crossing the table
beside a book on zen
the cockroach pauses
L.A. Davidson (1917-2007). From "Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac" (1996), by William J. Higginson.
This haiku uses the technique of combining two completely unrelated entities in a way that suggests cause and effect to the reader, even though no cause and effect is actually implied in the language of the poem. The cockroach just happened to pause; it could have paused anywhere at any time, but it did so while crossing something and, at that, beside a book on Zen Buddhism. It seems almost as if the cockroach took interest in the Way of Zen and paused to learn more. But of course the haiku says no more than that a cockroach paused in its scurrying for a moment. To state while not stating -- that is the Way of Haiku.
Selected and commented on by Dhugal J. Lindsay