the cell phone on her bed

—R K Singh

About the author: Dr R K SINGH, Professor & Head,Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad 826004 India

Dr. Singh's home page


Responses to the haiku for 17 July 2003 by R K Singh

    2003-07-17 18:19:44


    That was... well... perhaps English is the doctor's second language.

    2003-07-17 18:41:59

    Very good, RK. The ambiguity creates a delicious tautness, with L2 a violin string held at high tension between LL1&3.

    Can't help wondering what happened next!


    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-07-17 22:42:47

    the thought comes to mind, might norm be capable of playing, J.S.Bach's: Sonata No.1 in G minor

    anyway, back to the matters at hand.

    the cell phone on her bed


    i'll try to keep it in layman's terms.

    yes, there are some clear cut views here.

    comparison, i ponder.

    things appear to travel together, a mystery of late.

    i was trying to experience the moment, if you felt a lapse in my typing.

    as i asked someone earlier, "what are you trying to say".

    i can draw a vivid picture, but it's seemingly is in black and white, while being stark

    even from guy and norm's words, i get this "huh" expression

    this should go down as a historical moment, even a haiku moment, the first time guy, norm, and bob are in agreement

    although, i don't expect it to happen again, anytime soon

    the cell phone ringggggggs
    on her bed...

    girl alone

    2003-07-18 03:13:03

    What could have happened? The phone stopped ringing, lying alone on her bed, like her, quiet and lost in her own world?
    What I like about the haiku is the lovely image, with a lot of possibilities that is presented.
    Yes, Guy, English is my second language. But when I write poetry in it, I try to use it as my first language, despite obvious problems native speakers wont face.But then, I suffer the same difficulties in my first language as well, when it comes to creativity.
    I am flatered, however, that my English is acceptable.
    I feel obliged to Bob for his empathy. Thank you, friend.
    R K Singh

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-07-18 06:23:20

    dr singh,
    your words are more than acceptable. your creation was rather thought provoking.
    if anything causes me to ponder, i feel the author has done a wonderful job, though my words appear contradictive. the more i say about a haiku, the more it has moved me, for it has stirred up me from within.
    your creation is different than the "norm", and refreshing.
    i have tried to illustrate, my critique is not about bashing, rather exemplifying it has made my day, in causing me to look at things anew.
    too often, many in their applauds of another, within their words, show themselves to be empty.

    dr singh, do more, along your current trend.
    the world of the haiku is in need of some shaking up, if it is to proceed along the lines it has over the centuries. of late, many are satisfied with the haiku's latest development, expressing the need for no further changes, but this is not to be.

    thanks for the insight dr singh.

    Brian Gierat
    2003-07-18 08:08:35

    This is fine as a senryu...a type of "haiku" with only elements of human nature. True haiku incorporates nauture or a "kigo" ( a season word ). Fresh senryu delivered daily here...Carry on

    Norman Darlington
    2003-07-18 09:39:05

    Brian, I suggest you click on the 'about' link at the top of the page. While within the Japanese tradition, there is never confusion between the two forms, haiku and senryu in the west are essentially 2 spans on a continuum. If you take a look through the tw archive, you will find many poems that are unarguably senryu.

    There are other places on the web where you will find such a strict definition as yours applied, Brian. Enjoy them.

    Bob, keep taking the new medication ;-)

    Norman Darlington
    2003-07-18 09:42:13

    I've said before that haiku is a collaborative process. This time perhaps I've read an ambiguity not intended by the author!
    My alternative reading is that it's the phone which is alone on the bed: perhaps she's out partying and left it behind. Lots of things could happen next.

    But leaving that reading aside, your non-standard separation of cellphone into two words is effective; the word 'cell' echoing about the empty room, creating a stark atmos.

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-07-18 11:56:39

    par for the course, norm, truly flattering, one could not counter any part of that which i have said, other than throwing a whimsical preponderance alluding to medication.
    for all of your last two postings, i am stunned you could not have taken the time to elaborate earlier to this degree.
    there is a hint, mind you, of schizoid. if there is any faltering on my part i can always count on norm for support.

    (to the new readers, i am making this up as i go...hahaha)

    you shocked me, norm, in your actually seeing the stark reality within dr singh's creation.
    one parting note, norm, for all the elaborate words one can amass, usage is something utterly different.

    one last word, for the moment, norm, anything is arguable, if one has the tenacity.

    the question, now being, will anyone rise to the occasion...

    Norman Darlington
    2003-07-19 04:09:15

    Alright Bob, arguably senryu. And apologies for the jibe above - it clearly came across in a less lighthearted way than intended.

