Carmela Marino’s starry avenue

starry avenue
the same thought
after a year

Carmela Marino (Italy)

(published previously in Stardust, January 2021)

I appreciate the atmosphere of this haiku. I see an avenue full of puddles after rain, and each puddle is reflecting the stars. I feel the silence of the evening. I see the poet walking alone, contemplating. Combined with the silence after rain, I feel the poet’s deep meditation and possibly a feeling of déjà vu. 

I like how we don’t know what “the same thought” is. This opens up many interpretations for us as readers. Here are 5 interpretations that come to mind:

1) The poet could have made a New Year’s Resolution (or a birthday wish) and now the poet’s resolution or wish did not come true after one year (possibly because of barriers such as the COVID-19 pandemic or other things) and this could bring a sense of melancholy and struggle. If it’s the poet’s birthday, perhaps the unfulfilled wish brings a real sense of longing. In a more humorous sense, it could communicate how New Year’s Resolutions are sometimes forgotten and get brushed under the rug, only to reappear after a year. 

2) Sometimes, it seems our New Year’s Resolution or birthday wish can take longer to appear than we originally thought. In this light, I can feel the value and wisdom of patience in this haiku. A favorite quote by haiku poet and teacher Alan Summers comes to mind: “The best things in life should rarely be rushed.” 

3) The same thought in this haiku could be a repeated question or problem the poet is contemplating that still doesn’t have an answer after one year. This question/problem could be personal, scientific, or philosophical among many other things. One possibility is the poet could be asking a question such as: “What is the cure for the disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)?” Because there is no known cure for ALS, the poet could be internally asking the same question, digging deeper for answers. 

4) The poet could have a focused thought of recovery from some form of addiction, and each day, after one year has passed, continues to show dedication and perseverance through focused attention on one single thought. This haiku moment could be a celebration of the poet being sober from drugs or alcohol for one year. 

5) Along similar lines, the poet could be focused on a single thought devoted to the Divine and the Great Mystery each day after one year has passed.  

There is a great balance in this haiku between the known and the unknown, between concrete imagery and mystery. Regardless of what thought comes to mind for us in the haiku, I appreciate how this poet opens the door for us to enter a serious, or humorous, contemplative mood. Ultimately, it seems this haiku reminds us of the power of attention. With the one-pointed mind of concentration, we can get a lot more done each day with few distractions to reach our goals. Spiritually, with a focus on the Divine and the Great Mystery, it seems ordinary life and, indeed, even an ordinary street, can become extraordinary and meaningful. In a world where everything is connected, it seems every single thought and action we take makes a difference in ways that are far beyond our ability to comprehend. In light of this interconnectedness, this haiku reminds us to be mindful of what we pay attention to. As I walk with the poet on the quiet, star-filled avenue, I’m immersed in a space of deep meditation, contemplation, and reflection. 

— Jacob Salzer (USA)

A starry avenue is always a source of inspiration, dreaming, and hope. This haiku connects us not only to the ambiance of a starry avenue but also alludes to the big constellations that one makes to redirect their imagination, thoughts, and feelings. I feel a sense of connectivity between the person and that place where they like to explore more and more in their thoughts. A year’s gap may be due to the pandemic year, which has changed nothing about them and this place.

The intangible aspect of this haiku is related to the creative or aesthetic part of life. Irrelevant of the circumstances, a person remains curious about their imaginative world, daydreaming that takes them away from worldly chaos. They feel a connection between the Earth and the sky that can be felt through the strings of imagination, daydreaming, and a curious mind. 

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

Jacob and Hifsa went over the possible interpretations and meanings of this haiku in depth. I’ll now look over the more technical elements.

As Jacob mentioned, this might be a New Year’s haiku. So, the second and third lines could be a kigo for New Year’s Day. This might relate well with “starry avenue as well, as fireworks have a similar look to stars.

The line break in the first line is a sufficient supplement for kireji, or a cutting mark in Japanese haiku. The cut is obvious without punctuation, though an ellipsis would have worked well too.

The connection between the two parts of the haiku, or toriawase, is not too close or too distant in its association. This is a sign of a skillful haiku. The stars being reflected from the sky onto water in an avenue is related to having the same thought after a year. Or, the stars are seen in the sky through the narrow confines of an avenue, and that limitation is felt in having the same thought after a year. The poet tells readers of this echo between humanity and nature without stating it directly.

