Jacob Salzer’s intruder


You stole her computer, her jewelry, and her credit cards, and bought things from companies around the world.

Yes, they cleaned up the shattered glass you left behind. And they have a new alarm system now, with a fence that nobody can climb.

You too are bound by the laws of karma. I just hope the seeds of karma will soon be destroyed before they grow into a vast, criminal tree.

morning mist . . .
the prisoner’s breath lingers
above barbed-wire

Jacob Salzer (USA)
(previously published Contemporary Haibun OnlineJanuary 2020)

This haibun (prose and haiku) starts with the worldly possessions of a person whom he loves. The computer, jewelry, and credit cards all show the signs of luxuries that a person possesses. The word ‘stole’ means that a person has either taken away all these luxuries or made her deprived of worldly comfort.

Having only shattered glass left behind indicates the mark of a broken relationship where there is nothing left. So, when someone enjoys worldly possessions by destroying others, their own life becomes more barren and destroyed as the analogy of seeds and trees in this haibun beautifully explains.

The morning mist reflects the confusion and chaos where there is no clear picture of what is right and what is wrong, and what is beyond the thick layer of mist that becomes a barrier. The prisoner’s breath could signify the efforts of an enslaved person who is so lost in worldly possessions and mundane life that they forget the consequences and put their life at stake. The barbed wire is another way of making a person conscious of their deeds whilst committing criminal activities.

Overall, the morning mist is like a ‘pleasure’, the prisoner’s breath is like their ego, and the barbed wire is their superego. The overall imagery of this haibun revolves around seeking pleasure by wrongdoings and eventually being caught up in the web of karma, where things that come around, go around. The pleasure principle takes a person to the verge of destruction where they lose their values, principles, and ethics, which destroys everything just to gain worldly wealth and temporary comfort. But when they get caught, they find themselves merely a sign of destruction.

The title of this haibun is quite intriguing as ‘intruder’ is any foreign or outer attraction that takes our focus away from the self, and we get lost into the luxuries of life until we achieve nothing.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

I like how this haibun is laid out into short paragraphs that are no longer than two sentences each. It makes the content easily digestible and stark. 

It is interesting how Salzer creates a narrative with the wrongdoing being demonstrated in the prose and the result of that action in the haiku. A lot of times, haibun make a leap of subjects and do not necessarily create a plot. Both methods are viable and in the case of this haibun, it creates pathos. 

The morning mist is free and travels where it wills. But with the prisoner, even their breath “lingers above the barbed-wire.” So, this could signify that the criminal in this story is locked away within and without. 

With an eye of sound, it is intriguing to note that each paragraph of the prose begins with the letter “y.” Also, in the haiku, we have the alliteration of “m” and a strong string of “r” sounds. The letter “r” is hard and brings about the roughness of life in prison to the reader’s mind. 

The meter of the haiku is also punchy and seems to reflect the violence of the criminal’s situation. Take the second line for example: the Prisoner’s Breath Lingers.

I feel that overall, Salzer conveyed a sense of remorse for both of the parties: the victim and the thief. An essential principle of haiku is to covey compassion, and this haibun is a fine example of this idea. 

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)


– Painting by Ria Hills

Praniti Gulyani’s first hijab

my first hijab . . .
a shadow
on the flower

Praniti Gulyani (India)

(Previously published in Old Song: Red Moon Anthology, 2017)

The opening line of this haiku indicates the first experience of a person wearing a hijab (veil) which is significant in terms of its religious, cultural, and social value. A first hijab also means that a girl has entered into puberty where she has to cover herself up as a means of her protection when she is interacting with a world full of strangers and experiencing a different perspective of life that is more mature.

A shadow, in my opinion, means the self-reflection of one’s thoughts about drawing a line to protect herself from the outer world. A new self-image that is more careful and thoughtful. This shadow can also be the fears that a woman holds in her youth regarding her body, beauty, and self. Through a hijab, she is trying to keep herself away from the darkness of the outer world.

It is like a flower that unfurls and reaches the stage of blossom where many insects and seasons ruin its beauty and loses the charm of life.

The use of an ellipsis after ‘hijab’ indicates the deepest feelings of a person, which is more than merely a piece of cloth.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

What drew me to this haiku was the topic of “hijab” which is not a common theme in this art form, and that the second part of the poem is open to many powerful associations. 

As Hifsa mentioned, donning a hijab is part of the process of coming of age for a Muslim girl. Going through puberty as a girl is not something I’m familiar with as a man, but I can see the possible mixed emotions that it would bring. You are at once excited and scared for what becoming a young woman can entail. Perhaps the second part of the haiku is speaking about a more universal experience of one’s innocence being tainted. The poet, it seems, is expressing this through the lens of her religious and cultural experience. 

I feel each word and line break in this haiku is deliberate and potent. It has a serious tone and is not celebratory. In my opinion, the pacing of the poem is telling the reader “take this seriously” as the weight of the words can be felt palpably. 

In haiku, we speak of kigo, or seasonal references. “First hijab” can be said to be a kigo as it refers to a certain period of time. We can also say that wearing one’s first hijab could signify the spring of one’s life.

What is also interesting to note is the relation between the shadow and a hijab’s color, which is traditionally black. The correlation between the two parts of the haiku becomes even more apparent when considering this. 

I like that Gulyani did not explain what kind of flower she was referring to. That would detract from the power of mentioning her first hijab. It would also make the haiku too heavy with three distinct subjects to consider. “Flower” has many references, spiritually, physically, and metaphorically. I will leave it to the reader to puzzle over them in the context of this haiku.

Finally, I want to take note of its technicalities. Though the first line is the longest, which is traditionally short, I believe having “my” in the poem is important. Without it, the haiku would not be perceived as so personal. The brevity of the poem is commendable and no word is wasted. The poem seems to have been written effortlessly, but I doubt it. The best poems seem natural on the page, but behind them, there are sometimes hours and days of work. In terms of the sound, the “i”s in the first line make it stark and the “o” sounds in the last two lines slow down the pace, which is effective with such a short poem. 

Gulyani has written a unique and personal haiku that needs to be heard. It has resonance, brevity, and flow. Not only that, but she has also written about a substantial subject with the weight it deserves.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA) 


– Painting by nysahanny  



Alan Summers’ duskfall

the moon bumps
into a paperboat

Alan Summers (UK)
(Published previously in The Heron’s Nest vol. XXI no. 4, 2019)

It’s difficult sometimes to summarize a whole story into the shortest possible amount of words, but when someone does it, it becomes a masterpiece. This haiku is one of those masterpieces that shows why haiku is considered as one of the finest forms of creative writing.

‘Duskfall’ with an ellipsis gives the imagery of a silent yet sad evening where there are no activities. The word itself shows the ending of life when dusk has fallen and is followed by darkness. But, the ending of life can also mean a new beginning that is deeper in nature. It looks like the locus of control is shifting from the outer world to the inner one where subtle aspects of nature get active and replace worldly life.

In this haiku, I can see both outer and inner aspects of life where outer life activities gradually enter into the night and let night complete the rest of the story. The moon bumping into a paper boat shows how things delicately work out of realities, especially when they enter into the night where a moon gradually comes close to Earth and touches the temporary or fragile part of life, which is a paper boat in this case.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

Mr. Summers is often experimental and inventive in his choice of words and phrasing. In this haiku, “duskfall” is one such example. It is not a recognized word by the majority of dictionaries but it is intuitively understood. It has a potent imagistic sense to it, with the motion of dusk falling either into place or dropping away. I prefer to think it is the former. As Hifsa pointed out, the ellipsis helps to create movement as well.

The next two lines provide a startling but calming image of the moon bumping into a paper boat. However, we can discern that the moon is not actually hitting the paper boat, but its reflection is.

A fun part of reading this haiku is figuring out the connection between the first line and the next two lines. The haiku seems to say: “the coming of dusk is like the moon’s reflection bumping into a paper boat.” A lot could be interpreted from this, but I feel that the image gives rise to mystery and magic.

What is also curious is that Mr. Summers plays with color with the two parts: dusk being black and the moon and paper boat being white. In a way, the coming of the blackness accentuates the white. I get a sense that the poem could be speaking of yin and yang: the sky and the earth, the night and day, are intertwined and balance each out.

