Hannes Froehlich’s Lifeline

wind and water
carve …

© Hannes Froehlich (Germany)

I love the pure simplicity and clean wording of the poem. You can draw much meaning from a few words and this haiku accomplishes that.

The poet notices the slow effect of natural erosion with “wind and water / carve” and then adds the ellipsis to let us know that the process continues, indefinitely. Without that ” …” we might not have the feeling of being cast off and left to drift through time. This
device works beautifully. I think a great haiku casts us off at the end to let us drift on, thinking about what it has given us–of what we can keep finding in its additional layers.

But now for the real power: “lifeline—”

We wonder and imagine how our lives connect to this vast force around us: why are we here, and what purpose might we have in some greater plan or structure.

We know that we need water and air (wind) for survival. But what kind of survival could we imagine? What if we think of how “short” we are in time, and how the “lifeline” that crosses the very palm of our hand shows us our finiteness.

It’s as though he’s captured a primal working force of nature in the palm of his hand. In reality, it is in us; in our hand, our wrinkles, our tears and our breath. Our lifelines are short in comparison to the long processes of earth time. But imagine looking into the Grand Canyon, then closing your fingers around it.

Imagine that the connection is there. It is there as surely as the water and stone and flesh of this fine haiku.

Let yourself into this one slowly for there is much else conveyed. Let it “carve” like the “wind and water.”

Thank you Hannes for sharing your work.

– Edwin Lomere (USA)

Lucky Triana’s Last Time

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Sometimes we need to poke humor at ourselves just to stay sane.
Lucky Triana’s “beauty parlour” tanka does this effectively.
a puss caterpillar
passes by
i can’t remember
the last time i went
to a beauty parlour

words and image
© Lucky Triana (Indonesia)

This tanka captures the need for self-image and a little vanity, but builds it all from a cuddly “puss caterpillar” that the poet sees passing by.

Maybe she forgot that her hair is important or maybe she is evolving into a more beautiful night being. If she looks disheveled like the caterpillar does in its latter stages, then perhaps she is going to need that beauty parlor.

I love the touch of mystery that the venomous puss caterpillar image gives us. But touch is something you want to avoid. Perhaps she is too dangerous to touch, but the hair stylist will have to deal with it and that adds another layer of humor.This tanka might be leaning more to kyoka but for now, I’d say, spruce up and go out clubbing this weekend. Soon the night will be all yours as a moth.

Thanks for sharing with us.

– Edwin Lomere (USA)

Martha Magenta’s Last Goodbye


Words and image by Martha Magenta (UK)

This tanka is packed with emotion and is centered around a stark image.

Last goodbyes are something almost anyone can identify with and the emotions it brings. Sometimes, we never forget these moments, and they linger in our memories each day.

The abruptness of the rain filling the footprints, before the ocean tide could, is poignant. It magnifies the sadness the poet feels and represents a lack of mercy.

But on the other hand , you can see it as a blessing. Looking at the footprints of a loved one who has left can be agonizing and the rain filling the footprints up so quickly show the spontaneous compassion of nature.

So, we have a sad and compassionate view of this tanka, simultaneously.

The language is simple, to the point, and well-paced. It is hard to imagine adding or taking out a word. That is a sign of a strong tanka. Plus, the tanka hits the correct emotional chord and tone that touches readers. If a tanka sounds metallic, it is hard to say that it is a tanka.

The sound of the tanka is important as well. The “o” sound is represented in “our” “goodbye” “on” “how” “your” and “footprints.” This gives the sense of length of yearning–the sense of time being too long. Another thing to note is the alliteration of “footprints filled” which adds emphasis.

The art associated with the tanka (I think it is a photo with painted-over rain) is moody and adds to the atmosphere that the tanka creates.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Marilyn Ward’s Rainfall

2016 - 1

I believe this photo-haiku brings out the humility of animals and the no-mind state that spirituality expounds on.

In the first line, we get the pleasant image of spring rain, which is a sign of nourishment and kindness, you could say.

The second line presents a mystery. Who is drinking out of the gutter? And from such a pretty scene as a “spring rainfall” we get the contrast of a gutter.

In the last line, we learn that a goldcrest, a lovely, small bird, is drinking out of the gutter. I think it is called a goldcrest because of its royal appearance of a gold streak on its head and wings.

This royal bird is drinking from a gutter, and just accepts life as it is. It doesn’t have thoughts like, “I am above drinking out of a gutter–I am a magnificent bird.” It just drinks because it is thirsty and the water happened to be there. The use of “a goldcrest” instead of “the goldcrest” further shows the humility of the bird. The freshness of the spring rain is compared to the fresh mind or beginner’s mind of the bird.

The isness of this haiku is much in line with Zen philosophy. In Zen, there is a philosophy that having awareness without thought is a state of meditation. If you have thoughts, you are not truly meditating. You are adding your own shades to reality when you have thoughts. Reality, as it is, is something different than what we think or feel about it. It just is, and this haiku, in my mind, champions this philosophy.

The sound of the haiku is quite nice with “r” going through “spring” “rainfall” “drinking” “gutter” and “goldcrest.” The “r” sounds, coincidentally, like rain.

The photo shows the beauty of the spring rain and the lettering adds further to the mood of the haiku.

A fine photo-haiku that just is.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Laughing Waters’ Thanks

life ended 
thanks for playing

© Laughing Waters (Italy)

This senryu accomplishes a contrast of two opposing moods in the same piece. That is difficult even for the most experienced writers.

1. Our mortality and briefness in this world conveys a serious finality. We are finite and god/God is there with the poet. Perhaps god is just “looking” on as the scene unfolds.

2. Then, there is humor in that it is also god/God giving the poet a memo on her life and referring to it as a role (playing) or even a game–especially a game.

This removes the finality a little since “god” might have another role/game up “his/her” sleeve. We don’t really know and that unknown aspect adds poignancy to the “memo.” It leaves the reader wondering what is meant, possibly after the memo has been received.

This one actually gets away with personifying “god,” if it is, indeed, a memo.

In haiku, we avoid personification of the natural world so it can remain part of the natural world. Clouds, for example, wouldn’t be “crying” but they could sure be used in an image set against another image of a person weeping, crying, lamenting, etc.

– Edwin Lomere (USA)

Mark Meyer’s Answers

This is definitely a Zen-tinged haiku or senryu (I would place it in the senryu box). With its humor, it shows the frustration of learning and of unlearning.

have I learned nothing?
only conflicting answers
sensei laughing

©  Mark Meyer (USA)

“Have I learned nothing?” is a common feeling someone gets when they are learning something new–and in the case of Zen, it could be for “advanced” learners as well. It could have two meanings: learning what nothing is, and learning nothing at all. The question is itself a conundrum. In Zen, feeling emptiness within–having a lack of ego and conditioning–is a “goal” to achieve. Learning something is not quite the goal of Zen: usually, it is about unlearning what we have learned.

The second line makes more sense in the context of previously mentioned statements. Answers in Zen are usually malleable and practitioners of its art try not to stick to ideas.

We don’t know the exact reason the sensei (teacher) laughs. It may be in the humor of asking this question in the first place, the teacher seeing the contorted face of the student, the teacher recognizes the student is making a joke about his learning, or feeling joy from knowing that he does not need to know answers, or all of the above.

In the poem, you can feel the frustration and comedy in the moment. It is simply written, but gets straight to the point. The “l” sound runs through it with “learned” “only” “conflicting” “laughing.” To me, the “l’ sound gives it a lilting feeling, which makes it more whimsical.

The simplicity of this piece has a lot to it actually: philosophy, anti-philosophy, and the endearing relationship between a student and a teacher.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Nicholas Klacsanzky’s Clouds

spring clouds
my mind full of
broken thoughts

Presence #52, 2015

© Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

I chose this haiku for several reasons:

1. It is a great example for other haiku writers to emulate, because it shows the “present” moment and is kept in that verb tense. Clouds are always “being” and they are like a continuous present participle that we can watch, feel, hear, flee from, or sleep under.

2. Nicholas avoids the use of a verb; the verb speaks silently like they do in many of the best haiku. My point is that a writer can imply more than needs to be written when in the haiku genre.

3. As far as verbs go, a good verb can add impact and intensity to the haiku, although we don’t want the haiku to be a drama unless we want to convey the drama, in the haiku way.

4. Nicholas contrasts these clouds with his mind full of broken thoughts and this reflects the motion and present moment of the clouds as well; so we have an insight into a moment he experienced about himself by just noticing some clouds. To me, this is the essence of a fine haiku.

