Skip to content

Hurricane Sandy and the best poetry form for reading in the dark

Here in my home state, New Jersey, I have come to the realization that haiku is the best poetry form when it comes to reading in the dark. Hurricane Sandy’s effects have been felt from the south up to Michigan. If your eyes are straining, but you’d like to do a little reading, try these.


full autumn moon
to my gate comes rising
crested tide
moonless night… 
a powerful wind embraces 
the ancient cedars

…And I would like to include one from a recent favorite book:


power lines 
a measure of silence 
between poles
From”seeds” by Yu Chang
Does anybody else have poems that might speak to what people are going through now? Poems about darkness, poems about heavy winds, poems about flooding or freezing?

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Regarding your suggested revision, Max:

    full autumn moon
    to my gate comes rising the
    crested tide

    The way I read the poem, it could be *either* the crested tide or the full moon that comes to the gate, so adding “the” would actually destroy the double meaning and pivot of the middle line (forcing just the meaning of the tide rising). If anything, one could argue for “the” before “full autumn moon.” Furthermore, if you’re going to add “the” between the second and third lines, at the end of the second line is completely jarring to me. It belongs down in the third line where you wouldn’t notice it. If you want haiku to be “wordless” (where you don’t notice the words, but feel what they signify or imply as directly as possible), you don’t want to place prepositions or articles separately from what they point to (with very rare exception).

    But again, adding “the” there destroys the middle line’s pivot meaning. The first two lines can be one part, an inversion of “full autumn moon comes rising to my gate.” And then we have a turn (the kireji/pause) as we shift to “crested tide.” Or we can consider the first line as one part, with the second two lines as the turn. Putting “the” between the second and third lines would destroy that beautiful pivot.

    The inversion of syntax in the middle line is perhaps a little too poetic, and it’s probably that inversion that prompts you to want the “the” where you suggested. But because the “the” is not there, we have to dig a little deeper to apprehend the poem, and that’s where the strength of the pivoting middle line can emerge.

    Another option might be to avoid the inverted syntax:

    full autumn moon
    comes rising to my gate
    crested tide

    This is perhaps less interesting, because we lose the pivot entirely. I would add that because any unmodifed reference to “moon” is automatically autumn in the Japanese season word tradition, that “autumn” could be dropped, except that I like it here for its rhythm. Instead, though, I think I’d come up with another two-syllable word to replace “autumn.” Here’s an entirely different version (unfaithful to the original):

    wolfish full moon
    rising at my gate–
    crimson tide

  2. Sandy Oh Cruel Sandy
    Sandy,Oh cursed cruel Sandy
    Silty sultty Sandy,howlin’ Sandy,
    Can’t you stop your roundin’,
    Hounding,fouling and grouling.

    Tidal waves are touching our hearts,
    Bridal craves are torching our thoughts,
    Cidal braves are touting our scopes ,
    Visual sights are blurring our hopes.

    Shameless you,selfless you,
    Souless you,shapeless you,
    Can’t you stop your rounding,
    Can’t you stop your whilstleing.

    You pounded us with powerless nights,
    You grouned our towers and trawellers,
    You hounded our mobiles and flights,
    You rounded our houses and travellers.

    We will curse you till our hearts beat,
    We will hate you till Jersey and York tweet,
    We will date you till you’re offbeat,
    We will negate you from our streets.

    We prayed,we served ,we kneeled,
    And candles lit,He heared and you’re peeled,
    Rouge you,Sandy Oh Vampire you,ghost you,
    Prayers made you a breeze,a stinking fouling breeze.
    In the history of U.S, and all humanity,
    Untill the sun rises in our subways,
    Until the sun never set from our subways,
    Sandy you’ll be cursed always N always.

  3. To my comment about “the” after rising, now that I look at it again, of course “the” should be BEFORE rising. Sorry no one picked that up. Thus,

    full autumn moon
    to my gate comes the rising
    crested tide

  4. Yes, Peggy Willis Lyles is fantastic. I believe there stars indeed, Gene.
    But I wonder who would have the peace to look up to them, being in the middle of the storm.

    in the storm’s eye
    (Peggy Willis Lyles)

  5. Re: Basho’s haiku:

    full autumn moon
    to my gate comes rising
    crested tide

    Would the translation benefit from a “the” after “rising”? Otherwise, it is two cutting lines (L1 & L3), and “crested tide” is sitting out there on its own when it should be part of the flow.


    full autumn moon
    to my gate comes rising the
    crested tide

  6. Gene,

    A site titled “Facts About the Eye of a Hurricane” offers the following:

    “The ‘eye’ is a roughly circular area of comparatively light winds and fair weather found at the center of a severe tropical cyclone. Although the winds are calm at the axis of rotation, strong winds may extend well into the eye. There is little or no precipitation and sometimes blue sky or stars can be seen.”


  7. There have been years of high lake levels, here by Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. People built seawalls. The water is lower at present.

    A haiku I wrote about a diiferent hard time, a poem of hope:

    birds perch
    in flowering branches
    a grain of mustard seed

    (Published in Time Of Singing)

  8. In 1997, I was evacuated for two weeks because of a major flood in Winnipeg. The Red River swelled to sixty miles wide and headed north to the city, which is twenty miles wide. Every day it marched closer and closer, flooding out smaller towns further south. The Canadian military had its largest deployment of troops since WWII, working feverishly to build extra dykes and to sandbag around homes that were most in danger. A nearby neighbour had a huge dyke around his house, but somehow the flooding came up through his swimming pool and drenched the house. It was a very emotional and fearful time. But fortunately, the Red River Floodway (which is bigger than the Panama Canal) diverted most of the water around the city, even though many homes were still flooded, and many people still lost everything. I mention this because I’ve never been able to write a single poem about it — whenever I tried it always felt so inadequate compared to the intensity of the experience (which I’ve only touched on here). I hope folks are able to write about Hurricane Sandy if they are able. But I also hope that those who don’t — or can’t — will feel assured that they don’t need to. Sometimes just experiencing something is enough — or even too much.

  9. One of mine which comes from having lived over twenty years on the banks of the Raritan River here in western NJ. Thankfully Sandy was for me mostly a wind event, no flooding here in Hunterdon County. But I still don’t have power and am running a generator. I just got cable/internet back. I am fine compared to so many others in my state and very thankful. My heart goes out to those who are still in the dark tonight, those who are cold and the many who have their homes.

    scent of the river
    (First Published in The River 2010)

  10. Thank you for these. Yes, poetry in the semi-dark (lamplight) is semi-precious. Soul-saving actually. Alan and Gene all ~ grateful thanks for thses flashes of brilliance during a dark night. More please – my power may be out for quite some time.

  11. A few old favorites that seem appropriate here:

    the wind
    blowing itself
    away . . .
    (Virginia Brady Young)

    dark clouds without warning—
    a piece of string not tied
    to anything
    (Gary Hotham)

    freezing winds—
    passing him
    by, a friend in the street
    (Martin Shea)

    midnight storm intermittently the white horizon
    (Janice Bostok)

    in the storm’s eye
    (Peggy Willis Lyles)

    lightning forks
    through dark clouds a swallow
    rides the wind
    (Marianne Bluger)

    (Marian Olson)

    fields flooded—
    under the surface, somewhere,
    the river bends
    (Christopher Herold)

    gale force wind—
    the shrieks of gulls
    flying in place
    (Kirsty Karkow)

Comments are closed.

Back To Top