that “The New York State Trial Lawyers Association has over 4,500 lawyers. Hire someone that knows what they are doing with this area of law, not a white collar criminal defense or securities lawyer that can’t draft a simple trip and fall complaint. And remember also that you don’t need a BigLaw ‘litigator’ that probably hasn’t tried a case in years. And you do need someone that knows how to move a case efficiently.”

checkedBoxS Prof. Yabut also wants to remind Judge Bork — since the NYS Trial Lawyers almost certainly won’t tell him — to brush up on the Injured Consumers’ Bill of Rights for Contingency Fees (you can negotiate and needn’t accept the local standard contingency percentage), and to check out prior posts here at f/k/a, such as this and that.

Meanwhile, you’ll find a series of posts about the Bork lawsuit by several of the contributors at the Volokh Conspiracy. In Bork and the Barbary Pirates, David Bernstein has some choice quotes from Bork in 1995, when he attacked “Our expensive, capricious and unpredictable civil justice systems.” Berstein concludes:

“I don’t think that someone with such views is in any way barred morally or otherwise from using the tort system to redress an injury, but as a prominent attorney himself, Bork could instruct his attorneys not to assert ‘far-fetched legal theories’ (e.g., punitive damages for a routine negligence case), or to request a ‘lottery-like windfall’ (over $1 million in damages).

Bernstein’s co-Conspirator Ilya Somin then looks at The Ethics of Benefiting From Policies that You Oppose, with the “The bottom line: Not all people who benefit from policies they oppose are inconsistent or hypocritical. It depends on the policy in question, and on the reasons for their opposition to it.” Prof. Eugene Volokh also weighs in on the apparent weakness of some of Judge Bork’s claims. Along with the VC posts, you will find both thoughtful and sadly inane comments from the peanut gallery.

THNLogoG The haiku fan in me can’t help but note that Robert H. Bork’s middle initial stands for Heron. That’s not a word that I have often seen as a name — at least not for a person, as opposed to a distinguished haiku journal. It would be interesting if, in addition to our shared interest in antitrust law, Judge Bork’s name led him to appreciate haiku and senryu. Mention of haiku reminds me that I had originally intended to make this a quick posting today. My plan was to tell you that summer “officially” started for me on Saturday evening, when the season’s first swarm of mosquitos found me on my front porch and chased me (and my copy of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion) indoors. Then, I would merely type up a batch of mosquito-related poems, post them, and get back to some serious horizontal punditry. Judge Bork’s travails soaked up a lot of very good naptime this afternoon, but I’m not yet cranky enough to deprive my readers of their haikai [nor to forget to point you to Blawg Revew #112 at Justia]. Without further borkification, I beg you to enjoy some pesky offerings from f/k/a‘s Honored Guest Poets:

porch dinner
a mosquito feasts
on my date

……. by Yu Chang – Upstate Dim Sum (2001/II) mosquito2

getting drunk
on my arm
the tavern mosquitos

backyard moon
rush the poem

……. by David G. Lanoue – from Haiku Guy

Mosquito netting
rises and falls —
the clarity of dusk

mosquito1 …….. by Rebecca Lilly – Mainichi News (Aug. 2006)

short flight
hungry mosquitos
front porch and back

the mosquito mugging

…………………………….. by dagosan

see the related haiga first posted at MagnaPoets: Japanese Form (May 24, 2007)

photo: Arthur Giacalone

I entrust my home
for the night
to mosquito-eating bats

curling to sleep–
in the mosquito-netted window
a sickle moon

……….. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

dozing off– mosquito2f
the soft drone
of mosquito flutter

…………………….. by jim kacian from Chincoteague (Red Moon Press, 2000)

June 9, 2007

a saturday for poetry not punditry (apparently)

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 9:43 pm

ooh For the second day in a row, I have lost a posting while trying to publish it.  For a guy who believes deep inside that he should quit the weblog scene and try to have a life, this seems like a big sign that should not be ignored.  While I think about the fate of my weblog life(style), you can enjoy poetry from four of my favorite haijin:

big sky
the uncertain legs
of the foal

either side
of the privacy fence

all day rain
on the playing field
a stray dog

paint by number
the child’s river
escapes its bank

………………………. by Tom Painting wine
“either side” –  big sky: The Red Moon Anthology 2006
“big sky” – Acorn 16 & big sky: RMA 2006
“all day rain” from Baseball Haiku (2007)
“paint by number” – tug of the current: RMA 2004

news of his death
I hold tight
to the kite string

election day
the ginko lets go
of all its leaves

shifting clouds
I twist
my wedding ring
………………. by pamela miller ness
“election day” – Bottle Rockets #16
“news of his death” – Modern Haiku 37:3 & big sky: RMA 2006
“shifting clouds” – Raw NervZ VIII:1 & pegging the wind RMA 2002

spring dawn  gulls
the stiffness of a sparrow
on the road to town

loosening the tie that held
the cherry tight

an old resume
my son colours in
his rainbow

………. by matt morden
“spring dawn” & “teenagers” – Morden Haiku
“an old resume” – Snapshots #7 2000

mountain stillness —
the loon call
held by the lake

season’s end
another crop
of realtor signs

sweet grapes
the conversation passes
between friends

…………. by Hilary Tann
“season’s end”  from Upstate Dim Sum (2005/1)
“mountain stillness” –  The Heron’s Nest VIII:4 & big sky: RMA 2006
“sweet grapes” – The Heron’s Nest VIII:1

RealtorG p.s. I had planned to post today about two stories worth checking out. To keep myself from spending Sunday doing so, I will just point to them: (1) In the wake of the terrorist charges earlier this week, “Guyanese community in NYC fends off images of violence and terror,” Newsday.com/AP (June 6, 2007).  A similar story appears in today’s Schenecady Daily Gazette, about the Guyanese community here, where we’ve had a Guyanese Strategy to attract people of Guyanese descent to our shrinking rustbelt city (prior post – scroll to update).   And, (2) Check out the NYT article from June 8, 2007, “One City’s Home Sellers Do Better on Their Own,” to learn about the comprehensive study of home sales in Madison, WI, from 1998 to 2004, which found that people “who sold their homes through real estate agents typically did not get a higher sale price than people who sold their homes themselves. When the agent’s commission is factored in, the for-sale-by-owner people came out ahead financially.”  (See this and that post at shlep about how realtors are trying to make sure you keep paying their standard commissions.)

busy little buggers
the flower-mad

in full battle make-up
she rollerblades

…………… by David G. Lanoue from Dewdrop World (2005)

June 8, 2007

Report on Aging Lawyers: D for disappointing

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 5:11 pm

Dkey  Apologies. Mea culpa. My bad. If you took my advice two days ago and clicked on the link to NOBC-APRL’s Final Report of the Joint Committee on Aging Lawyers (May 2007), you may be cursing me for wasting your time or creating undue expectations. I must regretfully plead guilty. Having now read the entire body of the Report, I’ve concluded there is not much there for anyone wanting useful guidance on how the legal profession and its ethics system should deal with age-related lawyer impairment [which we first discussed in the massive posting “The Graying Bar: Let’s Not Forget the Ethics,” in March 2007, and continued in “No Senior Discount at the Senior Bar,” in the July-August 2007 “graying lawyers” edition of The Complete Lawyer] . You really won’t find a lot of substance in the Report beyond the outline given in the accompanying press release (“National Committee Urges More Action on Senior Lawyer Issues,” May 31, 2007).

The Good News: The two national lawyer organizations most directly interested in legal ethics and professional responsibility — the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC, which focuses on the prosecution of ethical violations by lawyers) and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL, which focuses on the defense of lawyer grievance charges) — were concerned enough about the “potentially serious impact of increased numbers of aging lawyers who remain in the active practice of law” to appoint a joint committee, in August 2005, “to study the challenges raised by aging lawyers and propose solutions and best practices for attorney grievance committees, bar associations, courts and the Bar.” With that ambitious mandate, the Joint Committee then worked for nearly two years to produce the proposals and Final Report. That’s the Good News.

dgrade The Bad News: Although “intended to be a helpful resource and guide to best practices which may be tailored to individual jurisdictional needs,” the Final Report on Aging Lawyers contains nothing more than a list of “advice sound bites” on the very general tasks that need to be done to protect the public from and preserve the dignity of age-impaired lawyers. There is no guidance on how to accomplish those tasks, and not a hint — despite promising us “best practices” recommendations — about who has existing expertise or how it is being utilized. Instead, the bulk of the Report (and the entire 60 pages of Appendices) is aimed at a “related concern” that the Report admits “is not limited to senior lawyers” — the sudden incapacity or death of a lawyer who has not made adequate preparation for the continued representation or protection of clients.

Even with ironic grading, the Final Report on Aging Lawyers (which would have been a letdown even as a Preliminary Report) doesn’t deserve more than a D grade. If I were an advisor for a term paper or supervising attorney reviewing an Advice Letter, I would send it back and insist that some meat be put on the skeletal proposals — which are quite obvious, and surely could have been written after a brief brainstorming session by such a distinguished Committee. Here are some of the reasons it is so disappointing for any one interested in the legal profession’s dealing with age-related impairment in lawyers:

checkedBoxS Although 85-pages in length, the “Final Report” contains fewer than a dozen pages actually addressing age-impairment, and many of those pages are outlining the general issue, and the demographics behind delayed retirement and a graying bar. Instead, treatment of the valuable (but far from new) idea of having a designated successor lawyer and preparing for sudden incapacity, and the smiley-face tasks of patting older lawyers on the back for their contributions, suggesting nifty new titles and discounts for them, and discussing programs for unimpaired, still-competent lawyers, crowd out the urgent task that required creation of the Joint Committee.

checkedBoxS The so-called Best Practices proposals are the most anemic I have ever seen. My idea of a Best Practices report includes the notion that either 1) a survey is made of current relevant programs and practices, with the most effective or exemplary ones being described in some detail; or 2) if such programs do not already exist, or additional solutions are generated, detailed recommendations are made on how to achieve the desired results — often, with appendices chock-filled with the best thinking of committee members, with practical suggestions, and suggested wording for protocols and rules. Instead, in this Final Report we get one-and two sentence directives and appendices focused on the sideline issue of successor attorneys (using pre-existing documents that could have been readily accessed with a hyperlink).

[Whoops — After hours spent writing a lengthy discussion of the Report’s recommendations and its failure to provide practical guidance or mention important facts and problems (for instance, the differences between Lawyer Assistance Programs dealing with substance abuse impairment and undertaking age-related impairment duties), I have just lost the bulk of this posting, while attempting to publish it. I apologize for the inconvenience (and any similarities to the unfinished work of the Joint Committee on Aging Lawyers), but I’m not able to reconstruct this piece today. As mentioned above, check out the press release issued by NOBC for a list of recommendations on age-related impairment in the Aging Lawyers report. There’s nothing additional in the Report that will assist you in getting from the stated recommendation to its actual accomplishment.]

plum blossom scent–
a hazy memory
of my nanny’s house

with the old pine
the two of us…
forgetting the year

what did you forget?
retracing steps

comparing my wrinkles
with the pickled plums…
first winter rain

tired of walking
my wrinkled arm
the flea jumps

……………………….. by Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

p.s. I knew the Aging Lawyers Report was going to get off track, when I read the very first footnote. Footnote 1 accompanies a sentence that deals with the bar, courts and disciplinary agencies addressing “what is likely to be a significant challenge for the legal profession in the next decade.” It states:

1] Many bar leaders are actively engaged in meeting this challenge head-on. For example, ABA President Karen J. Mathis initiated the highly-successful “Second Season of Service.” This month’s issue of Your ABA, an on-line ABA publication, reports on just some of the accomplishments of the “Second Season of Service” initiative.”

Second Season may be a fine organization, helping many older lawyers find post-retirement pro bono opportunities. But, it deals with still-competent, unimpaired lawyers, not impaired lawyers who remain in active practice.

June 6, 2007

naps and curses: horizontal punditry

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 5:15 pm

 napHammock  Napping won out over punditry today for your age-impaired Hosts, here at f/k/a.  The best I can do (actually, the most I’m willing to do) for legal punditry this afternoon is a quick reminder that the federal 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals issued an important and interesting opinion earlier this week on the use of “dirty words” on television.  In Fox Television Stations, Inc. v. FCC, 06-1760, the appellate court rebuffed the Bush Administration’s attempt to more strictly regulate the use of “fleeting expletives.”  As a New York Times editorial, “Expletive Policy Deleted” (June 6, 2007), explains:

“For years, the F.C.C. had a reasonable, practical approach to live broadcasts. It recognized that coarse language sometimes slips in and if the offensive words were relatively isolated events, stations could carry them without fear of punishment. But in recent years, the F.C.C. decided to go after broadcasters that carry programs with even “fleeting expletives,” like Cher’s and Ms. Richie’s [on Billboard Music Award shows].”

You can read it here, and learn more about the decision in “2nd Circuit Finds FCC’s Policy on ‘Fleeting Expletives’ Arbitrary,” New York Law Journal (June 5, 2007); and “Court Rebuffs F.C.C. on Fines for Indecency,” New York Times (June 5, 2007).  As usual, weblog maven Howard Bashman has the appeal covered in spades,at How Appealing; go here, and follow the included links.)  Summarizing the essence of the opinion, the NYT article says, “If President Bush and Vice President Cheney can blurt out vulgar language, then the government cannot punish broadcast television stations for broadcasting the same words in similarly fleeting contexts.”  The commission had found that “the mere utterance of certain words implied that sexual or excretory acts were carried out and therefore violated the indecency rules.”  The article notes that the appellate court disagreed:

But the judges said vulgar words are just as often used out of frustration or excitement, and not to convey any broader obscene meaning. “In recent times even the top leaders of our government have used variants of these expletives in a manner that no reasonable person would believe referenced sexual or excretory organs or activities.”


it’s not swearing
it’s the only language
those cows understand

….. by DeVar Dahl – A Piece of Egg Shell

making even the cherry tree
thicket mosquitos


they curse the first snow
like it’s a beggar…
rest stop

…………………………… by Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

napperTrunk  Meanwhile, I’m gonna stretch and yawn, and pass on a handful of haiku from Issa and the f/k/a haijin gang:

over my midday nap
the scent of lotuses



while napping
swish-swish stroked
by the willow


the stepchild’s chore–
during baby’s midday nap
picking fleas


tired of feeding
on the horse
the horsefly naps



a noon nap  napperPark
on a good day…
first rainbow



his quick nap
is just pretend…
hermit crab


…………………. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

afternoon nap
   i fall asleep
     in a dream

……………………………. by ed markowski


within the red wine 
a nap in my chair


…………….. by Tom Clausen – Upstate Dim Sum (2003/II)


afternoon nap
our bare bottoms

……………. by David G. Lanoue – Dewdrop World (2005)



chilly day in May –
the old cat naps
in a sunny window


rainy christmas
while we nap
the lawn goes from white to green


………………. by dagosan  napHammock


in no time
filled with sleep wrinkles…
my summer kimono

………………………………….. by Issa & Lanoue


June 4, 2007

if you’re interested in . . .

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 1:58 pm

NoYabutsT  . . . Ethics and Aging Lawyers: You will want to spend some time with the Final Report on Aging Lawyers, which was released on May 31, 2007, by a joint committee of the National Organization of Bar Counsel and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers.  (via Legal Profession Blog, June 4, 2007; see our prior opus post on the Graying of the Bar, March 20, 2007) The joint committee “examined the effectiveness of the traditional attorney discipline model as it applies to aging and age-impaired lawyers and recommended ‘best practices’ for protecting the public while simultaneously preserving the integrity, productivity and dignity of senior lawyers.”  We will discuss the 85-page Report again in the near future here at f/k/a [see the follow-up post, “Report on Aging Lawyers: D for disappointment,” June 8, 2007]. The press release has a lot of additional details; for example:

The NOBC- APRL joint committee, which was appointed in August 2005, also recommended that regulators, courts and bar associations improve public safeguards through the early identification of and more effective responses to age-impaired lawyers, including such alternatives as voluntary permanent retirement. The report endorsed the expansion of lawyer-judge assistance programs to include age-impaired lawyers. Such programs have proven highly effective for lawyers with alcohol and substance abuse issues in reducing recidivism and better protecting clients and the public.


brainG  . . . Smarter Conflict Resolution: You want to see Idealawg‘s new sibling weblog Brains on Purpose, which Stephanie West Allen has just launched in collaboration with Dr. Jeffrey M. Schwartz.  BonP will “look at how the field of neuroscience can inform the practice of conflict resolution. I am equally pleased that Jeff Schwartz frequently will weigh in here with his expertise and wisdom.”

at the height
of the argument      the old couple
pour each other tea
…………………………….. by George Swede from Almost Unseen (2000)


   . . . the past, present & future of Legal Weblogging: You should not miss Blawg Review #111, which is hosted this week by Bill Gratsch at Blawg.com‘s Blawgs Blog. Bill started compiling links to law-related weblogs (“blawgs”) in January 2003, when he had a list of 57 sites.  His Blawg.com now lists and follows over 1600 weblogs.  In this week’s Blawg Review, Bill has “some thoughts and links related to the continued evolution of the blawgosphere (at least as I see it).”  He has given Blawg Review #111 the subtitle, “From There, To Here, To Where?”

early June
worked up a sweat 
just sleeping
………………………….. by dagosan

whaleG . . . Great Haiku Right Hot Off the Press: Check out the June 2007 edition of The Heron’s Nest, Vol. IX:2, which includes many pearls from our Honored Guest Poets:


mild december — 
walking acorns
into the earth
………………….. by Hilary Tann

red mittens
her laughter ahead
of the snowball

 ……….. by Laryalee Fraser 

Mid-winter depression — 
in my address book
crossing out the dead

 ………….. by Rebecca Lilly  brainG 

Coldest day
steam from the sidewalk grates
rises undisturbed
……………………….. by George Swede

sunrise — 
nothing on the snowman
stops the drip  

……. by Gary Hotham

letter from home
the snow muddy
wherever I step

…….. by Alice Frampton

ripples in the tidepool —  whaleF
a quieter ocean
in my child’s shell 

 ………… by Michael Dylan Welch


June 3, 2007

too many “tell-ems”: “psyku” lower haiku quality

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 6:52 pm

My cranky alter ego Prof. Yabut often tries to be my conscience. He’s been griping lately that there’s a double standard at f/k/a — where we often take lawyers to task for lowering their standards, but never say a discouraging word about “haijin”. Yabut knows that I’ve been grumbling for months about the appearance of “tell-em” haiku in alarming numbers in the very best journals and anthologies. To get him off my back, I’m finally voicing those concerns publicly. I’m looking for catharsis rather than controversy, but your comments and a collegial debate are most welcome.

