Samo Kreutz’s train station

train station— 
among a pile of luggage 
dawn light

Samo Kreutz (Slovenia)
(translated by Alenka Zorman)

I have a certain affinity for trains. So, this haiku naturally piqued my interest. We have a scene at a train station where luggage is left on the platform and is either going to be loaded on the train soon or has already been unloaded. But, among these belongings is the light of dawn, applying its weight.

We usually think of luggage and possessions as our own. However, the world interacts with everything we acquire. It becomes a part of it, and in turn, becomes a part of us. In the context of this haiku, dawn light integrates with someone’s journey, even for a second.

The format is in the usual short/long/short form of English-language haiku. The poem utilizes a dash to cancel out the confusion of the second line becoming a pivot and allows the reader to pause and imagine a train station. There doesn’t seem to be a word out of place or of no use. It is a simple observation with meaningful consequences.

The drawn-out “a” sounds of “dawn,” “train,” “station,” and “luggage” show the casual pace of the train station. The light “l” sounds display perhaps the faintness and beauty of dawn light.

It’s a universal haiku that speaks to our relationship with nature and how we don’t truly own anything.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

A train station is no less than a place for yearning for dreams, reminiscing about memories, feeling nostalgic, and having personal experiences, especially when alone. Moreover, a train station can be related to the departure and arrival of mental states a person can go through on their journey.

A pile of luggage is no less than a burden for a person who is already passing through any of the above-mentioned experiences that keep them engaged mentally or psychologically. In that case, luggage is merely a burden that a person holds but does not relate to or feel any association with. In other words, if train stations are life, a pile of luggage may be desires, longings, and wishes that stays with a person throughout life and they cannot fulfill them.

In my opinion, dawn light is a hope that encourages a person to keep yearning for one’s dreams and wishes and move on in life.  

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

“Arrival of the Normandy Train, Saint-Lazare Train Station” (1877) by Claude Monet

Taofeek Ayeyemi’s withered blossoms

withered blossoms —
locals packing the remains
of a bomb blast

(previously published in Creatrix, Issue 49, 2020)
Taofeek Ayeyemi (Nigeria)

This haiku starts with the word ‘withered’ which shows a lack of life or annihilation. If we imagine ‘withered blossoms’, they can look dark, black, dry, and drooping—in other words, like destruction.

Relating ‘withered blossoms’ to a bomb blast site sketches the scene of a bomb blast area that appears more dark, black, and withered. Similarly, packing the remains of the blast is akin to collecting memories

If we relate this to our lives, it means our memories are probably traumatic ones that fade away or wither with time. We keep reminiscing about what is left behind.

This haiku tells me that life goes on even after hopelessness, destruction, and chaos.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

“Remains” is a chilling word in this haiku. It can mean materials but also people. This poem could be either associating packing the remains after a bomb blast with withered blossoms, or locals physically packing the withered blossoms away as a souvenir or for another reason.

The withered blossoms can be acting as a symbol of the bomb blast as well. Our wars make our lives like these degenerated blossoms. It could be alluding to how we are born innocent and later become corrupt.

“withered blossoms” is either an autumn or winter kigo, but I would lean towards autumn. I get a sense that the poet is speaking about human atrocities as humanity’s “autumn.”

The em dash in the first line gives proper weight to the subject and allows us to pause. The format is standard for English-language haiku and just enough words are used to convey the feeling and message of the poem. Note also the string of “o” sounds that may give us an idea of the sound of the bomb.

Overall, this is a haiku that weaves themes of innocence, war, nature versus humanity, and possibly more. Though simple on the surface, it lends to several readings and has a substantial power behind it.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

Painting by Vincent van Gogh

Joshua Gage’s distant stars

distant stars
a crow’s shadow
sweeps the fresh snow

Joshua Gage (USA)
(previously published in Presence 63, 2019)

“Distant stars” is a subtle expression that provides a lot of resonance. It’s something you can see as a mere dot but still reflects its own light in the dark sky.

‘Distant stars’ here may indicate less visibility due to fog or dense air. It also seems to show the longings and desires that are more visible during a silent winter.

Moving on to ‘a crow’s shadow’, it may be the persona an individual holds onto while being a guardian, protector, or dreamer. A crow never fails to bring out various emotions in us through its cawing and unique attributes.

The word ‘sweeps’ is used efficiently to perhaps show how dreams or hopes end over a period of time. I take fresh snow as a representation of our vivid memories that stay for a short while but leave a huge impact.

I can relate distant stars to ‘longings’, a crow’s shadow to ‘maturity, wisdom’, and fresh show to ‘vivid or temporary memories’. Together, it’s a fantastic combination of sight where light, shadow, and snow beautifully relate to our longings that are not fulfilled but still come to mind to remind us that there is still some hope in life.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

What I enjoyed right away about this haiku is the connection between far and near. Distant stars are viewed and in the next moment, the poet notices a crow’s shadow pass over fresh snow, probably in the moonlight.

This connection contrasts and compares. The sparkling of stars is akin to the glittering of fresh snow. The contrast is with the darkness of the crow’s shadow against the twinkling of stars.

The word “distant” plays well in this poem, as a shadow is a type of representation of the distance between ourselves and what we cast.

The word “sweeps” works wonders to liven the readers’ imagination. It also presents a great string of “s” sounds in nearly every word of the haiku. It gives the reader the sound of a broom sweeping a floor as if the crow’s shadow is really sweeping the fresh snow.

A unique image, a great sense of sound, and myriad connections give this haiku power and resonance.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

 “Konjikido in Snow, Hiraizumi” by Kawase Hasui, woodblock print reproduction