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Book of the Week: Tracks on the River


Paul O. Williams wrote science fiction, critical theory, and some of the best traditional haiku in English. These are from one of his most beloved volumes, from Conflower Press in 1982.

You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.

All haiku in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by Tom Clausen, and are used with permission.

warmed by the March sun the white dog lies down on the blue crocus
upstairs sewing the graduation dress— apple petals fall
from mud to sky the heron’s feet
through field glasses trying to get Jupiter to stop trembling
a dead dragonfly on a dried weed stem— wings extended
doing the puzzle— outside, the intricate snow, piling, flake by flake

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I see the” a dead dragonfly” haiku as things as they are, and also a religious poem subtly done.

  2. Alan, Thank you for the information about another THF page about Paul O. Williams. And Patrick, I also think of more worlds as I read the haiku by Williams that you reprint. I have a “postcard image” in my mind of the autumn leaves outside my mother’s hospital window, and of how her spirit grew stronger, during her last illness. Today I am watching the sun fade a tablecloth from her home a little more.

    Thanks again, Ellen

  3. a dead dragonfly
    on a dried weed stem–
    wings extended

    …opens up a whole new world to me. Such power and magic with so few words….


  4. Thank you. I can see why this book by Paul O. Williams is so loved. The image of the heron is comforting, perhaps mud on our feet as well; and the dragonfly with “wings extended” is an amazing poem. Gifts are sometimes given at the most unexpected times. Ellen

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