Home - About Haiku - About Issa - About Me - What's New

Curtis Dunlap on Issa

Curtis Dunlap

My daily walk leads to a wooden bridge that spans a small stream. While the practical purpose of this bridge is to connect two banks, it also serves as a place where life intersects. Frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles all live here, or nearby—along with dragonflies and my personal favorite, the Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly. The other day a female damselfly fluttered up to a leaf near the top of the bridge with a nymph-like insect in her mouth. Inches away from my face she began to consume her prize all the while looking at me as if to say, "Would you care for some lunch?" I smiled and answered, "Thanks, maybe some other time."

Issa, like Dr. Doolittle, talked to the animals. He also listened when they had something to say.

in the lap
of the holy man...
a cicada sings

This is one of my favorite Issa poems found here at David Lanoue's web site. To me, haiku and life is a spiritual experience. How appropriate that these two creatures, holy man and insect, should share this moment and how fortunate for us that Issa was there to record it.

If it were not for haiku and Issa, I would've crossed that bridge the other day without pausing to listen to and see the other creatures that depend upon its existence. I feel his spirit during my walks and, at times, it seems like he speaks to me: What do you see? No, you're looking with your physical eyes—look with your haiku eyes. What else is going on here?

I'm pleased that Issa was such a prolific poet. Truly, haiku is an art form that can bridge the years and connect our lives.