I have just removed 20 haiku from the book "Wrinkled Sea." It was originally 120 haiku, but as I read it over the twenty I removed struck me as inferior, so I deleted them.
"Wrinkled Sea" was written seven years ago, and since then I have written and read a great many haiku, and learned much about them. The Latin poet Horace said that a poet should let poems sit around for a number of years before publishing them. He said that this would help to insure that the poet really did in fact want to publish those poems, and help to prevent him or her from publishing things he might regret later.
Here is an example of a deleted haiku from "Wrinkled Sea":
lays in the form of a square
This haiku strikes me now as merely cute and clever. I feel there is nothing wrong with cute clever so long as a haiku is not just cute and clever. This one seems to me to lack anything else.
under cold stars
to buy water
The problem here is that the haiku is what I call "slight," that is, there's not enough to it. It's an image that's not vivid or striking in any way.
And here's another
silk underwear --
This haiku is an attempt to be Japanese, but I think it just doesn't make it. Japanese haiku often uses contrasts and comparions which are subtle and indirect. There's nothing wrong, in my estimation, with trying to be Japanese -- I'm trying to be Japanese all the time, aesthetically speaking. I think, though, that in this haiku the contrast between the visual sharpness of the stars and the smoothnness of the silk underwear is a little too direct and obvious. Actually, this is what I would class as a "borderline" haiku -- not bad, but not that good either. To me borderline haiku are more akin to bad haiku than good haiku, so I removed it.
and climbing up again
I categorize this one as "unpleasant." An "unpleasant" haiku creates an image that is needlessly awkward, grotesque, or just unfortunate. Sometimes if a haiku is grotesque enough with a purpose, it could be good as in the famous Japanese haiku by Seito Hirahata:
I entered the circle
of dancing lepers
This is a grotesque haiku, but it has about it an extremely mysterious feeling of ritual.
Of course the book "Wrinkled Sea" still has the twenty deleted haiku, but if I ever reprint the book again, they will be taken out. In the mean time, when I go to read my poetry somewhere I will take a printout of the 100 haiku that constitute the new version of the book -- so that I don't read any of those inferior twenty!