We read haiku often for the power they offer in just a few lines. Whether we’re in a hurry or at leisure, they are HELPFUL, always offering a shift of our thinking and deepening of the moment.

a cold rain starting
and no hat—

Matsuo Basho Poem/ Bachmann Eckenstein Japanese Art

We hadn’t quite realized how they do it until we read Jane Hirschfeld’s wise commentary about the great 17th century poet Basho’s haiku, in Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World:

Basho’s poems also instruct in an alternative possibility of being. One useful way to approach a haiku is to understand each of its parts as point toward both world and self. Read this way, haiku remind us that a person should not become too fixed in a singular sense of what the self might consist of or know, or where it might reside.



THAT is what we are always looking for, that haiku helps us find:

instruction in an alternative possibility of being

Here are some:


cool, cool
feet on a wall



waking, alive again,
in this gray world of winter rain



this autumn,
why do I grow old?
a bird entering clouds


We have many books of haiku but our open-anywhere-for-something-just-right favorites are The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa



It got us thinking about the many short poems that, haiku-like, provide instruction:



My Teacher once said to me,
—become one with the knot itself,
Till it dissolves away.
—sweep the garden.
—any size.

—Gary Snyder





from Grapefruit by Yoko Ono



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One thought on “Short, Powerful Instruction for an Alternative Possibility of Being

  1. That was,..
    IS (!),
    a really great piece.
    thank you.

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