Seal Mummy Haiku
(Isshin Glen Snyder)

No cut-words. “Oh!”, “Ah!”...not quite. No season-words to speak of. I suppose Texas redbud blossoms are more obvious than the ripple marks of a mallard landing in the still lake waters...but perhaps never subtle enough. Brushstrokes and keystrokes  will never be the same object as that of our sensations, perceptions, formations, and mind-consciousness. Our visions and words can form only letters on paper or electronic ether ASCII....symbols that will never themselves form the pictographs of our own expressions. Faced with such limitations, it's amazing we can even attempt haiku at all....or even some semblance of haiku...or even something that is not haiku at all but which we call haiku. And I wish I had the freedom of Kerouak, great unrecognized haiku patriarch of the west who, once freed of the encumbrances of 5-7-5, was able to pencil out each day's dharma pops in a small spiral notebook. But here I am again, no further along than 5-7-5. If I miss a beat, someone will surely tell me. Sitting in a circle sharing poetry of a single breath. Haiku is haiku. And haiku is not haiku. Then haiku is haiku. It is at once me...and I am not it!

between east and west
antarctic ice sheets,
martian desert walk.

talus valley walls.
thick brine of reflections bursts
forth red algal bloom.

a glacier that cares to
neither advance nor retreat:
wall unto itself.

way far upvalley
landlocked visions of wind sounds
turn like weather vanes.

seal mummy silence:
empty pharaoh visions hail
the cold continent.

flesh ablates away
the adiabatic winds
of austral summer light.

Isshin Glen Snyder lived for 6 weeks in the Antarctica during the 2005-2006 research season, where he carried out NSF-sponsored research on the Dry Valleys Lakes. When he returned, he began to study Zen.

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