Francesco Palladino’s Empty Room

empty room
a rosary and oranges
on the bedside table

© Francesco Palladino (Italy)

The mysterious starting line sketches the overall image of this haiku that leaves enough room for the reader to relate and interpret it according to their own personal experiences. In fact, this empty room could symbolize ‘loneliness’ and/or ‘melancholy’ that a person faces at least once in his or her life. I can also relate it with thoughts that trigger ’emptiness’ deep within—a sort of depression due to loneliness.

A rosary and oranges may depict healing after an illness that is both in the form of a cure and prayers. The oranges are associated with joy, good luck, and enthusiasm that goes well with the imagery of this haiku. Similarly, a rosary is considered as a hope for healing by reciting different supplications. Having both on the bedside table may indicate the hope and efforts one made to get rid of physical as well as mental issues in life.

There is a spiritual element in this haiku where ’empty room’ may indicate a peaceful mind devoid of thoughts—mindfulness. Then, rosary and oranges as components of spiritual energy enrich the aura with their presence.

As a note about the sound, the letter ‘o’ is repetitive in this haiku, which is also relates to the deep feelings of continuity and flow of divine energy within the soul.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

What I enjoy most about this haiku is the space that it gives readers to ponder what has happened in the room and/or what continues to happen there. We can also guess as readers why the room is empty. The rosary gives a hint that it may be a monastery. However, many different types of people can carry rosaries.

The contrast between the rosary and the oranges is stark. On one hand, rosaries are about prayer and penance, while oranges are succulent, an indulgence, and bright in color. Also, the beads of the rosary are in the shape of oranges, which offers a further connection. The empty room contains so much due to this aesthetic of comparison. It has the spiritual and mundane in concord. Maybe the poem is telling us that we need both in balance.

This haiku reminds me of a poem by Shiki written late in his life:

a red apple
a green apple
on the table

(tr. by Nicholas Klacsanzky)

I think Palladino’s haiku is a fine addition to the legacy of Shiki.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

If you enjoyed this poem and commentary, let us know in the comments.

van gogh

– Vincent van Gogh, “Basket with Six Oranges”

Panagiotis Kentikelenis’ First Snow

first snow—
homeless with two left-handed
baseball gloves

© Panagiotis Kentikelenis (Greece)

This haiku reminds me of the time when I used to visit a welfare organisation in my city where I found homeless children seeking for the best reward, which was anything they could wear. I personally handed over warm clothes to many children, including gloves.

“first snow” brings a lot of surprises with it besides transformation. It gives us a deeper chill, where we feel more close to our inner self. For me, the first snow is the best part of the year, which helps us to yearn for new dreams and express ourselves deeply. But, for deprived people as mentioned in this haiku, the first snow is a bit alarming due to the harshness of the season.

I see ‘homeless’ as a metaphor here where a person is deprived of a deep understanding of life and wandering with a wish to settle. The two left-handed gloves may indicate the helplessness of the person who cannot use his or her skills because of not having good choices or two equally bad choices—especially the word ‘baseball’ here reflects the sportsman spirit that is missing due to the choices that person made.

Overall, the theme of this haiku is pessimistic in nature, where a person, due to his or her personal choice (both left-handed gloves), and luck (snow), is unable to cope with different issues of life.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

I would say that both the first snow of the year and having two left-handed gloves comes as a surprise. The first snow seems to come out “left field,” as they say, or out of nowhere. In comparison, becoming homeless is commonly not an intentional choice (though I have met people who have made the choice to be homeless). In general, becoming homeless is like having two left-handed gloves. You get stuck in a state that is undesirable and that seems so off from what you deemed to be reality. In addition, “first snow” can be a symbol of purity, whereas being homeless and receiving two left-handed baseball gloves shows that something is “off.” This link between the human experience and nature is poignant, whether through comparison or contrast.

I like the use of the em dash to make a clear cut between the two parts and to give the haiku more weight. The poet also keeps the rhythm of “short line/longer line/short line.” In terms of sound, the main focus is on “o” with “snow,” “homeless,” “two,” and “gloves.” It slows down the pace of the poem, which allows the reader to take in the haiku in greater depth.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

If you enjoyed this haiku and commentary, please let us know in the comments.

fresh snow

Goran Gatalica’s Pilgrimage

spring pilgrimage —
first cherry blossoms
in mother’s sandals

© Goran Gatalica (Croatia)

Autumn Moon Haiku Journal, Spring/Summer 2018, Haiku Moment Award

This is a beautiful haiku with a spiritual touch that makes it refreshing and intriguing. The first line starts with spring, which corresponds to a new beginning, a renewal of life, and a season of positivity and rebirth. “Spring pilgrimage” is a sort of transformation from the cold winter to warm spring in general and the transformation of the self from one level to the next that is more deeper and profound.

Cherry blossoms also symbolize renewal and a refreshed nature, so these can add more positivity and a sense of growth in one’s spiritual journey. “First cherry blossoms” may indicate early spring that brings deep feelings to initiate this deeper journey. The mother’s sandals indicate submission to the creator who bestows us with the blessings of self awareness. It also illustrates humility and reverence that a spiritual journey brings us and we feel more close to our creator.

Overall, this haiku depicts the profoundness and subtlety of spiritual experiences that not only bring us close to our inner self but also gives us a knowledge of the creator by feeling divine powers deep within.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

“Spring pilgrimage” relates, in my opinion, to both a return to family and a spiritual journey. One’s mother is at once a comforting, worldly person, and on the other hand, an individual who has given you birth and raised you. I think the word “pilgrimage” connects to both of these aspects.

The image in the last two lines implies a lot. My gut reaction is that it describes a mother who has passed away, and now fallen cherry blossoms in all their beauty rest on her sandals. It may be that the cherry blossoms were put there as an offering, as in many countries the feet and shoes of people are seen as holy. Or, the blossoms fell naturally from a nearby tree.

The sandals are also indicative of traveling and it relates to a pilgrimage. This connection could be implying that the poet’s mother is on her own journey now in the afterlife. But, by cherry blossoms coming to the sandals, there is a certain link between the mundane and otherworldly realm.

With the haiku having only eight words, it embodies the aesthetic of brevity. Also, with the em dash acting as a kireji, the two parts of the haiku are clearly separated and juxtaposed (toriawase). The sound of the “r”s running through the haiku give a sense of the rush of wind and the spiritual pull of a pilgrimage.

Through observation, juxtaposition, and sound, the poet has created a deep and elevated poem.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

cherry blossoms

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