5. There are clean simple lines not burdened by simile, metaphor, adverbs, etc. The one adjective, “broken” reinforces the whole connection to the fragment “spring clouds” and clouds usually are broken, unless something much more dramatic is taking place in Mother Nature that day.

A person can go on for a long time when they have a great haiku to work with and find many layers and subtle meanings. I will just conclude by saying, that this one sure did deserve to be published, as it was in: Presence #52, 2015.

– Edwin Lomere (USA)

Malintha Perera’s Alms

alms round…
a monk hiding
his begging bowl

From An Unswept Path.

© Malintha Perera (Sri Lanka)

An “alms round” refers to when a monk or a person who has given up mundane life for spiritual ascension, seeks food and water from surrounding people. From the ellipsis, we see that the alms round is not short, but a long process.

In the second line, we are revealed that the monk is hiding something. Usually, monks are transparent people that do not have anything to hide–physical or personal. I enjoy how  Malintha plays with the word “hides” and is hiding the surprise for us in the third line by cutting the line off at “hides.”

Then, we are revealed that the monk is hiding his begging bowl. Readers might have several questions. Is the monk hiding the bowl to make people perceive him in a more favorable light or not as a monk? Is the monk hiding the bowl with a feeling of doubt of his begging practice? Or is the monk hiding the begging bowl from himself, to forget that he is begging, and to be more in the present moment by eliminating thoughts about begging? The poet does not say, nor should she say.

The mystery of this haiku gives it power. I believe when Malintha used “a monk” instead of “the monk,” she was pointing towards the selflessness of the monk. The hiding of the begging bowl brings in a Zen idea of not being attached and bounded by thoughts. The monk possibly wants to be in between the state of begging and not begging, so that no attachment to identity can be made.

The “o” sound runs through the haiku with “round” “monk” and “bowl.” It gives the perception of the elongation of the begging and how tiring it can be. It can also give the impression of the bowl itself, with its roundness.

With a few simple words, Malintha has created a philosophical mystery and a chance for us to delve deeper into (or out of) our identity.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Lucky Triana’s Intimate Talk


To me, the power of this haiku is the surprise ending. The first two lines set up a scene and atmosphere, and then the third line hits us with the reality of the moment.

After the surprise is made, readers might think, “Why is the poet talking to her shadow?” It could be a mental problem, it could be a sign of desperation, it could be a sign of an epiphany, or it could be even a sign of joy. The poet did not tell us which one it is, but from the tone of the poem, I would guess it is more tending towards melancholy and somberness.

What is interesting about the haiku and the “aha” moment is that despite the poet being alone, the candle itself has created a shadow for the poet to be comforted with and to even converse with. So basically, the poet is saying that we are truly never alone.

What this intimate talk entails is anyone’s guess, but I consider it to be an introspection about the direction of the poet’s life.

I like the alliteration of “candle corner,” the “t” sounds in “intimate talk” and the “l” sounds in “candlelit” and “talk.” The sound of the haiku is appealing and makes the reading of it more stark.

In addition, I like the mysteriousness of the photo. Its ambiguousness lends us to thinking that it could be a sunset, abstract art, or something otherworldly. This mood heightens the mood of the haiku.

The haiku (or shahai, because it is a photo-haiku) comes across naturally, but I am sure Lucky spent more time on it than what is perceived. But well-written haiku should across as effortless, and this one is a fine example.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Dave Read’s Moose

Banff Trail
he shoots a moose
with his iPhone

failed haiku v.1 i.1

© Dave Read (Canada)

“Banff Trail” refers to a trail in Banff National Park–the oldest national park in Canada. Then we get this rather intense image of a moose being shot. But wait… when the third line comes, we realize the moose is only being shot by an iPhone camera. But this surprise is more than just wit.

Dave, I believe, is contrasting the old and new–a prominent theme in haiku/senryu. Banff National Park, as I said, is the oldest national park in Canada, and this is being contrasted with the freshness of an iPhone. And in this new generation, we shoot moose with our iPhone cameras rather than our guns.

I think this poem is a remembrance, however witty it seems on the surface, of how our old generation hunted such beautiful and epic creatures without remorse. Though we may chuckle at the poem, beneath its humor is a long history of making the moose almost extinct.

The “o” sound is prominent, with “shoots” “moose” and iPhone.” It gives a sense of distance and maybe the range of shooting either a camera or gun.

Though simple and humorous, Dave has given us a reminder of our past and how we have progressed as a race.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)