Jack Grapes


Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher

( The haiku are from Jack’s forthcoming book,
301 haiku.)

Hearing Mom and Dad
fighting in the bedroom room.
Outside, the red moon.

I lost who I was.
Then I found who I would be.
Only who I was knew.

In the safe darkness
of the theatre I find truth:
Annie gets her gun.

There’s Charlie Chaplin
running but getting nowhere—
a plan for a life

falling in rhythm
to the buzzing of the bees
over something dead

Would that I was wise,
not this enlightened monkey
wearing monkey mask

They open my chest
and then put my heart on ice
while my brain simmers.

To write War and Peace:
In the stationary store
ask for more paper.

Poetry kills me.
I can’t face its stern demands,
heart filled with cobwebs.

When I’m gone, I’ll sure
miss that dove whose song wakes me,
but will she miss me?

Fortune cookie says,
“You will go on long journey.”
Pay check. Leave at once.

How to eat this life?
Break the past into pieces,
eat one piece at a time.

I love this sharp knife.
How it cuts the red pepper.
Salad filled with blood.

My childhood is gone.
I don’t want to go back there.
Too much mystery.

Once I was a dog.
No one was afraid of me.
I licked people’s hands.

I’m a proud Virgo.
One day I’ll be organized,
surrounded by worms.

Some things are too sad
to write about on paper.
My closed mouth writes too.

Poems not money
give such meaning to my life.
Sometimes meaning sucks.

Shakespeare, bricklayer.
Dante, the wise carpenter.
Me? Corn to chickens.

At a loss for words?
Call Jack Grapes, home or office,
day or night, for help.

I’ve squandered so much,
and given less than I could,
asleep in the rain.

Sit still a minute.
Now, let your heart open wide
and see what falls in.

Jack Grapes



  1. alexisrhonefancher · February 11, 2016

    Simply terrific/reading these haiku makes me/love you even more. Xoxo, Alexis

    • Jack Grapes · February 13, 2016

      next time, lovely lady, we need to do it with oranges!

  2. lkthayer · February 11, 2016

    Jack, Jack, Jack…you had me at Haiku! I adore these and you, brilliant! And Alexis this photo HAD to be squeezed at The Juice Bar…it’s priceless!! 🙂

    • Jack Grapes · February 13, 2016

      lisa, again many thanks for thinking to squeeze me. Grape juice for Lisa.

  3. Arva Rose · February 11, 2016

    Yankl, I adore you. Some of these are beyond wonderful. The rest are just great. Xxx Chava

  4. Barbara Williams · February 11, 2016

    lotta juice for one apple, lotta love for Jack Grapes, brilliant haikus (and I love the picture too)

    • Jack Grapes · February 14, 2016

      Barbara, hand over heart, deep bow. As artist, singer, songwriter, poet, actor, you’re the whole bowl of fruit. Appreciate your comments.

  5. Nicole Cannon · February 11, 2016

    Dreaded association:
    1. Blood Moon
    2. Time traveler
    3. Yin Yang
    4. Karma
    5. Yellow Jacket
    6. 🐵🙈🐵
    7. Reduction
    8. live/love letters
    9. Grandmother Spider
    10. ✌🏼
    11. ☠
    12. Integration
    13. Bleeding heart
    14. Armarium
    15. Obey! Good boy.
    16. Compost
    17. Compassion
    18. No!
    19. Free range
    20. Private eye
    21. Wool gathering
    22. Eternity

    • Jack Grapes · February 13, 2016

      it’s taken me awhile to go over each one of these. So clever that you did this. You’ve invented a new form. Dreaded Association Haiku. Hugs of Haiku to you, Haiku of Hugs as well.

      • Nicole Cannon · February 13, 2016

        ❤️ and haiku to you too Jack.

  6. Isabel Gaddis · February 11, 2016

    I love these so much! “Pay check. Leave at once.” That makes me so happy. Learning how to write War and Peace is a bonus. Thank you.

    • Barbara Rothstein · February 12, 2016

      What’s not to love. These Haiku are fabulous, lovely and cool.
      As for me, I’m inspired.

      At a loss for words?
      keep tryin’ jack be nimble
      he don’t let u down

      • Jack Grapes · February 13, 2016

        Barbara, such a clever haiku riposte. I love it! a smackeroo for you!

    • Jack Grapes · February 13, 2016

      Isabell, next time, just for you, I’m writing a haiku for the New York Telephone Directory.

  7. Jessica Pappas · February 12, 2016

    So much impact in a few little lines. Love.

    • Jack Grapes · February 13, 2016

      Jessica, you should see what I can do with punctuation. You’ll swoon at my commas, faint at my semi-colons, fall into the ocean at my quotation marks. Just for you.

  8. Deborah Kalan · February 12, 2016

    Loved everything about this. The photo is perfect. So you. Focused but with constant movement. Your Haikus are amazing. Makes me want to give it a try right now.

    • Jack Grapes · February 13, 2016

      Deborah, “focused but with constant movement.” I like that. But sometimes, I’m totally still, dazed and confused.

  9. Jack Grapes · February 12, 2016

    Appreciate everyone’s comments. The book should be out in a month, all 301 haiku, plus 450 pages introduction,
    which contains 201 chapters, 601 paragraphs. That’s haiku for you.

  10. Dr. Nightingale (@DrDrloisn) · February 12, 2016

    These are the gourmet chocolates of the soul! Thank you Jack and Lisa!

    • Jack Grapes · February 13, 2016

      Happy Valentine’s to you, and your book!

  11. Lee Perry · February 13, 2016

    Is not it rich?
    Aren’t they a pair?
    Jack juggle apple –
    Jack be most rare!

    • Jack Grapes · February 13, 2016

      Lee, I really touched by your poem. Grapes juggles Apple, Grasp exceeds reach, Lee’s a sweet plum, Perry’s a peach.

  12. Bambi Here · February 13, 2016

    Jack Jack Jack!!! You are killing me and it’s only noon on a Friday. Damn! I am eating all of these nuggets for lunch and the apple that Alexis Fancher put upon your head. Love you, too, Miss Lisa Thayer.

    • Jack Grapes · February 13, 2016

      Listening to love songs on radio on a Friday night in my cozy study, writing about Fortunatas, 6th century poet from Gaul. You’re the lovely lady, fit for any poet, in any century, any time.

  13. Linda Neal · February 13, 2016

    What a great lesson in haiku, transformation of haiku, haiku with soul. Love falls in.

    • Jack Grapes · February 14, 2016

      Thank you Linda for a sweet comment. Love falls out, all for you.

  14. Jennifer Hamm · February 13, 2016

    I find myself wondering why,
    Jack Grapes has entered my life so,
    Inspiration surrounds his metal chair.

    Jack Grapes doing haiku- Fantastic!!!!!

    • Jack Grapes · February 14, 2016

      Jennifer, what a great transformation line: you find yourself, you find yourself wondering. There’s your magic key. When you wonder, you find yourself. Not just wonder, as in daydream, but wonder, as in embracing the awesome dazzle of the universe, the wonder of it all, love and loss and solitude and solidarity. Keep wondering, and you’ll never be lost.

  15. Lisa Segal · February 13, 2016

    Jack!! Lisa!! I like it when you two team up! My appetite is so whetted for more of Jack’s haiku. I hope 301 of them will be enough. These are pretty amazing. Can’t wait for the brick, I mean book . . . .

    • Jack Grapes · February 13, 2016

      e. e. cummings poem has a brick joke in it: “Would you hit a lady with a baby?”
      “No, I’d hit her with a brick.”
      Who knew the brick could be a book. Can’t wait to hit you.

  16. Lisa Segal · February 13, 2016

    Wait!!! This squeeze was a ménage à trois!!! Alexis, of course, brought the apple . . . . Yay to you three “P’s”–poet, poster, and photographer.

    • Jack Grapes · February 13, 2016

      Manage à trois? Who knew. I was aiming for a menage à cent.

  17. Jacquelyn · February 13, 2016

    Each one, a sumptuous treat, leaving me wanting more. Can’t wait to devour the book. Alexis, awesome photo but I expect no less.

  18. Tim giblin · February 14, 2016

    I’m a proud Virgo.
    One day I’ll be organized,
    surrounded by worms

    Yikes its me
    But the fortune cookie one soothed me back

  19. Jack Grapes · February 14, 2016

    Jacquelyn, glad to hear you want more. Help is on the way. Hope these two one hold you until the main course of the book finds its way into your hands:

    on television
    we land a man on the moon,
    but moonlight’s unchanged

    coal mines of my heart:
    the canary dies,
    it’s time to get out.

    thanks for you lovely comments.

  20. Rebecca Clites · February 14, 2016

    Bartender, I’ll have another shot of Jack please! And call Uber. I’m too drunk to drive.

  21. Jonny Solomon · February 14, 2016

    Grapes of Jack are juice
    A rhythmic fluidity
    Jump aboard the train

  22. Matthew Hetznecker · February 14, 2016

    Thanks Lisa, Alexis and of course you Jack.
    Its funny I thought of Matisse, when reading these poems. How Matisse’s work evolved and developed over his lifetime, through many styles, imitation to being revolutionary and finally a crystallization. Jack, there’s perhaps a crystallization of your work with the Haiku’s. Using this simple strict form you approach the marrow of your life, your work, ideas, themes, and of course your humor, to a new clarity. Often artists particularly young ones shun form, this is natural and does create breakthroughs and you’ve done that. But also Jack you love form and the play of it and it’s history. Spiritually and Philosophically besides Shinto, Haiku is connected with Zen, it seems an easy progression in what we saw in “Sad Angels,” as an embrace of some existential ideas. These poems, as I said remind me of Matisse, to be precise, his cut outs for Jazz ( originally to be called Circus, hmm ). They are spiritual, full of grace, play with love and the love of art.

    • Jack Grapes · February 15, 2016

      Matthew, very interesting and perceptive comments. I’ve always been a big fan of Matisse, since college. Your observation about form is right on. I think artists always have a love-hate relationship with form. One important theme of my 450 pages introduction to the 301 haiku has to do with why I chose to use the traditional 5-7-5 syllable 3-line form when many Japanese and American haiku poets no longer feel bound by that form. Many haiku poets today use a one line form, or a three line form that disregards the 5-7-5 syllable count. The whole question of form is a contentious issue with so many haiku poets, tons of essays and discourses about it. So why did I settle on the classic form when I’m certainly not a formal poet? You’ll have to read my essay to find out, n’est pas? But you’re right about the poems in many ways, the cut outs for jazz, etc. I look forward to hearing your assessment of the book when it’s out. Thanks for the trenchant comment.

  23. lkthayer · February 15, 2016

    Wow Matthew I love your insight!
    You would be a great writing teacher too!
    Love you, love Jack, love words, love Haiku, love poetry. ❤️

  24. carol pearlman · February 15, 2016

    thank you, jack. you are my teacher, my mentor, the great guru i credit for every word i put on paper, including shopping lists (which always contain images, moments & details), ever since i had the good fortune to attend your brilliant classes back in the 90’s, when we were all young & beautiful – which you, of course, still are.

  25. Jonny Solomon · February 15, 2016

    juicy grapes of jack
    flowing with fluidity
    jump aboard the train

  26. Florence Murry · February 15, 2016

    Jack, I loved these wise and some humorous gems that touch my heart.
    Ready Jack to be hit by that little brick book.
    That magical photo captures your essence.

  27. Florence Murry · February 15, 2016

    Jack, I love these wise, sometimes humorous, thought provoking gems
    that touch my heart. The photo captures your magical self.
    Can’t wait for more in that little brick book.

  28. Marilyn Conrad · February 16, 2016

    Who knew that just a few little words could touch me so deeply–thank you Jack and Lisa (and Alexis for the great photo)

    • Jonny Solomon · February 16, 2016

      juicy grapes of jack flowing with fluidity jump aboard the train

      Sent from my iPhone


  29. tfhaefner · February 16, 2016

    I’m laughing. I’m crying. I’m writing War and Peace about my own childhood, while listening to that old red moon. Very touching work Jack. Thank you as always for sharing with us.

  30. Carol Pearlman · February 16, 2016

    jack is my teacher/mentor/guru without whom i couldn’t even write a shopping list – which i now do in haiku, thank you.

  31. MM · February 17, 2016

    Well I let my heart
    open wide and guess what fell
    in? Jack Grapes, that’s what:)

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