Posted in Shahai

Alan Summers’ Sparrow

dead sparrow haiku Alan Summers Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.33.22
Haiku Canada Review, vol. 11, no. 2, (October 2017) ed. LeRoy Gorman

The first line shocks us into the present moment. Sparrows are beloved birds, not only because of their miniature size, but also because of their sweet songs and ubiquitousness. Sparrows as a kigo, or seasonal reference, qualifies for each season, and this adds to their universality perceived in the haiku.

The last two lines depend much on how one reads “light.” Is it light in color, light in weight, or physical light? Summers does not say, but from the feeling we get from reading to the end of the haiku, we might say it is a mixture of both compassion and irony.

The compassion comes from nature giving a spontaneous signal of care or love through a light sky in the evening. This period of the day is lovely and gives off a sense of peace.

The irony could be in the fact that with such a fateful day of a death, the dusk comes lightly (maybe an extended twilight) instead of a definite darkness that would go along with the mood of the day.

This haiku reminds us that nature can be unforgiving and be compassionate simultaneously—and most likely, this is all a matter of spontaneity.

Through the use of sound, Summers makes an even stronger impression on the reader. The use of “l” in “light” and “close” brings about the seriousness of the subject matter, in my opinion. With the alliteration of “comes” and “close” I believe the finality of the event is felt more.

The haiku seems effortlessly written, but the phrasing also appears to have been chosen with intention.

The way I interpreted the photo was that this is the view of the dead sparrow, if it could see. But maybe it is still seeing….

Alan Summers has composed an endearing and contemplative shahai (photo haiku) of feeling and nuance.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky

Posted in Haiku

Dubravko Ivančan’s World

once we are
all dead
the whole world

original Croatian:

Jednom ćemo biti
svi mrtvi;
cćitav svijet.

© Dubravko Ivančan (1931-1982, Croatia)

I see this haiku in three ways. Firstly, when we are together and enjoy our time, that is the best time in our lives, where we enjoy our lives fully. But once we get separated, the whole world looks colourless. I see the word ‘dead’ here as a lack of interest, poor relationships, separation, etc. (especially family relationships).

Then, it could be associated with ‘departure’ as once our close ones are not anymore with us, we feel the whole world is dead or that we have nothing.

Another thought (maybe silly) is related to ‘know thyself’ where people don’t use their best potential and creativity. The concept of ‘being’ can be associated with it, as he used ‘we’ in this haiku, which may point to us being human beings.

– Hifsa Ashraf

Apocalyptic … !

But ever more relevant as the threat of climate change and nuclear war starts looking less and less like science fiction and more and more like a possible real world scenario …

This haiku leaves a huge question mark hanging over it … what then, if there is a then that has any relevance to humanity?

– Gabri Rigotti

I see two different interpretations depending on where the caesura is placed.

1.) The cut is after the first line:

once we are

all dead
the whole world

I am reminded here of Rene Descartes’ cogito ergo sum. The last two lines reinforce the first. And what I see here is the extinction of humankind. Morbid… and apocalyptic as what the kind Gabri Rigotti has earlier stated. I don’t want for humankind to reach this scenario, but who knows… humankind has become so intelligent (and scheming) that it has already devised ways and means to accidentally or intentionally make its kind extinct. If this happens, then other lower forms of organisms might inherit the earth. But then, who knows.

On the other hand, if we believe what God has said, He would intervene when humankind is about to make itself extinct. Then, there is promise and hope for humankind.

2.) The cut is after the 2nd line:

once we are
all dead

the whole world

I see this as a door that opens a myriad possibilities or eventualities. “Once we are all dead,” then what? Will the world cease to exist because humankind has been eliminated? Apparently, one interpretation of this ku suggests that (once we are all dead, the whole world is dead).

Or, the third line becomes an open-ended anticipation of what would be the final scene.

This is my take of this ku.

– Willie Bongcaron

I think “dead” here means just that—”dead” and if it is about all of us being dead, then I agree with the above, that it is apocalyptic and it relates to the possibility that humanity may wipe itself out.

The third line draws my attention more—”the whole world” means all of humanity, and if we differentiate between “the world” and “the earth” then we can see the earth continuing without humanity and “the world” we have imposed on it.

This haiku wants to be read over and over for the implications to sink in. It says a huge amount in a very few words.