The poet does well to match the original rhythm of Japanese haiku with a short first line, a longer second line, and short third line. It was also composed with brevity in mind and common language, which is also essential to the art of haiku.

Finally, sound plays a role too, with “s” and “t” letters make readers feel the power of the moment more.

All in all, this is a well-composed haiku that follows the traditional art of this genre and brings about a fresh image for us to take a deep meaning from.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

A discussion of The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh
Café Terrace at Night by Van Gogh

Stephen Curro’s fog

just off the plane
humidity fogs
my glasses

Stephen Curro (USA)

I like how this haiku let’s the reader step into another world. It conjures up a memory of visiting family in Alabama years ago. The humidity there was so thick. I would step outside for five or ten minutes and be sweating, just from standing! It seems “humidity fogs my glasses” could also represent the hazy feeling of visiting a foreign country filled with unknowns on the journey. It seems to mark a degree of uncertainty, which can be beautiful, accompanied by unexpected turns and surprises on the adventure. At the same time, the mental haze/foggy glasses could represent stepping onto land that might be intimidating (or at least appear to be). I also interpreted the foggy glasses as the psychological haze from jet lag, adjusting to a new time zone. It seems the physical fog could also represent mental fog. i.e. if we cling and identify with certain thoughts or ideas, they seem to shape how we physically see the world. Another literal interpretation is the author’s own breath could create fog on their glasses. I have experienced this while wearing a COVID-19 mask. My warm breath rises from inside the mask and fogs my glasses.

While we don’t know where the poet has landed, or exactly why they are there, I feel his courage in this haiku and all the emotions (and culture shock) that comes with the adventure. I get a clear sense that he has stepped outside of his comfort zone. If opportunities arise, I think it’s important to experience the diversity of life and embrace different cultures. A deceptively simple and powerful haiku. 

Jacob Salzer (USA)

It’s difficult sometimes to get rid of certain memories that usually jump in during the journey, especially when someone lands in another place. This haiku depicts how memories, departure, separation, and leaving the past behind can dilute one’s thoughts, vision, and future. The expression ‘humidity fogs’ is beautifully used here as it is a phenomenon that rarely catches the attention of poets. Foggy glasses simply show that the person passes from one illusion of life to another with no clarity of his/her vision, and the future as well.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

This haiku caught my attention because of the idea that the poet enters a new environment and cannot enjoy it/perceive it properly. It resonates with me in that, no matter where we go, our biases and individual perceptions cloud our awareness. Even though we go to a new place on our travels, we carry our personal baggage with us everywhere we go. It may not be possible to experience anything without the interruption of our ego and mental conditioning. It seems that only by being in the state of pure awareness can we witness a new environment without hindrance.

In terms of kigo, there may not seem to be a seasonal reference at first glance. However, “humidity” can refer to summer indirectly. I think the relation between summer humidity and not being able to perceive a place properly makes sense to me. With the fogging of the poet’s glasses, the poet could feel overwhelmed, annoyed, or disturbed, like being in intense humidity. For the kireji, the line break in the first line is sufficient.

Looking at the structure of the haiku, we can see it is a bit different than the usual English-language format of three lines short/long/short. For this haiku, I don’t think this variation matters much for the content and reading of it.

Sound plays a big role in this haiku, too. The “o”s seem to bring about the feeling of frustration of having fogged glasses. The “l”s bring a softness to the reading and the “f”s could be said to accentuate the starkness of the moment.

Overall, I believe this haiku at once portrays a mood and also a spiritual fact about perception and ego.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

Sumi-e by David Moeljadi

Matúš Nižňanský’s snowflakes

monastery garden —
the sound of 
snowflakes

Matúš Nižňanský (Slovakia)

The deep silence in this haiku is palpable. This is an exceptional example of the power of “show not tell” in haiku. In this moment, we can hear the snowflakes falling onto the plants in the garden. There are no other sounds. Because of the delicate nature of snowflakes and plants, they further amplify the silence and deepen it.

The ancient beauty of a monastery is juxtaposed with the fresh beauty of new snowflakes. While some predict the first snow on this Earth happened 2.4 billion years ago, it is astounding to note that each and every snowflake is different and unique. Along these lines, the image of a monastery conjures up memories of many monks or nuns who lived here over many years since its construction. While this poem is clearly a haiku moment, there is also an implication that the snowflakes will continue to fall for quite some time. Simultaneously, as with many snow-related poems, this haiku feels timeless. 

