ghetto building
in every window
the rest of the world

8 Responses

  1. Patricia Says:


    Given the after math of yesterday's bombings in Boston, I found this haiku and today's: city loneliness
    a sparrow drops
    into its shadow

    very beautiful, very moving. Thank you for your incredible creativity.

  2. Alan Summers Says:

    It would have been too easy to go the s/l/s route with a predictable statement, fragment first line, two-line answer phrase i.e.

    ghetto building
    the rest of the world
    in every window

    That would be okayish, maybe even a haiku, maybe.

    But as you've written it:

    ghetto building
    in every window

    in every window
    the rest of the world

    What's reflected in a ghetto building/rundown building etc… are other ghettos, whether a banking district, a residential enclave for the very wealthy etc… I also think Occupy too, where both outsiders (usual ghetto dwellers) and hard-working blue collar and/or white collar workers, mothers etc… make us wonder if the perceived money-making establishment isn't in fact a faction, a ghetto, not as sure as they should be, of what's wrong and right, moral and immoral.

    Oddly enough this echos Basho's summer grasses which started just as a haikai verse of allusion, collating a battlesite, but seen by many, possibly, as the pointlessness and shortsightedness of the establishment of that time, and later times, of conquer and divide, rule or be outsiders via the miltary wing.

    Sharp recognition of pushing this haiku into classic mode, not merely contemporary of its time.


  3. @DreamsOfTaos Says:

    Thanks very much for this astute analysis Alan. For me it makes me wonder how much internalization spills into a haiku, versus the actual planning, writing, and editing. While you may recall (because you commented on it way back when) that this one is a relative elder in my little haiku world — a year old, probably — I can say with reasonable confidence that I did not try out various line structures and settle on this one, but rather it came out this way and I just stayed with it. That is why I wonder whether the hidden mind — the one that hangs back while the planner, writer, and editor goes to work — had a role to play. That question is of course impossible to answer; and the same would apply to whether the Basho poem had a subconscious influence. But these are interesting questions nonetheless. As always, much obliged — btw, when is Lakeview due to "hit the stands?" — Best, Scott

  4. Alan Summers Says:

    Hi Scott,

    Fascinating reply and always great for the author to give a response about their writing process.

    Why didn't you go for a short/long/short shape as is still relatively traditional to do so? It would have been so tempting and obvious to do so, and still be a good haiku, although not as strong as the instinctive choice of line order in the last two lines. Intriguing.

    My best long poem was one done in 40 minutes, off a monochromatic oil painting, reproduced in Harper's Magazine that I received just that morning. Hardly an edits, and those done over ten minutes. With your haiku I see photographs and paintings off every window, and all a reflection of the real world in this harsh mercenary world being built around us.

    Our brain takes in everything, even the things we aren't aware of absorbing around us, and it must enrich our poetry, be it reading copious examples of classic, modern, or contemporary haikai verses, or walking down streets in our cities.

    The Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, second issue, comes out 1st August, as we just keep to two issues a year. There'll be an incredible special feature section on haiku. Because I have a fixed number of pages, it'll be a tight feature but with a lot of strong work, both by well established writers, and some that'll be new to the haiku reading community.

    kindest regards,


  5. @DreamsOfTaos Says:

    So again this would be after-the-fact, versus recalling the actual experience (though I do know exactly when and where I wrote it, as I regularly pass this set of buildings on the train) — I suspect I arranged it this way to end with "world," the word that is the source of any pop or power in this poem. Thus, notwithstanding its structure, this would fit squarely into the "Aha!" school, making the reader wait until the very last moment before catching the poem's meaning (intended to be one of complete isolation). That, by the way, is also interesting — you seem to see the poem, at least in part, from the inside of the building out, in light of your reference to "photographs and paintings." To me I had only envisioned it from my usual vantage point, from the outside-in.

    Excited to be a part of Lakeview — Scott

  6. @DreamsOfTaos Says:

    Oh and I meant to say as well, for whatever reason, s-l-s rarely enters my mind as I draft — it's low down on my list of considerations. It wouldn't surprise me if the majority of mine came out that way, as it is a beautiful structure, but rarely would they arise that way on purpose. I just think l-s-l; short/medium/longer; longest/long/short can be just as lovely, so I just let the river flow, brother. :)

  7. Alan Summers Says:

    re short/long/short, glad to hear it's not the first thing on your mind, as it's just one of many approaches to consider for a modern haiku in English in my 'umble opinion.

    Flowing rivers are a good thing because we want to reach the ocean but have a choice of dipping our toes in streams on the way. :-)


  8. Alan Summers Says:

    A good poem creates alchemy between the triple partners of original author, poem, and reader as participant and co-author, perhaps moreso with haiku, and maybe other short form poetics than with longer poetries.

    I was placed inside and outside the building, everything reflecting off those window mirrors.

    Glad to have you as part of Lakeview Journal! And early on, too, as high quality haiku came in so fast, with barely nothing to reject, which is unusual for a haiku publication.


Leave a Reply