– Martha Magenta

My instinct, for what it is worth, is to change the tense:

once we were
all dead
the whole world

which gives it a post-apocalyptic feel.

– Francis Franklin

The poets above have written a great deal of what I wanted to write about this haiku already, however I have one more idea to add. To me, this poem comes instinctively across with the feeling that when each of us perish, we will become the whole world. We are usually confined to our ego and thus to our individuality, but when we die, we once again join the collective consciousness.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky

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

Posted in Haiku

Maria Laura Valente’s Cold Spring

cold spring —
each flower withers

(NHK Haiku Masters, March, 2017)

© Maria Laura Valente (Italy)

According to my understanding, “cold spring” indicates the transformation period from winter to spring. During this period, snow melts from the plants, flowers, and trees that may be a point of withering. “Alone” here indicates the number of a flowers left behind, and that the rest withered during the winter.

The intrinsic side is again the transformation of our life, thoughts, and feelings from one stage to another. “Flowers” may symbolize desires, longings, or wishes of a person that wither, die, or change during this period. “Alone” indicates that each person has his or her own journey to experience transformation, of which is not easily understood by others.

– Hifsa Ashraf

This strikes me as a chilling reminder that we are all alone in death. The word “alone” on its own in line three emphasizes the aloneness.

– Martha Magenta

Overall, a very nicely done haiku. Line one brings us the season with “cold spring.” It is the beginning of spring, a symbol of the new cycle of life, new beginnings. In line two, the word “each” indicates more than one, and also shows us that no one is safe—we all will experience the same final result. So, “withering” confirms the ending result of life. Line three is a nice addition. Even with more than one flower present, they are still in solitude—this brings a touch of sadness. I do find this haiku very pleasing. This brings me to an inspired version:

early spring—
cold snap frost flowers
the baker whistles

– Laughing Waters

This ku strikes me with a realization that there are events and things in life that we have to do alone. There are points in life when nobody could accompany us; perhaps, even in some decision-making, specially about our individual life, others simply can’t do it for us.

– Willie Bongcaron

Spring is often referred to as a joyous time of blossoming, but often people overlook the withering of flowers in all times of spring. Not all flowers stay beautiful and blossom throughout spring. Some come for a short time with brilliance, and fade away among still blossoming flowers. In this sense, I believe this haiku could be stating that each time period is not just one thing, but convex.

Another feeling I get from this haiku is that pain might have even more pain behind it that we do not perceive. The cold spring is already harsh as it is, but the poet notices how the flowers wither alone, and this amplifies the mood of being in a cold spring. Despite this melancholy perception, it does bring us more into the moment, and allows us to truly experience pain. There is a Buddhist saying that goes something like, “To get rid of pain, become fully immersed in it.”

A look at the sound of the haiku adds to the feeling behind it. The prominent “o” sound in “cold,” “flower,” and “alone” works to bring out the starkness of the moment.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky

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

Posted in Haiku

William J. Higginson’s Tick, Tick

the tick, tick
of snow on the reeds . . .
sparrow tracks

© William J. Higginson (USA)

As I see it, the scene conjures a time of early winter, when the snow falls, yet perhaps lightly. And adding to the scene, sparrow tracks (line three) which construes that once, a sparrow was exploring the marshy portion of this location. I take the whole image as another manifestation or celebration of the transitoriness of things and events in our lives.

The persona here could be a tracker or a hunter out to satiate his or her eagerness to score a game. And, finding the place devoid of life, contemplates what to do next… or retreated in the appreciation of the quietness of his or her surrounding.

– Willie Bongcaron (Philippines)

Here a sparrow has left its tracks in snow. Perhaps the sun has risen and the snow on the reeds begins to thaw. The tick tick of the thawing snow seems to reflect the sound of the sparrow hopping. A lovely atmospheric haiku.

– Martha Magenta (England)

I want to point out how potent this haiku is sonically. The first line begins with an onomatopoeia with “tick, tick.” The next sound that is important is the “s” that is present in “snow,” “reeds,” “sparrow,” and “tracks.” There is also a strong presence of “o” sounds and “t” sounds. All in all, this is one of the most musical haiku I have ever read. I believe the sounds reflect the noise of the sparrow and the snow falling on the reeds lightly. Just from its sound, it is a wonderful haiku, and brings us fully into the moment portrayed through the images.