While this moment was presumed to be observed and heard by the poet, the haiku itself seems to be devoid of any sense of ego. No additional people can be heard or seen. No one is standing out trying to get attention. I do have serious doubts that this monastery is vacant of monks or nuns living in it. The notion of an empty monastery could be possible, though I feel the monks or nuns are dwelling inside. They could be meditating, praying, or sleeping and likely do not physically appear in this particular scene. Regardless, even if they did physically appear to the poet, in this atmosphere, the poet and monks (or nuns) have become quiet and one with nature. 

In terms of mood, this haiku brings feelings of reverence, devotion, peace, and yūgen (mystery and depth). Snowflakes fall naturally and gently cover the earth evenly. As such, it seems all thoughts too must eventually fall and dissolve into their roots, into the ancient silence that carries them.

Jacob Salzer (USA)

A monastery is a place full of peace, reverence, and life, whereas a monastery garden sounds no less than heaven where one can find inner peace and deep experiences. The same goes for natural elements which can be experienced differently but in a unique way in that garden.

This simple yet deep poem reflects the focus of mind and heart, the subtlety of life at its peak, the alertness of all senses, the awakening consciousness, and the spiritual touch where a person’s threshold level can even feel the subtlety in the surroundings, and listen to the miraculous sounds of nature for the ultimate peace and elation. The sound of a snowflake shows the ultimate focus of a person whose body and soul have reached the level where even the smallest element of nature connects deeply.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

Jacob and Hifsa went over the meaning and mood of this haiku in depth already. I’ll focus a bit on the technical side of this poem.

One thing that caught my eye immediately was that the haiku was quite brief: only six words. The art of haiku is often how you can make a strong image and create emotions within such a small space. Through kigo (seasonal references–in this case, winter), kireji (a marker that shows that separation between two parts; in this case, it is the em dash), and concision, the poet achieves effective brevity.

And talking about punctuation, the dash allows readers to pause and take in the scene. The environment of the haiku is calming and meditative, and taking a pause fits well in this context.

I think the layout of the haiku could work in multiple ways. I believe this could also work as a one-line haiku:

monastery garden the sound of snowflakes

In fact, Japanese haiku are written in a single vertical line. However, in this haiku in English, leaving us on edge with “of” on the second line is a fine idea. Sometimes, it is advised not to have only one word for the last line in order to not overemphasize. Yet, I feel the calming effect of this choice brings it merit.

Another aspect to note is the sound. The letter “s” runs through this haiku. For such a silent scene, the poem speaks quite a bit through its sound. Perhaps it is illustrating the starkness of silence in the monastery garden.

Great imagery paired with a resonant juxtaposition makes this haiku stand out as well.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

By Caroline Stroeks

Kat Lehmann’s news


evening news
junipers consume
the moon

Haiku Society of America Harold G. Henderson Haiku Award, Second Place (2020)
— Kat Lehmann (USA)

This haiku has a very effective juxtaposition. It shows us through imagery how consuming the news can be. The word “consume” has a negative connotation that implies an extreme. The juniper’s invasiveness is an apt image to describe this. It seems the news tends to be very unbalanced and focused on negative events that cloud our perception, while many positive events go unnoticed and are often not covered. While most news seems to be dark and narrow-minded, by stark contrast, the moon inspires open-mindedness, mystery, and wonder. 

My father had junipers in his yard many years ago. They were very large and obstructed the view to his yard and the neighborhood. Now that they’re removed, he can see his yard and neighborhood in full view.  

This is a powerful haiku that reminds us to not be consumed by news stations, which seems to be a form of mental programming, and to notice the beauty of the moon and what is beyond us.

—  Jacob Salzer (USA)

It starts with the news that may or may not be reliable, ‘evening news’ which means one has to read it carefully before relating it to any news and its relationship with the rest of the haiku. Evening news can be thrilling, mysterious, and evokes our deepest feelings.

A juniper tree is a sign of strength, divinity, power, and safety. If we see it from that context, then it means something is being covered or not openly revealed. The word ‘consume’, like the evening news, shows exaggeration here but it is cleverly used to make this haiku more powerful and with broader perspectives. I see ‘the moon’ as a metaphor which may show signs of visibility as someone/something in the limelight but not now because of the junipers’ shadows and the same are not catching much attention in the evening news.

I love the rhythmic sounds of ‘news, consume, and moon’ as these provide an interesting and lighter side of this haiku. Overall, I think this haiku represents someone who needs attention but is getting it neither in nature nor in the evening news. 

