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A Sense of Place: CITY SIDEWALK – sight



A Sense of Place

In his essay ‘So:ba’, given at the International Haiku Conference (SUNY Plattsburgh, NY, 2008) and published serially in Frogpond, Jim Kacian discusses the concept of ba:

“If you look up ba in any Japanese-English Dictionary you’ll find it means “place” or “site” or “occasion”. And these are all true in the most general sense—ba is a pointer to a kind of awareness that something of importance is happening in time and space.”

So here we are…

In the following weeks we will get back to haiku basics and explore specific locations with an emphasis on the senses, and with the intention of improving our own haiku practice. Ideally, participants will select an actual location that they can visit, or a location from memory that they have visited in the past. Failing that, we always have our imaginations – and you’re invited to join in the fun! Submit an original unpublished poem (or poems) via our Contact Form by Sunday midnight on the theme of the week, including your name as you would like it to appear, and place of residence. I will select from these for the column, and add commentary.


next week’s theme:  CITY SIDEWALK – hearing

The deadline for this theme is midnight Pacific Time, Sunday 02 December 2018.
Listen to the sounds of the city sidewalk – preferably the same one you have already had a look at – but, failing that, hear a memory or imagine…

I look forward to reading your submissions.


A Sense of Place:  CITY SIDEWALK – sight

morning rush
the homeless man’s
fetal position

Amy Losak

A graphic depiction of an all-too-familiar urban scene, yet without sentimentality or judgment…


red light
I absently step off
the sidewalk

Christina Sng

The reader absently follows along, until the end of the second line, where they find themselves suddenly trying to apply the brakes…


small desert town
all the sidewalks rolled up
till morning

Michael Henry Lee

An unusual take on the theme…


not one
familiar face
city sidewalk

Rachel Sutcliffe

Here the poet uses the location of the sidewalk to contrast urban and rural – implying one experience by stating the other…


city sidewalk
beyond all the graffiti

Stephen A. Peters

In some places it does seem that there is a Starbucks on every corner…


purple unicorn
under a pink sun –
sidewalk artist unknown

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio USA

We often admire artwork without really knowing anything about the artist… perhaps this artist will be famous someday…


sidewalk café
all eyes glued
to the phone screens

Vandana Parashar

A simple observation of an occurrence that has quickly become a common sight in our society – again, the reader is not instructed on how to feel about this…


Here are the rest of my selections for this week:

winter playground hoodies hopping

Adrian Bouter


joining my walk…
fallen maple leaves
on the sidewalk

Agus Maulana Sunjaya


side alley bed
a main street gleams
with Christmas

Alan Summers
Wiltshire, England


autumn wind –
only piles of leaves
on the sidewalk

vento autunnale –
solo cumuli di foglie
sul marciapiede

Angela Giordano


a downpour –
the color of geraniums
on the sidewalk

Angiola Inglese


evening wander –
left on the sidewalk
gray snow piles

Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo


City sidewalk…
From all sides vacant eyes
Of mannequins

Anna Victoria Goluba


chiaroscuro –
hand in hand the lovers walk
on cobblestones

arvinder kaur
Chandigarh, India


new sidewalk
writing my initials
in fresh cement

Barbara Tate


down the avenue
traffic lights blink yellow
November snow

Bob Whitmire
Round Pond, Maine


sidewalk graffiti
where there used to be
hopscotch rectangles

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA


best leather shoes
another splash
from a fast car

Carmen Sterba


night light
a taxi disappears
down a side street

carol jones


circus parade
horses, giraffes, elephants
man, bucket, shovel

Charles Harmon
Los Angeles, California, USA


two rivers meet
boats along
the city sidewalk

Christina Chin
Kuching, Sarawak


bag lady
her toothless smile
their quickened step

Christina Pecoraro


Paris pavements
so much
poodle poo

Christine Eales


black Friday
red-faced shoppers
shove each other

Claire Vogel Camargo


cracked sidewalk
red from the fallen
holly berries

Craig Kittner


a gloomy day
amazing street Mime
for random passersby

Danijela Grbelja
Sibenik, Croatia


autumn sunshine
on the sidewalk
flash of stockinged legs

David Gale
Gloucester, UK


sidewalk traffic
making way for
a maple leaf

Debbi Antebi
London, UK


holiday wreath
on every lamp post

Deborah P Kolodji
Temple City, California


street person
chanting the Om mantra
outside Starbucks

Devin Harrison
Vancouver Island, Canada


in sequined splendor
man with baby elephant
stroll the Walk of Fame*

(*Walk of Fame, on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA, immortalizes stars of screen and stage.)

