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A Linked Sequence:

There is a form of linked poem among traditional Japanese forms, called a renga or rengu. These poems are usually written by two or more poets, taking turns, and do include haiku as some of the segments. They have their own elaborate conventions.

The poem below is NOT renga. It's simply a series of haiku, linked to each other by elements in common, though what element is in common changes from poem to poem. For example, the first one is about a cat, and the second one refers to Venetian blinds "tigering our thighs" - the tiger being, of course, a cat. The second one takes place at dawn, and the third one is about first waking. The third and fourth share a woman's nakedness. The fourth and fifth share references to hair. Etc. See if you can spot the remaining links.

(As I go through all these haiku to put together these pages, I begin to weary of my haiku, but I just reread these, and they're damned good.)

They were written one day in an apartment in Clearwater, Florida - I think in the early 90's.

After these poems, I repeat them with annotations.

Loosely Linked Haiku

Grey cat
halfway across the street
tail high
hesitates

Can't sleep
Dawn threads the blinds
tigering our thighs.

Awake
eyes stuck shut
hearing you dress
I want to look.

In just a bra
dimpled innocence--
who painted that mustache?

Tiled, cleansored room
where our hair
goes to die.

Live oaks unmoved
Spanish moss streamers
all tugged aslant.

Long twisting limbs
led by light
a roller-coaster chase.

Down down
the long sweep of country
from our eyes to our toes.

Sunset
across the bay bright beach hotels
fade to an alphabet.

Still life: behind the onions
a book whose title
I can't make out.

They gleam in your painting.
Good hotdish too--
the same onions.

Sunlight on the radio
where people say
terrible things.

Peace Talks
many voices, but none of children
or too many.

"Can I pet your dog?" "Sure."
The dog's gaze asks me
"What is this?"

"Good boy!" After 12 years
still magic words:
I get licked.

Halloween
two runty ghosts bob down the lawn--
O! A white poodle.

White sky, dull bay
still the pelican
can't help smiling.

Smiling
your eyes closed
how do I know
they too smile


Here are the same poems, interspersed with annotations.

Loosely Linked Haiku

I don't recall for certain, but that title may have been influenced by the name of a movie: "Closely Watched Trains."

Grey cat
halfway across the street
tail high
hesitates

Can't sleep
Dawn threads the blinds
tigering our thighs.

Awake
eyes stuck shut
hearing you dress
I want to look.

In just a bra
dimpled innocence--
who painted that mustache?

The mustache is a whimsical view of her genital delta. Seen in just the right half-asleep way, the breasts (eyes), navel (nose) and genital area (mustache and beard) seem a face.

Tiled, cleansored room
where our hair
goes to die.

Referring to the bathroom, of course, where we shed hair daily. Hair also goes there to dye.

Live oaks unmoved
Spanish moss streamers
all tugged aslant.

Cheated a bit here, since the streamers link to the hair, a link already used.

Long twisting limbs
led by light
a roller-coaster chase.

The link is to the live oaks, whose lmbs are long and twisty. Tree limbs are led by light. That is, branches are shaped by their paths of growth, and they grow and twist and gnarl as they grow in efforts to reach for the sun so as best to keep their children (leaves) well-fed.

Down down
the long sweep of country
from our eyes to our toes.

Here the link is from the long live-oak limbs to our own, seen as we lie naked on the bed.

Sunset
across the bay bright beach hotels
fade to an alphabet.

The man link here is between the long view frm eyes to toes and the long view across the bay, where, at dusk, the skyline of variously shaped hotels might be a line of text in some alien alphabet.

Still life: behind the onions
a book whose title
I can't make out.

The link is between the mysterious alphabets in each poem. This describes a painting (a still life) featuring onions. In the background a book whose title I can't make out, because it isn't there - just a painterly impression of a title, what I believe is called "greeked text".

They gleam in your painting.
Good hotdish too--
the same onions.

She paints rapidly, so that often, the same day, we get to eat the models.

Sunlight on the radio
where people say
terrible things.

The link is from the gleam of the painted onions to the sunlight. The people who say terrible things are mostly people reporting on the events that we've agreed to call "news." Or many of so agreed.

Peace Talks
many voices, but none of children
or too many.

Old men mostly do the talking about what next they'll inflict on children. (Links to the terrible news in the previous poem.) But perhaps it is children talking - children pretending to be old men.

"Can I pet your dog?" "Sure."
The dog's gaze asks me
"What is this?"

Like the children, the dog has no say in the matter. I let the child pat him. He wonders what's going on, but puts up with it.

"Good boy!" After 12 years
still magic words:
I get licked.

Halloween
two runty ghosts bob down the lawn--
O! A white poodle.

Cheated again - used the dog link twice. Well, he was a great dog. Though "Halloween" also links to "magic". In the near dark, the white poodles two huge poofs of hair looked like two small ghosts in tandem.

White sky, dull bay
still the pelican
can't help smiling.

The link is "White".

Smiling
your eyes closed
how do I know
they too smile