Besides all this thought, witnessing the moment described would be joyous and spectacular, especially in the quiet of dusk. Like in any poetry, haiku have a layer of mental interpretation and a layer of mood/atmosphere. Understanding both can give us a comprehensive picture of a poem.

Another feeling I get from this haiku is the beauty of the “o” sounds in “moon,” “into,” and “paperboat.” These long syllables slow down the poem and create the scene of dusk potently.

It’s difficult to write an original haiku about the moon after 100s of years of tradition of doing so. Mr. Summers has done it through his unique juxtaposition, word choice, and imagery.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)


– Painting by Gareth Naylor.

Réka Nyitrai’s pinned butterfly

pinned butterfly –
even in death

Réka Nyitrai (Romania)

(published previously in Scryptic issue 2.4 December 2018)

I liked the simplicity of this haiku that straight away touched me deeply. We mostly mention living creatures in our poems as a source of inspiration but this unique haiku took another unique dimension of life which itself is full of life.

‘pinned butterfly’, if I imagine, means the transformation of life into death but still finds its way to get the attention of the masses. When we pin something, we try to highlight it on a wall or board or any other place where it can be seen by many people. It also shows how things become important after death, and especially how death carves their beauty and makes them immortal.

Yes, this happens only through imaginative and creative thoughts that never die. Our thoughts and creativity make things immortal no matter what stage of life they are at and whether they are alive or dead—whether they are dynamic or static. The only thing that matters in the imaginative world is how we make things alive and immortal through our creative thinking. This haiku is the epitome of the imagination that takes us to a static stage of life where butterflies don’t flutter, don’t leave trails, don’t fly high, and don’t spread fragrance. It is a meditative stage of life where one finds existence in stillness and in deep silence. The en dash after ‘butterfly’ means a short pause which also reflects the stillness of life both during the creative and/or meditative process.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

This haiku brings to mind how beautiful endings are at times. Sunsets. Outros in songs. A person’s last words. A pinned butterfly.

The beauty that the poet sees in the pinned butterfly brings it back to life in a symbolic sense. It is alive with color and elegance, albeit in stillness. But by pinning the butterfly, we can relish it’s beauty forever in a certain moment. That moment happens to be its death.

Getting technical, we can say this haiku displays muga (a Japanese aesthetic), or spiritual selflessness. The poet does not discuss herself and focuses solely on the beauty of the butterfly, in its new transformation.

The dash is useful to make a clear split between the parts. Also, it could visually represent a pin. The economy with which the poem is written is admirable. With only six words, it carries a powerful message. The sharp “i” sounds in the haiku also direct one’s attention to the image of a pin.

Simple yet poignant, this haiku allows readers to contemplate the beauty of the afterlife in its physical sense. It also brings about an introspection on what it means to be alive.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)


Isabel Caves’ setting sun

setting sun
a child learns to say

Isabel Caves (New Zealand)
(Previously published in Poetry Pea – Haiku Pea Podcast Series 2 Episode 2

The way I see the setting sun in this haiku is more about the transformation from day to night which also means the transformation of one’s focus from the outer world to the inner one. I loved the way the writer cleverly used the word ‘sunset’ positively where all energies converge into darkness but also enlighten the mind.

The second part of this haiku is about the transformation of learning where a child learns in the daylight most probably from nature and dreams or creates through imagination based on that learning. The word ‘imaginary’ here means the abstract thinking of a child which is chiseled by the daily life experiences before that reaches the stage where they start uniquely perceiving the world. It’s about the transformation from one stage of life to another, from light to darkness, or vice-a-versa. I liked the quotation marks around ‘imaginary’ which make it more significant and unique.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

The setting sun in the context of this haiku seems to have two moods:

1) Sad, in that the child learns what imagination is and what it is not. Before, the child had no mental concept of it.

2) The beauty and epicness of a sunset can be compared to one’s imagination.

As a reader, I seem to follow the first interpretation. As soon as we have words for things, we ruin them, in a sense. The mystery, the grandeur, the innocence is lost. Nature is no longer filled with spirits and magic, but are given scientific names and explanations. They become mental concepts rather than something to witness as is. Through mental obstruction, we can lose the child within.

