Click image to order
Never miss a post
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries


« "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?" [with Dean Martin and friends, on an evening in Roma] | Main | An Interview with Justin Jamail [by Aspen Matis] »

September 09, 2021


Another example of the Ugly American(s), this time appropriating from Japan a poetic form reserved by them for ecstatic utterance. That you can count all the way to seven, with stops at three and five, is what qualifies you for your current role as gatekeeper to sanctioned poetry, where it's all about the Benjamins!

Haiku is not to sneeze

Each of us, thank goodness, can sneeze -
but the genius of the Japanese Haiku is
the discipline and devotion it demands,
which are, sad to say, Occidental rarities.

p.s. Anglophones are well-advised to study the epigram, instead of pretend to an ancient sensibility produced by a culture antithetical to their own.

Hey Dave! My radar is up: I can spot the anti-Semitic code in "all about the Benjamins!"a mile way. If every poet who writes in an ancient form is guilty of "appropriating," we wouldn't have any poetry, dumb ass. Marissa Despain

Dave, what you say about the Occidental epigram versus the Japanese haiku is interesting and worth elaboration. Ther "ugly American Comment" is beneath you. Which Benjamins? Ben Jonson? Ben in Hebrew means son so "Here doth lie / Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry" is an even greater line in "On My First Son."

David Shapiro's haiku stanzas show the quickness of his mind and reflect the rhythms of his conversation. Aren't these lines good:

My friend's father was
in a group where the copy
was always better

Better than what? Think
better than the original
little objects

I'm against rhyming
haiku because it’s too ruled
I like split insights!

I never could write
the perfect haiku sestina
even a pantoum!

I failed everything
like Du Fu in his exams
or even his tears

What's a haiku? sonnet
condensed to even smaller
nuns than Wordsworth

Thanks Tony, if you aren't aware of "The Ugly American," an established literary trope with particular focus on American crimes in southeast Asia, please see:

And "benjamins" is the current synonym on every street in the land for the "c-note" of my idyllic youth - no less an avatar of all that is right and good, AOC, also has taken heat from the caterwaulers of the world of the ancient "belief systems."

The Hebrews know me and my present interlocutors as "Beloved."

Mr. Lehman may claim Aristotle for his avatar in his quest to keep natural poets, not only out of the marketplace - but out of the republic itself. But, my view is that Aristotle is like Jerry Garcia and David Grisman - Old and in the Way.

Dave, you probably know more about it than I, but I fail to see any relation between the critique of American policy in Vietnam in the early 1960s, as articulated in "The Ugly American," to the state of US poetry today. Again I don't know Mr. Lehman's philosophical allegiances, but I am certain it was Plato, not Aristotle, who banished the poets from the Republic.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

click image to order your copy
That Ship Has Sailed
Click image to order
BAP ad
"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


  • StatCounter