The precise meaning of the word “haiku” and the contours of the genre will, thankfully, never be fully settled within the haiku community. (A couple years ago, I took a neophyte’s stab at a working definition in the posting “is it or ain’t it haiku?“.) I’m glad, nonetheless, to have discovered haiku at a time when the strident battles over such aspects as the number of syllables and lines required, the need for specific season words [kigo], and its “zen-ness,” had yielded to a fairly clear consensus among those writing haiku in the English language. Many attributes that had been been widely considered necessary for the creation of genuine haiku were rejected. However:

Each poet, editor and reader has, I believe, the absolute right to an opinion on what haiku is (or should be) and on what constitutes the best kinds of haiku. Similarly, as with any literary form disseminated to the public, we all have the right to evaluate poems, collections, schools or publications and offer criticism. After reflecting on its history, or simply out of differences in culture, taste or goals, many individuals and groups have chosen to retain certain structural requirements or subject-matter limitations in defining haiku (e.g., the strict adherence to 17-syllables), despite the recognition that the haijin community has generally rejected the particular restriction. Others are highly reluctant to put any limitation on what is deemed to be haiku, so long as the poem is very short (i.e., “one breath” long).

Thus, I enjoy being freed from a number of proffered “haiku rules” that do not seem apt, workable or essential in my cultural and linguistic context. Nonetheless, I do believe that certain elements of haiku are too essential to discard without either straying from the genre or lowering the quality of a poem as haiku, no matter how much the resulting poem looks like a haiku, no matter who the poet may be, and no matter how interesting, insightful or ingenious it is.  A poetic genre must have distinguishing characteristics to be considered a genre.

For whatever it is worth (and I do not claim to be a haiku scholar or to be making a scholarly presentation), it is my opinion that the guideline “show them, don’t tell them,” goes to the very heart of the haiku genre (especially in its modern, English-language rendition). The advice to “show them” is essential to the crafting of genuine haiku or — at the very least — it is a key criterion for judging the quality of a poem that purports to be haiku, and a key ingredient in reaching the highest level of haiku excellence. By ignoring the show/tell distinction, haiku poets and editors are lowering the quality of haiku.

Many of our best haiku poets and theorists have espoused the show-don’t-tell principle for writing haiku. See the excerpts culled in our posting haiku’s essence: “show them, don’t tell them (May 30, 2007), which are reproduced at the bottom of this essay. For example:

  1. Randy Brooks has written: “The best haiku capture human perception—moments of being alive conveyed through sensory images. They do not explain nor describe nor provide philosophical or political commentary.”
  2. Lee Gurga urges, “Think in images rather than evaluations. Show, don’t tell, is the haiku way. Haiku approach the subjective through the objective.” (from Haiku: A Poet’s Guide, 2003)
  3. George Swede concluded: “The Haiku Is a Poem which Involves Sense Images; It Does Not Involve Generalizations.”
  4. In his Haiku Handbook, Bill Higginson said: “If a writer captures the images of an experience that produced emotion, then the reader — if comprehending and sympathetic — will have a similar emotion based on experiencing the images provided by the writer. The haiku is the quintessence of this kind of writing.” And,
  5. Jane Reichhold explains: “Your five or six senses are your basic tools for writing haiku. Haiku should come from what you have experienced and not what you think.. . . Haiku do not tell the reader what to think, but show the things that will lead the reader along the path the author’s mind traveled.”

Haiku (or the best haiku) are “show-ems” not “tell-ems.” A poem is a tell-em if the author gives us an intellectual, emotional, philosophical, or epigrammatical explanation, insight or confession, rather than a depiction or description of something that we can see, smell, taste, touch or feel. Reporting what you can see or hear does not create a “tell-em.” It is stating your intellectual conclusion, or the notion or emotion that fills or crosses your mind, regarding something you are experiencing, that turns a poem into a tell-em.

A “show-em” uses images of things we can experience with our senses. As the lesson “Show Don’t Tell” from In Southsea explains: “An image brings some scene, object or observation alive, and presents it to your imagination, so that you can picture it, or feel as though you experience it.” A haiku show-em usually has two sensory images. A tell-em may include such an image, but it also tacks on the poet’s explanation, reaction or confession, rather than drawing out a similar insight from the reader with the use of another image.

There are many kinds of tell-ems. Unless the poet has made no attempt at all to write a genuine haiku, each tell-em presents one sensory image — often nothing more than a “date stamp” (i.e., the name of a holiday, season, or social or meteorological event) — and then appends an explanation or mental observation. Here are some categories I’ve created to help describe and talk about the tell-em phenomenon in the context of poems structured to look or feel like haiku:

psyku tell the reader directly what’s on the mind or in the psyche of the poet; they state what he or she has concluded, is thinking about, reminded of, or feeling, or what label is being applied, in reaction to the image presented in the other segment of a haiku-like poem. As such, all “tell-ems” are “psyku” and the term applies to the entire poetic genre. [In the author’s opinion, the name psyku is more appropriate than “haiku” or “senryu” for such tell-em poems.]

wryku is a subset of psyku in which a sensory image or “date stamp” is accompanied by a dryly humorous or ironic witticism or insight, or a clever or paradoxical observation or turn of phrase. Were it not for the accompanying sensory image or date stamp, the more aphoristic wryku might be mistaken for an epigraph or a free-verse form of epigram.

sighku and cryku directly proclaim, explain, reveal or confess the poet’s regrets, sorrow, grief, anguish, woe, heartache and heartbreak, self-reproach, disappointment, loss, affliction, grief and sorrow, agony, and other forms of mental distress — often over things said or done (or not said or done), opportunities lost, or skills and traits not possessed.

byku is a form of psyku in which the implied phrase “by the way” can be readily inserted between the poem’s sense image and the tell-em segment. Byku are often failed wryku.

whyku pose philosophical or rhetorical questions that came to the poet’s mind due to a current, remembered or fantasized sensory experience. (As with other forms of psyku, one gets the impression that the “insight” or question actually occured first to the poet, who thereafter discovered a relevant sensory image.)

