Haiku to Honour Two Towns

When I became Poet Laureate of Stony Plain, Alberta in February 2019, I was eager to acknowledge the town for its commitment to poetry and to the literary arts . . . and I wanted to start right away. I knew that whatever I decided to do would have to be small, because I have other projects to work on during my term as Poet Laureate. I also work a regular job occasionally (I am a substitute teacher), I sit on three different non-profit boards, and I have a husband and two young children who like to spend some time with me now and then!

I started to think about all the things that make Stony Plain unique – its home on Alberta’s prairies, its community, its history, its relationship with the railway (an interesting one!), but nothing was helping me to come up with a plan. Then, as I scrolled through Facebook, I came across a post about our annual Japanese Exchange Program with the town of Shikaoi. Stony Plain has been twinned with Shikaoi since 1985. For more than thirty years, each town has regularly sent high school students to experience life, language and culture in its sister town.

Thinking about Shikaoi got me thinking about haiku, a traditional Japanese poetic form. Few types of poems use so few words to explore so many different complexities of our world, including nature and the human condition. Haiku poetry can be as simple or as difficult as a person would like it to be. There are rules, yes, but many schools of thought argue that it is fair to be flexible with them in English. I haven’t decided where I stand on that issue yet; I plan to do lots more exploring as the two years progress. In the meantime, though, I decided to jump right in and not be afraid to make all the mistakes that I can as I go. That’s how we learn and grow, right? I have a poster in my office that says “Mistakes are proof that we are trying.” So, here I am, trying (and no doubt making some mistakes at) haiku!

I encourage you to join me on my journey . . . whenever the fancy takes you, please post a poem to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with the following hashtag: #stonyplainhaiku

Don’t feel obliged to write a haiku every day, but if you’d like to, that would be terrific! It’s a great way to get your creative juices flowing – and I promise I’ll “like” every poem that I see with that hashtag!




How do you blush and say you were not moved,
with blood that courses through your veins like Spring
or stars that burst through twilight’s half-light shyness?
The grappling hooks that draw you back are words;
each one is marked by time that has its place,
a when-to-be and just how long to rage
against the justice and the pleas for space
that beg you bleed just so you’ll know you live.
Hide your cheek and drift away from warmth.
Refuse transfusions that could save your life.
There is no scent as sweet to death as flesh
that feeds upon its own unhappiness.
I’ll slap your face to justify the red,
pretending that I never saw your tears.

© 2017 Lisa Mulrooney


I have not participated in this year’s NaPoWriMo challenge to write a poem a day; however, I was intrigued by yesterday’s prompt to write a ghazal. Here’s what I came up with. It was much harder than I thought it would be!

Intertidal Ecology: A Love Poem

Goodbyes are hardest said in person, beside the ocean’s furrowing rhythm,
Tossing along notions of return, helpless vessel, in complicit billowing rhythm.

Rocky shelves, cursed by sailors, are exposed just prior to contact.
Candid inner sanctums echo a similar, sombre, crowing rhythm.

“Refrain, refrain.” Again and again, siren call and conscience meld:
Neither sanity nor drowning – both – provoke the heart’s flowing rhythm.

Awash in weeds and pummeled driftwood, bearing the scars of every tide,
I lay my head in your lap and listen to the ocean’s knowing rhythm.

We danced along with drifting continents, tidal shifts and evolution.
Though dying, we’re immortalized in this last rendition of life’s slowing rhythm.

© Lisa Mulrooney