“Jameson Bayles, a Kansas City, Missouri resident, has been published in various literary magazines and journals. His most recent work can be viewed in issue #10 of Hedgerow and in the poetry anthology ‘The Artistic Muses,’ published by True Colors Press. Jameson was a featured reader at The Cellar Poetry Series at the Weston Wine Company in Weston, Missouri as well as being featured at ‘It’s A Poetry Thing’ at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, Kansas during National Poetry Month.”
searching for a voice
miles davis and I
went out lookin’ for ms right
the other night
my first time
dana scully showed up
to my overused easy boy recliner
with that midsummer sky stare of hers
’till I passed out
when I opened my eyes
i saw a young girl
who slit her wrists
and a poet
i wanted to have her pale palms read
by those who knew her, but they replied
“not all pencils have erasers”
miles davis grabbed
his hypodermic voice
“string less guitars
overfed dresser drawers
pigeon shit on discarded pages of the Wall Street journal.
frightened coins in a dry urinal.
strap me to your water logged crucifix
pitch me over that bridge you burned long ago
I am underneath the water’s edge like
prechewed gum after a seven o’clock show”
“do wop be bop
and how the fuck
is miles davis anyway?”
i guess I just wanted
to make him proud
empty post office –
my echo flees
an eager child
stronger than I –
my dying pet
takes his final breath
unanswered questions –
an attentive cat
watches me shave
I have become interested in Haiku and Senryu within the past year or so. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment but I can say with certainty that my interest was peaked after reading an excellent series of Haibun written by the Los Angeles poet and editor, Marie Lecrivain. I liken the discovery of my interest in Haiku to finally drinking a good bottle of wine which sparks an interest in vinification and oenology. In fact, Haiku and winemaking both have many traits in common: Both take years to master, both vary widely by region, both are deceptively simple to the uninitiated, both induce a rare pleasure when imbibed.
I won’t bore you with the details of writing Haiku, in fact, the details would entail complete volumes. The last several books on writing poetry I have bought and read have all been about writing Haiku. My favorite book which I recommend is “The Essential Haiku” edited by Robert Haas. This book contains an excellent introduction and also contains poetry by Basho, Buson, & Issa, the three great masters. Suffice to say that, in my limited understanding, what I enjoy about Haiku and Senryu is the terseness, sparse language, pithiness, strong forcible metaphor.
Japanese Haiku is stricter to form and more traditional. American Haiku is more, ahem, “loosey-goosey.” This is not to say that American Haiku is subordinate to the Japanese original. This is to say that American Haiku has employed a different path and evolution in the poetic form. For instance, in American Haiku, a poet does not have to count syllables. Well, Japanese poets did not have to count syllables either because “syllables” do not translate very well in Kana. But, in American Haiku, a poet doesn’t have to sit there and count strictly to seventeen syllables is what I am trying to say. As long as a poet is “in the ballpark” is good enough. Three line stanzas can be broken up to four lines or five lines, whatever. A poet can even write the Haiku one word per line.
My friend Richard Modiano told me once a long time ago that the difference between Haiku and Senryu is that Haikus have a focus on “nature” and Senryus have a focus on “human nature.”
Jameson Bayles’ poem, “searching for a voice” is a perfect example of a great poem which incorporates Haiku elements into the body of the complete poem at large. The first stanza is a well written Senryu if isolated. The same with the first three lines of the “Dana Scully” stanza and the first three lines of the stanza of the girl with the slit wrists. The language is sparse, concise, precise, and forceful, like a machine gun.
My favorite stanza is also a Senryu where Bayles inserts actual rhythm and music, “i said / ‘do wop be bop / and how the fuck / is miles davis anyway?’”
Included after the poem “searching for a voice” are three Haiku written by Bayles so that the reader can compare and contrast his written single Haiku with the Haiku elements he incorporated into the longer poem.
– Angel Uriel Perales, June 22nd, 2015
Terrific work by a terrific poet. Love that Miles’ riff. Bravo!
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