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-07-19 06:38:57

    norm, this medium, which we use, tend to do that, creating something that was not meant.

    i am about to get a little philosophical, norm, and throwing brevity out the window, again; in our roads crossing, respect for you has never been the issue. regardless of how i took your posting, you took the time, at 2003-07-19 04:09:15, to veer from the path frequently traveled by the world; in explaining what you meant, especially with the possibility of it being taken negatively, i appreciate that.

    today, i have learned from you and more about you, which i and others should try to exemplify.
    in spite of our having, what appears to be at times, counterpoints, it exist more so in our debates, rather than in our lives.

    i thank you.

    R K Singh (profrksingh at yahoo dot com)
    2003-07-21 03:24:45

    I'm happy my haiku incited a good debate between two haijins of standing. The haiku was the fourth version of the one I had initially composed .
    All good poems must give different meanings to different readers at different points of time.I feel satisfied to discover the meanings I really didn't intend just as I realize my haiku carries the genuine haiku moment or momentness of the moment to provoke a good response. Thanks, Norm & Bob

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-07-22 05:43:23


    hmmm, now i have an additional word to call norm.

    d f tweney (dft at tinywords dot com)
    2003-07-23 00:37:37

    Norm says you can find many senryu in the tinywords archive. There's no question about that. I've never been strict about keeping senryu off of the site. In fact, for awhile I tried to run humorous haiku and/or senryu once a week, every Friday.

    However, I don't think RK's haiku here is a senryu in any sense. It lacks the humorous, wry, ironic twist that typifies most senryu. Instead I get a powerful sense of loneliness and emptiness from this piece. To me, the strength of that emotion -- evoked through the simplest, most concrete of language -- makes this a very successful haiku, despite any obvious reference to the natural world.

    todd claus
    2003-07-23 12:03:16

    Senryu too, deal with human emotions arisen strictly from human (inter)action. According to George Swede (the only thing better than quoting George Swede is reading his poems) haiku must involve "some aspect of nature..." and "While human nature can be a part of a haiku it must occurr together with something from the outside world...".

    Or, as Brian Tasker has written, "haiku are experience, senryu are perceived."

    So, is this poem by Nakatsuka (1887-1946)...

    Oh, my hand slips on the white hibachi,
    Oh, my country.

    ...perceived or experienced and does it really have anything more to do with nature than RK's cell phone?

    Patricia Prime
    2003-07-24 00:43:55

    Dear chaps, let me join in the debate re Dr. Singh's poem (may be a little biased as he and I have been corresponding for several years!) I consider the poem to be a senryu, having as it does,a difference in "tone" from a haiku, with its human reference. In Japan, it is clear that a senryu is a haiku-like verse that lacks a kigo or season word. When haiku was brought to the west it was not always given a seasonal reference, so that nowadays I believe little differentation is made between the two forms.

    Some interesting comments on the "meaning" of the poem: each reader will bring his or her own thoughts to the work. My reading is that it is the cellphone that is "alone / on the bed" - the girl is absent(at a party, perhaps?)and someone is trying to get hold of her.

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-07-24 07:05:36

    and the debate continues...
    dr singh has provided us with his understanding of his own creation, once presented to the reader it is up for grabs, or interpretations in this case.

    we have heard from a few "authoritative" voices, figuratively.

    i'd like to offer a few more words on my conception.

    senryu/haiku, the debate can go beyond one's lifetime, even if a committee was formed to be an end all, after it's inception, voices would be heard to the contrary; this leads to the beauty of discussion.
    is there to be a who's right and who's wrong, possibly; however how far back would we have to retreat to remove the state we now find ourselves.
    from the onset, there has this form of discussion, what is and what isn't.
    so i will not try to add to it, but i will point out a few things, aside from the "RULES", which by now, we all should be aware of.

    a continuance...

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-07-24 07:09:49

    part two, scene one...

    i am looking at the piece itself, rather than what it is or isn't, before one can proceed to the next level, this is a must.

    "alone", how many truly understand this word. i can heard the snorts, "be serious bob". yes, i am being candid about what one understands and doesn't understand.

    even dr singh may not have been conscious of the meaning in his words.

    "alone", being the first word, what would we perceive if this was the gist of the poem in it's entirety.
    alone: apart from others, solitary; this says much. who among you have phones grouped together, or anything that is kept or keeps company with the phone, other than one's self. some may say what about an answering machine, true, but is it keeping company with, but in the strictest understanding, i would think this word "alone" speaks for itself. that being said, i would say there is a person involved, a girl in this case, pointed out in line two.


