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HAIKU DIALOGUE – A Good Wander: The Art of Pilgrimage – Completion

A Good Wander: The Art of Pilgrimage with Guest Editor P. H. Fischer

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” – Basho (translated by Sam Hamill, The Essential Bashō, Shambhala, 1999)

Ready to lose yourself in the wonder of wandering? If so, grab your rucksack, water bottle (filled with a bit of sake perhaps), a pair of good trail shoes, a sturdy walking stick, and, of course, your favourite notebook and pen.

Over these next two months, I’ll share brief reflections and photo prompts from my Camino pilgrimage. This 900 km trek, from France across the Iberian Peninsula to Santiago de Compostela and beyond to the Atlantic Ocean, reignited a passion in me for haiku. I committed to composing at least one poem per day as a practice of being present to the moments unfolding along the way.

I’m not the first to scribble haiku while sojourning through villages, cities, mountains, plains, and sacred sites. Beginning with Basho (his Narrow Road to a Far Province remains the classic haiku travelogue), many poets including Santoka, Ryokan, and Kerouac, have taken to the open road to wander lonely as clouds, sing songs of nature (and themselves), and return to inspire others to join in on the chorus.

I invite you, likewise, to heed the poet’s instinct to get outside to go within; to ramble with intent, to write, and to return from your journey renewed, perhaps even transformed. You don’t need to go to Santiago, Jerusalem, Stonehenge, Graceland, Burning Man, or Matsuyama to accomplish this. Even a walk to the corner store can be a pilgrimage if experienced with our haiku senses attuned. Through the wonders of technology, we can journey from the comforts of our home if a physical jaunt is not possible. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that perhaps the most fascinating journey – navigating our interior landscape – can happen while sitting quietly on our meditation cushion.

It may be true, as J.R.R. Tolkien attested that “not all who wander are lost,” but let’s have fun trying. Isn’t that the goal of both pilgrimage and art – to lose oneself utterly in the present moment? To experience the ineffable/transcendent/divine (pick your term), and at least try to transmute our experience through a creative medium like haiku?

Alright, enough talk! Let’s get out wandering and writing. I look forward to reading your poems about real, imagined, imminent, interrupted, or eventual journeys. May the wind be always at your back!

next week’s theme: Return

Before leaving Finisterre, while sitting on the precipice of the ocean, I looked out toward Canada. As my tears mingled with the surf, I gave thanks for all who made my pilgrimage possible, especially my wife, Linda, who kept the home fires burning all the while. I couldn’t wait to hug her and my two boys again.

The hero, in mythical journeys, returns home with an elixir of life that revitalizes and renews their community. When I boarded my Air Canada flight at the Santiago airport, I sensed that the greatest gift I was bringing back wasn’t any of the souvenirs I’d stuffed in my pack (pilgrim’s shells for friends/co-workers, bracelets for the boys, a necklace for Linda, the certificate of completion from the cathedral, etc.), but an abiding spirit of wonder that this good wander had inspired. I reignited my love of writing haiku and soon I’d begin sharing that passion with a community of poets (all of you!) that would welcome me to walk alongside, making note of the points of light we herald on the Way.

Before we put away our walking staff and return to our lives, let’s write one last haiku/senryu for this series. What did you bring back from your journeys, material or otherwise, that was life-giving for you and your community? How did your travels transform you, inspire others, make a difference (or not)? Did you return home to see it in a new light? As we wrap up, let’s give the last word to T.S. Eliot. May his words be true for you as well.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Eliot

The deadline is midnight Pacific Standard Time, Saturday December 03, 2022.

Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry. (The Submit button will not be available until the Name, Email, and Place of Residence fields are filled in.) With your poem, please include any special formatting requirements & your name & residence as you would like it to appear in the column. A few haiku will be selected for commentary each week. Please note that by submitting, you agree that your work may appear in the column – neither acknowledgment nor acceptance emails will be sent. All communication about the poems that are posted in the column will be added as blog comments.

below is Peter’s commentary for completion:

After much anticipation and the proverbial blood, sweat and tears, we’ve reached the peak, crossed the finish line, graduated from college, raised a glass of cheer, started relationships, broken others, and after it all, came home with two weeks worth of dirty laundry. There are many and varied images of completing journeys in your submissions and my selections this week. As always, they were a joy to read. I hope you agree.

