Haiku

with Kevin McLaughlin

No Man Steps in the Same River

The 6th Century B.C.E. Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” This understanding of impermanence, the mutability of physics, and of the evanescent nature of reality has been the underlying motivation for many generations of haikuists. Things change, always. But a haiku can freeze and immortalize an image.

 

Scholars believe haiku began in response to the change of seasons. Many collections and journals, including the four volume R. H. Blyth series, are sorted by season.

 

A haiku can reveal the thing-in-itself. The essence never changes.

 

Molecules alter,

As each moment passes by:

Lanterns float downstream.

 

Kevin McLaughlin

 

 

 

Douglas J. Lanzo of Chevy Chase, Maryland, has published poetry in over 20 literary journals, including Frogpond. Significantly, two of Mr. Lanzo’s haiku influences are Matsuo Basho and American Richard Wright.

 

cheetah stalking prey

lithely bounds in hot pursuit

one lunge ends the chase

 

dazzling Northern Lights

ionized sun particles

charging the night sky

 

thirsty summer bat

skims a pond with open mouth

refueling mid-air

 

(Captures a scintillating, authentic image.)

 

supernova eye

forged from billions of star years

is gone in a blink

 

(This is a powerful reminder of impermanence.)

 

Douglas J. Lanzo

 

 

 

Jessica Wheeler lives on the southern shore of Lake Erie in Eastlake, Ohio. She practices mindfulness and writes without judgment.

 

tilting gently

either way —

some kind of hawk

 

craving

the scent of green —

April snow

 

(Ah! The change of the seasons.)

 

he asks

a dangerous question —

patches of clover

 

Jessica Wheeler

 

 

 

Mathew Wenham is currently the head of Senior English at a high school in Melbourne, Australia.

 

The trunk is silent

beneath the leaves’

endless chatter

 

Blue morning sky —

frost on a pig’s

mud-caked back

 

(Mathew Wenham’s mud-caked pig is more important than Shelley’s Skylark.)

 

Children play war games

in a pretty park

built on a dump

 

Barefoot child

hugs an old dog —

blue toes

 

Mathew Wenham

 

Manoj Sharma lives in Kathmandu, Nepal. He has been published in Frogpond.

 

February wind . . .

on the high tension wire

a pigeon’s courtship

 

winter morning . . .

the sound of a clock tower

refreshing

 

gazing at . . .

the half open eyes

of Buddha

 

(The reader easily visualizes Mr. Sharma in deep meditation with Shakyamuni.)

 

busy street —

a beggar arrives

with his artificial limb

 

Manoj Sharma

 

 

 

Armando Quiros has given much evidence that his third eye views the world as a haiku. I agree with him.

 

a leaf falls in spring

the rivulets open wide

words flow narrowly

 

Armando Quiros

 

 

 

Stefanie Winton resides beneath the south Seattle cherry blossom blooms.

 

Arroyo Willow,

nothing feels real anymore,

the cold blue remains.

 

Dandelion dust,

everything beautiful dies.

We are not immune.

 

(Untouched by self-consuming emotion, Stefanie calmly views impermanence.)

 

Stefanie Winton

 

 

 

Kenneth Lynn Anderson of Decatur, Georgia, is a novelist.

 

          What happy music!

When the dogs eat, their tags clink

          the ceramic bowls.

 

One

by one —like a flock

of geese— the cherry petals light

on the pool.

 

Yellow leaves falling

toward the goldfish meeting them

in the lake’s mirror.

A branch of dogwood

blossoms— young girls dressed in white

on the road to spring.

 

(The dogwood blossoms and the girls become one entity. Beautiful mindfulness of inter-being.)

 

Kenneth Lynn Anderson

 

 

 

The poems of Dennis Maulsby, of Ames, Iowa, have appeared in numerous journals and have also been featured on public radio.

 

Dawn diamonds the lake.

Dog and I jog paw-soft paths,

legs in two-four time.

 

First published in Mused Magazine.

 

Crows wing-roll through smoke.

Across a field of parched grass

red-hoofed fire gallops.

 

First published in Lyrical Iowa anthology.

 

(May those crows wing-roll for centuries.)

 

Dennis Maulsby

Yet once more I encourage all haiku writers to share their work, their insights into the nature of all things, with fellow poets and BTS readers.  