    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-07-24 07:15:17

    part three, scene one...

    the thought comes to mind how powerful this could have been if the poem was merely "alone", yet we are reviewing what's supposedly a "haiku".

    i find myself wading into what i did not set out to say. this word "alone" indirectly speak of nature, for all the world and that one sees, or lack thereof, is life/nature.

    dr singh, i feel you have been brilliant with the usage of one word, who knows why when what issues forth from whence it came.

    enough said here, but if need be, i will say more later.

    second line, "the cell phone on her bed". curiously, the thought comes to mind, "does the cell phone belong to her". i can get over this thought and press on. in rereading this line i sense it being a tad wordy. or what is it, dr singh is trying to convey. if we hold true to the thought of there being a turning point in a haiku, again this is brilliant. this reinforces my opinion concerning the first line.

    to be continued...

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-07-24 07:19:37

    part four, scene one...

    we understand there being something "lacking company" in the room. then with the turn, we find out there is a cell phone, in addition to this person being alone, on her bed( we are craftily informed there is a female involved), and our focus has been shifted.

    third line: "rings"

    about this what can i say that i haven't said

    at this juncture, does she answer it, how many times does it ring, what brought about this solitude doesn't matter.

    a beautiful play, dr singh. a scene with four objects, each unto itself.

    1. alone(person)
    2. cellphone
    3. her bed
    4. ringing

    the curtain falls

    waiting for grand finale...

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-07-24 07:22:25


    as one of my professors pointed out to me, "about falling trees in the forest, when a tree falls, if no one is there to hear it, how are we to know if it made a noise"; if no one is there, how are we to know the phone is indeed ringing. can anyone tell me, how many times their phone rings in a day, while they are away from home; albeit we "assume". (or if their refrigerator light turns off, when the door is closed)

    we have been brilliantly presented with a one scene play, all in a flash, all in an instant, all in a moment.

    dr singh, i admit, you have have done well with your HAIKU

    at this point, i find myself breathless...

    2003-07-25 01:49:29

    You have been trying to find too much in the haiku. Your professor friends' remarks now make me think about the haiku in metaphysical terms: How does one know when death comes and goes? Is death visible? Isn't it possible to think that the girl is no more and some one, not aware of the fact, remembers her, calls her up, the cell phone rings, but she is no more to answer? The phone which used to be with her always now rings ALONE on her bed, which too is alone without her?...
    It is the emptiness and apparent loneliess and the associated deeper pangs that the haiku stresses.
    I am, however, glad to discover that the poetry of the poem has made you and others think about the form and content besides enjoying what is the traditional makeup of a haiku or senryu.

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-07-25 08:11:27

    "metaphysical": the science of being, dr singh, i believe you are adding to my supposition or presupposition.
    "someone" calling we can assume, but even on this how are we to know, unless someone takes the credit of being the observer, and desiring advertently or inadvertent to pass this information on; in this case, surely it can only be the "girl". as for a friend or anyone else attempting to reach the girl, simply adds to the area where one's mind ponders the situation, if one gets into the poem overly deep.

    2003-08-22 12:32:11

    Very good!

    This has a stream and feelings of "real, original Japanese Haiku" which no English Haiku writer can't get.

    This is the best one in the English Haiku History.


    The form:
    > Alone
    > the cell phone on her bed
    > rings
    is perfect & no problem.

    The sounds:
    > A!"lone"
    > the! cell "phone" on~~ her~~~ bed!!
    > rings!!!
    is great! No one can't make like this!

    Other people's comments are useless.

    From Japan,


    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-08-23 02:07:53

    not wanting to be contradictive, in your "This has a stream and feelings of 'real, original Japanese Haiku' which no English Haiku writer can't get", are you saying an english haiku writer can get this. and, from your "No one can't make like this", are you meaning someone can.

    a bold statement, "other people's comments are useless", why is this so.

    2003-08-23 13:16:45


    You're mistaken.
    I'm meaning -- it's "ever".
    But only R K Singh got it.

    & my comment "Other people's comments are useless." is a kind of joke.
    Don't mind & ignore.


    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-08-24 06:13:22

    being "mistaken", i believe, has nothing to do with it. your comment, simply, comes across as being poor english and grammar; even substituting "ever" into the mix, clouds the picture "ever" the more so; following this, capturing your joke became "ever" the more "evasive and elusive", forgive me, the previous two terms mean the same.

    it's not a question of my not minding and being asked to ignore, these are choices to my choosing, possibly being suggestive on your part.

    the "commentary portion" of tinywords, i feel, if one takes the time to enter it, one should take the time to entertain all entries, unless one feels "overtly" superior.(overtly, the "law" definition)

    and then...

