my brother’s eulogy
all the reasons
I should have kept in touch

17 Responses

  1. Michael Lee Johnson Says:

    Claudette Russell-very nice thought not quite 5-7-5 but a powerful image. Michael Lee Johnson, Itasca, IL. poet.

  2. Judy Wucherer Says:

    I don’t have a brothher but I do have sons…

  3. Judy Wucherer Says:

    I don’t have a brother but I do have sons…

  4. Bryon Cannon Says:

    Oh, that hits hard. Poignant and to the point.

    (And a haiku doesn't need to be 5-7-5. The nice people of Japan have asked the rest of the world to not worry about that.)

  5. Magyar Says:

    __Kigo, caesura… ?

  6. Alan Summers Says:

    Not so long ago modern Japanese haiku writers suggested keywords over kigo, some work, some don't, for both Japanese haiku and Rest of the World haiku.

    There is a natural [soft] pause after eulogy, very subtle.

    An extremely strong modern haiku with a suggestion of autumn as per Haiku Apprentice aka Peter Strider's account.

  7. haikuapprentice Says:

    After more than half a year away from Tinywords, I returned today and the poignancy of this poem strikes me as a personal reproach for all the reasons I have been neglecting poetry.

    Claudette is a masterful haiku poet, and she regularly manages to arouse that wabi melancholy that I associate with Shiki. Several of her poems previously published on Tinywords deal with reflections on personal grief, and each of them have been profoundly affecting.

    One of the ways a great poet manifests their mastery of the art is through the creative exploration of form. Of course most haiku apprentices would be aware of how the Japanese immortals like Basho, Buson, Issa and Shiki experimented with and at times deliberately violated the strict "rules" of classical haiku in some of their works. When I read this haiku by Claudette I count the syllables, not to see if she has "failed", but precisely to better appreciate how she has crafted the poem to match the subject matter. A "eulogy" for a brother is surely one of the most difficult speeches someone can give. It is a "formal" occasion, and there is the expectation of "controlling" yourself despite the deep emotion of loss. Yet, as anyone who has ever given one would know, it is not possible to deliver such a eulogy without cracks showing and our voice wavering. I read this haiku in the same light – formality cannot contain the subject matter without doing an injustice to the subject, to oneself, or the form!

    Indeed, most people find their lives turned "upside down" by an unexpected death, and I read the inverted syllabic arrangement as a representation of this experience.

    As for kigo, while not obligatory in English-language haiku, I believe the word "eulogy" in Claudette's poem is definitely such a word, comparable to the traditional autumn season kigo "haka mairi" or "grave-visit". And there is a very definite caesura at the end of the first line, separating the context from the reflection.

    My condolences to Claudette, and my thanks for sharing such a personal, poignant and powerful haiku.


  8. Heather Butler Says:

    This is powerfully poignant, Claudette and it reads with a wonderful rhythm. Welldone!

  9. Peter Newton Says:

    estranged brother
    an eye on the weather
    in his part of the world

  10. Claudette Says:

    Thanks to all who commented!

  11. Alan Summers Says:

    steak & mushroom pie
    my new-found uncle insists
    I call him brother

    Alan Summers
    Publications credits: Blithe Spirit vol. 19 no. 4 (2009)

  12. questionmarkmedia Says:

    I'll be calling my brother later. Can poetry really have any greater effect than to change a reader's behavior? Thank you.

  13. seaviewwarrenpoint Says:

    A very, very touching poem, Claudette – the tragic realisation that it is too late to get to know someone properly.

    (It is also great to see the return of Strider return for his insightful comments!)


  14. PPEinindia Says:


  15. th. vandergrau Says:

    Alas …

  16. Tash Adams Says:

    Thoroughly enjoying this series of tinywords and the insightful responses. Coffee and bite sized poetry for stolen moments

  17. martin1223 Says:

    only the wake
    at the river's bend
    autumn light

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