My reaction to tell-ems is much like that of Cor van den Heuval to the “pissed off poems” of one venerable haijin, in The Haiku Anthology (3rd Ed. 2000): “To me, most of them seem, however admirable, something other than haiku or senryu.” They may in fact constitute wonderful insights into the world, humanity, or the poet’s psyche. A few might belong in a list of the wisest epigrams or wittiest bon mots. Some readers might think they are excellent free verse poems despite their brevity. Nevertheless, psyku do not belong in our finest haiku journals and anthologies as examples of the best haiku or senryu being written in English — even if their authors are among the most respected haijin alive and the poem is structured to look or feel like haiku. Unfortunately, here’s what I found in recent editions of publications that I normally turn to for a quality haiku experience:

  1. The very first poem in big sky: The Red Moon Anthology 2006 is a tell-em, as are at least 25 of the 165 haiku/senryu chosen by its prestigious group of editors as “the finest haiku . . . published around the world in English” in 2006.
  2. Modern Haiku puts “sample haiku & senryu” online for each of its issues. At least six out of the 11 poems selected to represent the Autumn 2006 collection and 3 of the ten shown online from the current Spring 2007 issue are tell-ems.
  3. There are three psyku on the first page of the current edition of Bottle Rockets (#16), and more than a dozen in the first 12 pages.
  4. The current edition of Frogpond (XXX:1, Winter 2007) has about one tell-em for every two pages of haiku or senryu.
  5. Nisqually Delta Review places its Editor’s Choice poems online. Five of the 22 Editor’s Choice poems for the Winter/Spring 2007 edition are tell-ems.
  6. About a third of the three dozen Haiku/Senryu in the February 2007 edition of the Roadrunner Haiku Journal; and ten out out 45 poems in Roadrunner May 2007 edition are psyku.
  7. In general, The Heron’s Nest and Simply Haiku seem to have fewer tell-ems than other leading haiku publications, but their editors have also let full-blown psyku slip through on numerous occasions. For example, the March 2007 Heron’s Nest has three of them on this page.

I believe the editors of many fine haiku publications are letting us (and haiku as a genre) down — overseeing a lowering in the quality of haiku, both by their choices and by the example that is being set for those who write and read haiku. Since they receive far more haiku than they could ever publish (and in fact usually get 5 to 15 poems from each poet whose work is selected), it’s difficult to understand how the best ones of the bunch so often turn out to be tell-ems. The challenge of haiku — the task in crafting high-quality haiku — is to share an experienced moment of insight by showing not telling. By definition, tell-ems ignore or fail that challenge; as haiku they are second-rate. By analogy, how should or would we judge quality or pick winners, if:

– a writer employs smile, frown and wink emoticons [ :-) or :-( or ;-) ] to signal intended satire, irony, derision or sarcasm?
– a mystery writer gives so many clues that all but the most dim-witted reader will be certain of the perpetrator a few chapters into the book?
– a charades player innovates and “acts out” a word by writing it on a blackboard?

If you prefer sports and competition analogies, what about:

– “creative” soccer players who use their hands to advance a ball up the field?
– an office basketball league that allows 9-foot-high hoops in the Baby Boomer division?
– the track star who emulates the hero in the song “Cut Across Shorty” to arrive first at the finish line?

When a figure skater’s required routine — by choice or happenstance — includes only a double axel, instead of the triple or quadruple versions of the jump, she can’t expect a perfect score from the Olympic judges, no matter the grace, showmanship or creativity of the entire piece. Points are deducted for failing to attempt or achieve the more difficult maneuver, and the reduction will often take the competitor out of medal contention. The same “deduction in points” should be applied by haiku poets in reviewing their own work and by editors in considering a haiku submission, whenever a poem “tells” the author’s insight or epiphany rather than showing it through sensory images. Of course, some readers might balk at using such editorial tough love, offering one or more of the following “ya-buts”:

  1. Definitions are for Sissies and Cretins: I’ve encountered this attitude when discussing the scope of the haiku genre with some scarred veterans of the great Haiku Definition Wars. I can’t hope to change minds, but I can quote from the version of Jim Kacian’s Haiku Primer that premiered at f/k/a in 2005, which says it better than I could: “Definitions are made not to burden us with restrictions, but to make it possible to have at the ready information which will help us know what to look for when considering haiku. . . . [A] definition can be useful and inspiring. It is an arrow, aiming us towards a target, indicating a direction that we may follow. It can be vital. It can inspire. It can open more than it closes.”
  2. The Great Japanese Masters Wrote Tell-Ems: This appears to be true (if Western translators are to be believed), but does not prove that the Masters poets thought of such poems as stand-alone haiku, much less as their best haiku. The finest baseball hitters get on base 30% to 40% of the time, and hit home runs far less often than that. Neither every Hall of Famer’s at-bat, nor every haiku-like poem produced by a grand Master haijin, is a winner or a standard to which we should aspire. I love Issa, but there are a lot of his poems that would and should be rejected by The Heron’s Nest or Modern Haiku. Like Homer, the even the Masters sometimes nod.
  3. You’re Squelching Creativity & Innovation and/or “Haiku has to Evolve to Survive”: See Kacian’s quote in #1 about definitions. Haiku has more than enough potential for growth and creativity within the show-don’t-tell standard. Lowering standards to stimulate creativity and innovation almost never achieves better quality (e.g., consider the nonstandard spelling and grammar allowed in middle school writing classes and the resultant impact on creativity). It can, however, give growth to a new movement or genre. Thus, when Seurat stopped relying on lots of dots, the art world didn’t call his new painting pointillism. And, wedding dancers who refuse to put their left foot in, are no longer doing the Hokey-Pokey (that is what it’s all about).

In his advice on editing haiku, Lee Gurga suggests that poets create only half a haiku when they merely “tack a comment or title onto one sole image” or use one image that simply explains or interprets the other. Haijin often appear to confuse haiku with tanka, combining half a haiku with half a tanka and ending up with a mediocre mutant version of the two. As Jane Reichhold noted in a 1996 essay, unlike haiku “the tanka form allows the addition of your subjective feelings and emotions.” She advises:

“Accept that different poetry forms grew out of different situations and therefore have a built-in stance or spirit or uprightness. Be aware of what you are feeling and chose the proper genre for it.”

Like senryu, tell-ems need a name of their own — perhaps “psyku” — to distinguish them from haiku. Acknowledging tell-ems as a separate haikai category would signal that they aim to serve a different function than haiku or senryu, offering a different challenge to the poet, and a evoking a different kind of interaction with the reader. [As with senryu, it’s difficult to delineate the precise boundary between haiku and psyku; although some poems are clearly tell-ems, a few will be quite hard to classify.] At the very least, following such examples as “post-Modern Art,” “PeeWee Football,” and “Junior Scrabble,” tell-ems need an adjectival modifier when they are presented in circumstances where the audience expects to find genuine haiku. The name or modifier would signal that the poet and the editor know the difference, which would edify and mollify many readers.

When I turn to a “haiku publication”, I’m not looking for bon mots, aphorisms, or tiny confessional poems that happen to be written by haijin. The more of them I find, the less I enjoy the haiku experience or want to return to that publication. At best, tell-ems make me appreciate the art and craft of creating genuine, high-quality haiku. That effect could also be achieved, however, by throwing in a few of the oft-ridiculed pseudo and parody haiku, many of which — let’s face it — are difficult to distinguish in principle from psyku. My preference is to avoid the agita and keep both pseudo-haiku and psyku out of our preeminent haiku publications.

Crafting the right juxtaposition of sensory images to evince the insight the haiku poet wants to share is not always easy, even for the best haijin. That’s actually my point: doing it right can be difficult, requiring special skills, creativity and focused effort. Taking the shortcut of direct explanation makes the poem — however else it might succeed — a second-rate haiku. The temptation to take the easier route may be great, but we need to heed Jim Kacian’s warning in his Haiku Primer:

“But there are some things which do not constitute haiku content: they are not about the poet, what the poet feels about or how he interprets the content of his poem. These are the greatest dangers to writing good haiku, the urge to interpret, to think logically, to draw conclusions: to interpose our selves and our words between the experience and the reader. It takes faith to let the images of our moment stand on their own, and to let the reader come to these images and intuit his own understanding. But this is exactly what we must do. Because, at the last resort, it is not the content of haiku which is essential to us: it is the growth in feeling, perception and connectedness which the content permits us to experience. And so we must not interfere with the things which allow us this growth. In the end, we are best advised to let things speak for themselves, and they will speak well for us.” (emphasis added)

Lawyers and judges worry about slippery slopes — about setting a precedent or adopting a principle that leads to increasingly undesirable future corollaries, decisions or results. Poets and editors should, too. Equating tell-ems with the best haiku, by accepting psyku into our leading haiku publications, appears to be the kind of unwise choice that could readily lead to an avalanche of junk poetry masquerading as haiku.

Their rapid spread over the past few years indicates how insidious and tempting tell-ems can be for Westerners weaned on highly subjective and increasingly confessional literature and culture.

If only to spare themselves the pain of reviewing the ever-rising flood of wryku and sighku by the less talented among us, editors should draw the line and exclude (or segregate) tell-ems. They shouldn’t be shy about returning a poem to its author with a note saying “nice idea with good potential; please see if you can convert this psyku into a genuine haiku by substituting a sensory image for your explanatory phrase.” If it happens often enough, haijin will submit fewer tell-ems and produce better poetry — and our journals will contain noticeably better haiku.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

AfterWords: For many reasons, I did not want to use this Essay to point at particular poems that I consider to be tell-ems, or to mention their authors (many of whom are not only friends of mine but among the finest haiku poets I know). If you need some examples of tell-ems (and aren’t willing to cull through recent periodicals to test your hunting and evaluation skills), here are a bunch that I wrote myself over the past couple of years. Some even fooled an editor or two and made it into publication.

For each, I should have asked myself: How can I replace the remark, obervation, explanation, confession, etc. with a sensory image that might bring the reader to have a similar “insight” or mental state? If unable to find a suitable subsitute, I should probably have concluded that a) I might not have the skill or focus needed right now to make this a top-notch haiku, or b) the topic might be ill-suited for the haiku genre.

Can you think of ways to craft a genuine haiku winner out of some of the following haiku-looking verses?

a favorite tree
reflected in the river –
made me look again

visiting mom and dad –
faces and refrains
gettin’ old

even lovelier
backyard elm

the stale air
of an old man’s home –
opening my front door

sleepless night
she won’t stop
leaving me alone

waking, the agnostic asks
who dried the dishes
and hung that sun?

leaving her place –
a hug
you’d give a friend

fallen blossoms
just another tree

the river’s back
within its banks –
her disappointment

March snow
wanting more
not wanting more

I’m not embarrassed to have written the above verses. Some are pretty interesting and got a smile or two from friends. But, I am in retrospect a bit disappointed in myself for not taking the time to make them real haiku — or, really good haiku. These days, I would not submit any of them in their current form to a haiku journal. Also, I now pledge that I shall no longer (unless under some form of deadline or topical duress) post such poems to this website, whether written by myself or our Honored Guests.


Excerpts on Haiku and The Show Don’t Tell Rule (originally posted as haiku’s essence: “show them, don’t tell them”, f/k/a, May 30, 2007) –

Randy Brooks wrote the following in his essay What Is Haiku?:

“The best haiku capture human perception—moments of being alive conveyed through sensory images. They do not explain nor describe nor provide philosophical or political commentary.”

Lee Gurga’s article “Writing and Revising Haiku” (Haiku World, June 2003, which is a chapter from Haiku: A Poet’s Guide, 2003) says:

“Write about whatever you experience. This includes what is going on inside you as well as what is going on around you. Senses include what you see, hear, smell, taste, or touch as well as what stimulates your mind. You can write about what you are experiencing at the moment or memories of past experiences may trigger other images.”

“Think in images rather than evaluations. Show, don’t tell, is the haiku way. Haiku approach the subjective through the objective.”

Avoid half a haiku. Can you identify two full images in your haiku? Maybe the haiku is merely a single image chopped into three lines? Have you tacked a comment or title onto one sole image? Have you come up with a great image, then merely added a ‘date-stamp’ to serve as your second image? Is your haiku an equation, with one line nothing more than the sum of the other two — i.e., a + b = c? Does one image simply explain or interpret the other?”

Gurga ends his section of “guidelines for editing haiku with words of caution: “Finally, please remember that haiku is

– About discovery, not invention

– About what is essential, not what is entertaining

– About sharing, not persuading

– About showing, not showing off

In addition, while discussing types of perception, Gurga says (at 93) “We must distinguish between finding things in nature and projecting our feelings onto the world.” He notes that “Michael McClintock has coined the term ’subjective realism’ to characterize haiku that go beyond the simple recording of experiences. The poet’s response to the scene is neither objective nor subjective but involves a third type of perception.” After giving a few examples of haiku that display subjective realism, Gurga muses (diplomatically):

“When we record our subjective responses in haiku, are we being receptive or merely projecting our wishful thinking? Are we being sensitive or merely presumptuous? The search for answers to these questions can engage poets for a lifetime.”

