love became a lonely land: autumnal haiku chain

leaves on loam

leaves like love let go

spiral down to snoozing earth,

dark, russet-brown loam.


when fall took those leaves

love became a lonely land—

warmth withdrawn, wan sun’s


waning light bled slow

blind trails of mud and sodden

footsteps veined with ice


wan sun's waning light bled slow blind trails

where ghosts shadowed past,

skulked all through that leafless land

to haunt our autumns…


stark, unfelled, strange-boughed—

love’s remains in lonely land:

bare old beeches, clumped,


storm-ridden and gaunt,

sheltering our homeless hearts,

winterblown—like us,


love’s a vagabond

wandering to a nameless place

of endless leaving—


on tracks untravelled

from fall to spring, we will see

leaves, let go, return.

leaves, let go, return

leaves, let go, return


 – I originally wrote this haiku chain on Twitter — a bad habit of mine — poetry on Twitter being so hit and miss, nobody’s looking for it — but I find it a good place maybe for knocking out a first draft.

– When I’d written it I thought Love is a lonely land was a new phrase but then I checked and I saw I had actually lifted it (subconsciously…) from an old, sweet song.

–  This was Billie Holiday’s beautiful, mournful Deep Song (by Cory and Cross), which includes the line:

Love lives in a lonely land

and ends:

Love is a barren land, a lonely land/A lonely land.

–  That’s a song I must have listened to more than a couple dozen times since childhood (my parents also loved Billie Holiday).

– At any rate, my haiku chain has ended up as a sort of retort — a positive echo if you like — to the somewhat bleak sentiments of Deep Song

– So thanks to Billie, Cory and Cross!

– And here’s their song in all its glory:

Billie Holiday: Deep Song


  1. Sandie Zand says:

    The poem is lovely… the song too, albeit Billie isn’t quite as upbeat as those swirling leaves and resulting bare trees, patiently waiting for spring. Perhaps her acceptance of the status quo has more to do with creating a moody song for the love-lorn than a reflection of Truth.

    The poem, however, paints a glorious picture of autumn the season, autumn the state… vive la misère avec l’espoir! say I.

  2. Osamu Okamoto says:

    From: The Critic of Haiku Osamu Okamoto

    To: The Composer of Haiku Freddie Omm
    : And The Readers of Haiku Composer Freddie Omm’s Haiku

    In these haiku, the Composer Freddie Omm chooses to focus on half-hidden motions of nature. (This is in accord with the Tradition which foresees haiku’s pre-eminent subjects should be nature, be it landscape, seasons, and so on.)

    Motions of nature portrayed in these haiku progress from life (existing in initial “now” of haiku’s action) through death to rebirth (in witty semantic contrast, the tense of the haiku begins in the present then, as haiku moves forward in seasonal time, the tense switches to past!!):
    The leaves which fall in Autumn become the loam which fertilizes new growth of leaves on the oak trees.
    This process occurs as the days become shorter and darker and the wan sun’s light lacks warmth. And waning light bleeds away the colour of the land, leaving blind trails and icy footsteps. This is a season of shadows and it is a season of ghosts (or seeming ghosts) who leave footsteps (or seem to) and haunt people still alive.

    Haiku Composer Freddie Omm links this natural motion – almost invisible when motion viewed diurnally or mundanely – to the equally unseeable motions of love on human spirits.

    (At the beginning, the falling leaves are placed in comparison with “love let go.” “Love let go” may be in allusion to the famed idea that one must “let go” or “set free” what one loves. Alternatively it may surmise that leaves are like love that passes as all things must pass. ((although in Christian dogma there exists the trope of a love that “passes all understanding”, which is a superhuman or godly type of love of the kind which many priests would argue was supernatural and thus had little place in the world of haiku as composed along the Traditional path.)) These distinctions provide rich sequences, semantic echoing-chambers which may well be left in suspension at this point, as their resolution is not required for the outcomes of the haiku.)

    In the fifth and sixth haiku we observe that “love’s remains” are still present – either sheltered under the oaks, or the oaks themselves, or the whole compendium of that scene.

    In the seventh haiku love is – “like us” – a vagabond, a homeless person blown from place to place, like the lovers under the blighted oak trees, seemingly friendless and alone, although this is deceptive. The “place of endless leaving” refers both to the homeless vagrancy of love and the lovers, but also to the natural sequence of leaves falling, composting and rebirthing as fresh leaves again.

    In the final haiku the seemingly aimless travels of the vagabond love along “back tracks” and “blind trails” may not get one to proscribed destinations, but allow one to see the things nobody else can see who travels along more busily frequented routes or speedier roads. This, the haiku imply, is the way in which love may be found, or, if found already, renewed.

    In the Composer Freddie Omm’s skilled and dextrous handling of syllables, each haiku within the chain becomes a pearl of great price (to make comparison with other topic entirely!), packed with own meaning, all contributing to whole.

    I have not seen this type of Haiku Chain before in English. (I have seen before types of chains composed by more than one author, which is an inferior practice unlikely to result in deep or truly satisfying poetry, being more kin of a type of party game with a literary angle, at that undemanding if sometimes enjoyable level.)

    Hence Haiku Composer Freddie Omm is the Father of New Form, the Haiku Chain, and Master of English Haiku.

  3. Hasegawa Kai says:

    There are many haiku poets who are bound up by fixed ideas about things. But, there are also many who are not. The latter are the ones who will seek out the right way from among various opinions. In any age and in any country, those are the people who will lead the way into the future.

    From the time of the Man’yoshu, Japan’s earliest poetry anthology, the Japanese literary arts have invested mono (things) with kokoro (feeling, heart, spirit). Haiku are no exception. Even if they appear to be written only about things, there is definitely kokoro beneath the surface. However, because of the extremes of modern realism, kokoro is neglected, and only “things” have come to be written about in haiku.

    In these haiku, kokoro is not neglected.

  4. James Wood says:

    This is a beautiful sonnet, Mr Omm.

    it is possibly the best sonnet I have read in thirty years.

  5. Freddie Omm says:

    In what sense do you think this haiku chain to have sonnet-like qualities?

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