dianne moritz


from the splendor
of the city to the slums
on the same sidewalk

Dubravka Šcukanec
Zagreb, Croatia


crowded sidewalk:
rarefied Christmas lights
in the fog

Elisa Allo
Zug, Switzerland


stopping short
on the overpass
falling birch leaves

Erin Castaldi


deep autumn
the flight of the last leaves
on the sidewalk

Eufemia Griffo


Pelham Parkway House…
stuck wads of dried gum
on the sidewalk

Frank J. Tassone


growing through the cracks
reach for sky

Genie Jeanne Nakano


vento d’autunno:
il cappello del nonno
sul marciapiede

autumn wind:
grandpa’s hat
on the sidewalk

Giuliana Ravaglia


street map
subway map
layers of Manhattan

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI


full tip box
the city lights

Guliz Mutlu


sidewalk café
the skewness
of ancient gables

Helga Stania


the stray cat
stares at me
city sidewalk

Hifsa Ashraf


late bus home –
shop doorways
blocked by sleeping bundles

Ingrid Baluchi


sharing a burger –
the homeless man
and his dog

Isabel Caves
Queen Street (Auckland, New Zealand)


behind an iron fence
sidewalk tree

janice munro



Joan Barrett


half hidden
under fallen leaves
a stumbling stone*

(*The name Stolperstein in German  translates into English literally as “stumbling stone”. A stumbling stone is placed in the pavement in front of the address from where Jewish citizens were deported by the Nazis. The pedestrian stumbles upon a brass plaque in the pavement and is invited to bow his head and read the name that is inscribed there. According to the Talmud, a person is only forgotten when his name is forgotten, so each stone represents a person with a name.)

Joanne van Helvoort


chalk hopscotch –
the adults
who can’t resist

Judt Shrode


city sidewalk
the squirrel jumps
over the moon

Kath Abela Wilson
Pasadena, California


bustling crowds
stop to study
Christmas windows

Kathleen Mazurowski


busking for a crowd
of pigeons

Kelly Sauvage Angel
Madison, WI


faceless mannequin
I, too, look away
from the homeless

Kimberly Esser
Los Angeles, CA


Holiday foot traffic
Crumpled in the alley
No one sees him

Kimberly Spring
Lakewood, Ohio


filling with rain
wine bottle
by the church wall

Laurie Greer
Washington DC


glint of a dime
in the cracked sidewalk
summer sun

Lesley Anne Swanson


on the sidewalk
only the tourists
looking up

Lori Zajkowski
New York City


black friday
the homeless man’s
empty hands

Lucy Whitehead
Essex, UK


on tattered blankets
an old man ponders progress
– his room with a view

m. shane pruett
Salem, OR


city side walk
spilling out of the tram
more join the swarm

Madhuri Pillai


small scarecrow
lying in the street
Super Bowl Sunday*

(*Annual Football Game to end all football games of the season.)

