Global Haiku Tradition
Millikin University, Spring 2003

Kelly Carruth

Lenard D. Moore

Kelly Carruth

Kelly's Haiku



Through the Eyes of a Mountain:
A look at the haiku works of Lenard D. Moore

Once upon a time there were two people who spent their lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Little did they know that they would discover each other; not through a location, but through Haiku. This is how I came to learn of my fellow North Carolinian haiku lover Lenard D. Moore. Moore not only writes and edits haiku, but currently holds the position of executive chairman of the North Carolina Haiku Society (NCHS). His awards are many, but include the Haiku Museum of Tokyo Award and the Heron's Nest Award. Moore's work has appeared in over 30 anthologies, and has written the following three books: The Open Eye (1985), Forever Home (1992), and Desert Storm: A Brief History (1993). There are many things to be noted about Moore's haiku. When taking a closer look at his first book, The Open Eye, one can see how well he uses animals in his haiku, how some of his haiku get a bit wordy, and how he uses the moon to paint beautiful imagery.

Moore loves animals and has spent a good deal of time in nature. His haiku mirror that as he captures moments that most of us have seen but never taken the time to ponder. Here are several favorites.

on moon

(OE, p15)

This is so nice because it draws us in on a small bullfrog and then zooms our perspective out to see the frog in relation the moon. Breath could be the clouds floating by or perhaps if we haven't looked ahead to 'on moon' we keep our view in onto the frogs breath. Perhaps it is a chilly night and the frogs breath is frozen. This haiku also touches on what will be further discussed later about Moore's attraction with the moon.

wind chimes
a robin stops
to listen

(p. 16)

Animals are fascinatingly aware of all that is happening around them. We have all seen a bird busy at work and then completely stop what they are doing to analyze whether or not something is dangerous. But I love this haiku because it makes the wind chimes an object of enjoyment for the robin. The robin is not concerned about what the wind chimes are doing, he just stops to listen because they are beautiful to listen to. You can just picture his little head as he cocks it to one side, putting hit; good ear forward, and taking a moment out of his work to appreciate some beauty.

silent deer        the sound of waterfalls


I love this haiku. Everything about it makes sense; especially the fluidity of it's movement. First we see and hear the silence of the deer and take a moment with the silence, and then the sound of a waterfall starts trickling in, ever so gently. It's like a painting, and slowly all the elements are brought into focus. Very nice haiku.

As one can see, Moore definitely knows how to capture special moments with animals. Moore devotes about a fourth of his haiku in this book to animals. This is definitely one of his strong points and his animal haiku should be read with care.

Moore really finds some great moments to capture in his haiku, but sometimes he gets a bit wordy in describing them and the image become confusing and mottled. They could be looked at as simple enough, but in my opinion some are to forced.

Winter stillness
old barn's splintered remnants caught
in a crescent moon


First of all the second line could be made into a three line haiku by itself. Too many adjectives, and then a verb is thrown on at the end of the line. It's like he has this image in his mind and feels that if any part is left out the haiku would not be as powerful. Secondly, it takes the reader a minute to make any correlation between the second and third lines. I know he likes the moon, but the whole 'caught in the crescent moon' is a hard picture to imagine.

My revision of this haiku would be:

Winter stillness—
splintered remnants
of an old barn

This way you really picture the splintery-ness of the worn down barn, because splintered is such a nice word. Okay, back to more of his haiku.

the ancient farmstead
riding the rose-scented breeze
two white butterflies


Again, when you take the time to picture what this means, it's very exciting, but initially the haiku seems very wordy. Words like 'ancient' and his use of alliteration in the second line take away from the simplicity of the image. The word I would use to describe some of Moore's haiku is aggressive. They are simple images, yet it takes to much effort to reproduce them. He also is very aggressive in his uses of punctuation and uses colons, dashes, and periods more than most haiku authors. When he keeps the haiku simple then the moment resounds with more magic. As we have already seen, Moore uses the moon a lot in his haiku. I imagine the moon is probably his favorite creation as it is evident he thinks the moon has power and splendor. Here are some more of his wonderful 'moon' haiku

cold summer breeze—
his fishing line wades
in the full moon


I love this haiku because I spent many summer a night fishing with my cousin in Lake Gaston of North Carolina. I can just picture him sitting there in the boat, enjoying the night air, and not really caring if he catches anything or not. He is framed by the full moon behind him, and the moon cast a glow on the water where he has cast his rod. Beautiful picture.

a black woman
breastfeeding her infant
the autumn moon


Ahh, the darkness of the night echoes the beauty of her dark skin. The color palette used in the haiku is so extraordinary. Also the roundness of the moon echoes the shape of her round breast. Such a warm yet powerful haiku that touches all senses deep with in. It is like the moon is watching over her, as she watches over her child. Lovely.

Moore really has some wonderful ideas, and beautiful haiku. I thoroughly enjoyed studying him and watching his style. His thoughts are very creative and perceptive. His haiku is delightful to read. Here are few more of his haiku that should be noted.

sniffing the rosebud:
an old man—
the fading sun

(p. 14)

loving her again;
    spring moon
        where a cloud passed

(p. 15)

  in the moonlit breeze
slowly falling one by one:
  white dogwood petals


        on the wind
the ducks harsh quack


—Kelly Carruth

©2003 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors