standing near my wife
watching the snowflakes melt
in a stranger's hair

—Alan McCarthy

About the author: Alan currently lives in Saigon, Vietnam with his wife, Kelly. He is working on his first novel, Mongolian Blonde.

Contact: alan dot mccarthy at gmail dot com

Responses to the haiku for 7 January 2008 by Alan McCarthy

    Bill Kenney
    2008-01-07 14:30:03

    Beautifully captures the strangeness at the center of our relationships.

    toby evans
    2008-01-07 16:16:52

    this is quite good. a good platform from which to build or jump into a short story.

    2008-01-07 18:12:36

    beautiful, reminds me of Orhan Pamuk

    judith Ingram
    2008-01-07 21:20:09

    Reluctant to say goodnight -
    snow melts
    on his eyelashes

    mike farley
    2008-01-08 08:40:40

    would you consider . . .

    snowflakes melt
    in a stranger's hair
    near my wife

    2008-01-08 09:51:31

    the moon spreads
    her hairs shadow on the pond
    a duck combs

    Alan Summers
    2008-01-08 11:07:24

    Welcome Alan (from another Alan) to tinywords! ;-)

    2008-01-08 18:54:55

    [I am] standing near my wife watching the snowflakes melt in a stranger's hair


    It certainly is a striking image, but I have to wonder: Is it is a haiku, or is it an almost sentence sliced into the three-line haiku format?

    mike farley
    2008-01-08 19:53:28

    for gk . . .

    don't worry spiders,
    I keep house


    judith Ingram
    2008-01-08 20:58:13

    for GK . . . does it matter?

    Bill Kenney
    2008-01-09 20:11:54

    for gK: "standing" need not be read as a truncated progressive present. It can be, rather, a participle or gerund; either makes this an open-ended path to the silent fourth line of genuine haiku. The haiku police won't tell you this, but the -ing formation is one of the most potent resources of haiku.

    Felica Sah
    2008-01-09 22:27:55

    Alan - Just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your haiku and I believe it is perfect as is. It is subtle, gentle, original, and stunningly complete. Your haiku speaks about relationships with loved ones and those ten second relationships we all spark with strangers. Bravo! I just love your work. And I am of the opinion that it is perfect, please don't change a thing. -Felica Sah

    Angelika Wienert
    2008-01-10 00:39:12

    nearness, strangeness

    your haiku is very interesting

    2008-01-10 04:24:43

    I love it. The all too common paying attention to others when the ones who should be at the center of our world are just standing nearby. Thanks!

    2008-01-10 04:32:03

    Love it. Though living in Texas; Reminds me of my days in New York, Central park. White Christmas. Early, chilly morning right after a snow fall, when the air is cleanest. you can smell a womens perfum from a distance. Those where the days.

    Alexander Ask
    2008-01-11 23:38:33

    Nice work Alan. Stimulates mystery: whose hair is the snowflake melting in?

    b. m. richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2008-01-12 12:57:15


    yes, even in a haiku

    watching the snow melt in her hair
    stranger standing next to my wife

    amazing what the ending -ING does to one's understanding

    the -ing formation does wonders when used in the appropriate manner. albeit, most are left with this erroneous surmise of something that's simply wasn't meant; wouldn't an appositive be nice

    Eric Burke
    2008-01-13 08:03:54

    Perfect. An amazing poem!

    2008-01-13 10:55:01

    I'm a newbie (so take my opinion with a grain of salt), but in defence of gK, it does seem to me to be a run-on with really only one image. (a lovely image though) Bill & b.m. - I'm trying to understand; but you've lost me. ;)

    b. m. richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2008-01-13 17:29:53

    jc, tangling web of the -ing(gerund), but i'm taking your response salt-free. there being at least two individuals present, my wife and the watcher, we do have the infamous turn. there are times when a little mysticism is too much; as there are times when one's thoughts tend to infer something that isn't there; in gk's case, his adding of "i am". in a haiku, there ARE clearly drawn lines...

