Emmanuel Jessie Kalusian’s Power Outage

power outage—
the neighbourhood cicada
bursts into a song

Creatrix, #31, 2015

© Emmanuel Jessie Kalusian (Nigeria)

Interesting and profound haiku. Perhaps the cicada was singing all along and only noticed when the distractions of what’s unnatural was shut down.

– Fractled (USA)

Love it! It is funny and profound on at least two levels. One, as a previous comment notes, the cicada was “singing” all along and were only noticed when the humans no longer had electrical distractions, or else the (cicada) was so happy that there were no distractions that it did, indeed, burst into song. This is another one of those that I think, “I wish I had written that.”

– Dana Grover (USA)

The haiku shows a moment of “light” to me. It makes me think of the many precious things slipped out of our sight due to this modern life—like the cicada’s song.

I love the use of”—” and bursts. Both give a strong impression of suddenness.

Also, the repeating of r, similar to a cicada’s sound, brings the scene to life to me.

– Lucky Triana (Indonesia)

In modern times, a power outage is an inconvenience, an impediment to productivity, or even a cause of dollars lost (I think of food, thawing in the freezer). We are reliant on electricity. Its loss is a major disruption, and generally not welcome, within the structure of our lives.

Kalusian’s haiku, on the other hand, takes the power outage as a celebration. A first reading of the poem implies that the celebration is the cicada’s, that it’s reacted to the power outage by bursting into song. A second, more thoughtful reading, is that the celebration is our’s. As others have mentioned, it is likely that the cicada was singing before the electricity was lost. But its song was missed under the hum of the current, or beneath the sounds of our various devices. The loss of power, therefore, opened up the world around us. There is a beauty to be celebrated in nature when we slow ourselves down, remove our distractions, and listen. Sometimes, an event like a power outage helps bring that beauty to us.

– Dave Read (Canada)

An appreciation of the more mundane things, as in the song created by cicadas, takes a deeper meaning when technology assumes a back seat. Here, I believe, it is being alluded that the absence of electricity made the writer contemplate about the simpler things around us—and that this may be, to some extent, hard to experience as the former seems to make us take things for granted.

– Willie Bongcaron (Philippines)

Location is so important. Kigo can really become meaningless in the context of global haikai. Looking into cicadas on the African continent, they seem more of the “wall of sound,” very large and abundant species. So, I think the singular here is a bit strange, especially with “neighborhood cicada.” How could a neighborhood only have one?The only context where I could see the singular reading to be consistent and interesting is if the “neighborhood cicada” is a metaphor for a loud and obnoxious neighbor, perhaps one prone to bursting out into song, and generally you can’t hear them over the din of the city, but in this moment of quiet, their voices comes out loud and clear.

However, that’s a stretch. I still think its stronger with the plural noun, but that may just be my inner etymologist getting hung up on scientific realism.

Another way around this would be to have it be a particular cicada one can see or at least realistically single out:

power outage—
from the neighbor’s tree a cicada
bursts into song

Something clarifying like that. However, I think

power outage—
the neighbourhood cicadas
burst into song

Really is succinct and nice and doesn’t bring up any awkward “wait, but…” objections for me. I’m totally fine with surrealism and metaphor, personification, or other literary effects in haiku, but they need to have a purpose and add something in terms of resonance to justify bringing the audience outside of the moment. Here, the singular completely pulls me out of the poetic thought-space into critical mode because it doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t create a pleasant irony or paradox either.

– Clayton Beach (USA)

What do you think or feel about this haiku? Let us know in the comments.

Sydell Rosenberg’s Feather

in a toyless cage
the parakeet discovers
a feather to twirl


Haiku by Sydell Rosenberg (USA) (1929-1996), art by Mary E. Rodning (USA), and translation into Japanese and calligraphy by Hiromi Inoue (Japan).

A nice collaboration (I do not know or read Japanese, so I don’t know about it, other than the looks of the writing is aesthetically pleasing). The crueltyI suppose it is unintentionalof a captive spirit is stated matter of factly. It is a powerful piece. The three elements work well together, but the haiku easily stands alone.

– Dana Grover (USA)

This is powerfully sad and shows how pathetic it is to capture a free spirit (wild bird) and keep it prisoner in a cage. I find that objectionable. The feather seems to symbolise the loneliness of the bird.

– Martha Magenta (UK)

To me, it shows desperation with ingenuity and intelligence of a captured being, but do animals have emotions such as being bored? This is a debate that’s been going on for a long time. I noticed that this was written in the 5-7-5 format and I can imagine the difficulty of writing the first line without telling too much, which to me it does.

Since the image already shows a cage why not emphasize it and not repeat what’s already shown?


toyless prisoner
the parakeet discovers
a feather to twirl

Just thinking of the possibilities, where I could be wrong as well. My 2 cents disclaimer.

– Fractled (USA)

Wow. I think it’s very potent. To me, it speaks clear of how horribly sad and senseless it is to confine another being created to be wild and free. I can only hope it conveys the message to others on how very wrong and inhumane imprisoning a fellow earthling is, along with the selfishness and cruelty of it.

– Michelle Hyatt (Canada)

L1 might work better without “in a” since “parakeet” and
“cage” suggest being within.

– Edwin Lomere (USA)

I think the poem is quite strong. It oscillates nicely between a theme of making the most of what you’ve got (“a feather to twirl”), and one of being trapped with little available to you (“a toyless cage”).

– Dave Read (Canada)

Wow… I have mixed feelings regarding this particular haiku, but the intention to convey loneliness is stark and well-taken. First, it saddens me that the little fellow doesn’t have any material/objects to keep itself occupied and happy while being confined.

You see, I have an African Grey that never knew of being in the wild, (I spoon-fed her during infancy) but she escaped twiceonce in Maryland and another time in Georgia. One of her phrases is, ‘Help me.” In her last escape, she stayed away for about a week (I forgot the exact time frame).

She ( Lilo) ended up flying onto a gentleman’s lap as he and his brother were chatting in an open garage. Because of posting Lilo’s description/markings and behaviour patterns in a nearby pet store, I was blessed to have her returned to me. She has a 6-foot cage, several toys, eats fresh fruit and seeds daily (she growls at vegetables) and is rarely confined. At this time in my life, I can’t imagine not having her as my companion (she can live up to 60 years+).

I have spoken with many people, including friends, who believe birds should be free. Well, I must say horses should be free too. 🙂

Many animals can be domesticated. More importantly, to me, they should be treated with as much kindness as the next person. I have to admit most of my friends have 4-legged pets. It just so happened a little bird who truly talks to me became my best friend. That is not to say I’m not fond of felines & canines as well.

– Lovette Carter (traveler)

Since the haiku portion of the haiga has been commented on at length, I will do my best to discuss the art.

The white between the words and the cage, to me, portrays the loneliness the parakeet is feeling.

Most of the color is used on the bird itself, while the cage and the cage’s stand is painted lightly. This allows the viewer to focus on the bird as the main subject and see that with the play with the feather, the bird is perhaps drawn away from its loneliness. Even the poet’s name is written in green, which could point to the parakeet being a metaphor for the poet’s life.

At the bottom right, there is what appears to be a dark blue chair, which is an appropriate color for sadness.

Though simple, the emotions of the haiku runs through the art, and perhaps gives a glimpse into the true feelings of the poet.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

What do you think or feel about this haiga? Let us know in the comments.

Lucia Fontana’s Lonely Night

lonely night . . .
from myself to myself
a poem in the mail

© Lucia Fontana (Italy)

Poets from the group Haiku Nook wrote commentary on this senryu:

I like it, and can relate to it. Not that I am particularly lonely, but sometimes, who better to like our poems than ourselves?

– Dana Grover (USA)

While we have grown accustomed to the speed of emails, texts, or personal messages, there is still something tangible and heartwarming about receiving a letter in the mail. A handwritten note, especially, can create proximity between sender and recipient. What snail mail lacks in speed, it often makes up for in warmth of touch.

In Fontana’s poem, we encounter a narrator seeking, but failing to receive, that warmth and proximity. Alone at night, when our darkest emotions are strongest, she decides to bridge this gap by mailing a poem to herself. Fontana achieves a delicate balance here. The subtle humour inherent in sending yourself a poem (of which neither the content nor arrival will come as a surprise), works to accentuate the loneliness which prompts that need to begin with. Fontana’s senryu has successfully captured a moment of loneliness which exceeds, in depth of feeling, the brevity of the poem.

– Dave Read (Canada)

lonely night . . .
from myself to myself
a poem in the mail

First, Dave’s comments are brilliant, and spot-on.

When I read this poem, I get a paradoxical feeling of rejection and acceptance.

One one hand, I’m reading a poem that I submitted to a magazine that got rejected (for no good reason), and it was mailed back in my own, self-stamped return envelope. (This has happened to me, numerous times).

On the other hand, I can’t help but see the possibility of acceptance, as the author’s poem got sent back in the return envelope with an ACCEPTED stamp on it, relieving some of the sadness and feelings of isolation.

It seems a lot of writers are brilliant but don’t necessarily feel connected with many people. It seems to send poems out is an attempt to extinguish the sense of isolation. When a writer’s work is accepted, it seems to significantly uplift someone’s mood, and solidifies a connection with another human being. Someone, who I have never seen before has read my poem, and accepted it, but, not only thatit’s now being published to be read by many more people. That is a very good feeling that I think all writers and poets share. It’s a feeling of being accepted in a larger groupa feeling of belonging, of someone else noticing you, and wanting to share a part of you with many more people.

– Jacob Salzer (USA)

First, I thought “from myself to myself” is a Zen feeling, but it seems to be my misreading, because there is the word “lonely” in the first line.

The first line uses “… ” which is for making a cut, clearly. This second line ends with a personal pronoun, which is a second light cut. So, I can read this senryu as three parts.

“lonely night …” is the introduction of this senryu. It feels like “silence.” The second line “from myself to myself ” gives me an image of repetition. Is it deeply into oneself?

The third line is made up of nouns. Often, the Japanese say that haiku and senryu are poems based on nouns. This third line’s ending becomes flat with the noun. First, I thought this poem was a haiku. The first line and second line are moody. But the third line is suddenly flattened by the nouns. So, this writer categorized this poem as a “senryu”? This is a little mysterious as a senryu.

– Norie Umeda (Japan)

The other poets commenting on this senryu wrote a great deal of what I wanted to say, but to add, I will point out that this senryu’s aesthetic could be a way to express the increase in loneliness, despite last-ditch efforts. The poet receiving a poem from herself accentuates the loneliness, and maybe she begins to accept her loneliness with greater depth since this act is so unusual.

It is like Buddhist monks sometimes say: “Become one with pain, and move beyond it.” I think this senryu could be expressing this sentiment.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

What do you think or feel about this senryu? Let us know in the comments.

Donna Claire Gallagher’s Candle

blowing out
one birthday candle
the whole family

© Donna Claire Gallagher (USA) (1941 – 2009)

Various poets from the Haiku Nook wrote about this haiku:

I like it. I have an image of a family gathered around a birthday cake for a child who has just turned one year old, too young to understand the meaning of birthday celebrations and too young to know about blowing out candles at such celebrations. This is a happy, joyful event, a family, more than one generation, gathered and bound together with the glue of love. And Donna Claire said all that with only eight words. Kudos to her.

– Dana Grover (USA)

Yes, when everyone else forsakes you… the comfort of family is your last bastion of hope in this physical world. Their warmth, their assurance, their comfort in the most trying moments of your life.

Of course there would be happy moments shared with the family, specially with a big one, as in this ku, where a child celebrates his first year. I could imagine the fun… the human drama of it all.

– Willie Bongcaron (Philippines)

Could be a trick candle, the last fragment is the key because it’s pretty much open to all types on interpretations where the haiku never ends because of the structure.

– Fractled (USA)

Yes, there’s an element of humor. It could be a trick candle, but there’s also a connotation of warmth and togetherness that conjures the image of a close-knit family, as was said earlier. I don’t approve of calling verses like this “senryu.” The tone is light and humorous, but also very warm and positive. It is firmly in the haiku range of tone and character, and calling a ku this wholesome and lovely a senryu is an insult in my opinion.

– Clayton Beach (USA)

I think this says a lot about how much a family has invested in the next generation, and how the first birthday is an important milestone. Perhaps we can be reminded that in many parts of the world, the infant mortality rate remains very high.

Another point is that this first birthday is a unifying event for the familyas we all know, families are full of tensions and issues, but on this special day, the whole family are united in one simple task.

– Martha Magenta (UK)

One view that was not mentioned by the other commentators was that maybe this senryu is about the death of a baby, and the family is blowing out a birthday candle in honor of the baby.

Also, in terms of sound, the “b” in “blowing” and “birthday” could connect to the sound of blowing out of a candle. Also, making the senryu more musical is the “l” sounds coursing through the lines.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

What do you think or feel about this senryu? Let us know in the comments.