Brendon Kent’s Snowflakes

our differences

© Brendon Kent (UK)

Failed Haiku, Modern Senryu, February, 2016

It is the juxtaposition of snow and resolution of differences between two people, or maybe more, that strikes me. It seems that snowflakes, quiet and gentle, would be the result we need in settling our differences. There is so much conflict and destruction in the world today. This haiku is one of the most peaceful and soothing to read, especially after being in contact with the blare of sensationalist news that’s always in the palm of our hand.

Of course we can start asking questions or imagining new scenarios; one image that came to my mind was a snow globe setting between two people as they are at a table. Perhaps by the time the snow has settled, they too will have found a resolution to their problem. All is silent, and all is at peace.

Was this an image that the poet saw? I think it could have been one among many. The use of “snowflakes” instead of “snow” seems to be the perfect choice of word for this scene. This careful choosing of words is the hallmark of a great haiku. This one certainly qualifies for that category and I thank Brendon for sharing with us.

Again, through examples of his work, he is our steady mentor and role model. All the haiku in this series are worth taking time to study and learn; taking time to settle and discover more insight into the art of words.

– Edwin Lomere (USA)

Martha Magenta’s Reincarnation

each raindrop
lost at sea

© Martha Magenta (UK)

Here we have not only the philosophical concept, but we can add the simple dictionary definition of reincarnation: “cause to appear in a new form.”

For me, I drop the philosophical implications (for haiku purposes) and think about the work and cycles of nature, causing appearances in a new form.

L1, reincarnation, in relation to water gives rise to the imagination of
many new appearances, such as clouds, icicles, steam, or being revived by a splash of cold water (in the face) when you’ve fainted, or become hysterical. Restoring the balance in nature; is there hysteria in the natural world? It seems there is a lot of it in the animal kingdom.

L2, the poet narrows the view to individual raindrops, raising questions in my mind such as, how vast is this “nature” that we are part of, and are we inextricably linked to all things, never to leave the cycle; we can change appearances, but can never leave.

L3, is a little jolt in “lost at sea” which leaves us wondering if we even know what we are part of. It is a juxtaposition of possible questions
without clear answers; there are no strict boundaries in the waters and the boundaries that do exist are in a constant state of change; gaining new form/appearances.

I love this little surprise and the mood that it gives to the haiku and reader. There is a true feel of being “lost,” “insignificant,” and “humbled” by all that is.

Martha connects the haiku with an image of rain on the sea. As usual, I didn’t include the image so we can focus on the word-mood and build our own internal images from this exemplary poem.

Thank you Martha for sharing this one and for approaching the depths of such a concept as “reincarnation.” It’s a power word, for sure, but you have used good taste and selection of the accompanying words, therefore the haiku works well. Bravo!

– Edwin Lomere (USA)

Eva Limbach’s Battlefields

It is not often that I get teary-eyed while reading haiku. Haiku are no doubt emotional poems sometimes, but their objectivity and lack of overtly poetic language sometimes hides emotions in the depths of a reading.

dandelion fluff
the battlefields
so far away

© Eva Limbach (Germany)

But with reading Eva’s haiku, I immediately felt the emotional impact. It was kind of inexplicable, but I will try to write about it. Maybe it was the motion of the dandelion fluff floating through the air in my imagination and how it relates to the seemingly frivolous nature of soldier’s lives. Or maybe how we can only watch the terror of war from a distance, and the dandelions represent a visual of the souls that may be leaving the bodies of the fallen. Or even the feeling of helplessness of knowing that we can’t do anything to stop wars from occurring.

Dandelion fluff is at once beautiful and unimportant. Maybe Eva is showing how heroes of war are at once magnificent examples of human honor and courage, while also being given to the jaws of death without much remorse for a questionable end. By the mood of the haiku, I feel it is expressing how we do not respect the lives of those who gave their lives for principles.

But whatever the exact meaning is, it may not matter. Drawing an inexplicable feeling from a reader is a sign of a true haiku. If one can explain a haiku easily, most classical masters of haiku would say that it would be not be a true haiku.

On another note, the pacing of the lines bring out the emotion of the haiku, as does the sound of the haiku. It can read easily and each line seems to carry a certain gravity. The word “dandelions” and “battlefields” work strongly together in sound, and so do “fluff” and “far.” Part of the magic of such a small poem is that it leaves an awe-inspiring effect on the reader. With this added sense of sound, the haiku becomes more enchanting, despite its grim message.

