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 questionable joke, it turned out to be the start of a wonderful 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, recited his first haiku within five minutes, and went on to pen at least a dozen more. 

The following day, John helped us polish our proto-haiku before leading us in a renga, a form of collaborative linked verse, resulting in the following work. Enjoy!

Unmatched Socks

Ashokan shore--
gathering the first
colored leaves

I slip on a wet one
and break the ice

the morning begins
with cold coffee
and a warm radio

old ragweed rattles
into a snowy sky

facing the window
I remember your breath
in my ear

shadows map
those precious wrinkles   

an insect explores
the inside
of a tulip

the motorcyclists
have stopped for burgers

a side of fries
new leaves
evening stillness

(lk) (ms) (as)


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

Lissa KiernanComment