Marcyn Del Clements
Claremont, California, USA


for emergency supplies

Margaret Walker


uneven pavement
the flower interrupting
the concrete park

Margo Williams
Stayton, Oregon


freezing cold –
a beggar and an empty bowl
on the sidewalk

Maria Teresa Piras


frozen moon –
on the dark sidewalk
a lonely dog

Maria Teresa Sisti


light rain
city lights shimmer
on the sidewalk

Marilyn Ashbaugh
Edwardsburg, Michigan


closing time
the pub spills
onto the pavement

Mark Gilbert


black friday
a crow gorges
on thrown-away fries

Martha Magenta
England, UK


rainfall last night
the bombed dorm in mist
across a river

Megumi Shibuya


November sidewalk –
fallen leaves
slippery with snow

michael ceraolo
South Euclid, Ohio


shining like gold
on the city sidewalk –
a copper penny

Michael H. Lester
Los Angeles CA USA


city sidewalks
my springtime two-step
around doggy-do

Michele L. Harvey


skipping along
the pavement

Mike Gallagher
Kerry, Ireland


sidewalk sale…
a pink frock
for my granddaughter

Mohammad Azim Khan
Peshawar Pakistan


Freezing afternoon –
granddad picking up from school
his twin girls

Monica Federico


on the sidewalk
a beggar tossing
the sound of coins

Muskaan Ahuja
Chandigarh, India


black Friday
the sidewalks crowded
with shoppers

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio


street lights
the glitter of smiles
under masks

Neni Rusliana


lady of the red high heels leans on the lamppost

Nuky Kristijono


city stroll
a face
in the crowd

Olivier Schopfer
Geneva, Switzerland


bus stop
the sidewalk clears
for sparrows

Pat Davis
Pembroke, NH USA


on his knees
with supplicating hands
fake beggar

Pauline O’Carolan


cheap wine in his cup a few small coins

Philip Whitley


early morning street
a jogger startles pigeons
into flight

Polona Oblak


Hare Krishna…
do they have cancer, too
the bald boy asks

Pris Campbell


her dream
planting all roses

Radhamani  sarma


glassy eyes of
a broken doll
the sidewalk at dusk

Radostina Dragostinova


red light…
wisps of snow cross
the pedestrian walk

Randy Brooks


city sidewalk –
the tired eyes of a hawker
louder than his cries

Rashmi Vesa


on the snowy sidewalk
covered soon by snow

Rehn Kovacic


autumn wind
playing around –
deserted terrace cafe

Réka Nyitrai


city sidewalk
the one-way flow
of frowns

Roberta Beary
County Mayo, Ireland


berkeley urban forest –
city tree roots split
the path

robyn brooks


downtown sidewalks
shovelled and sanded
tis pratfall season

ron scully


sidewalk soothsayer
I see the path
out of town

Ronald K. Craig
Batavia, OH  USA


moonlight –
the shadow of a butterfly
on the sidewalk

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore


city sidewalk vendor
his fingerless gloves frayed
like the neighborhood

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY, USA


old city
time does not move
on the clock tower

Serhiy Shpychenko
Kyiv, UA


Sunday morning…
the leaves drift past
a hard-hat sign

Sidney Bending
Victoria, BC Canada


one solution
for a four colour problem
london plane



after rain
a glittering glow from
the sidewalk

Slobodan Pupovac
Zagreb, Croatia


double bagged
would have been better –
sidewalk scrambled eggs

susan rogers
Los Angeles, CA, USA


street musician
coins tossed into
an open guitar case

Terri French


a boot polisher
calls me by wagging his
shoeshiner brush

Tomislav Maretic


morning cityscape
falling ginkgo leaves
on a sidewalk

Tomoko Nakata
Kanagawa, Japan


first snow…
on the pedestrian path

Tsanka Shishkova


among black umbrellas a pink one
on knee level walk

Vishnu Kapoor


sidewalk cafe
a wind-soaked stray cat
begs for attention

Willie Bongcaron


Katherine Munro lives in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and publishes under the name kjmunro. She is Membership Secretary for Haiku Canada and an Associate Member of the League of Canadian Poets. She recently co-edited an anthology of crime-themed haiku called Body of Evidence: a collection of killer ’ku.


This Post Has 42 Comments

  1. I was very drawn to Christina Sng’s:
    red light
    I absently step off
    the sidewalk
    Christina Sng
    Walking gives me clarity, so when I want to think about things, I like to walk. But, deep thought can be distracting. I can so see this scene happening and the break after red light works because, the reader stops for the read light but then realizes the author of the haiku does not. The choice of “absently” in the second line gives a false sense of calmness and then the third line gives the reader a jolt of alarm for the safety of the author.

  2. Nancy, Judt, Sanjuktaa, Ingrid, Rashmi, S.Radhamani, Carol, Mark, Christina, Anna, Pat, Kathy, Valentina, Sari, John, Joan, Margo, Marietta, Tsanka, simonj, Arvinder, & Craig:
    thanks to each of you for submitting your work, & sharing your comments here – this is exactly what I am hoping to see…
    in the New Year, the editor’s comments will also be found here…

  3. Thank you for including me in the city sights Kathy! Congratulations to all the haiku poets here. Loved Rachel Sutcliffe’s and Christina Sng’s haiku that you commented on.

  4. Good to be back with a ku this week. Thanks, kj.

    A couple spoke strongly to me this week.

