Disability and the Haiku Master


On the day my mother died I found myself so overwhelmed with grief and all the miserable details of planning her funeral that I stopped everything and made up a haiku.

Here’s the gist of it:


My deodorant and my

Prozac are working overtime

Just now…


Though this haiku did not solve my problems it did evoke my mother’s salty, colorful sensibility and more than anything that’s what I needed on that terrible day. 


Disability carries its own dans macabre–stigma, alienation, insufficient benefits or accommodations, the heavy burdens of self-advocacy. Some days one feels like the snail climbing Mt. Fuji–there’s a beautiful, steady, earnest hopelessness about the enterprise of enduring. I think like the haiku form of verse, disability is at once both clear and vague–by this I mean the outlines of human worth are evident in every action undertaken by a person with a disability, and, just so, the way forward is all too often hard to see. The season now must be spring or summer, the wheelchair girl is singing. 

That’s a blindness haiku and true as a poem can be. It’s the bare outlines of human value we celebrate in the short poem and which we celebrate in our dailiness. The latter depends on evident consciousness: who are you, who are you just now? 


Just three days old,

The moon, and it’s all warped and bent!

Friend, take my cane.







Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

0 thoughts on “Disability and the Haiku Master”

  1. There are many things about haiku that make it such a great form for disability poetry including its being grounded in the physical, it brevity, and the beauty achieved when the traditional form is broken. I really enjoyed the post.


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