    2008-01-13 21:50:10

    Does this sound better if it reads like this;

    standing near my wife
    i watch the snowflakes melt
    in a stranger's hair

    b. m. richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2008-01-14 05:22:56

    using a gerund affects our interpretation.
    ┐swan, the overall understanding would be changed. i'm trying to understand where the "i" is coming from, versus the way the haiku is written. stranger standing next to the wife, watching the snow melt in her hair. here i'd say, this observation seems repeated to the husband, by another observer.

    hmmmmmm, rather clandestine, HA

    Bill Kenney
    2008-01-14 06:35:08

    For jc:

    gerund: "standing . . . hair is . . ." ("standing" as subject of "is", i. e., acting like a noun)

    participle: "standing . . . hair, I . . ." ("standing" modifies "I," i. e., acts like an adjective)

    The grammatical openness of the -ing form, lending itself to ambiguities of theme and rhythm, is what makes it such a potent resource.

    josh wikoff
    2008-01-14 08:36:48

    how much depends

    each tiny

    for a stranger's

    in the falling

    2008-01-14 08:48:40

    strange hair
    in fluffy white


    hope it's the wife's

    b. m. richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2008-01-14 11:12:15

    bill, i beg to differ. you need a complete sentence to make your declarations valid and comprehensible.


    chilling air
    in the early hours
    the rooster crows

    2008-01-14 14:17:35

    Okay, I'm starting to get it. Gerunds/participles = very tricky. Now I see the ambiguity. We don't know who is standing near the wife (husband or stranger). And we don't know who is watching (husband, stranger, or wife). Finally, we don't know who owns the hair (the stranger? Or if it's the stranger watching; then the wife or husband would be a stranger to him or her)! Thx for explaining:)

    Bill Kenney
    2008-01-14 17:59:59

    For bm (and anyone else who is interested):

    Many haiku are best read as fragments of larger wholes, which are implied or hinted at: the "silent fourth line" I mentioned in an earlier comment.

    But we all have our ways of reading, and I certainly respect yours.

    Magyar (magyar0109 at aol dot com)
    2008-01-15 05:21:44

    A humble observation... "such illuminating discussions above_!"

    foggy mirror
    her hair drier blows away

    b. m. richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2008-01-15 07:41:35

    bill, i respect your reading of a haiku; but your defining of a gerund, i questioned. gerunds when the subject, appositive, direct object, object of preposition, to name a few, need a complete sentence to be properly understood. limiting a gerund being mistaken for a predicate verb, even the present participle; or vice versa

    fading winter sunset
    diving into the gulf
    this redhead

    judith ingram (super dot ingram at verizon dot net)
    2008-01-15 14:40:15

    Alan: you probably couldn't pay for this kind of extensive exposure.

    Swan: your haiku gets my vote.

    Dylan: Please, please come home! Enough already!

    Eric Burke
    2008-01-15 16:55:42

    Alan's original version is perfect. The rewrites are less immediate, less evocative. The ambiguity in the original doesn't hinder a clear reading, but makes more than one reading possible. I read it, without confusion or hesitation, one way and then later saw different, also rewarding, ways of reading it. I think Felica has it exactly right in her comments.

    2008-01-15 23:20:01

    Thanks Ms J. Ingram.

    b. m. richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2008-01-16 10:06:40

    daily tinywords responses, more

    Felica Sah
    2008-01-16 10:13:57

    I agree with Judith's comment above - you definitely could not pay for this kind of exposure! Alan, you are quite the celebrated writer here. Please be reminded that all brilliant works are initially misunderstood. Bravo to you, Alan!
    -Felica S.

    P. Scott Hamilton
    2008-01-16 18:01:07

    Changing the subject ... the last posted tiny words haiku is this January 7 ... at least it is on my computer. Is someone ill?

    Reason A. Poteet
    2008-01-17 09:54:21

    wet-headed stranger
    observes hubby looking still
    bus trip to nowhere

    How can we help? It's been 10 days now.

    b. m. richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2008-01-18 06:36:31

    felica, some brilliant work is never understood, some thought to be while being totally misunderstood.
    we're a product of our learnings, or that which we're taught. the difference evolves when one begins thinking for him/herself. at times being branded the rebel, surely unorthodox while questioning the norm...


    blue skies
    atop this spruce--
    silence from the black bird's perch

    2008-01-18 12:28:30

    Hey, Dylan where are you and the rest of the staff? Everyone is anxious for your return.

    Angelica Courter
    2008-01-23 09:12:10

    The haiku has a strange sense of false security. But I still like it. It makes you kinda wander what was going through your head as you wrote it.

    2008-01-26 12:09:13

    Haiku: Veiled Morning Commute

    White bird on black cloud

    Spring rains in the wintertime

    Unexpected warmth