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-08-24 06:15:42

    picture this...

    i am "ever" the more confused, with dr singh's admittance of english being his second language(deference, dr singh) and your saying, he was the only one getting your points.

    when one jokes, even in the haiku, the stage is better prepared; mind you, this is my opinion.

    smell of smoke in the air
    sun burns the fog away

    issa, there is a deeper message and a joke within.

    did you get them; however, was there a need for me to tell you this?

    2003-08-24 07:16:22


    You're perfect!
    But Haiku is the literature of unfilled space.
    Is Haiku really required for you?

    Have you come to here Japan, the starting point of Haiku? Have you lived here? What do you know about Japan?

    Haiku is the culture which Japan can be proud of in the world. Standards are us Japanese.

    Don't forget that English is not the center language in the world & also in Haiku.

    2003-08-24 08:00:00

    This is the comment of my last.
    Since Americans like justice & war, I've got fearful.

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-08-24 09:23:34

    issa, fearful or timid...

    "perfect", i am, again, assuming you are being humorous; if not, then insulting. we do not live in a perfect world, though some thrive to be

    issa, you raised a question, what do i know about japan; however, i see you fail to submit an e-mail address, that i might vainly attempt to inform you of that which i know.

    "is the haiku required of me", nope; actually i struggle greatly with the haiku, because by now, you see, i tend to be somewhat verbose; a joke, issa.
    it is a struggle i lose, almost daily, because i find myself fighting against myself, a battle one cannot "ever"win. the haiku in it's gentle, wise and and mastering forms, skillfully side-steps my assaults, rendering me into submission, and from this i have learned, for the better.

    continue reading issa...

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-08-24 09:29:02

    are you still there issa...

    to be brief:

    1. yes, i have been to japan

    2. no, japan is not the starting point of haiku, though that which we associate with basho is thought to be

    3. reread my words several times, "i am in need of an e-mail address to list a thorough sampling of my knowledge"

    4. i have NOT said anything degrading about japan and the haiku; i agree with you, the haiku, we all take pride in

    5. no, (standards) meaning all that is, isn't equated to the japanese, we all are entitled to our opinions; however, i feel a side of you, coming out, that speaks for itself.

    be patient with me, issa...

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-08-24 09:32:02

    are you weary, issa...

    6. i reread my words, as i always do, and not anywhere did i see anything remotely resembling my attributing english as being "the center language in the world & also in haiku". at times, i think it isn't the language of the united states, either.
    i do admit, in my trying to understand your usage of english, i explain to you what i saw and understood to be, on this you took offence

    8. and finally, your statement, "americans love justice and war" leaves much in you to be desired.
    i ponder if you weighed your words or might you have hastily slung them from your mind

    by the way, there was a number 7, albeit, i chose not to say it in public view; then, it would be justifiable said, i deserved being in your company.

    break-time soon, issa

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-08-24 09:35:45

    a lingering thought, issa...
    your e-mail address

    anyway, allow me to continue.

    issa, i enjoyed this moment, it was a wake-up call of the many diverse minds in the world. i can respect you for that, regardless of my being in total disagreement.
    in my meaning of "respect", issa, i am saying, "i extend the courtesy of your thinking whatever pleases or brings you fear".

    in your "got fearful", try remembering, "if you are bold enough to speak up and out, be expectant of an answer; at least from me".

    though some prefer to throw a stone, then, to run and hide.

    2003-08-25 05:18:01

    The debate on the haiku should not have debased to reflect the narrowness of one's cultural mind.
    Haiku is a spiritual exercise, revealing the best in ones artistic sensibility in enjoying momentness of the moment in an otherwise very terrible outer world. The concentrated inner nuances of the deeper spirit need to be appreciated with the objectivity a haiku writer is expected to create. Bob should have been more restrained in his comments.

    d f tweney (dft at tinywords dot com)
    2003-08-26 02:06:46

    This discussion has gone well beyond the merits of R K Singh's haiku. Therefore, I'm moving it to the tinywords haiku debate forum (hosted by Quicktopic).

    If anyone wants to post any more direct comments on this haiku, please feel free to do so. But any more "comments" that merely continue the debate on this page will be deleted. Please direct your debate to the debate forum.

    john tiong chunghoo
    2003-12-31 22:13:37

    reading about superstition
    the constant cry
    of the child nextdoor

    ed markowski (1elmarko at comcast dot net)
    2004-02-04 22:55:45

    wrong number
    but we discuss our children

    published in Acorn Spring 03

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2004-06-29 04:17:45

    no incoming calls
    she imagines them anyway --