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Jay Cox


Morning light glances
Limestone Creek cedars — shadows
chase brown trout through pools

When out fishing, I always enjoy that early part of the morning when sunlight -- if there is any -- breaks through the trees, slowly transforming my view of the sky, landscape, and water around me.

Along local creeks like Limestone, I look forward to finding fishing spots near cedars -- taking in their rough-hewn bark, outstretched branches, scent, and the way their gnarled roots are sometimes exposed, clutching eroding creek banks as the trees lean over the water.

If there are brown trout around, they are usually hard for me to spot, but growing light and shifting shadows can spook them, sending them shooting around the stream. On a good day, this allows me to see them, at least for a moment.

A blackbird sways on
a goldenrod stalk covered
with afternoon snow

For me, the return of red-winged blackbirds to our meadow is a sure sign of spring. After a long winter, their spirited song and the flash of their red-and-gold shoulders provide welcomed assurance that the greening of the Central New York landscape will come soon.

But even the blackbirds are too optimistic about winter's departure, often finding themselves perched on old weed stalks, enduring what we hope is the season's final snow.

Lunchtime on a bench
in Hanover Square—hot dog
mustard hits my shoe

For me, this haiku evolved out of a warm, breezy thought—the idea of escaping the office and enjoying a splendid Syracuse afternoon, relaxing downtown on a bench during lunch.

However, even such a fortunate moment can be sabotaged by an unforeseen mishap. Wrestling with a hot dog can always prove challenging—and this instance was no exception. Plop goes the mustard and there goes the idyllic outdoor dining experience. Thoughts race through a now troubled mind: Does anyone have a napkin? What else will the mustard smear? Is it on my shirt…pants? Will someone else step in the splatter?

Then again, there could be benefits: perhaps the mustard will cover an old catsup stain, or maybe the hot dog will be tastier without that big glob of mustard. And, hey, at least it wasn’t chili sauce or sauerkraut.

Passing crows caw as
notes glide from a bluesman's slide in Armory Square

I love haiku for the way it connects you to the natural world. I see it as a snapshot of a moment, where I’m an observer, and I’m connected to the environment, exploring and reflecting its intricacies and uniqueness. To capture one of these moments is the challenge of haiku.

Writing haiku about the downtown, there’s the additional challenge of coming up with something from the natural world and melding it into the man-made world.

I blended three things that I consider integral to the Syracuse landscape: crows, the blues and Armory Square. Everyday I hear crows spinning talking blues, so I couldn’t imagine any self-respecting crow cruising through Armory Square, hearing a smokin’ blues rift, and not wanting to chime in.

The blue sky ripples
and clouds stream by in the water
fountain reflections

For me, this haiku represents the interplay of movements between the sky and the fountain water. I always enjoy the simple pleasure of seeing water reflect the world around it. In this case, watching the reflections of clouds go by on a brilliant blue-sky day was like viewing a film. It was natural outdoor entertainment.


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