In terms of the sound in the haiku, it seems that the letter “s” is the most prominent. The string of “s” sounds in the first two lines and the absence of it in the last line makes the ending more striking. I’m glad the poet did not add a dash or an ellipsis in the first line as a kireji, or cut word or phrase, which is traditionally seen in haiku. With the quotation marks, it was already enough punctuation, and more punctuation would make it too busy. The format is standard for English-language haiku, although one tries to avoid having one word in the last line in order to not be either too sentimental or pointed. However, it works well here with the quotation marks and as a surprise.

A haiku that touches upon innocence and the loss of it, it’s a powerful tribute to our imagination.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)


Painting by Vincent van Gogh, The Sower, 1888

Carmela Marino’s dream

moon flower…
the rest of a dream
on the windowsill

Carmela Marino (Italy)

This haiku beautifully covers the deep feelings of both day and night. A dream that starts at the night gradually enters into the daylight as a daydream. I loved the analogy of a night dream with a moon flower that reflects the fresh start of a day. The star-shaped structure of this flower brings hope in one’s life that there’s nothing to worry about as this flower blooms at night, so it looks surreal like a dream that also blooms and makes one’s life worth living.

I loved the twist in this haiku where the writer takes us from a moon flower to a morning scene in continuation of the night dream. A windowsill is a place that is used for pondering and daydreaming. So, the night dream is not over yet and the dreamer is still in a state of dreaming that now shifts from darkness to light. This means the follow up of the dream even in the daylight.

I loved the mystery behind this haiku which takes us on an ethereal journey of dreaming which is an essential part of our life in terms of hope and purpose. I loved the way the writer used both ‘moon flower’ and ‘windowsill’ as metaphors where there is no disconnection of dreams and/or a journey that starts from within and then connects us with the outer world. The ellipsis after moon flower gives a beautiful break to stop and enjoy the glory of the night and the gradually blooming process of a dream.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

We got a kigo, or a seasonal reference, for spring with “moon flower.” But more importantly, we are given a flower that only blossoms at night. This connects strongly to dreams, where our imagination and subconscious “blossoms” at night. With the ellipsis, the silence of that time can be felt.

In the next two lines, much can be implied. My initial thought is that the poet wakes up and sees the moon flower on her windowsill. It’s possible that the poet was dreaming of something that related to the flower in question.

The other interpretation is that the content of the dream is a mystery to the reader, and that mystery corresponds to the intriguing flower that blooms at night.

Finally, the dream (either physical or abstract) could be represented by an ornament or an object that rests on the windowsill. This continuation lends to the idea that nature still is active and even blooms at night, as with the moon flower.

I get an ethereal feeling from this haiku. In a way, it brings me into a dream world. We can discuss interpretations of haiku, but I think the feeling we get from haiku is most important.

In terms of its structure, we have a classic format that mirrors traditional Japanese haiku and which is most common in English-language haiku. If we look at the sound, we immediately catch wind of the usage of “o” to slow down the pace and to make the poem more dreamlike.

With the aesthetic of yugen, or deep mystery, this haiku puts readers in a powerful state and makes them see nature with more abstraction and imagination.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)


– Painting by Elaine Haxton(Australian, 1909-1999)Moon, Moths and Moonflowers, 1976


Florin Golban’s Storm

after the storm—
playing hopscotch
among the blossoms

Florin Golban (România)
International Honourable mention, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2019

In general, storms cause chaos. There’s no specification of storm in this haiku, which makes it more open for discussion. But, every storm interrupts our daily routine, especially the recreational. The same goes for a difficult time, which puts all activities on halt.

Hopscotch is the resumption of a happy or carefree time that one has after a difficult time, where they enjoy playing it among nature. The blossoms indicate that life is in full bloom where there’s no tension or chaos. It’s more like back to normal where a person enjoys all their favourite activities, especially outdoor ones.

It also depicts resilience that one develops over a period of time.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

The em dash in the first line allows us as readers to take in what happened from the devastation by the storm. In this case, the poet focuses on the blossoms strewn on the street or sidewalk. Fallen blossoms, especially of the cherry variety, are highly beautiful and evocative.

