Elancharan Gunasekaran’s Raft

raft anchored
to the full moon…
shadows dive in

Elancharan Gunasekaran (Singapore)
Published in Wales Haiku Journal, summer, 2019

Not only is the imagery striking but the way the poet plays with the senses is highly creative. The full moon, reflected on the water, appears to be anchoring the raft either by a string or a chain. This, of course, isn’t factual, but it looks this is actually taking place. This type of imagery is prevalent in haiku and was used often by the old masters, such as Basho.

In the second part, we have another play on our perception. The shadows diving into the full moon could be from anything around: plants, trees, people, animals, etc. But not everything has to be spelled out in haiku. It’s often key to allow space for the reader to imagine a scene from their own experience and ideas so that they can participate in the poem.

With these two fantastical images, the poet merges the cosmos and the earthly. They interact with each other and the distance between them is bridged. I think this connects well with the Zen concept of non-dualism.

Looking at the technical aspects of this haiku, the ellipsis slows down the pace of the scene and hints at its peacefulness. The length of the lines is in standard fashion, connecting to the rhythm of traditional Japanese haiku. In terms of sound, the most interesting part is the two “f”s in the poem. It’s a heavy letter that seems to correlate well with the weight of an anchor, as noted in the haiku.

Full of intriguing imagery and plays of perception, this haiku makes for an enjoyable and mysterious read.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

I liked the opening line of this, where there is a sense of proximity and closeness. It puts my ongoing thoughts on a halt and I start exploring my deep connection with the deep water and its mysterious shades. I feel as if my thoughts are anchored for a short while and the sea becomes a subtle ground for anchoring myself to the moon.

It sounds meditative. The full moon is another reason for this mesmerism as the moonlight takes me deep into my profound inner self and I run my imagination wild where strings of the moonlight anchor my thoughts and feelings.

The ellipsis pauses our thoughts to fully absorb the feelings and to enjoy the imagery. The last part of this haiku is a shift from light to dark which seems more like yin-yang where there are comparisons and contrasts in feelings where one can see the moonlight clearly on water due to the shadows that define its boundaries.

The overall imagery of this haiku is subtle and surreal but it’s very well crafted with a fact that there’s a very deep connection between Earth, water, and celestial bodies and one can feel this deep connection with a peaceful mind. It’s definitely beyond seeing.

In terms of sound, the letter “o” creates an uninterrupted rhythm of mystic feelings where there’s no concept of time and space but a continuous cycle of an extraordinary experience.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)


– Painting by Shoda Koho, “Moonlit Sea,” c. 1920

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