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

The juniper, with its prickly branches and stout shape, covering the moon, is a great comparison with the evening news. I think this comparison can be seen both in a positive and negative light, which has been expounded on by Jacob and Hifsa above. I think this gives this haiku more nuance and layers, which is a common quality of strong haiku.

I also think the usage of the word “consume” is an interesting choice. It relates to us as people in modern society, who consume information and materials at an alarming rate. The poet could have used “cover” but I think the poet chose a word that is more pertinent and imaginative, which works well in this particular haiku.

As Hifsa mentioned, the sound of the haiku is rhythmic. The “e” and “o” vowel sounds bring about a soothing tone despite the subject. This contrast creates a more nuanced power behind the haiku.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

By Paivi Ojala



George Klacsanzky’s moth

touching
the dead moth
it flies away

George Klacsanzky (1956-2003)  
(published in Yanty’s Butterfly: Haiku Nook: An Anthology (2016))

Brevity, simplicity, and honesty always reflect in George’s haiku. Every time I write about his poems, I see a new aspect of his life that helps me know more about this great haiku poet. 


The opening line ‘touching’ pauses the moment and lets the readers feel the resonance of this sense and its subtlety. It also suggests how hard it is to focus on nuances of life but when one does, there is an element of surprise in them. In this haiku, the writer shares the concept of seeing beyond sight where even stillness looks moving. The dead moth presents the depth of life, the transformation of life, that one cannot see but feel through one’s third eye or insight and once one does, miracles happen and thoughts get transformed into wisdom and reveal the secrets of life that are long-lasting. Somehow, there are shades of mysticism that make this haiku more open to the concept of life in death.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

I love this haiku. The first word that comes to mind is resurrection: something seemingly dead is brought back to life. The moth flying away could be a metaphor for rejuvenation within a relationship or your own self. Maybe an old hobby is given attention again. Or, maybe a neglected house is being remodeled. Something seemingly dead is given new life. George’s haiku reminds us that what appears to be motionless or dead could be only an appearance; it speaks to how subtle life can be. Maybe the moth was sleeping? Maybe it was just resting. But through his touch, by making a connection with the moth, it seems to move on to the next stage of its life.

This could apply to humans too: when someone genuinely reaches out and touches us in some way, we are often sparked with a new energy that makes us feel fresh and alive. Like making a new friend, this connection helps us grow and evolve in the next stages of our lives. The vision of the moth flying away also gives me a feeling of liberation and transcendence. Just like a butterfly, moths go through the process of metamorphosis—a process that we as humans may go through as well. A beautiful haiku. This haiku is one of my all-time favorites.

Jacob Salzer (USA)

Hifsa and Jacob have brought up great points in terms of meaning and substance. I’ll take a look at the more technical aspects of this haiku.

One can say the kigo of this haiku is summer. Traditionally in Japan, moths are a seasonal reference for summer. That may not be the case in Seattle, Washington where this poem was written though. However, as this poet’s son and growing up in Seattle, I can say that moths do come out quite a bit in the summer in the Pacific Northwest.

But the second half of the haiku seems to relate more to spring, with the theme of resurrection, as Jacob pointed out. Moths come out in sizable numbers in spring in Seattle as well. So, “moth” as a seasonal word can relate to the content directly.

I also wanted to point out the sense of sound, with the powerful music of “o” in the first two lines and the lack of “o” in the last line. This creates a stronger sense of the starkness of the moment described.

As Hifsa said, my father focused a lot on brevity. With only seven words, every word counts and shines through. It is said that only geniuses can explain complicated concepts in simple terms. I think that is the art of the haiku poet.

A haiku that is at once mundane and supernatural, and melancholic and awe-inspiring.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

By Cozy Guru

Antonietta Losito’s Dandelion

dandelion—
I’m the breeze
that moves it

Antonietta Losito (Italy)
(published in The Heron’s Nest March 2020)

Dandelions symbolize the hope, wishful thinking, delicacy, fragility, and movement in life that we all need. Nothing is static in this world, and this particular haiku is a simple but precise explanation of that. The breeze is our way to deal with life and its various aspects, especially the ones that are delicate and demanding. It also reflects the meditative thoughts where one can let go of things like dandelions release their fluff.

