Poetry
12:26 am
Fri April 12, 2013

Short And Sweet: Celebrating D.C.'s Cherry Blossoms With Haiku

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 8:37 am

The cherry blossoms are finally in bloom in Washington, D.C., and what better way to celebrate these beautiful Japanese gifts than with a haiku? Our callout on Facebook and Twitter yielded hundreds of spring haiku submissions. With the help of Ellen Compton, Roberta Beary and Kristen Deming of the Haiku Society of America, we selected 20 and made videos inspired by the top three.

streetlamps in the haze ...
this morning the stone lions
catch cherry blossoms
— Judy Totts

cherry blossom rain
sound of a love song passes
with the traffic
— Dawn Apanius

On Jefferson's watch,
Pink cherry blossoms reflect
At the water's edge
— Tim O'Malley

And here are the rest ...

The sun's light caress
Opens the cherry blossoms
And lets us all in.
— Chris Anne

Cherry trees abloom,
With a wink and a nod to
George Washington's axe.
— Carole Kinard Horton

Only three times I've
Seen these trees turned into clouds
But I cannot forget
— Glen Varnado

park bench take-away
the sky and cherry blossoms
in a cup of tea
— Paul Conneally

up far too early
there are little girls playing
in cherry orchards.
-- Devin Wayne Davis

Sitting with sake.
Gazing at the pink beauty
I dream of the past.
— April Callis

the petals fall from
an evening cherry blossom
she kisses him first
— Jenni L. Backs

Settled on a bench
In the lilting fragrance
of cherry blossoms
— Ric Cochran

a robin flies up
to cherry blossom cover;
swish of the cat's tail
— Cindy Putnam Guentherman

Blossoms open up –
stop the presses, some good news
unfolds in D.C.!
— Melissa Romero Fortner

The first day of spring
are those snowflakes or petals
twirling in the wind?
— Amy Liedtke Loy

Another year gone
The blossom a reminder
of how far we're apart
— Alex Dailey

vernal equinox...
windstorms of cherry blossoms
turn the water pink
— Paula Moore

the first day of Spring
a wooly caterpillar
wears a pink bonnet
— Amos White

As pink fades to green
one million haiku poets
put away their pens.
— Peyton Price

Wet April morning–
Windshield wiper blades
heavy with cherry blossoms.
— Joel Dias-Porter

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Here in Washington, D.C., tomorrow, it's the annual Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. The pink flowers are in full bloom, everywhere you look. Petals are covering the streets. And since Washington's first cherry trees were a gift from Japan, we figured what better tribute than a haiku. The tiny poems have five syllables on the first line, seven on the next line, and five syllables on the last line. Our call-out on Facebook for blossom haikus yielded hundreds of spring poems. And with help from the Haiku Society of America, we found a few favorites and we called up the poets.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CHRISTINE COLON: When I just wrote down the lines, I just thought about how the cherry blossoms are not out for us, but we're being let in to their natural beauty. The sun's light caress opens the cherry blossoms and lets us all in.

TIM O'MALLEY: On Jefferson's watch, pink cherry blossoms reflect at the water's edge.

JUDY TOTTS: Street lamps in the haze; this morning the stone lions catch cherry blossoms.

PAUL CONNEALLY: We haven't quite got cherry blossoms out yet. The weather's so bad. I live in Loughborough, which is in the midlands of England. I've been writing haiku about 20 years. For me, haiku are exactly capturing moments.

Park bench takeaway, the sky and cherry blossoms, in a cup of tea.

PEYTON PRICE: Well, as someone who writes haiku every day, I'm also inspired by the cherry blossoms, and I appreciate how people are inspired by them. But I also think it's funny to see the haiku kind of come and go with the blossoms. So you'll see a big bloom of haiku on Twitter, when the cherry blossoms bloom. And then so many people - that's it. That's their haiku for the year, and then they're moving on to other things. As pink fades to green, 1 million haiku poets put away their pens.

GREENE: That was Christine Colon, in San Diego; Tim O'Malley, in Scranton, Pa.; Judy Totts, in Medina, Ohio; Paul Conneally, who sent us a poem all the way from England; and Peyton Price, from the Washington, D.C., suburbs. Now, if you'd like to see the gorgeous flowers these poets are writing about for yourself, you can head to our website. We've put together some videos inspired by some of these haiku, at NPR.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Related program: