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The Note

Dale Wisely

I believe I made my entry into love for poetry as a young adult, in spite of all those dreadful "poetry units" in English classes in school, via three roads. One opened up when I heard Robert Kennedy speak from his heart to a crowd in Indianapolis, just after announcing the assassination of Martin Luther King, by reciting Aeschylus (and misquoting him a bit, improving the original). Then I read T. S. Eliot. Then I read haiku. Lots of haiku.


Funny thing about Right Hand Pointing is for our entire runup now to almost 12 yearsour submission guidelines have clearly, abruptly, and perhaps rudely disallowed haiku. Haiku is hard to do well. I'm very particular about haiku.


It's funny because there would be no RHP without my history of reading haiku. Haiku showed me the value of something close to the core of what RHP is aboutthe art of saying something wonderful with few words. 


Speaking of the way poetry is taught in schoolsI make this radical proposal. Encourage all students to study haiku for a year. Just haiku. Just as is true of any school subject like Algebra or World History, some students will get it and some won't. But, for those who get it, imagine what they could learn.


Look at the world. No, really, look at it. At that tiny, yet massive, impossibly distant star. That tree. Not the big, beautiful one. This tiny mishapen one. Look at this gnat. It's visible in motion but only as motion. You can see it, but you have no idea what it looks like. 


Listen to that sound on the dock at night. That echo, which is not science. It's miracle. The echo is the world for bats.


Look at these things. That dumpster. That grass growing in the sidewalk crack. That 13-year-old girl smoking. Look at them, and then think. Think until you know there is nothing to think about it. Pay attention to the feeling. Name that feeling and then forget the name of that feeling.


Write a few words that show something to the reader. Don't write how you feel. There's too much of people writing how they feel. Everyone has too much hurt in them to hear it anyway. 


That's good, but look at every word. Let some fade away because words do. Now let's talk about the turn. Wait, I can't explain the turn. So let me show you how others have made the turn. The turn is not just poetry. It's life. Life resides in turns.


And so on.  I want everyone to have the gift offered by the best haiku. I don't want to have my oil changed by a guy who doesn't have that. We need more scientists and mathematicians and a lot more haiku minds.


I thought it time to present a haiku issue. Who to edit? The answer quickly came: Eric Burke, a long-time friend and reader and contributor to RHP and One Sentence Poems, the latter of which bumps up pretty close, at times, to being a haiku journal. 


Thank you, Eric Burke, for guest-editing this issue and bringing to the task your knowledge, passion, and sensitivity.


Thanks to all the poets who contributed these fine poems and, also, to the many poets who submitted work which Eric had the painful task to decline. 


As always, thanks to you for reading RHP.










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