an old man
at an empty window, kissing
only he remembers who
(C) Eric Lohman
I think this senryu or haiku (though I would lean more towards a senryu) is multifaceted. It seems sad, funny, and delirious at the same time. This is due to the mystery that Eric leaves the reader with. If Eric simply told us who the old man is kissing, then the poem would have less impact on a reader.
One of the key words in this poem is “empty.” Maybe the old man is in a senior housing building and the mundaneness of the housing grounds can be seen. And such simplicity can drive some people crazy. The old man might be all alone–his family not visiting him regularly, and he is indulging in a memory of a kiss.
When we imagine him kissing the air, puckering up, we get a sense that the old man feels a mix of emotions. This mix of emotions sharply contrast the boring senior housing or empty house he lives in.
I like how Eric put a comma in the second line and made the third line come as a surprise. This is a key element in haiku: surprising the reader. After the surprise, the reader can get a moment of spiritual or philosophical insight.
In the case of this poem, I think it is the insight that the life of an old person is much more complex than we usually imagine. They might stop speaking, but memories rush through their minds, and they contemplate a life lived, with all its consequences and blessings.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky