Anna Cates’ Dreamsicles


Shopping for orange dreamsicles at Dollar Tree, I found myself in the checkout aisle behind two young men, dressed like handymen. The one closest to me suddenly declared, “I love you!” to the cashier, a large, middle-aged woman with mousy hair.

“He always embarrasses me,” the other guy laughed.

“Why shouldn’t I say something positive?” the man defended himself before turning to me. “I love you!” he said, a sincere smile on his face.

“I love you too,” I replied with a grin.

I left the store with my dreamsicles, thinking how it isn’t every day that two complete strangers look each other in the eye and say, “I love you!”

a daisy’s
yellow joy . . .
warbler trills

© Anna Cates (USA)

It seems the idea of this haibun is to make readers think about themselves and about today’s people. What does it take today to be human? It is very complicated. You smile and a guy thinks, “she is hitting on me.” A man gives you compliments and you begin having wrong ideas.

The prose part in the haibun is very clever and good. In my opinion, this haibun could have two more haiku: one after the description of the cashier, and one more after the guy said I love you to the other guy.

Laughing Waters (USA)

This haibun is versatile in many ways, as I can see various elements of our daily thoughts, the shopping spree, chitchat with people where we exchange smiles, and helping out strangers—the strangers we are connected to strongly for our needs, for our daily requirements.

I liked the way the poet composed the prose in a delightful way, which basically tells us about the dilemma of human beings. We usually bring our conscious filters when someone chats with us unexpectedly in a friendly way. In this era, if people try to connect with each other publicly, it is almost always taken in a suspicious way.

The haiku part of this haibun is well embedded with the emotions of a person who really wants to feel a deep connection with strangers, who are none other than human beings. The soft trilling of a warbler depicts the sincere and lovely feelings of a person that she/he shares through words like ‘I love you!’. But, we perceive it according to our mindsets and in a specific way. Unfortunately, we want to connect with each other as human beings but, we cannot, as we start defining every single gesture, feelings, and words and categorize them according to our set perceptions and experiences. But, deep down, we want the opposite—we want to be heard by others, we want to be accepted unconditionally by others, we want to be connected without any barriers, and we want to be appreciated by others. All this is just a simple wish we want, like a daisy’s yellow joy—the center of it—and in our case, the heart that is the center of joy, that usually fades away due to our thoughts and perceptions.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

I like the realness of this story, and also its uncommon situation. When I read the prose, I could tell right away it was from reality. I have also been in similar circumstances when people in public are goofing off or acting in a unique way that is positive. It gives a certain vibrancy to life.

Besides being able to easily identify with the story, I like the slightly surrealistic haiku accompanying it. It connects nicely with the unusual, but very ordinary occurrence in the story.

Touching upon the technical stuff, the ellipsis works well to illustrate the warbler’s trill. I also enjoy the economy of the language, with the haiku being only six words. The rolling of “l” sounds and “y” sounds make the poem musical as well.

In terms of the prose, I enjoy the descriptions of the people and the naturalness of the dialogue.

A haibun that explores the extraordinary in the ordinary in a delightful way.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

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John James Audubon (1785–1851)

Zvonko Petrović’s Sea

the sea …
a boat below
the boat

The First International Ashiya Haiku Festa Award (2000)
© Zvonko Petrović (1925 – 2009) (Croatia)

Very exciting ku. I like how “a boat” plays with “the boat,” and the word “below” echoes with sea, as there are so many treasures below the sea.

Laughing Waters (USA)

While reading this, the soundtrack for the movie “Titanic” was incidentally playing in the background… and is it sheer coincidence? I see here a big boat (as in the Titanic) with small boats attached to it at the side… I see here a multi-story luxury boat or ship where people are classified according to their status in life, the well-to-do at the upper portion (perhaps the suites) of the boat, and the common individuals in the economy section of it. Each individual has a story (or boat) to tell or share, as they all traverse the challenges of life herein symbolized by “the sea.”

Willie Bongcaron (Philippines)

A ‘deep’ haiku, which not only suggests long-lost sunken ships, but could it also refer to the idea of ‘the sea of humanity’ and the following of one generation on another—we all live on the remains of previous civilizations. We travel in the wake of our ancestors by land and by sea.

Martha Magenta (UK)

I read this quite simply: first the vast expanse of sea, then zooming in on a boat bobbing on it’s own reflection… it reminded me of how small and insignificant we all are in the great scheme of things.

Rachel Sutcliffe (UK)

This haiku is simple yet complicated when we interpret the imagery of it. The sea is a specific kind of sea: it may be calm, still, and transparent in this scene. A sea with these characteristics is not more than a mirror where nature can reflect in a better way. Then, a boat below the boat is used very cleverly in this haiku, where the author is relating the sea with a big boat that helps to store many things on it and rescue them as well. The other boat is very small, which shows the humbleness of the person who admires the vastness and depth of sea. This small boat may be the rescue boat, or one where the person sits and ponders different elements of life.

I can also see the sea as our intellect that helps our tiny self (boat) to flourish more and reflect more after passing through various storms and finally gain inner peace more like this sea. I also see the comparison of the large boat and small boat as inner and outer selves respectively, where our outer self reflects the inner inner self if it is well connected with it. The English articles are really meaningful in this haiku, especially ‘the’ that makes this haiku more mysterious and lets our imagination run wild.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

The author begins with the sea, a vast universe of water, letting us in with a sense of immense. It’s also calm and transparent because the author tells us a boat can be noticed on the bottom …

In the ku, there are just five words, of which two are repeated … relaxing and almost mesmerizing the reader.

But when one gives a look at the poem in a more playful way, we can also notice that in the ku itself ‘the boat’ is below ‘a boat’… The haijin is not telling only but also showing it in a visual structure: ‘a boat’ in the second line and ‘the boat’ below, in the line below …

And this is quite funny, humorously talking, because the boat that is below appears in the upper line, not in the line below … A trick I didn’t expect and that intrigued me a lot …

One could also read it in a deeper way, considering the phenomenon of reflection. And one could give attention to consciousness (‘the’ boat) and unconsciousness (‘a’ boat below the boat: the surface where everything is easy to see, and the bottom that one can see, or interpret only in ‘calm waters’ or in tranquility).

Reading the ku in this way, one can perceive the levels of depth as if the poet wanted to show us a truth behind the truth itself … A pleasure to have meditated on it!

Lucia Fontana (Italy)

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(© Jan Zaremba, with the kind permission of the artist)