The act of playing hopscotch among the blossoms can represent several things:

1. Playing in the midst of destruction or the loss of something beautiful.
2. That we should not pay attention to the chaos around us and remain positive.
3. We should be connected to nature. Nature is a part of our everyday life.
4. And more…

The feeling this haiku gives me is mixed: happiness and sorrow. Happiness for the play and sorrow for the destruction. But great haiku often have layered and/or complex feelings behind them.

In terms of the sound, the prominent letter is “o.” It slows down the reading and makes the moment being portrayed seem longer. The use of “o” is balanced enough to not be intrusive and gives music to the poem.

The length of each line is relatively the same, which is fine. Usually, the second line is the longest in a haiku, but no harm done. Besides, there are no hard and fast rules for haiku.

I think this spring haiku brings out a sense of joy and melancholy simultaneously with great effectiveness.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)


Painting by Fatma Arargi (1954)

Pravat Kumar Padhy’s zero

the zero-shadow moment I am with myself

Pravat Kumar Padhy (India)
Published previously in The Heron’s Nest Vol. XXI, Number 3, 2019

There are many monoku about shadows that pull at my heartstrings but this one is more intriguing in terms of the theme, where one doesn’t have to feel the sense of the moment but rather dig deeper to know how to relate it to one’s own life experiences.

A zero-shadow, in my opinion, indicates the complete absence of the shadow in one’s life. The word ‘zero’ itself reflects the degree of nothingness in this haiku where the writer feels it’s more like the temperature which is cold at zero. A zero-shadow also depicts a lack of connectivity or loneliness due to various reasons.

When you feel that you have a zero-shadow that represents your existence means you’re all alone without having a single ray of hope in your life. It also means the detachment of worldly relationships that act more like shadows and get lost when a person is having trouble or is in the dark.

In terms of sound, the letter ‘m’ in this haiku can relate to the echoes from the heart that are remorseful due to this miserable time.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

As with most fine one-line haiku, this poem can be read in several ways:

the zero-shadow
moment I am with myself


the zero-shadow moment
I am with myself


the zero-shadow moment I am with myself

…which all have different available interpretations. However, as a reader, I’m naturally inclined to read it as the second version. In this version, we have a clear break in subjects.

This poem is like a realization that one is truly alone and with oneself. I don’t get a sense that this haiku is about loneliness, though. It’s more about observing who you are fully without any impediment.

I can’t say that this monoku has a kigo, though it’s indicative of noon. In my imagination, I see this haiku taking place in either summer or spring.

Looking at this haiku technically, I enjoy the originality of “zero-shadow,” the length and rhythm of the line, and the sound, which was aptly mentioned by Hifsa.

Overall, I enjoy this one-line haiku for its ability to put the reader in the state expressed, which is the state of the total observation of the self.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

farmer at noon

Painting by Imai Kageki (1891 – 1960)

Jane Williams’ low tide

low tide
in the gull’s footprints
echoes of flight

Jane Williams (Australia)

First of all, I would like to discuss my immediate thought about this haiku that struck my senses and that’s the letter ‘o’ which dominates this haiku. This indicates the life cycle where we strive to fulfill our needs or dreams and to move to the next level or phase to do the same.

When there’s low tide, the waves are not as charged as they are during high tide, which means there is a calm situation on the seashore. So, low tide is equivalent to our positive or constructive thinking that helps us to make our life more meaningful by planning and managing our goals.

The gull’s footprints are a subtle expression of things that may not be very strong but can create a huge impact on our lives. The webbed feet of a gull is commonly prominent on seashores and are a sign of life, freedom, free will, mindfulness, and positivity.

To me, “echoes of flight” is about the destiny that is calling someone to take a flight, to strive and achieve the purpose of life. Echoes are the personal experiences that resonate in one’s mind about one’s forthcoming life. In other words, it’s the clarity of purpose that comes with maturity and a peaceful mind.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

The thing that intrigued me initially about this haiku is the pivot line: “in the gull’s footprints.” This allows the poem to be read in at least two ways: “low tide in the gull’s footprints/echoes of flight” or “low tide/in the gull’s footprints echoes of flight.”