Christopher Herold offers “some qualities we find essential to haiku,” at The Heron’s Nest, including:

“Implication through objective presentation, not explanation: appeal to intuition, not intellect.”

William J. Higginson, in The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share and Teach Haiku (1985) said:

“When we compose a haiku we are saying, ‘It is hard to tell you how I am feeling. Perhaps if I share with you the event that made me aware of these feelings, you will have similar feelings of your own’.”

“. . . We know that we cannot share our feelings with others unless we share the causes of those feelings with them. . . Stating the feelings alone builds walls; stating the causes of the feelings builds paths.”

“In the rest of this book the word ‘image’ means words which name objects or actions that cause sensations from which we form mental images, or the mental images themselves.”

“If a writer captures the images of an experience that produced emotion, then the reader — if comprehending and sympathetic — will have a similar emotion based on experiencing the images provided by the writer. The haiku is the quintessence of this kind of writing.”

Jim Kacian’s “First Thoughts: A Haiku Primer(as presented first at f/k/a), offers many insights. It states:

“Typically, a poet who chooses haiku to express his moment strives to place his reader directly at the scene, not so that he may tell of the experience, but so that the reader may experience it directly for himself. The attentive reader will find all the input to recreate the moment–a setting, the conditions of the moment, the senses fired, the action, the entire packet of information–so that, through the act of close imagining, the reader may actually relive the moment, and arrive at the realization himself. The poet’s reality is mapped onto the reader’s, like an overlay, and when there is a sufficient overlap, the experience is shared.”

Kacian explains: “Haiku is a poetic form, and does hold some things in common with other poetry. However, it has developed, over its 400 and more years of practice, techniques specific to itself, a sense of how language best works within it, and several theories of poetics. We will examine these elements which make haiku unique among all the poetic forms of the world.
. . . . [W]e will want to acquire an understanding of what haiku has been, but also what it is becoming, and what it might look like in the future.” As for definitions:

“Definitions are made not to burden us with restrictions, but to make it possible to have at the ready information which will help us know what to look for when considering haiku.

” . . . On the other hand, a definition can be useful and inspiring. It is an arrow, aiming us towards a target, indicating a direction that we may follow. It can be vital. It can inspire. It can open more than it closes.”

“A haiku is a poem . . . which records an experience . . . Haiku always begin with an experience. . . .

“[W]hile haiku may explore interior space, they are not by nature personal. Haiku are not poems we write about ourselves, not another form of confessional poetry; in fact, they are moments when the poet loses his own self-consciousness because of an identification with his subject.”

. . . “So, finally, what is the content of haiku? Haiku are about all the things we encounter in the world each day, and what they tell us about the world, and ourselves. They contain some reference to nature, but nature in the broadest sense. And they are about the present moment, the moment in which we are capable of experiencing new revelations.”

“But there are some things which do not constitute haiku content: they are not about the poet, what the poet feels about or how he interprets the content of his poem. These are the greatest dangers to writing good haiku, the urge to interpret, to think logically, to draw conclusions: to interpose our selves and our words between the experience and the reader. It takes faith to let the images of our moment stand on their own, and to let the reader come to these images and intuit his own understanding. But this is exactly what we must do. Because, at the last resort, it is not the content of haiku which is essential to us: it is the growth in feeling, perception and connectedness which the content permits us to experience. And so we must not interfere with the things which allow us this growth. In the end, we are best advised to let things speak for themselves, and they will speak well for us.”

David G. Lanoue offers many insights About Haiku at his Haiku of Kobayashi Issa website, including:

How should it be read? Issa, a master of the form, invites his readers to partake not of abstract ideas but of experience—palpable, wondrous encounters with life: a swallow flying out the nose of a great bronze Buddha, cows moo-mooing in thick autumn mist, a butterfly resting on a dog curled to sleep. One does not read such poetry in a greedy rush to understand a theme, a point, or a concept. Rather, we do best by Issa if we open ourselves to each haiku with the same non-grasping attention we might pay to a bird warbling in a tree. After all, the poet insists, birdsong is haiku:

like warbling pure haiku

Like a bird twittering one-breath improvisations deep in the summer cedars on some shady, fathomless Japanese mountainside, Issa creates vivid, non-intellectual expressions of life on a living planet. The haiku moment awaits the reader who patiently allows words on the page to register as deeply felt reality.

Jane Reichhold, in Writing and Enjoying Haiku (2002), said:


  • “Your five or six senses are your basic tools for writing haiku. Haiku should come from what you have experienced and not what you think.”
  • “[I]nstead of presenting the idea of a thing or using the concepts of what something means to us, the author simply presents the thing as it is.”
  • “Haiku do not tell the reader what to think, but show the things that will lead the reader along the path the author’s mind traveled.”



In her 1996 essay “Another Attempt To Define Haiku,” Reichhold explains: “By being concrete — using only images of things we can see, smell, taste, touch or feel — the haiku writer avoids those traps of Western poetry: abstract ideas such as love, hate, sadness, desire, honor, glory, of which we have had enough. Haiku demands you use your bodily senses instead of your intellect. Forget what you have been taught; write of what you experience with your body. Check your haiku. See if you can draw a picture (at least in your mind) as result of reading each line.” She also describes “the real challenge of haiku”:

To express an image or two so well that the reader “sees” them in his/her mind and then! you add another image that demands a leap or twist so the two previous images are seen in a new relationship (maybe even your metaphor, if you are lucky). An additional twist is to have images plus leap which reveal some deep philosophical truth or ideal without having to speak of it. Poetry is written vision. You have to show new ways of seeing things to be a real poet.

