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The Art Of Transforming A Landfill, One Haiku At A Time

hoong yee lee krakauer

Hoong Yee, Haiku Master

Guest post by Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer

I have a secret superpower.

It is my amazing ability to change my world into syllables.

The girl who makes me a cappuccino in the local Italian bakery tossed me an approving nod the other day when I told her every meeting I have deserves una bella scatola di biscotti.

“You are – ” she leaned over the counter and pushed the bakery box filled with hazelnut and chocolate biscotti towards me. ” – how you say, smart? No, not smart.” I kept smiling although I wasn’t sure where she was going with this and I was still waiting for my cappuccino.

“You know how to – fix things. Like a the guy who come to clean out that stupid pipe in the back. Madonna! What a mess.”

I slowly started to turn on my superpowers to take control of the world. Take a deep breath, clear my thoughts, focus my mind on the task before me.

Coo-kies and cof-fee…

I lowered my eyes and pulled out my unread New York Times and concentrated on changing her from an absent minded bakery employee into an efficient milk steaming barista.

For a morn-ing meet-ing of…

She turned to her machines and started making the coffee. Suddenly she slapped her forehead and said with a wide eyed look of triumph, “Ah! I know. You know what you are?”

So close, my cappuccino is so close. Must remain calm and the world will be mine. All I need is one more line and my coffee.

“Di me, bella. What?” I said in my best superhero-under-duress voice.

In a conspiratorial whisper she breathed, “You are one of – i cognoscenti, the people who know.”

I cognoscenti.

I cog-no-scen-ti

I closed my hands around the coffee cup she handed me and I opened my eyes to meet hers.

Cookies and coffee

for a morning meeting of

i cognoscenti


Mission accomplished, with cookies for later, coffee for now and my morning captured forever in a spillproof haiku. But what impressed me more was an article in the newspaper that caught my eye as I was syllabicating the world to my liking (is that really a word?). I realized that my superpowers pale in comparison to what the deceptively simple haiku can accomplish.

What can a haiku do?

It can transform a one of the city’s largest eyesore of a landfill into “urban oasis with wildlife habitats, horseback riding, mountain biking and meandering nature trails”. The City’s Parks Department invited people to envision what this future Staten Island park could be like in a seventeen syllable snapshot, a haiku. The results of their third annual Freshkills Haiku Contest include this gem:

Somewhere underneath

The bike paths I will ride on

My old love letters

-Stevie D’Arbanville

Imagine that! The power of i cognoscenti in seventeen syllables can change the world, one landfill at a time.

About the author:

Hoong Yee Lee Kraker is a non-profit knitter, creative writer, and all-around wonderful person. You might also enjoy her previous guest post The Secret Language of Sisters.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Heather May 25, 2011, 7:25 am

    WOW! This rocks! YOU ROCK! i cogniscenti. . . . that is so awesome! Go Hoong Yee! 🙂

  • Pauline May 25, 2011, 8:24 am

    Terrific! Such superpowers.

    • hoongyee May 25, 2011, 11:22 am

      i am wondering if i could develop weight loss superpowers….

  • Sudie May 25, 2011, 10:46 am

    Great job, Hoong Yee! beautiful words. Love your superpowers

  • Paul May 25, 2011, 11:11 am

    After reading Dean Koontz’s “False Memory” I am terrified of haiku:

    A name and haiku
    Manchurian Candidate
    My pants are undone

    Not good I know, I feel like Cartman doing haiku from an early South Park episode.

    • hoongyee May 25, 2011, 11:25 am

      i must admit i am speechless – not sure if it is from your haiku or imagining you as cartman.

  • Daisy May 26, 2011, 10:26 am

    Haiku is a wonderful form of poetry. I like to teach it as the ultimate in word choice because of its limitations.