Moving onto the third line, it is fantastically used by the poet. It shows the flow of life the way we see it, not the way it is. I loved the simplicity of this haiku that made it easy to connect with deep meanings of life. It’s a perfect combination of thoughts and actions that are glued by hope, delicacy, and the fragility of life.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

This haiku gives me the impression that the poet is close to the dandelion, to the point where her breathing becomes its own wind current. At first, I saw the dandelion petals moving. But when I read “dandelion,” I also think of dandelion seeds. In this poem, I saw the poet making a wish and blowing away the dandelion seeds. Thus, I saw the poet’s breath carrying the hidden words of her wish. In turn, her wish and breath have spread the seeds for new dandelions to grow. So, there is a feeling of the poet giving new life and continuity.

To deeply add to this effect, the Spirit of the poet has literally become her own breath in “I’m the breeze.” Thus, this haiku seems to communicate that what is invisible is more important than what meets the eye. It also seems to signify how the Spirit of a person affects the physical world and how we see it. But I think there is much more than a cause-and-effect movement in this poem. I feel an unspeakable oneness as the poet’s invisible breath and Spirit has become one with the dandelion. To that end, this haiku could even signify it is the last breath the poet takes in their lifetime and that even as the poet passes away, her Spirit lives on in nature. I feel her personal breath and Spirit (the individual soul or in Sanskrit, Jiva) has become the wind itself, which is universal and a symbol for the Universal Spirit (Shiva).

In addition, in these times of climate change and uncertainty, this poem reminds us of the significant impacts we have on Mother Earth. If a single human breath can move a dandelion or blow away dandelion seeds, how much of a greater impact do we have collectively on Mother Earth in so many ways. I sincerely hope this haiku will inspire us to take better care of the Earth and each other.

I feel this haiku expresses a union between the human Spirit and the Spirit of the Earth, between the individual soul and the universal Spirit. Ultimately, I feel it inspires respect and compassion. A powerful, transformative haiku.   

Jacob Salzer (USA)

I also echo what Hifsa and Jacob said: there are many interpretations and meanings for the word “breeze” here. I think that speaks to the strength of this haiku. Commonly, the power of a haiku can be gauged by its layers of resonance and its impact through these layers.

In terms of the sound, I feel the letter “e” is most significant in the haiku. You can sense the motion of the dandelion seeds through the reading of the “e”s. Looking at the structure, the haiku is set in a standard English-language haiku format of a short first line with punctuation, a longer second line, and a short last line. Finally, the season this haiku references seems to be spring and that reflects well in the narrator being the breeze.

A well-written haiku that seems simple on the surface but offers a spiritual meaning.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

Irina Te

George Klacsanzky’s glasses

my glasses missing
I see impressionistic
paintings all day

George Klacsanzky (1956-2003)  (USA/Hungary)

George Klacsanzky with his typewriter and issues of his journal “Haiku Zasshi Zo”

I appreciate George’s insight into sight itself. How many of us take vision for granted? The saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” comes to mind when reading this haiku. I also like his sense of humor in “my glasses missing.” It seems some people have become numb to modern-day conveniences and items we use daily. But when a useful item goes missing, like glasses, then it seems we regain an appreciation for it and no longer take it for granted. In this way, George’s haiku could point to experiencing life without conveniences but also gently reminds us to not take things for granted. A beautiful haiku.

Jacob Salzer (USA)

First of all, it is a great honour for me to write commentary on this brilliant haiku of George Klacsanzky. He is truly a great and inspirational haiku poet.

The opening line gives an impression of a person’s view of the world without any artificial sight. It reflects the genuine connection of a person with nature or their surroundings where they enjoy nature or any imagery without any barrier (glasses) by using their insight or perception. I love the use of the word ‘impressionistic’ which conveys a strong image of what the person is viewing. It may also be a vivid memory that a person is cherishing or reminiscing about. There can be various interpretations of ‘paintings all day’. A person may be seeking solace in nature, their surroundings, a memory, or they are enjoying the deep elements of an image with the help of insight’s lens through daydreaming.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

My father, George Klacsanzky, wore thick glasses. I think if he took them off or lost them, he would be seeing the world as if it was an impressionistic painting. But I think besides the humor in this haiku, I believe my father was expressing the fact that our experience as human beings is based on our subjective sensorial perception. Though our sense organs are tangible, the results they produce are variable and depend on each individual’s facilities. In a way, it seems my father was pointing to the illusion of our so-called reality.

