NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
JOSEPH P McCAULEY: NATURAL HAIKU
Saki Press
1021 W Gregory St
Normal
IL 61761
USA
ISBN 1 893823 18 0
$5

JOSEPH P McCAULEY: HAIKU THEMES
Zen Rock
469 68th Street
Brooklyn
NY 11220
USA
$5

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This page last updated: 13th October 2008.
JOSEPH P McCAULEY: NATURAL HAIKU

This is a Virgil Hutton Haiku Memorial Award Contest chapbook by the 2004-2005 winner. It is a pocket book of haiku drawing on the parks and woodlands of Bucks County for inspiration. A frontpiece explains the author's view of the nature of haiku. It has one haiku to a page and there is some artwork. The concentration is on offered images of nature close-up photographs on which to meditate rather than on deep and layered meaning:

	SPRING RAIN OFF THE EVES
	PEBBLES EXPOSED IN A LINE
	OUTSIDE THE DRY HUT
This little books reads as McCauley's homage to the environment:
	ALL THAT GOLD
	NO ONE CAN LAY A HAND ON
	SUNSET ON THE BAY
The following, a favourite, is an example of one that moves beyond the immediate environment:
	GOLDEN LEAVES
	EVENTUALLY THE WIND
	MAY LET THEM REST
An enjoyable and meditative little book.

reviewer: Doreen King.
JOSEPH P McCAULEY: HAIKU THEMES

Joseph P. McCauley's mini book of haiku HAIKU THEMES begins with some tips on "Haiku Relaxation":

Sit comfortably and let go of the mental chatter of the day. Breathe slowly and calmly.
The collection is divided into three sections: Wind, New York and Leaves, with a further untitled section involving emotions. The artwork is by McCauley and complements the haiku perfectly.

A delight in nature is evocatively captured in the first section on wind:

	rain wet forest
	a breeze sends down my neck
	sparkling cold drops
Here, during a moment of quiet contemplation in the forest, a breeze sends raindrops cascading down the poet's neck. The words come together to form a moment most of us have experienced, but here the words "rain", "breeze" and "sparkling" give a musical quality to the poem.
	a wandering leaf
	skitters across the courtyard
	leaving it empty
What does this haiku hint at? Is it loneliness, a reminder of the passage of time, or merely the end of autumn and the onset of winter? In this simple poem the wind is invisible, but its presence is felt in the words "wandering", "skitters" and "empty".

In the section on New York we feel the tension that remains in the city after the terrible terrorist attacks:

	delivery guy stopped
	your lunch waiting, slowly cools
	tight security
Here we have the portrayal of lack of trust, heightened awareness of danger and alertness despite the need for refreshment. For a poem with such a strong atmosphere that puts us right in the poet's position in three brief lines is amazing. There's a depth of emotion in this haiku, a sadness and a feeling of lost innocence which can no longer be retrieved.

With the third section on the theme of leaves, we are returned to the natural world, though an occasional haiku introduces a more subjective mood:

	the streetlight's glow
	filtered through yellowed locusts
	freshens the wet street
What draws me to the haiku is that I can imagine the scene: the wet street, the colour of the insects and the glow from the light. The insects and the light give us colour and warmth, the wet street a feeling of loneliness.

Referring to another common scene is the following haiku:

	slowly gathered by
	the current between stones
	stack of colored leaves
Like so many of the collection's haiku, this poem involves a scene with which most of us are familiar. But what's original about the haiku and how does it differ from hundreds of other haiku about leaves and water? I believe the answer lies in the last line, "stack of coloured leaves", which uses an unusual word "stack" to describe the way leaves pile up.

The final untitled section opens with a lovely photo of blossom and is followed by the haiku

	the light down her back
	as she gets ready to dance
	so softly changing
The haiku asks us to revel in the girl's beauty and the way the light falls on her. There is a strong sense of grace in the poem.

In the collection's last haiku:

	from his back swing
	three blossoms fell
	onto his head
we are taken back to a moment during the poet's experience when playing a game. The hardness of the unseen ball contrasts beautifully with the lightness of drifting blossoms.

The way in which McCauley uses nature in his work takes us deeper into the poem's meaning. The photographs and artwork throughout HAIKU THEMES add depth and resonance to the text. The poems are set out simply one to a page and the accompanying artwork delights the eye and leads us to meditate further on the haiku.

reviewer: Patricia Prime.