The similarity between the “tick” of snow falling on the reeds, and sound of the sparrow making its tracks is interesting to ponder. In my perspective, it reflects the contrasts of life, and how if one thing is degenerating, something new is being made at the same time to balance it out. The reeds are being covered by the snow gradually, while fresh tracks are created by the sparrow. Essentially, in death there is life, and in life there is death.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

Posted in Haiku

Ken Sawitri’s Plastic Bag

with the plastic bag
a stork wraps the moon
on its head

© Ken Sawitri (Indonesia)

Published originally in: Robert Epstein and Miriam Wald (Eds.), 2016 (1st ed.), Every Chicken, Cow, Fish and Frog: Animal Rights Haiku, Middle Island Press.

Below are various reactions to this haiku by four poets:

My first reaction is one of horror—an image of a wild bird with its head stuck in a plastic bag. I can’t see where the moon comes in though.

– Martha Magenta

I too, find this to be an upsetting image—the horror of a defenseless bird entrapped in a human-made object intended for a legitimate use that has resulted in a devastating (to the stork) consequence. Yet, the author does not come right out and state the horror, he merely reports it, and, “oh, by the way” (he seems to say), the plastic bag reflects the image of the moon, a natural element caught with an unnatural object.

– Dana Grover

To echo Dana and Martha, this haiku brings a feeling of a natural life form trying to adapt to an unnatural object. When I read this, the stork is making a nest out of the plastic bag by wrapping it on top of its head. Under the moonlight, the plastic bag is illuminated in darkness. The word “wraps” seems to reflect the act of creating circles, and this is why a nest came to mind. It brings an unsettling image and reminds us of just how much trash humans have created.

At grocery stores where I live, plastic bags are recycled, and good people know to recycle them versus filling a landfill or discarding them off the side of the road. If anything, I hope this haiku reminds people to recycle and reuse plastic bags. In a world where everything is connected, each action we take, no matter how small, makes a difference.

– Jacob Salzer

I think this haiku contains an opportunity for a mix of interpretations. In fact, I believe the author intended for us to get a visceral reaction out of it: one that is at once shocking by the image, and awed by the beauty of the moon. To me, these qualities make it a strong haiku, as it reflects life: life is mixed, with good in bad, and bad in good.

The plastic bag is flimsy, unnatural, and a thing eventually meant to be thrown away. Yet, here in the haiku, it has the dignified duty of carrying the light of the moon on the stork’s head. This act can have many interpretations, but the spiritual meaning could be that the stork feels a sense of enlightenment and it has gone beyond its mind or individual self. It seems like a representation of a loss of ego and becoming one with the spiritual self.

This haiku does carry overtones of death, but that could be the death of the ego, and the “attainment” of enlightenment. The haiku portrays a disturbing moment, however the heron could theoretically shake the plastic bag off its head in an instant. But we are kept in suspense, and this marks one of the qualities of haiku: since it is a fragment of a sentence, the poet can create mystery quite easily.

Even the sound of the haiku demonstrates a mixed feeling. The “o” sound in “stork,” “moon,” and “on” brings a soothing resonance. However, with the hard sounds of “plastic,” “bag,” and “wraps”, the haiku delivers a harsh feeling.

The open and striking nature of this haiku allows one to ponder its image for a while. I think like a good haiku, it cannot be pinned down in meaning and mood.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky
What do you think or feel about this haiku? Let us know in the comment section.




Posted in Haiku

Anto Gardaš’ Buzzing

plum blossoms—
every crown buzzing
the same tune

original Croatian:

Procvale šljive.
Svaka krošnja zuji
istu melodiju.

© Anto Gardaš (Croatia) (1938-2004)

There is this happy feeling when you look at plum blossoms in their different shades of pink. True to their form, plum blossoms, for the Chinese and Japanese people, “symbolize perseverance and hope, as well as beauty, purity, and the transitoriness of life.”

Therefore, I see this ku as some form of celebration of life. That, after the cold harsh winter and the barrenness of the surroundings, trees begin to awaken and show their inner beauty to the appreciating and thankful world.

“Every crown buzzing the same tune” for me shows this celebration… when spring comes to life starting with the awakening of plum blossoms.