I enjoy how the second line has enjambment. It is a witty line break that sets up a surprise in the last line. In terms of sound, it appears that the letter “s” takes the cake. From this string of “s” sounds, I can hear a paintbrush against a canvas. The letter “l” is also employed well, which gives the reading a more weighted feeling, in my opinion.

Another haiku by my father that on the face seems to be only comical but has deep philosophical undertones.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

Jacob Salzer’s dream catcher

dream catcher
a new hole
in the spider’s web 

Jacob Salzer (USA) 
(published previously in Mare Liberum: Haiku & Tanka)

Commentary by the poet:

This haiku came from observation. I saw a spider’s web with a missing spider and a new hole in the web as if a large bug had managed to fly through it (or perhaps the hole was from an insect that the spider had devoured). However, this has been left open for interpretation. Because a spider’s web inherently has many holes in it, “a new hole” could simply mean the spider is creating a larger web and a new hole or an opening has been made through newly connected threads. The spider itself is not explicitly mentioned in this haiku. Therefore, it could be a part of this haiku or it could be missing altogether.

Metaphorically, in this haiku, the spider’s web is the world and the spider is the mind. Just as the spider spins a web out of itself and then lives in it, so it seems the mind spins a web of thoughts out of itself and lives in its own creation. This brings to mind a quote from my favorite movie Waking Life: “They say dreams are real only as long as they last. Couldn’t you say the same thing about life?

Ultimately, the “new hole” in the spider’s web, devoid of a spider, could be a symbol for piercing through the illusion of separation and leaving behind a hole of silence to allow light to shine through clearly, devoid of thoughts. Thus, the mind, even the “I” thought, has seemingly disappeared in the light.

I juxtaposed the spider’s web with a dream catcher (also sometimes spelled dreamcatcher) because they look similar to me.

Here is a note I received from the St. Joseph’s Indian School:

“Native Americans of the Great Plains believe the air is filled with both good and bad dreams. According to legend, the good dreams pass through the center hole to the sleeping person. The bad dreams are trapped in the web, where they perish in the light of dawn. Historically, dreamcatchers were hung in the tipi or lodge and on a baby’s cradleboard. Learn more about the Lakota (Sioux) culture at stjo.org/culture.”

I believe I left room for different interpretations in this haiku. It seems a spider’s web and dream catchers could mean various things to people. Perhaps this haiku could conjure up different dreams you’ve had. Of course, your commentary and interpretations are most welcome.

Commentary by others:

I loved the connection between a ‘dream catcher’ and the ‘spider’s web’ as both yearn to fulfill their dreams. Like the spider’s web, every dream needs consistency, determination, and hard work in order to be achieved. ‘A new hole’ indicates that the spider’s web is already broken or destroyed by both internal or external factors. The hole may be distorted thoughts, distractions, illusions, or delusions that block our view of the world whilst pursuing our dreams. More than one hole indicates drastic life changes that destroy the scheme of a dream or a spider’s web.

On the contrary, the dream may be either unrealistic or abstract, making it impossible to achieve. In that case, a new hole may symbolize the realities or awareness/conscious understanding of the dream that again and again destroy the complicated web of a dream and sensitize the person to live in reality. 

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

Jacob and Hifsa have explored the interpretations and meanings behind this haiku in depth. I want to add that besides the clear association between a spider web and a dream catcher, I see the spiritual significance of the word “dream.” To me, it inspires thoughts of Buddha’s teaching about the end of suffering being the giving up of desires. This haiku could represent that as we seek to fulfill our desires, we cause a disruption in nature. On the flip side, it could mean that to escape being a seeker of fulfillment, we need to pass through the web of this mundane life.

I like the run of “e” sounds in almost every word in this haiku. It gives me a sense of wonder. The pacing and format of the haiku look effortlessly composed. Punctuation and line length are not as important as the feel of the haiku.

A wonderful haiku that bubbles with interpretations and contemplations.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

Andrea Cecon’s slanting rain

slanting rain
the shift worker whistling
slightly out of tune

Andrea Cecon (Italy)
Modern Haiku, issue 48:2

I enjoy the layers of sound in this haiku. “slanting rain” tells me it’s raining pretty hard. On the first read, “whistling” brings to mind a construction worker, though I like how the occupation is not defined in this haiku and left open for the reader. If we imagine the work is being done outside, I have compassion for the person in the haiku, still devoted and working despite the time of day/night and the weather. Even if the work is being done inside, I have compassion for the person working late into the night and/or early morning. “whistling slightly out of tune” brings to mind how a person can be tired or somewhat fatigued working such odd hours, yet their dedication and focus carries them through. The whistling may also be slightly out of tune against the loud sound of pouring rain. I think whistling in this haiku is also helping the person finish their work-shift. Like walking through mud, it is challenging, but with strength and persistence, it can be done. 