Enjoy!
Peter

mountain top
the wind reaches
further into me

petro c. k.
Seattle, Washington

This is no ordinary wind. At the peak of experience, the subject of petro c. k.’s poem encounters a penetrating movement so extraordinary as to be life altering. Perhaps this is a mountain squall that drives a deep chill to the bone. Or is it something greater still? Like other legendary transcendent encounters, could this be the divine breath (ruah, pneuma, holy spirit) that penetrates to the very core of being, enlivens life, emboldens actions, moves mountains? Line three, “further into me,” acts as the fulcrum of this visceral poem. Whatever one wishes to call this elevated wind, its profound power to transform is undeniable. Here is an invisible lever with enough leverage to move the world or, at the very least, the poet and this appreciative reader.

small offerings
at the labyrinth’s center
nibbled pinecones

Seretta Martin
United States

Like a gift of sustenance for a squirrel, raccoon, or woodpecker, this haiku by Seretta Martin is a small offering written and received at the completion of our pilgrimage. Who benefits from the haiku we write and share? These little gifts of one to three lines exquisitely arranged with less than a handful of words may provide spiritual nourishment for both writer and reader alike. Along life’s labyrinthine twists and turns, small offerings of art, music, poetry, or dance bless us. Sometimes, just a nibble on something as beautiful as this poem is enough to sustain us for the next leg of life’s journey.

return home
from the war
the porch light on

Herbert Shippey
Tifton, Georgia

Within the heart of every soldier, there is a pilot light kept ablaze by the memories and hopes of home. No matter the depths of darkness plumbed, the horrors of war, or how many times the icy hand of death rattles its threats, the dream of home (however defined) brings comfort, peace, and warmth to the weary warrior. Now, as the taxi turns onto the old avenue, the returning soldier in Herbert Shippey’s poem is once again a husband, wife, father, mother, son or daughter. The newly minted veteran feels relief, gratitude and, perhaps, trepidation about what awaits them. And, even as nothing can ever be the same again, as the car pulls into the familiar driveway, a simple porch light shines as a beacon of hope and welcome. This old, quiet house and its unsuspecting occupants, who unknowingly sustained their hero through it all, are now bringing light and life to what was only a dream. It’s good to be home.

walking up
to receive my diploma
the baby kicks

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY

There is such joy – double joy! – in this poem of Sari Grandstaff. I returned to it the way an expectant mother might marvel at the first photos of an ultrasound, or how a graduate or their proud parent might admire the framed diploma placed on a mantel. I marvel at the poet’s skill to soak this poem with joy through and through without ever naming the emotion. This is an exceptional example of the old “show don’t tell” imperative. After years of anticipation (and hard work), a young woman’s name is called. She walks across the stage, shakes hands with the school chancellor, and receives their well-deserved credential. Amidst thunderous applause and a swelling pride, we discover in L3, to our surprise, that a growing life within has joined in the celebratory moment for kicks and giggles. Each milestone in life is both a culmination/graduation of all that has come before and a commencement of something new sprouting to life. Sari Grandstaff’s poem conveys both aspects beautifully – with much joy to spare.

and here are the rest of the selections:

last steps…
my spirit has already touched
the peak

Mirela Brăilean
România

 

my voice
gaining a new freedom
mountain summit

C.X.Turner
United Kingdom

 

cresting Yr Wyddfa
all the snow
falling away…

(Yr Wyddfa is the Welsh name for Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales)

Adele Evershed
Wilton, Connecticut

 

mountain peak
through the mist
the jostling rucksacks

Firdaus Parvez
India

 

atop Ayer’s rock
wishing the short climb
hadn’t been a race

Richard L. Matta
San Diego, California USA

 

mountain summit
my son sits with his father
my father sits with me

Herb Tate
UK

 

monastery trek
a ladder to heaven
now back home

Neena Singh
India

 

back from Bodh Gaya
a heart-shaped leaf
in her bag

Meera Rehm
UK

 

pausing
halfway home—
field of poppies

Lafcadio Orlovsky
USA

 

kneeling
I kiss the ground
the mountain behind me

Kimberly Kuchar
Austin, Texas

 

once beautiful
mount fuji
through utility lines

Charles Harper
Yokohama

 

Shikoku pilgrimage
at the end, still no closer
to my life’s purpose

Susan Burch
Hagerstown, MD

 

exhausted-
a snail arrives
on my shoe

Vincenzo Adamo
Italy

 

3000 miles
wrapped up
in 3 lines

Sreenath
India

 

backpacker
the weight of
a full camera

Ravi Kiran
India

 

destination
unspooling
the journey

Vijay Prasad
Patna, India

 

tour of Newfoundland—
starting and ending
in a George Street bar

Ruth Holzer
Herndon, Virginia

 

The finishing line –
blistered feet and
that first sip of beer.

Caroline Ridley-Duff
UK

 

Finisterre
another pilgrim
sheds his boots

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove

 

getting my bearings
after the hike—
birch seeds in my boot tread

Laurie Greer
Washington DC

 

end of the road
a memento hangs on a nail
battered walking shoes

Paul Callus
Malta

 

dreadlocks…
he winces
at the sight of a razor

Vibha Malhotra
Noida, India

 

approaching the southern border we play truth or dare

John Pappas
United States

 

traveller’s tales…
my friends at home
change the subject

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton UK

 

back home
I save his number
“lesson learnt”

Vandana Parashar
India

 

warm welcome home
he greets me with a kiss and
two weeks of laundry

Maxianne Berger
Outremont, Quebec

 

tropical airport—
kisses on every cheek
but mine

Julie Bloss Kelsey
Germantown, Maryland, USA

 

landing gear
holding the mala beads
that grounded my journey

Margaret Tau
New Bern, NC

 

a bent signpost
life doesn’t come
with a manual

Teji Sethi
India

 

divorce agreement –
I get back the promised
moon and stars

Dan Iulian
România

 

marriage breakup
weighing up
the gains and losses

Carol Reynolds
Australia

 

tide-rippled sand
pieces of my heart
repaired with gold

marilyn ashbaugh
edwardsburg, michigan

 

cross-continent roadtrip
washing off desert dust
in ocean waves

Louise Hopewell
Australia

 

first sighting of land
wafting over waves
the piquant scent of wood smoke

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia

 

beside Ganga—
the twists and turns
of my thoughts

Rupa Anand
New Delhi, India

 

three thousand miles
a different ocean
waves me in

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

homebird . . .
the familiar scent
of mother’s broth

Babatunde Adesokan
Nigeria

 

fiddles put away
for the night
the last turf log glowing

Ann Sullivan
Massachusetts, USA

 

facing the home stretch my winter soul

Eva Limbach
Germany

 

winter cherry petal
in the frost…
menopause

Keiko Izawa
Japan

 

yoga mat
the next journey
on my knees

Lorraine A Padden
San Diego, CA USA

 

crossing a line
of no return –
old age

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio USA

 

autumn leaf
a retiree sits alone
facing shadows

Richard Straw
Cary, North Carolina

 

gobsmacked
facing the truth
of winter

Jonathan Epstein
USA

 

hospice
we let Glenn Miller
play him out

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA

 

Teotihuacan:
I walk the Avenue of the Dead
to touch the Moon

Jenny Shepherd
London, UK

 

Manikarnika —
the naked truth
of death

Lakshmi Iyer
India

 

putting the last piece
into the jigsaw
coffin nail

John Hawkhead
United Kingdom

 

arriving together…
lighting a candle
I whisper her name

Maurice Nevile
Canberra, Australia

 

your journey
is over
and I am still here

Margaret Mahony
Australia

 

growing older every reason to stay home

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California

 

last meal
my daughter goes to
a new home

Subir Ningthouja
Imphal, India

 

the life
long journey –
fatherhood

Dan Campbell
Virginia

 

after a long labor
the baby’s crown appears
Thanksgiving sunrise

Bruce H Feingold
Berkeley CA USA

 

still light
let’s play again!

Luciana Moretto
Treviso Italy

 

art expo
rolling graffiti boxcar
arrives on time

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa, USA

 

dancing cranes…
after all her no’s
finally a yes

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn Germany

 

old growth forest
not all stories
have endings

Kerry J Heckman
Seattle, WA

 

what was that all about blazing sunset?

Madhuri Pillai
Australia

 

return to blue skies
the scent of sun dried sheets
and eucalypts

wanda amos
Old Bar, Australia

 

an oriole sings …
filling the last page
of my journal

Annie Wilson
Shropshire, UK

 

homecoming …
migratory birds
always return

Natalia Kuznetsova
Russia

 

unending om
mani padme hum
niagara falls

Jeff Leong
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

long raga
at last I become
the drone

Kath Abela Wilson
Pasadena, California

 

bhairavi. . .
for every tear
a note

(Bhairavi is a raga in Indian Classical Music which is usually sung at the end of a concert. It is one of the most hauntingly beautiful ragas, in my opinion.)

Surashree Joshi
Pune, India

 

sonata finished
the final chord
lingers

Margie Gustafson
Lombard, IL USA

 

road trip
running out
of songs

Zoe Grant
Auckland, New Zealand

 

arriving at the waterfall
only the sound of
water

Ruchita Madhok
Mumbai, India

 

brackish air
on the rocky path
wave noise

aria salmastra
sul sentiero roccioso
rumore d’onda

Angiola Inglese
Rapallo-Italy

 

end of summer
the waves reach
our sand castle

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India

 

journey’s end
the slow circle towards
my centre

Lori Kiefer
London UK

 

peace
last turn
of the prayer wheel

Susan Farner
USA

 

full circle
rediscovering
my zero

AJ. Anwar
Jakarta, Indonesia

 

in the end
once again
painting mist

Richa Sharma
India

 

ending
at a beginning
holding her hand

Victor Ortiz
Bellingham, Washington

 

Guest Editor P. H. Fischer (Peter) lives, works and plays in Vancouver, Canada, on the traditional, unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples. He is the winner of the Vancouver category of the 2022 Haiku Invitational of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, and is grateful to see his poetry published in a growing list of haiku journals including The Heron’s Nest, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Presence, First Frost, Whiptail, Kingfisher, Prune Juice, Haiku Canada Review and others. His top passions (besides family) are walking and writing haiku. If he could, he’d leave on another 900 km ginko today!