The word “so” works to bring out the emotion. Though this word is often advised not to use, it works well, as the lack of words makes the emotion much sharper.

I think Eva got at the heart of haiku with this one: compassion through perspective. She reminds us of events that are happening each day, but of which we often forget, and sometimes entirely bypass.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Lucky Triana’s Firefly

falling star
on my dinner plate
the firefly

© Lucky Triana (Indonesia)

One of the finest examples of simplicity and comparison that I have found in recent months.

The poet posted a picture, but, I’m not including it. These words say everything and leave us to imagine the infinite cycle of life–especially the decay and swift end.

She has taken the stars and put them on a plate for us, using a “firefly!”
It is as though we are partaking of the greater majesty of existence
at our own dinner table.

Thanks Lucky Triana for capturing a little light and giving us something of the infinite, yet fleeting.

– Edwin Lomere (USA)

George Klacsanzky’s Seagull

dead seagull
on the beach—eyes still
looking for fish

Haiku Zasshi Zo (winter/spring, 1988)

© George Klacsanzky (USA)  (1956-2003)
George Klacsanzky has captured a moment that is hard to forget. When applied to our human lives, this haiku conjures up subtle feelings of devotion. Even after the passing of the seagull, the continuous desire for fish lives on.

There is also a double meaning in “eyes still”: the eyes are actually not moving, yet it also implies the continuation of looking. In that light, through the eyes of a neuroscientist, even at the time of human death, there is still 6 to 12 minutes of brain activity. Additionally, a dream second is infinitely longer than a waking second. This allows the reader to contemplate the sheer possibility that a seagull can still have brain activity and look for fish in a dream, even though (through our human eyes), it is clearly dead on the beach.

The pause in the second line achieved through the dash allows the reader to effectively contemplate the 2 parts of the haiku, without creating too much distance between them.

This haiku ultimately sparks conversation about life, death, and dreams. At the time of death, what will we see? What desires will remain in the mind? Will we simply enter a dream world fabricated by thoughts? Will the seagull enter a dream where he/she continues to look for fish? George Klacsanzky’s haiku urges us to ask ourselves what is most important to us in this lifetime, and what will remain within us when we take our last breath.

– Jacob Salzer (USA)

Garry Eaton’s Cold Marble

his everlasting love’s cold marble Taj Mahal

© Garry Eaton (Canada)

Specifics in haiku are quite important, as they can add nuance and layers. As the poet mentions “cold marble” and “Taj Mahal” we get definite specifics about the location and substance of the haiku. Taj Mahal is a famous mausoleum at Agra, India, constructed by the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan in honor of his favorite wife. It was built with white marble, which reflects in a pool flanked by cypresses.

The Taj Mahal is a monument of love and dedication, and a wonder of the world. But the poet brings out a direct truth about it: the coolness of the marble itself. Coolness can have many meanings. One meaning is despite that the emperor believed his love would carry through the Taj, now the only thing that lingers is the coolness of the marble. Another interpretation of coolness can be that his love for his wife is still felt through the cooling sensation of the marble on bare feet, and in the atmosphere.

Another entirely different reading of this is “his everlasting love’s cold/marble Taj Mahal” which highlights the possible sickness emperor’s wife died from, and being contrasted with the coolness of the marble.

In one line haiku, as in this one, there are so many readings available that one might get confused. But this confusion, I believe, is part of the philosophy of haiku–that truth can be approached at many angles and that the connection between things can seem endless.

Look at the sound of the haiku, as well. The “o” sound in “love’s cold” makes it that much cooler in effect. The “a” sound which runs through the haiku makes it heavier, which is appropriate for the subject.

This is a haiku that is at once charming and melancholic. This mixture makes it all the more intriguing.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Jacob Salzer’s Sound

how many
become one
sound of rain

Frogpond 38:3, and VerseWrights 2016

© Jacob Salzer (USA)

Though this haiku has only seven words, there are at least three readings of it.

One is the haiku acting as a question. It can be read as two different questions: “how many become one sound of rain?” or “how many become one? sound of rain.” They have a drastically different meaning, but lead us to introspection and imagination.

Another reading involves metaphor. Jacob is saying, “this is how many becomes one: the sound of rain.”