I used to work the graveyard shift at a theater. I always found it interesting to drive home at 1 am after the last movie ended. The quiet neighborhoods were palpable as I drove past silent houses. It was interesting to be awake while almost everyone else was fast asleep.

This is a powerful haiku that conveys compassion for dedicated, hard-working people who work odd hours while most people are sleeping. 

Jacob Salzer (USA)

It happens that when a person spends all day on a task that is tiresome and laborious, then they may not enjoy things in the surroundings or they may not find it soothing when there is bad weather. This haiku represents the life of a shift worker that may sound full of fatigue. ‘slanting rain’ expresses nature’s harsh mood where nothing comes straight and calm. It is a struggle when one cannot escape one’s duty during a slanting rain. But, the word ‘whistle’ gives a twist in the haiku as it shows that either the shift has ended and the person is enjoying their off-time. Maybe they are going back home or daydreaming. Or, it may give a hint of ‘whistleblowing’, calling out those who are not complying with their duties due to the slanting rain. In either situation, it seems that the person in question is enjoying their time.

Overall, slanting rain and whistling both allude to the opposite moods of a person during laborious work or a rough day. It also shows how a person after some hardship needs some relaxation, which may or may not be enough to unwind their fatigue, stress, or frustration.

Finally, the letter ‘s’ in this haiku sounds more like a complex situation where a person is not fully enjoying his life due to a laborious job that may not be paying well.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

Jacob and Hifsa explored a lot of what I wanted to say. But, I wanted to add that in this haiku, I see nature and humanity crossing paths. The slanted rain, with the sound of a possible storm, is akin to whistling off tune. I believe there is not quite a cause and effect relationship. It is more the shift worker feeling nature’s mood and integrating it into their being.

In this world of artificiality and superficiality, we often forget how connected we are to nature. From the food we eat, the materials we use, to our surroundings, nature and humanity is always intertwined. This haiku displays a brief moment where that relationship shows as stark as a whistle.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

Tsuchiya Koitsu, Morning Rain at Hakone, 1938

Trivarna Hariharan’s comb

wind swept leaves––
the memory of mother
combing my hair

Trivarna Hariharan (India)
(previously published in Isacoustic)

A touching haiku. When I hear and see “wind swept leaves,” I feel the spirit of the author’s deceased mother loving and connecting with the poet from another dimension. It’s as if the wind itself is the mother’s spirit that carries her voice and invisible hands.  

Jacob Salzer (USA)

This heartfelt ku reflects many shades of memories related to the poet’s mother. Windswept leaves here may indicate autumn or dry leaves that have no destination or direction. The leaves have been further scattered due to the strong wind. Same are the thoughts and memories of the loved one that scatters or loses the colour of life when the strong wind of time blows them away. 

The last line, ‘combing my hair’, may either reflect how a person is either contemplating or getting ready for a funeral. Combing hair may also show how things get settled after tragedies or mourning. Also, it may represent the deep remorseful feelings of a person who finds it soothing to untangle hair. 

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

I feel there are two sides to this: one of melancholy and one of warmth. Wind swept leaves in relation to one’s mother combing our hair, especially as a young girl, can bring out emotions of lightness and relaxation. On the other hand, autumn can bring about feelings of loneliness and a sense of emptiness. Having these two interpretations enrich the reading experience.

Finding a comparison between leaves and hair, and the motion of combing and the wind, is a great haiku moment. The poet has seen a common natural occurrence and discovered a link between it and her deepest memories.

Onto the technical sides of things, the format is standard for English-language haiku. The kigo (seasonal reference) is clear, the kireji (cut marker between parts) is given as an em dash, and the sense of reverence to the main subject often displayed in traditional haiku is present. There is also a strong sonic element to the haiku: the letter “m” dominates with “memory,” “mother,” and “combing.” This letter usually conjures a sense of satisfaction in readers. The letter “r” is also featured. It’s almost as if we can hear the roar of the wind.

A naturally written haiku that uses a common experience in nature to find a special connection with a childhood memory.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

Unknown painting of maple leaves.