Lori Zajkowski is the Post Manager for Haiku Dialogue. A novice haiku poet, she lives in New York City.

Managing Editor Katherine Munro lives in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and publishes under the name kjmunro. She is Membership Secretary for Haiku Canada, and her debut poetry collection is contractions (Red Moon Press, 2019). Find her at: kjmunro1560.wordpress.com.

The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy.

Please note that all poems & images appearing in Haiku Dialogue may not be used elsewhere without express permission – copyright is retained by the creators. Please see our Copyright Policies.

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. A great selection of haiku , thank you editor Peter
    My favorite:
    mountain summit
    my son sits with his father
    my father sits with me

    by Herb Tate

  2. These are all spectacular. I especially liked this one about a particular type of ending:

    divorce agreement –
    I get back the promised
    moon and stars

    Dan Iulian
    România

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this journey with us — and to the poets who responded with such wonderful poems.

  4. Thanks for another bumper crop of fine haiku Peter. You’ll be able to put your feet up after next week!!

    There were so many to choose from this week (again) but this one had a zen quality that I found mysterious and warm:

    journey’s end
    the slow circle towards
    my centre

    Lori Kiefer
    London UK

    1. Haha, thanks, John! It’s been an honour doing this editing work. Yes, Lori’s poem is enchanting. Lovely.

  5. Merci, Maxianne Berger for a good chuckle of recognition. Our son returns from his overseas work in the same way.

  6. Peter, thank you for selecting my haiku for publication. I was moved by your beautifully written comments, and I enjoyed all of the other selections. Reading other poets’ haiku always inspires me to want to write more of my own.

    1. Thanks for your comment and contribution this week, Herbert. A very moving poem!
      Yes, reading great poems definitely inspires me to pick up the pen as well.
      Best wishes,
      Peter

  7. ending
    at a beginning
    holding her hand
    /
    Victor Ortiz
    Bellingham, Washington
    /
    How romantic to be with someone special when something old ends and something new begins.

    1. Thanks for highlighting Victor’s poem, Valentina. It conveys such a tender moment and I thought it was the perfect poem to end the selections with. Very nice!
      Peter

  8. Beyond honored to have my haiku selected and highlighted with such a thoughtful commentary. It’s been such a joy reading all of your insightful and observant commentaries, Peter! And like a good trip, I’ll revisit moments like these long after you’ve packed away your travel pen to make way for others. Your prompts have brought out so many wonderful verses along the way, you should feel proud that you’ve helped bring all these into the world.

    1. My pleasure, petro! Your poetry here and elsewhere is a joy to read. Thanks for your contributions these past weeks. Indeed, there have been many great poems published here. Like you, I look forward to revisiting them.
      Best wishes,
      Peter

  9. Thank you so much P.H. for your wonderful comments on my haiku! I really appreciate having my haiku selected for commentary. You really come to know how stifling hot those polyester graduation gowns are when you’re pregnant. And today is my youngest child’s birthday so it was special to have this posted today. These two haiku, also about the parenthood journey, really spoke to me:
    the life
    long journey –
    fatherhood

    Dan Campbell
    Virginia
    ~~~~~
    after a long labor
    the baby’s crown appears
    Thanksgiving sunrise

    Bruce H Feingold
    Berkeley CA USA

    1. Very welcome, Sari! And happy birthday to your child. Your poem is lovely and reminded me of the time my wife first felt our son kick in her belly while we were at a Bruce Cockburn concert. Beautiful moment!
      Best wishes,
      Peter

  10. Thank you Peter for publishing my haiku, every week I am in awe at these wonderful poets. Your themes have been amazing.

    1. Very welcome! I’m in awe of all of you amazing poets as well. Thanks for your kind comment. It’s been a real joy for me.

  11. Thank-you once again for publishing my haiku P. H. I always appreciate it when my work is selected. My thanks also to Kathy, Lori, and the Haiku Foundation for all their efforts on a weekly basis, on this column. Congrats to the poets.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Valentina! kj, Lori and THF are brilliant and so very committed to this excellent column. Such a gift to all of us. 🙂

  12. Many thanks to Guest Editor P.H. Fischer for inserting my haiku in this delightful selection.
    Congratulations to all featured authors, especially those who often accompany me on my poetic journey.

    1. Very welcome, Paul. I’m meeting and enjoying the companionship of many wonderful friends along the poetic way as well. Thanks! 🙂
      Peter

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