    Martha Magenta’s: black friday/ 
a crow gorges /
on thrown-away fries. Strong imagery and I love the double meaning of “black friday.”

    Mike Gallagher’s: skipping along / the pavement / wagtail. Delightful! The whole thing bounces with joy.

    ‘Til next time.

    1. Thank you, Craig; I am always amazed by the wagtails’ ability to dodge the footfall all around them.
      I liked your seasonal ku, too.

  5. Hi guys ! What an enjoyable read. Thanks Katherine. Thank you Carol Jones for your kind comments. I enjoyed reading yours too. Also, Amy Losak ,’fetal position’ ‘ vacant eyes’ by Anna Victoria,’ Color of geraniums’ by Angiola Inglese, ‘hopscotch rectangles’ by Bona M. Santos. ‘ sound of coin’ by Muskaan Ahuja. Congratulations and many thanks !

  6. The everyday turned into an event. Departures, arrivals, and professional gleaners (not beggars).
    bus stop
    the sidewalk clears
    for sparrows
    Pat Davis

  7. Thanks for including mine, KJ. One I would highlight is Michael H. Lester’s expertly done
    shining like gold
    on the city sidewalk –
    a copper penny

    1. closing time
      the pub spills
      onto the pavement
      Mark Gilbert
      I think these two together look good.
      I wonder who would notice that solitary ‘copper penny’ 🙂

  8. What a great array this week! I missed the deadline (again), but anyway here from me is a previously-published contribution. Cheers to all, and thanks for the good reading! — Marietta
    Tokyo metro
    the ebb and flow
    of frowns
    — tinywords, Issue #17.2, October 2017 (Originally published in Asahi Haikuist Network, 6/16/17)

  9. Thank you Kathy! Enjoyed reading the varied insights and your thought provoking words.Great learning experience…..
    Some of the verses that impacted me were-

    behind an iron fence
    sidewalk tree

    janice munro

    a fairly commonplace sight in all cities, the overwhelming necessity to find space for greens in the midst of our greed for space, captured so well in seven words

    Hare Krishna…
    do they have cancer, too
    the bald boy asks

    Pris Campbell

    again a common sight, elevated by the profoundness and pathos couched in the observation.

  10. Thank you for including mine. I have briefly glanced at the lot but can’t wait to spend more time on them. I am grateful to be in the company of these fine poets.

    1. Joan, I liked your poem a lot –
      Do you regard this as a vertical haiku?

  11. This week (thank you, Kathy) my own “bag lady” with her “toothless smile” found herself in the company of
    Amy Losak’s “homeless man” in a “fetal position”
    Devin Harrison’s “street person/ chanting…/outside Starbucks”
    Maria Teresa Piras’s “beggar” with “an empty bowl”
    while Isabel Caves’ “homeless man / and his dog” “share a burger.”
    Kimberly Esser’s “faceless mannequin” who like so many of us “look(s) away” from seemingly faceless others
    Muskaan Ahuja’s “beggar tossing/ the sound of coins”
    Sari Grandstaff’s “vendor” with “his fingerless gloves frayed/like the neighborhood
    Each of them, so sparsely, wonderfully drawn and especially Ingrid Baluchi’s “sleeping bundles” blocking “shop doorways”
    reminded me of these powerful lines of Thomas Merton, inviting me to ponder them further:
    A vagrant, a destitute wanderer with dusty feet…
    A homeless God, lost in the night, without papers,
         without identification,
    without even a number, a frail expendable exile
    lies down in desolation under the sweet stars of the world
    and entrusts Himself to sleep.
    — from “Hagia Sophia” IV

    1. Am so sorry. In my original commentary meant also to include
      m. shane pruett‘s “old man” “on tattered blankets” with his unique “room with a view”
      Kimberly Spring’s unseen “him” “Crumpled in the alley”
      and Laurie’s Greer’s unnamed someone whose “wine bottle / by the church wall” is “filling with rain.”
      They too, I believe, mirror Merton’s vagrant.

        1. How could I have missed it?
          Am embarrassed to admit I misread Alan’s tell-tale first line.
          His “side alley bed”, wonderfullly wrought and juxtaposed with a Christmas-gleaming main street is powerful.
          Thanks so very much, John.
          And Alan too.
          By the way, I toyed with including Pauline O’Carolan’s “fake beggar,” and probably should have. Pathetic, yet so sad.
          And surely should not have passed over Philip Whitley’s one liner—“cheap wine in his cup a few small coins.” Which is potent and poignant.