She notes that the tanka form “allows the addition of your subjective feelings and emotions. Accept that different poetry forms grew out of different situations and therefore have a built-in stance or spirit or uprightness. Be aware of what you are feeling and chose the proper genre for it.” Reichhold concludes:

“Writing haiku is a discipline and if you are interested in haiku you are seeking more discipline in your life. Go for it. Make rules for yourself and follow them exactly, or break them completely, outgrow them and find new ones. We are all students and no one ‘really’ knows how to write a haiku. That, however, does not stop us from trying…”

George Swede’s “Towards a Definition of English-language Haiku” (originally published in Global Haiku: Twenty-Five Poets World-Wide, edited by George Swede and Randy Brooks, Mosaic Press, 2000), states: “There is as yet no complete unanimity among American poets (or editors) as to what constitutes a haiku in English—how it differs from other poems which may be equally short. In other words, haiku in English are still in their infancy.” Nonethless, “haiku involves a number of compositional guidelines with which an aspiring haiku poet must become thoroughly acquainted.” While “This does not mean that all the guidelines have to be slavishly obeyed . . . there are a number that are essential—the brain, heart and lungs of the haiku’s existence.” Swede concludes that “Only Five Criteria Remain Essential”, including:

The Haiku Is a Poem which Involves Sense Images; It Does Not Involve Generalizations: This characteristic is also essential, but because it follows inevitably from criterion four, many definitions do not bother to mention it. Nevertheless, from my experience giving writing workshops, I have found that stating this criterion outright seems to provide a necessary focus for many students.

. . . “Readers require definite objects juxtaposed in a believable manner otherwise they cannot extrapolate effectively from the depicted event to their own existence.” . . .

Charles Trumbull, judging the Scorpion Prize for Roadrunner Haiku Journal’s Vol. 6:1, said:

“So many haiku that I read these days fall short of realizing the full potential of the genre because they concentrate on elaborating a single striking image. The way a haiku gains depth and resonance is through the interaction of two images. It is this dynamic that is so often missing.”

Cor van den Heuval said in The Haiku Anthology (3rd Ed. 2000): “A haiku is a short poem recording the essence of a moment keenly perceived in which Nature is linked to human nature. . . . The poem is refined into a touchstone of suggestiveness.”

Naomi Wakan offers the following advice in her book Haiku: One Breath Poetry (1993):

“If, however, you just describe what you see and not what you think or feel, you will find that there is nothing separating you and the [subject].”

“A haiku poet looks at the subject that has caught their interest with great concentration and focuses on the reality that he or she sees.”

. . . “if you put a description of what your senses are telling you into haiku form, you will have written a haiku.

. . . .

Michael Dylan Welch gives this explanation at Haiku Begin (April 2003): “The most important characteristic of haiku is how it conveys, through implication and suggestion, a moment of keen perception and perhaps insight into nature or human nature. Haiku does not state this insight, however, but implies it.” In his Ten Tips for Writing Haiku, Michael includes:

4. Write about common, everyday events in nature and in human life; choose events that give you a moment of understanding or realization about the truth of things around you—but don’t explain them.

6. Create an emotional response in the reader by presenting what caused your emotion rather than the emotion itself.

Kathy Lippard Cobb offers ten Helpful Hints for writing haiku at Shadowpoetry. Here is the last one:

10) Show don’t tell. This is confusing to many writers. It certainly was to me. We all know that the English language, or ANY language, TELLS. I have never heard of a “story shower.”

However, what it means to show don’t tell, is that instead of saying that you are sad, lonely, or that you love someone, try to show it.

Instead of telling your emotions, show it by using concrete imagery.

In Southsea offers materials for teaching haiku, including a lesson plan called Show Don’t Tell, which notes: “Poetry works through images, not explanations. Let us identify images and explanations. . . . You know what explanations are. Here is a working definition of ‘images:’ An image brings some scene, object or observation alive, and presents it to your imagination, so that you can picture it, or feel as though you experience it.” . . .

The image SHOWS, and the explanation TELLS.

All forms of imaginative literature, including drama and film, follow the same principle, which can be summed up in the slogan, “Show, don’t tell.” . . .

Poetry also works through images. In the case of haiku, the images are not “imaginative” in the sense of invented, fantasised or fictionalised. They are usually closely observed aspects of nature. They are real experiences. They are images in the sense that they give the reader pictures (and sounds, textures and smells) with which to recreate the experience as a whole. They show the experience, in the vivid present; they do not tell about it, reporting on something that has passed and summing up the judgment to be made about it. The reader is in the middle of it, not being told about it second hand.

Thoughts and ideas: If mental events are the subject matter of a poem, then they are expressed through the strong feelings they arouse, or through images or experiences, not baldly, as thoughts. Essays (in philosophy or journalism, for example) are the right forms for the direct expression of thoughts, ideas, analysis and judgments. Creative writing is different, and works the opposite way.

The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival provides a “basics of writing haiku” section, which states:

A haiku is a poem that captures a scene or experience in just a few words, suggesting the depth and intensity of the moment. Haiku use concrete images to capture this moment of intuition. Above all, haiku try to imply the emotion of the poet’s experience without stating it.

Alistair Scott’s essay “Writing Haiku,” at Worldwide Freelance Writer, states:

  1. Do not tinker with ideas or ideals. Haiku should arise from genuine feeling and should be written without being aphoristic, didactic or judgmental.
  2. [A sample poem by Buson] is a traditional haiku which takes a moment, an incident or a scene, observes it with clarity and sets it down with the minimum of fuss. Two images are placed side by side, without comment, giving the reader the opportunity to compare, reflect and share an emotional experience.
  3. Is this [sample haiku] a statement of love? Another emotion? Or something else altogether? Individualism? That is for the reader to decide. Haiku is one of the purest expressions of the well-known writers’ aphorism, ‘Show, don’t tell’.

Haiku Society of America’s latest definition of haiku was promulgated in 2004 and states:

Definition: A haiku is a short poem that uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience of nature or the season intuitively linked to the human condition.

Ruth Franke’s review in tankanetz of Michael McClintock’s “Letters in Time,” compares how the poet implies a feeling of loss in two cognate poems, one written in tanka form and one in haiku form:

all the spring day,
the deer cross the high meadow
and into the clouds
through rain
all day in spring,
deer cross the high meadow
into the clouds, always
into the clouds …

“In both poems the same image is pictured. In the haiku version, the language is objective, and it is left to the reader to complete the poem with his empathy and imagination. When we look at the tanka version, we see that the observation has been expanded from “all the spring day” to “all day in spring”, but the initial unit of three lines is still objective. What makes it a tanka is the additional development in the final two lines that may be more subjective, more lyrical or personal and gives us the poet’s response to the previous image. . . We sense the poet’s feeling of sadness and irretrievable loss – a continuous loss – stronger than in the haiku version and understand why Michael McClintock is so much attracted by tanka with its larger range of poetic devices.” The reviewer concludes:

“In tanka – much more than in haiku – a poet is able to relate natural imagery to personal introspection and reflection by taking subjective decisions about subject matter and language, and this is what gives the poems their depth.”

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