Haiku

with Kevin McLaughlin

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The Quiescent State

Haiku is purest when written in a quiescent state. Haiku is not a poetry of passion, excitement, high emotion, or revolutionary zeal. Haiku enables the poet to encounter their true nature in a serene state by perceiving an image as ‘the-thing-in-itself.’ Quoted in Tai Chi Ch’uan and Meditation (Master Da Liu, Shocken Books), “Lao Tzu says all things appear multitudinous and varied, but eventually they all return to their common root. The state of quiescence is called the fulfillment of life.” Taoism postulates the well-known yin and yang. The haikuist joins the two disparate elements effortlessly.

 

Golden orb weaver,

Perfectly still in its web,

In the mangrove swamp.

 

Kevin McLaughlin

 

TM (pen name) has written a verse entirely consistent with that serene, quiescent state.

 

New nests in the trees,

Old torches sure to be passed.

Wind sighs its regrets.

 

(Relax into the spirit of those new nests, so artfully created.)

 

TM

 

M. T. Williams is currently living among the corn with his wife and stepdaughter and way too many cats. (Impossible to have too many cats and dogs.)

 

birds fall down upon

weighted wings they choose to fall

blindly into night

 

M. T. Williams

Amy Van Duzer is a lifelong writer and an MFA candidate at Mt. Saint Mary’s College in Los Angeles.

 

In winter the sun,

A distant star,

Still shines.

 

(This has a subtle feeling of reverence for the source of our planet's life force.)

 

Amy Van Duzer

 

Joan Fingon of Ventura, California, likes to write, and to read poetry to her cat in her back garden and enjoys screen time with her three grandsons.

 

sitting on the bench

wisteria winds on wood

purple waterfall

(How remarkable . . . a quiet vision of a purple waterfall.)

in the bird feeder

sudden summer storm

hailstone crescendo

 

Joan Fingon

 

Shai Afsai lives in Rhode Island, a haven for sunsets and beavers.

 

sunset —

red-haired beauty

readying for sleep

(May each early evening have this spirit.)

 

pond beavers flood

my favorite hiking trail —

their right, I suppose

 

Shai Afsai

 

Taofeek Ayeyemi is a Nigerian lawyer who has been published in numerous publications, including Frogpond and Modern Haiku.

 

sitting in the sun —

the temple bell tossed

by a stray bird

 

First published in Akitsu Quarterly.

 

strumming violin . . .

the garden sweeper

adds to the melody

 

First published in Cold Moon Journal.

(A layer of sounds. All sounds become One in this haiku.)

 

a second look

at the rainwater . . .

dusty roof

 

Taofeek Ayeyemi

 

Obinna Chilekezi is a Nigerian writer who introduces an appealing mystical element into his haiku.

 

I plucked this wild rose

Mystical as she gets into my skin

And I am left with scar

 

(A scar to be treasured.)

 

Obinna Chilekezi

 

Mona Bedi from India honors tradition and spirituality in her beautiful work.

 

harvest festival

we dance to the music

of cowbells

 

cuckoos call

anniversary bed tea

in silence

 

zero gravity

the silence around

meditation

 

(Experienced meditators recognize this zero-gravity stillness Bedi describes. But few have ever made the connection with zero-gravity.)

 

Mona Bedi

 

Ernesto P. Santiago, born in the Philippines, now resides in Greece. He writes that he is too small for his ego. Such a fascinating self-insight.

 

finally touching

my father’s ashes

tumble in the wind

 

a catharsis?

in the warmth of sunlight

wet butterfly

 

(So clean. Butterfly blesses Mr. Santiago.)

 

Ernesto P. Santiago

 

Gerald Friedman grew up in Cleveland’s suburbs and now teaches physics at Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico. A collaborative synthesis is developing between physicists and haiku. Such people see deeply into the world’s components.

 

mayfly in the house

released to light and air

of the day

 

(Joy for a mayfly.)

 

sunflower field

a gray moth lands on one

for a rest

 

(Such an affinity for feeling rather than intellection. This is poetry!)

 

dry June spadeful

a spadefoot toad falls out

not even woken

 

(Plop! This haiku resonates throughout time.)

 

garden rock glitters

sun was brighter

on its mountain

 

Gerald Friedman

 

Kelley Jean White is a pediatrician who has worked in inner city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire.

 

first snow

the withered field

more withered

 

this shortest night

you wake me

fireflies

 

(We would all like to view White’s fireflies.)

 

Kelley Jean White

Dianne Moritz’s children’s book 1,2,3 By the Sea is a bestseller. She also writes beautiful, enjoyable haiku.

 

sudden rainstorm

running barefoot through the grass

raindrops on our tongues

hydrangea bushes

show off their big, blue blooms

praying mantis rests

 

(The praying mantis is the haiku’s cutting word (kireji), its essence.)

 

field of sunflowers

faces lifted to the sky

sun bathing

 

Dianne Moritz

 

Paweł Markiewicz has learned the mindfulness that makes haiku the proper state of mind. His pictures would stir any subtle reader’s imagination.

 

the lone bumblebee

more lonely — I dreamer

most lonely — moon

 

the baffling cat’s eyes

the dear star dust is falling

in the meek calyx

 

the last vernal snow

having fallen at the morn

an epiphany

 

Paweł Markiewicz

 

Jon Wike practices law and teaches English in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

Lightning in winter,

flashes in heavy clouds —

neither old nor young.

(Note these clouds are neither old nor young. These clouds catch life as it flows.)

Red on a bird’s wing,

red along the western hills —

peace in a tired mind.

 

Jon Wike

 

Sherrell Wigal desires to write poetry that inspires and challenges. Read these carefully.

 

Frogs vesper evening

the quiet darkness settles

stay awake till dawn

 

Vultures tilt and glide

clouds calligraphy the sky

pen scratching paper

 

(The perceptive eye easily follows these vultures riding the thermals.)

 

Sherrell Wigal

 

Alexandria Ibarra of California is passionate about her native ancestry. Would that all could embrace their heritage.

 

Mud brown eyes reflect

Mountain ranges old, burning

Ancestors reign, lost.

 

Alexandria Ibarra

 

 

Steven M. Smith lives in North Syracuse, New York, a wonderful place to study the cold.

 

Arctic winter air

stampedes across the Great Lakes

Snowplows are trampled

Cardinal singing

in our flowering dogwood

Aubade for breakfast

 

The Big Dipper spills

summer meteor showers

Midnight’s floor is soaked

 

(This is yet another superior third line, gently arising from the two previous lines.)

 

Steven M. Smith

 

Riham El-Ashry is an Egyptian poet, artist, and an English teacher. She writes, “It is the simple yet profound aspect of haiku that attracts me to this art.”

 

swaying twig

a steady dove

balance

 

(Only nine syllables . . . yet they convey spiritual and physical balance. All can admire this dove.)

 

Riham El-Ashry

 

Matt Dove offers that rare piece, a haiku that also contains a vivid simile.

 

Moss covered rocks are

Attractive and dangerous

As unguarded minds

 

For generations

Oak trees witness silently

Freshly fallen leaves

 

Matt Dove

 

Sarah Mahina Calvello produces her work using an association of ideas, an old Japanese technique.

 

Anticipating

Flowers become cold

Under the hazy moon

 

Finding secrets

Left in the new grass garden

Stolen shadows

 

(Stolen shadows might be an absence of light, the darkness beloved by Taoists.)

 

Walking down the path

Leaves turn to color

Waiting for the sun

 

Sarah Mahina Calvello

 

Melanie Weldon-Soiset makes her home in Washington, District of Columbia. She is a #ChurchToo spiritual abuse survivor and former pastor for foreigners in Shanghai.

 

Temple incense —

a fragrant diadem crowning

my memory.

(A memory never to be forgotten.)

 

City lake stirs,

furry face emerges-beaver?

How wild!

 

Osmanthus blooms

perfume gardens and sweeten wine

so faraway.

 

Melanie Weldon-Soiset

 

William Cullen Jr. of Brooklyn, New York, is a veteran and works at a social services non-profit. He embodies haiku’s universality.

 

catacombs

the quiet of old bones

in dim light

 

(Such peaceful imagery in a place of reverence.)

 

carpenter bees

very fine sawdust

shows a faint breeze

 

(Superior connection between the bees and the sawdust . . . admire the oneness.)

 

old beaver dam

beams of dusk light

slipping through

 

William Cullen Jr.

 

Strive to be alert to a haiku moment even when your mind might be otherwise occupied.

 

“Form is emptiness,

Emptiness is form.”

—The Heart Sutra

 

Kevin McLaughlin

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

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