Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Winter 2008, vol 6 no 4
 
 

The Horse with One Blue Eye
by Cherie Hunter Day
A Review by Johnye Strickland

 

Not only does this book have an intriguing title; it lives up to the reader's hopes of discovering occasional surprises among the usual images of nature and everyday life found in collections of haiku and senryu, both of which appear here. And it comes in an attractive package, with a cover designed by Molomo and a cover photograph by Jason Lugo, which draws one in to the poems presented aesthetically, one to a page, in a perfect bound 5" x 7 ", eighty page chapbook edited by John Barlow.

Most of the poems are in the three line form most often seen in English-language haiku and senryu, though there are also a few one liners, carefully crafted to lend visual support to the textual image, as in this vertical example:

poem
strips
on
the
maple
sapling
soft
rain     (p. 22)

which allows the envisioning of poems twisting slowly as they are brushed by raindrops, while this horizontal example

her pulse point          the tide against granite     (p. 40)

suggests the push of the incoming tide, with pauses between thrusts, and the sounds of water meeting rock. Rarely have I seen one-line haiku so effectively blending content and form, which is supposedly the goal of all poetry. The second poem, with the moving image of life-giving fluids in micro- and macrocosm, brings added depth, both psychological and intellectual. In doing so, it gives yet another example of what Haruo Shirane says should be the goal of every haiku, to blend the vertical axis, reaching deep into the roots of history and culture, with the horizontal axis of the here and now.

Another of the little surprises in this collection appears in this poem:

weathered dock—
     the boathouse leaking
          swallows     (p. 49)

The word "leaking" makes the scene palpable, and gives the reader an extraordinary way of perceiving an ordinary scene.

One of my favorites is the title poem, which owes its existence to the childhood relationship of the poet with a horse named Gus (p. 7):

moonlit ride
          bareback—
the horse with one blue eye     (p. 31)

What would a haiku collection be without a hint of mystery

winter weeds
the darkest secret
I know     (p. 78)

or an invitation for the reader to find his or her own solution to the haiku puzzle:

first frost
teeth marks scallop each seed
in the jack-o'-lantern     (p. 72)

This is a finely crafted book of haiku (and a few senryu), carefully edited and physically enhanced by professional publication. It should provide readers repeated pleasure at reading and rereading, and would make a great gift for a friend or family member who enjoys poetry.

 


The Horse with One Blue Eye
by Cherie Hunter Day
edited by John Barlow
Snapshot Press 2006
www.snapshotpress.co.uk
ISBN 1-903543-15-0
US $14.00
UK 7.99
Canada $17.00