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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

January 2, 2009

new year already old hat

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 9:48 pm

January 3rd 
only the panhandler
says “happy New Year!”

… by dagosan

It looks like I’m going to have to edit that senryu I wrote a couple years ago.  This afternoon (January 2, 2009), the pretty and popular young check-out girl at our public Library was quite taken aback when I handed her the items I wanted to borrow and said “Happy New Year.”   A few hours into her first work shift of 2009, and the idea of offering good tidings for the new year to someone she sees and chats with a few times a week had already floated into “whatever” oblivion for the young college student and part-time civil servant.  The same thing happened when I passed a neighbor on the sidewalk a block from home around noon.

Sigh. After expending all that effort trying to work up a head of steam of Christmas cheer, people are already sticking pins in my holiday balloon.  Well, I’m going to see what happens tomorrow — and Sunday, too — when I extend New Year’s greetings to folks encountered as I do my quotidian weekend tasks [Don’t you hate that over-used, pretentious word for “everyday”?  Maybe the New York Times could resolve to eschew quotidian in 2009].  Of course, by Monday (January 5th), if I’m still chirping “Happy New Year!” at all the passersby, people will be wondering if I’m going to hit them up for the price of a pint of dago red.

. . .  . While my old HLS classmate Christopher Edley (now dean of UC Berkeley law school, as I fiddle around with this darn weblog) and a few other deans are worrying about finding admissions criteria to help determine success after law school (via Court-o-rama); and USF law dean Jeffrey Brand is seeking lawyers with skill sets such as “empathy, persuasiveness and the willingness to have the courage to do the right thing — which the LSAT does not measure;” I’m going to settle for posting a handful of New Year’s poems by Master Haiku poet Kobayashi Issa, who always seems to find the right balance of bitter and sweet, hope and realism.

a present, a present
a New Year’s present!
her pink cheeks

my tumble-down house
just as it it…
“Happy New Year!”


the cat steals
a New Year’s nap…
sitting room

here and there
hanging in the thicket…
New Year’s ropes

a full round
of New Year’s greetings
at the inn

with a cheer
my hut’s New Year’s decorations
up in smoke

………………… by Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

afterwords (Jan. 3, 2009): Scott Greenfield expands (as he does so well) on this topic this morning at Simple Justice, in “A New Year’s Shelf Life,” where he laments that the problem of the “contraction of the Happy New Year greeting opportunity” is part of a broader societal insistence on immediacy and brevity.  Despite agreeing with Scott that most topics worth discussion require nuance and explanation, dagosan and the rest of the f/k/a Gang want to point out that demanding immediacy and brevity is just fine when it comes to certain poetic genre.


  1. And there is also Issa’s

    New Year’s Day –
    everything in blossom!
    I feel about average

    (trans Robert Hass)

    Happy New Year to you, David

    Comment by mattm — January 3, 2009 @ 9:27 am

  2. Happy (almost belated) New Year to you, Matt. Thanks for sharing another Issa poem with us (even Issa, or his translator, pens a “tell-em” on occasion).

    Comment by David Giacalone — January 3, 2009 @ 9:40 am

  3. Hey, since you’re into the New Year, thought I’d ask your thoughts on an ethics question I just posed on my blog: Attorney Ethics and Jurisdiction. Let me know what you think, and feel free to fire up a discussion here. –Warren

    Comment by Warren Redlich — January 6, 2009 @ 11:53 am

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