David Geary | Excerpt from “haiku (#hahaiku)”

Part 2: My Life

Disclaimer: I don’t expect to win any awards for my haiku, but I would like to at this point thank my children for making them an enduring part of my life. After my 1984 exposure to Bashō, I didn’t really think about haiku until 2007, when my first son was born. We had another son eighteen months later. Neither slept well, so neither did we. I became a “Dawn of the Dad” zombie who couldn’t concentrate to write anything of substance.

How come you’ve never written a novel? / Because short stories / are all I can write while / the children are eating —Raymond Carver

Sleep-deprived and brain-fried, I was constantly walking the kids in strollers to try to get them to go to sleep—not writing the great New Zealand novel, or play, or film, or even a mediocre short story slice-of-life to self-publish on the back of a box of diapers. I came up with a challenge, something small and manageable, to help my creative side stay alive: I must write / a haiku every day / post it on Twitter.

I’d write them with the kids and use their unique POVs. And there must be no judgement, no questions about how good, bad, or ugly they were: publish and be damned!

I can’t explain / this spark between us / static on the slide

Da da Dada dad / Dad Da da Dad Dada Dad / Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad!

What is sadder / than the boy who waves / at empty trains?

Kids slow you right down / I see your shadow, Dad, see / all the little things

Sadder than the boy / who waves at empty trains is / his Dad waving, too

It’s not a bean / it’s a long pea. Lies / I have told children

It is not all there! / What happened to the moon? / It’s taking a bath

Just because I’m big / doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings / I have big feelings

For boats to stop / they throw out / their anger

Forget the Xbox / All a boy needs is a bug / and a stick and time

“Haiku 4 Micro-managing Dad”: Scratching graffiti / off a picnic table with / my car keys—“F*ck U”

Hey worm on the path / we rescued for our garden / You work for us now!

“Parent Paradox Haiku”: I am not whining / when I complain bitterly / about kids whining

“Haiku 4 Philip Larkin”: Kids, they f u up / Don’t mean to but with all the / crumbs & poo, they do

I had to explain / It’s not a big coffee machine / Tahi’s first steam train

We cut Sampson’s hair / He chewed the ears off a horse / Delilah beware

Maybe you’d like to write / plays when you’re older? / No, I will be grown up.

I’d “publish” these on Twitter and Facebook and the likes told me what people connected with. People began to send me haiku they found or composed themselves. Then I got a gig. A friend asked me to “perform” haiku with musical accompaniment at a fundraiser for our Paekakariki playcentre. It was … “experimental.” The highlight being when I gave the crowd first lines and they wrote the rest, then I read them out. It was just like the old school Japanese Renga Parties, where the Master Poet leads with an opening hokku (minus the Master).

David Geary’s “Haiku (#Hahaiku)” is published in Issue 3.46: 50th Anniversary Issue 1/3 (Spring 2022). Order the issue here.

#hahaiku can be found on Twitter @gearsgeary.

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