– Willie Bongcaron

A kind of celebration that is truly in sync with every type or colour of the flower. Crown may indicate a tiara, if I am not wrong!

– Hifsa Ashraf

I paused on the word “crown” for some time. I looked through translation machines to see if the translation matched up, and it does. My initial reaction was that of flower crowns, where you tie flowers together to create a crown. It is a playful and sweet act. The buzzing could be from bees trying to collect pollen while the crowns lie on the ground.

Plum blossoms are elegant and charming, and they come in early spring. The oneness of the buzzing could be indicative of the joy people feel in unison when spring starts to sprout.

In another sense, with the idea of a crown, each person is given the dignity of nature to use for their benefit and decoration. The buzzing of the same tune shows that maybe, we are all the same in the eyes of nature. We only make distinctions in our minds and create divisions through our own projections.

The joy and message of unity of humankind made me select this poem. When we imagine this haiku’s scene in all its beauty and meaning, we are transported to a glance of heaven.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky

What do you think or feel about this haiku? Tell us below in the comments.

Posted in Haiku

Lorin Ford’s Slow Dancing

slow dancing
to Satie
the pears ripen

© Lorin Ford

Modern Haiku, 44:1, 2013

The subtlety, sly haikai humor, and ekphrastic nature of this haiku all unfold gradually and as imperceptibly as the ripening fruit it ends with, perhaps leaving many readers perplexed. Even without deeper understanding, the surface meaning is pleasant and intriguing, with the connection to the ripening pears and the dance left open to interpretationand while this is not a haiku that will speak universally, for some it will have a delicious, piquant charm, providing a refreshing change of pace from the ordinarily somber tone of much of English-language haiku with its hidden element of absurdist humor.

The first line brings to mind an intimate setting. A couple slow dancing in their home perhaps, or in a private garden, we are brought into a quiet, intimate moment. The music is the first clue that something is amiss—famous for being a precursor of minimalist music, writing “wallpaper music,” and amassing a laundry list of bizarre eccentricities, Erik Satie was a Fin de siècle French composer who dabbled in Dada and surrealism, peppered his music with strange commands like from the tip of the thought, and be clairvoyant, and is most famously remembered as the composer of the Gymnopédiesslow, undanceable tunes whose melodies evoke an ancient, sensual melancholy, and whose unusual portmanteu name brings to mind Greek youths dancing nude through fantastical neoclassical settings à la Maxfield Parrish. This is not typical dance music, even for a quiet, slow moment of romance, the pulse being almost painfully lugubrious and the mood somber—music more suitable for ruminations on a rainy day.

The third line brings in a kigo, placing the ku in late summer or early fall, the pears ripening on the trees, or perhaps in a bowl in the dimly lit-house—our setting is still uncertain. The pear’s shape echoes the curves of the woman or women dancing, hinting at fecundity and sensuality, perhaps even a sexual awakening as ripeness is attained. But is it truly a kigo, a shift to nature and a seasonal reference? Here, the riddle is solved, and those who are familiar with the composer’s ouvre will realise the clever twist and reference to one of Satie’s many vexing works, worthy of Magritte in the wordplay and absurdity inherent to its name: “Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear.”

It is rare to have such obscure literary, musical, or art references in contemporary English-language haiku. In Japanese haiku, such literary excess or eccentricity has a long history, but the over-dependence on kyakkan shasei (objective life sketching) and Bashō‘s Zen infused sabi aesthetics that lingers from the early days of ELH often robs us of such moments of subtle recognition and wry humor that is so distinctly haiku, rather than a dabbling with the senryu range of caricature and satire. Ford’s bringing a touch of Satie’s own Dadaist humor into the world of the Japanese forms shows the composer to be a surprisingly appropriate choice; the ku echoes the wordplay and eccentric humor of the Danrin school of haikai or the quirky surrealism of post-war Japanese haiku. This is one of those verses that I wish I had written myself, for it is utterly charming and perfect in a quiet, subtle way—a unique and thoroughly modern masterpiece.

Erik Satie ~1903~ Trois Morceaux en Forme de Poire:

– Clayton Beach

Posted in Haiku

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Haiga

Sydell Rosenberg’s Feather

in a toyless cage
the parakeet discovers
a feather to twirl


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

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

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

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

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

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

– Edwin Lomere

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

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

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

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

Posted in Senryu

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

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

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

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

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

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