www.agentofchaos.com presents guest poet, publisher/editor singer/songwriter Bree

Cleveland Haiku - Michael Ceraolo

Cleveland Haiku ~ Michael Ceraolo
Green Panda Press 2004
Photos by lang.bodnar.bree

review June 2004
Richard James van der Draaij
Ancient Heart Magazine

cleveland haiku
Cleveland Haiku by Michael Ceraolo
with photos by Lang, Bodnar, Bree
2004 - 36 haikus, 39 fotos, 18 pages, clear acetate covers, 8.5" x 2"

On several occasions Ancient Heart Magazine has published poems by Michael Ceraolo. I was struck by the light, yet profound touch of these short poignant poems. Michael's publication 'Cleveland Haiku' is a collection of his short poems and this concise title does encapsulate the content most accurately . Here we find snapshots of city life, the highs and lows of living in Cleveland or - in a sense - any city, the summer bliss and winter sludge of everyday life made remarkable by the poet's focus, captured within three lines.

Much has been said, and will continue to be said, about the supposed strict rules that state what a 'true' haiku should be. The 5-7-5 syllable count, the absence of rhyme and more may serve to guide the haiku poet in creating little gems of poetic concentration. Personally, I feel a proper haiku should adhere to the rule that each of the three lines should be able to be read separately. This seems to be a difficult one to stick to but even where the poems in Cleveland Haiku don't follow this rule the result proves to be elegant and poetically agreeable.

5. The creek rushes past,
swollen with rain,
impatient to get to the lake

Here, Michael Ceraolo directs the gaze from the city's concrete jungle to a natural scene, heavy with momentum and energy. The poem says what it needs to with a minimum of words; a satisfying haiku. Some of the haiku are rather melancholy in the way that they open up to the reader and this element certainly agrees with this editor. For instance:

8. The building still bears the name
of a company
that left long ago

denotes vacant floor space, reminders of work once carried out in disused depots and warehouses, late afternoon light that slowly turns everything dark and moody. Wistful. The poems are accompanied by photos that mostly are very apt. The picture alongside the above poem shows the weathered side of an abandoned building with a motto or a company logo that seems to be missing its first letter and simply reads: ABBATH. In

48. The barbed wire is gone~
nothing left to protect
the abandoned building

the same sense of alienation and urban desolation comes to the fore. It's the forlornness of the big city, the urban sprawl where not every district is leafy and comfortably suburban. Deeper still, I detect a wish for something more pure, more innocent than what the city has to offer. Perhaps it is the fleeting thought, the temporary focus that is caught in these wonderful little poems:

37. Native names
for many places remain,
unlike the natives themselves.

Cleveland Haiku is an accomplished collection of striking short poems. As with every selection of poems, the quality varies but since these are haiku that in itself may be due to the subjectivity of the chosen form. There is a gentleness of tone that combines with a melancholy energy to yield fresh, enduring examples of the short poem in its purest form.

Cleveland Haiku by Michael Ceraolo is a publication by Green Panda Press. Price is $7,50.
GreenPandaPress@yahoo.com 14314 Superior Avenue
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118, USA

Richard James van der Draaij maay be reached at Ancient Heart Magazine in England

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