For those interested in haiku, I recommend you cast back into the BTS archives and reference the September 2016 columnIt provides a pretty thorough explanation of the basic format.

Kevin Mclaughlin

Sarah Calvello of San Francisco, California is a welcome return contributor to BTS.

 

Funny what you remember

Chrysanthemums in water as perfume

Trees sway gently

 

(Note how Sarah fuses vision with the scent of the chrysanthemums.)

 

Not enough time

Worn, blue hot chocolate cup

Pearl white dogwoods are in bloom

What might have been

Years flow like water

Unkept garden

 

(Even an unkept garden can be a subject for haiku.)

 

Sarah Calvello

 

Carrie Ann Thunell lives in Olympia, Washington.

 

the butterfly joy

that bubbles up from within

an undammed river

 

this fenced-in garden

so full of birds and frogs—

the shelter of this sacred place

 

(Carrie Ann demonstrates that sacred places exist across the Earth’s surface. Each of us should have a place of wonder and serenity.)

 

in the absence of traffic

deafening birdsong

winds through the blossoming trees

 

Carrie Ann Thunell

 

 

 

Denise Shelton has planted herself in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley where she’s writing and growing every day.

 

smoke and flames ascend

Our Lady of the Ashes

the world weeps with you

 

alfalfa pellets

circle canes with precision

our secret ceremony

 

First published in Written Tales.

 

(All sentient beings can join in this secret ceremony.)

 

shovel splits the soil

a Christmas tree still living

grows to glow again

 

First published in Haiku Hub.

 

Denise Shelton

 

Carlton Holte, born in Minnesota, grew up playing under bridges and in cornfields.

 

Serenading graves,

the mourning minstrel strums on

the sad heart’s guitar.

 

Look to the mountains.

They are east, laden with snow.

The river runs clear.

 

Haiku reminds us:

the good poem has no extras.

Say it fast, then quit.

 

(This is why a haiku’s essence is more precious than a conventional poem’s.)

 

Carlton Holte

 

 

 

Professor R.K. Singh of Dhanbad, India, has a Taoist’s appreciation of the Earth’s rhythm.

 

sky’s dark patches—

I live with earth's rhythm

liberation

 

(Being in harmony with nature is True Liberation.)

 

sunset—

mirror and smoke

muddy path

 

a long golden net

surges on the ocean tide—

fishing memories

 

removing her veil

the doctor holds his breath—

gentle touch

 

Professor R.K. Singh

 

 

 

Bill Dee Johnston of Hutchinson, Kansas, smiles at this benevolent garden party.

 

summer afternoon,

lady bugs, ants, and sweat bees

church garden party

 

sanctuary of

sunshine, shade, and gardens

visitors welcome

 

(Billy Dee too has a sanctuary, a querencia for all sentient beings.)

 

Bill Dee Johnston

 

Sandy Brian Hager is a political economist based in London, England.

 

Inevitable

Neuroscience tells us that

Our brains are shrinking

 

(This striking poem unveils neurological reality . . . for each of us.)

 

Memories make marks

Like faint water rings from mugs

Left atop notebooks

 

Headless garter snake

Rots on summer trail of sand

Not just ticks, that lurk

 

Sandy Brian Hager

 

 

 

Goran Gatalica, of Virvitica, Croatia, holds degrees in both Physics and Chemistry . . . powerful allies for a haikuist.

 

thinning of the forest —

windstorms show me

their strong teeth

 

climate changes —

the emerald ash borer eats

tree from the inside out

 

(Master of its environment, the emerald ash borer.)

 

sunrise —

the pale pink translucence

of jackrabbit ears

 

warm night —

countless fireflies blink

across our yard

 

deep forest —

a twinkling galaxy

of fireflies

 

scattered waves —

the capacity

of my solitude

 

Goran Gatalica

 

 

Rachel Zempel is a young poet from Minnesota who had her first poem published in third grade. She works as a 911 dispatcher.

 

rising ball of fire

casting golden sunbeams on

a deserted town

 

hummingbirds flutter

sweet nectar discovery

iridescent blur

 

First published in Three Line Poetry.

 

soft pink peonies

romanticizing the park

sweet, citrus fragrance

 

Rachel Zempel

 

 

 

Read haiku slowly, mindfully. And remember, even a lotus blossom is rooted in the mud. The Holy Grail is reflected in every authentic haiku.

 

Kevin McLaughlin

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