          Thanks again.

      1. Thank you Christina. I too was moved by the number of moments related to homelessness. For the first time I now live in a place where it is astoundingly too common and though the city is always ‘working on it’ I’m just not sure we’re close to finding real answer yet. If only our few words could make an actual difference to those in need.

        As always, so moved by this forum and the broadly scattered voices brought together here.

      1. You’re welcome, Sari.
        I really love the poetry and pathos in
        his fingerless gloves frayed
        like the neighborhood

  12. Thank you Kathy for including one of my haiku this week!! Enjoying reading these city sidewalk sights!

  13. I was quite surprised to see my haiku selected for commentary. Thank-you Kathy. Congrats to all the poets !!

  14. What a way to see the city! I am struck by the strong images, heightened by contrasts in these two poems:
    Amy Losak’s “morning rush” and Alan Summers’ “side alley bed”,

    Thanks, Kathy, for including my poem.

  15. Thank you, Kathy for this mid-week wonder. I look forward to reading the posts every week, a great learning curve.
    These are the ones that caught my imagination this week—
    hand in hand the lovers walk
    on cobblestones
    Avinder Kaur
    That word, chiaroscuro, light coming out of darkness, here we have two people walking into the light ‘could this be enlightenment’? but there’s the unsteadiness of the ‘cobblestones’. So much can be read into this one.
    frozen moon—
    on the sidewalk
    a lonely dog
    Maria Teresa Sisti
    This certainly tugs at my heart strings, and brings to mind the words ‘a dog is for life not just for Christmas. Lovely verse.
    Hare Krishna…
    do they have cancer, too
    the bald boy asks
    Pris Campbell
    One of those verses that hits you between the eyes.
    morning cityscape
    falling ginko leaves
    on the sidewalk
    Tomoko Nakata
    I see here a busy modern bustling city and amongst it all this ancient Ginko Biloba tree also know as maidenhair fern. The contrast within this verse, here, for me is broad and amazing.
    Many thanks for including one of mine, Kathy 🙂

    1. Insightful commentary, Carol. Thanks.
      I too am “hit between the eyes” by
      Hare Krishna…
      do they have cancer, too
      the bald boy asks
      Pris Campbell

      1. Thank you, Christina.
        I enjoyed reading the words of Thomas Merton you have included in your post. In this instance, very sad affair.

    2. Carol, I loved your
      night light
      a taxi disappears
      down a side street
      with its loneliness and kinetic quality – an already tiny light getting smaller and smaller ….

      1. Thank you, Mark, I’m happy you see my thought with this one. Busy streets can be the loneliest of places.

  16. Dear Kathy,
    what a variety of records of observations and comments by so many writers, a deep insight into their experiences. Thanks for including mine,

    city sidewalk –
    the tired eyes of a hawker
    louder than his cries

    Rashmi Vesa

    verily true! well observed.
    with regards

  17. Michele Harvey’s doggy-do and Christine Eales’ poodle poo – how true, and Frank J. Tassone’s observation of ‘stuck wads of dried gum’ is a reminder of litter not just in the centre of the Bronx, but worldwide, although in certain Eastern countries, it’s more likely to be red betelnut juice (Areca nut) and just as disgusting.
    The two which caught my imagination were Janice Munro’s
    behind an iron fence
    sidewalk tree

    for its humour, as if a tree could run away, and pathos that we need to protect our city trees from vandalism;
    and Roberta Beary’s
    city sidewalk
    the one-way flow
    of frowns
    Give me the countryside any time!
    Thank you, Kathy, for again including one of mine and making this such an interesting experience.

  18. A great batch of verses again! One of my favourites here is this one!

    mall desert town
    all the sidewalks rolled up
    till morning

    Michael Henry Lee

    What a wonderful observation.

    Loved this one too.

    chalk hopscotch –
    the adults
    who can’t resist

    Judt Shrode

    Congrats to everybody!

  19. Great collection of sidewalk observations from cities great and small, Kathy. Thanks for all you do each week to put together this column.

    I smiled at Valentina Rinaldi’s purple unicorn and empathized with Willie Bongcaron’s cat. I, too, have a “beggar cat” despite her staying dry.

    Thanks for including one of mine, too.

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