Dharma Bums: Hiking & Haiku

John Stevenson and poets

John Stevenson and poets

A half dozen poets hike up a mountain. While it may sound vaguely like the set-up of a bad joke, it turned out to be the start of a joyful weekend. The intention was to hike up Phoenicia’s challenging Tanbark Trail together, in pursuit of inspiration and in homage to Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums. But as one might expect from a group of creatives, many of us chose to follow our own path. Some looped west to Phoenicia Overlook (1,140 feet), others trekked west to Grand View Ledge (1260 feet), more than one of us slipped on a wet rock or leaf and landed on our behinds.

Trail guide Will Nixon helped us identify Doll’s Eyes and striped maples. Haiku author John Stevenson, former president of the Haiku Society of America and current managing editor of The Heron's Nest, announced his first haiku within five minutes, and went on to pen two dozen more. 

The following day, John helped us polish our proto-haiku before leading us in a renga, a form of collaborative linked verse which evolved into haiku as we know it today. The result:

Unmatched Socks


Ashokan shore--
gathering the first
colored leaves
(js)

I slip on a wet one
and break the ice
(lk)

the morning begins
with cold coffee
and a warm radio
(at)

old ragweed rattles
into a snowy sky
(as)

facing the window
I remember your breath
in my ear
(sp)

shadows map
those precious wrinkles   
(at)

an insect explores
the inside
of a tulip
(ms)

the motorcyclists
have stopped for burgers
(wn)

a side of fries (lk)
new leaves (ms)
evening stillness (as)

 


Authors

js: John Stevenson
lk: Lissa Kiernan
at: Anique Taylor
sp: Sue Petrie
ms: Mary Stevens
wn: Will Nixon
as: Alana Sherman