In the first reading, you can see water fill the footprint, and this act being said to be echoes of flight. In contrast, in the second reading, we get a juxtaposition of low tide with the echoes of flight in the gull’s footprints.

“echoes of flight” can be seen as metaphorical or physical. It could be about memories of flight, or it could be about the sound of wings reverberating (or even the shadow of wings). This phrase gives this haiku a special touch of originality.

Personally, the way I read it is that within our beginnings, we can see what we can achieve. Though this haiku is mostly objective, it’s probably a metaphor for how our trajectory as a person can be perceived from the very outset.

Hifsa rightly admired the usage of the letter “o” in this poem. I want to point out the letter “l” in this haiku as well. With its prevalence, it gives the reading of the poem a lilting feeling, like the flight of a gull.

The structure of the poem is the standard for English-language haiku that mirrors the traditional Japanese rhythm of haiku. The lack of punctuation is a benefit as it allows the pivot line to work its wonders. In terms of the kigo, or seasonal reference, gulls can be either a kigo for spring or autumn, traditionally. I think in this haiku, it most likely is a seasonal reference to spring.

With its substance, pivot line, musicality, and imagery, this is a must-read haiku.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)


Painting by Seitei (Shotei) Watanabe

Muskaan Ahuja’s Robin

winter dusk
the robin’s last chirp
before hiding into a tree

Muskaan Ahuja (India)

Winter dusk is a time of converging all the thoughts of the day where one focuses on the inner state of mind—in other words, the locus of control is one’s own self. The mysterious magic of the forces at dusk creates a great impact on the psyche of a person where they are attracted by the invisible pull of the inner self.

The last chirp of a robin may indicate the departure or annihilation of life that comes before one has possibly enjoyed life fully and then ends up in deep silence.

The hiding into a tree is more like an occultation where there is no more left to say or do. A life full of mysteries and chaos let us go through experiences where we enjoy positivity, happiness, and blessings but when all is over, we have nothing except silence and loneliness.

Another aspect of this haiku can be a deep understanding of life after passing through various experiences that enrich our intellect and bring maturity. This is the stage where people enjoy their solitude and silence more than words.

It’s the focus of life from outside where worldly life builds up a dwelling for our end, which is annihilation and mortality.

From chirp to deep silence, from dawn to dusk, from interaction to solitude, all these stages of life show a momentum towards our ultimate destiny, which is nothingness.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

We have the kigo, or the seasonal reference, right in the first line. As you probably know, haiku are traditionally seasonal poems, and starting a haiku with a kigo is a safe bet and a fine idea.

With “winter dusk,” we can get the picture of cold solitude and maybe melancholy. This tinge of the solitary is continued on the second line with a robin’s last chirp of the day (or perhaps of its life, for any number of circumstances).

Haiku often focus on one thing at a time to allow readers to dive into that moment more readily and to gain a sense of mindfulness. You can say it’s a tradition to focus on one thing at a time in the spirit of Zen, which is popular in Japan (ichigyo-zammai). Haiku is not a Zen art, but its history is intertwined with it. So, having this philosophy on display in the craft of this haiku is well-founded.

In the last line, we see the robin taking refuge within a tree cavity or deep within the labyrinth of its branches. The robin is essentially going through the process of its own dusk. Its chirp is colorful like the sunset and then recedes like the dying colors of the sky. In this way, you can say dusk and the robin are both manifestations of each other.

Looking at the haiku in a technical sense, we might first notice the unusually long last line. It’s common practice to have a shorter last line than the middle line. However, it’s not only difficult to format the lines differently without creating an issue but also it’s not long enough to be of concern. Like most great arts, haiku writing doesn’t have strict rules and allows for plenty of exceptions.

I think the first line could have benefited from a dash to add to the serious mood of the haiku. But, the poem is fine without it and no problem is created with the absence of punctuation in this haiku. For the sound, I felt the letter “r” was particularly important. It gave the haiku more weight.

This haiku captured the mood of winter dusk through a strong visual and sensory sense and brings readers to stillness and introspection.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

winter dusk

– “Winter Road” by Ian Ramsey