Zero to the Bone: of Haiku and Haikats

By Doug Jackson

“I’m sorry this letter is so long, but I did not have time to write a shorter one.” I’ve seen that quotation attributed to, among others, Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, Voltaire, Blaise Pascal, Goethe, Winston Churchill, Pliny the Younger, Cato, Cicero, Bill Clinton, and Benjamin Franklin. The point, however, is not who said it, but that it got said. The same is true for the haiku, that heavy water of the poetry world. Hemingway famously coined the “iceberg” principle of writing prose; haiku are more like islands – poetic tips of prose mountains rooted to the world’s floor.

Image by Doug Jackson
Image by Doug Jackson

I wrote this one after I encountered, on my morning walk, a trio of neighborhood graymalkins who stared down me and my bullmastiff as if to say, “Just try it, buster, and you’re in for some seriously weary se’nnights.” I’m sure it’s cheating to include an epigram longer by far than the actual poem, but I didn’t have time to write anything shorter. . .

The Weird Sisters

“In a more enlightened day when witches and familiars were better understood, George (a friend’s cat) would have found his, or rather her, end in a bonfire, because if ever there was a familiar, an envoy of the devil, a consorter with evil spirits, George is it.” – John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley

Feral haunches hunch.
Febrile eye-slits six-fold glare.
Feline stare hexes.



Doug Jackson is a preacher/professor/poet who after a quarter-century in the pastorate now teaches spiritual formation, pastoral ministry, and Greek for the Logsdon Seminary program at the South Texas School of Christian Studies in Corpus Christi. His collection of poetry, Nothing There is Not More, is available from Finishing Line Press.


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