In these readings, it is important to note that the poet says the sound of rain instead of rain itself. It is the aftereffect of the rain that is the focus. What is the aftereffect of our actions? Do we become one as a humanity through the aftereffect of our actions?

Now let’s turn to the sound. The “o” sound is the most prominent sound in the haiku, imitating, I believe, the song of far-off rain. The “a” sound of “many” and “rain” emphasize these two words, bringing more importance to them.

Though there are many readings of this haiku, I believe by the mood it conveys, it is a sober message of paying attention to the wonder of how many can become one, even though each individual has his or her own trajectory. What we leave behind with our actions can create unity in a fragmented world.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Dave Read’s Night Winds

Dave Read gives us a masterful last line, a strong pivot line, and an emotive first line.

night winds
I let her go
to voicemail

Frogpond 39.1

© Dave Read

I am a fan of Dave’s last lines. His haiku usually surprise readers in witty or emotional ways, or both. Last lines are kind of the first “aha” moments in haiku. The second eureka moment comes when you realize how the night winds may be, in a sense, speaking to Dave… and that’s why he lets “her” go to voicemail. I propose that “her” is either a girlfriend or a wife. Don’t want to sound like a psychologist, so I will put it at that.

The second line creates the tension in the haiku, which is essential to writing good haiku, and well, almost anything. Without tension, haiku would be merely a pretty picture. And by tension, I don’t mean exclusively stressful events, but some way for readers to have suspense or to feel a disconnect for a while before they figure it all out.
With the wind and the act of letting go, it seems he is handing her over to the forces of nature. But in the third line, we get a surprise.

“night winds” not only sounds emotive reading it out loud, it is emotive in the images and memories it brings to our minds. It also brings up a seasonal reference. I am feeling it is probably autumn, which would mark the change happening in the author’s relationship with the caller. Night winds carry on without obstruction, and this seems like what the author wanted to do as well.

But more than intellectual thought, the feeling of the author is palpable: the melancholy and introspection. Above all, to me, haiku are about a feeling. And I think Dave deftly got his feeling across.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Tiwago’s Petals

new petals
luring honey bees
a spider

© Tiwago (USA)

In this one, we get a good view at the workings of nature.

First the petals’ sweetness attracts honeybees and then for a surprise ending, the poet adds “a spider.”

We are left hanging in the space between the bees, petals, and spider.

We have to then visualize what will happen, but it seems clear to me that the spider is a jumper.

It’s a beautiful image that lets us create another beautiful image.

It is the truth of nature, once again asserting itself and then captured by a poet.

Perhaps the bee will escape. Or if it stings the spider, it too will die.

Thanks Tiwago for sharing a bit of spring drama.

This is where the haiku can be dramatic without drawing too much
attention; it is the minimal use of well-chosen words and placement that I like so much.

– Edwin Lomere (USA)

Yumino Aoiro’s Sincerity

18 - 1

A precise haiku written Yumino Aoiro, who is also an artist and usually accompanies his haiku with a visual of simple elegance. He has been producing beautiful work for as long as I have known him and I have to keep in mind that “English” is not his native language.

I like the idea of using “sincerity” in the song of the cuckoo as a descriptor in the haiku. “Sincere” means open and not deceitful, and this captures the beauty of all nature. It simply is what it is. The beautiful part is that the cuckoo doesn’t know that we see her as “sincere.” She exists somewhere in her song. She flies in whatever routes or courses that come to her in that moment; hopefully, a safe one, but, maybe not.

We benefit from that song in gaining some clarity for ourselves. Regardless of our ego and “intelligence” we can only be what we are.
I think  Yumino indirectly tells us this in his haiku. It is there for the taking.

He also gives us a “sweet” (warm) “breeze.” It is gentle and we can feel it if we pause at the ellipsis that he provides; we pause and feel the breeze: sweet breeze… We share the breeze with all things and we are held for a moment in the haiku to realize this.

Of the cuckoo sounds that I have heard, there seem to be two musical intervals: the darker minor third, and the brighter major third. Either way, we know those two famous tones around the world. It is only the cuckoo calling. “Singing,” as we think of it, in its own musical birdly world.

Yumino san takes us into that little, yet expansive world and we rest for a moment in the interval. He has given us a haiku of simple elegance and balance. Something classical has formed like the human mind desires. Something we can access and have sought out for generations: it is simplicity, a slower world, earth-time.

– Edwin Lomere (USA)