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HAIKU DIALOGUE – A Good Wander: The Art of Pilgrimage – First Steps

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: Obstacles and Trials

The first order of business on my Camino was to climb the toughest peak of the whole pilgrimage. The 1,400 metres up the French Pyrenees to the Spanish border can be treacherous, offering no services beyond Orisson, the tiny hamlet at the ascent’s halfway mark.

Jacques Christophe, the volunteer at the pilgrim’s office in St. Jean, warned me of the dangers. The weather in early May can change from sunny, mild, pleasant, to windy, frigid, miserable. “Be prepared if you go this route,” he said, looking into my eyes.

All of this came true. Except the “be prepared” part. Two-thirds up the mountain, just past the Madonna and Child statue overlooking the valley, and exactly where Emilio Estevez in the movie The Way dies, a storm blew in unannounced. The gentle breeze turned into a gale. Dark clouds consumed the sky. A thick fog rolled in to impose questions I couldn’t answer. The temperature plummeted. The heavens opened up, first rain, then snow. To make matters worse, I had clung to the brilliant idea, ahem, of walking up the mountain barefoot. Yes, I am an idiot (full disclosure).

To make matters much worse, as I reached into my backpack for my warm puff jacket, I couldn’t find it – left behind on the train from Paris. With my hand-washed laundry in a plastic bag, still sopping wet from the night before (hang-drying my clothes in a humid room came up short), I had nothing but the clothes on my back – a thin shirt and thin shell – to keep me warm. They didn’t. I picked up my pace, thinking it would generate body heat. It didn’t.

Nearing the peak, as I passed the makeshift memorials of previously imperilled pilgrims, thoughts I’d never had before frightened me. Am I in serious trouble here? Could this be curtains for me? How stupid am I? While my teeth chattered and my adrenaline raced, I occupied myself with chanting old songs and composing bits of haiku.

Then at my lowest point, the mountain’s highest, a hut appeared in the fog – smoke rising from its roof. The Camino provides! Entering to find a dozen welcoming pilgrims huddled around a roaring fire, I stayed for an hour. I pulled a sock over a massive blister on my right big toe, reading a message someone had written in thick black spray paint over the fireplace: “Become What You Are!” I was just thrilled with becoming warm.

This week, let’s write a haiku/senryu about the obstacles, big or small, you may have encountered that challenged your best-laid travel plans. Cancelled flights, lost luggage, the wind whispering bitter truths you did not want to hear, etc. Were you able to overcome and move on, or did your journey end or go in a different direction? I look forward to reading your poems about submitting to forces beyond your control.

The deadline is midnight Pacific Daylight Time, Saturday October 22, 2022.

below is Peter’s commentary for first steps:

We’re off! Whether it’s first steps toward a famous temple, cathedral, ocean, or celebrating the simple act of getting one leg, one foot, out of bed while struggling with S.A.D., let’s cheer on the small victories (and a few funny foibles) highlighted in the selected poems this week. I’m fascinated by the diversity of locales, styles, and first languages represented here. I noticed a couple of recurring motifs present in a number of the submitted poems. For good reason, the first steps of a child, the first steps of someone recovering from an illness, and the first moon walk kept appearing in the submitted poems. As a result, I’ve only chosen a few of the standout poems that travelled these particular paths.

On that note, please know that if you don’t see your poem here, it’s not necessarily because it fails as a haiku. There are any number of reasons a given haiku is not selected from the nearly 300 poems received. Sorry, I’ll apologize in advance that we at Haiku Dialogue do not have the capacity to provide a critique of poems not selected. Please consider workshopping these poems with a haiku group or a willing writing partner to discuss ways to improve the poem. Then send it back out to other editors. Above all, please keep submitting your work! Like all of us, I’ve certainly had poems that were not selected here in the past. The discipline of submitting poems every week to Haiku Dialogue has helped improve my writing as it will yours. Onward and upward!

All the poems selected for this week’s column spoke to me because of their aesthetics, craft, profundity, or humour, and their honouring of this week’s theme. Let’s look closer at a handful of them in no particular order. Enjoy! Peter

a path
to everywhere
my dirt driveway

Peter Pache
Poland, New York

The oft heard advice – bloom where you’re planted – finds a corollary here in Peter Pache’s simple and suggestive poem: start your journey wherever you are! While walking the Camino, I met pilgrims who set out walking from their own driveway. One, for example, started his trek from his home in Normandy, France, while another began a multi-month journey in Russia. Amazing! Of course, many of us will require the aid of planes, trains or automobiles to assist us in arriving at our desired paths. The takeaway for me in Peter’s poem is to reframe the thinking that adventures are to be had elsewhere. That humble dirt drive in front of our home can, in fact, be the nexus of our next epic journey! As the writer of the Tao Te Ching once suggested, we can know the world from wherever we stand in the moment. We can be that still point at the centre of a spinning universe. What better place to start an adventure (external or internal) than from the core of who we are wherever we are?

kicking the air
a toddler’s feet above
the pool waters

Ravi Kiran
India

One of the first “rules” of haiku writing I learned was the old “show don’t tell” rule. We’re free to break rules, of course, when it serves the interests of the poem, but Ravi Kiran’s delightful poem demonstrates that choosing concrete, embodied imagery is preferable more times than not. In this poem, the poet could have told us about the feelings the child experiences dangling above a pool for the first time (“nervously,” or “gleefully” a toddler…), but chooses the more difficult, but satisfying, task of finding imagery to show us what caused these feelings. Without telling us anything, the poet, by painting a picture, makes room for us the reader to “complete” the poem from our own repositories of experience. This poem, for me, brings me right back to the first time we introduced our firstborn to the cold Pacific Ocean!

lily of the valley—
first morning
without prayer

Jonathan Roman
United States

Before taking the official first steps of my pilgrimage in St. Jean Pied de Port, I spent the previous day meandering the magical avenues and promenades of Paris. On that day, May the 1st, lily of the valley (es lys des vallées), the cute, understated, clochette-shaped flowers were ubiquitous. There were dozens of street vendors. Old women who lived through the war, loud men with cigarettes hanging from their lips, and boys and girls extending their fists full of the delicate white flowers. Priced at one euro per bouquet, each May Day the French spend 100 million euros on these sweet-scented beauties to remember the occupation, as a gesture of friendship, and to celebrate the return of spring. The little flower is a beautiful symbol of rebirth. Jonathan Roman’s poem strikes a chord with me because of my experience with lily of the valley in Paris, but also because of my story of leaving the ordained ministry. In this poem, the poet courageously links a symbol of hope, new life, rebirth, with the experience of moving on from a religion that requires adherents to become “born again.” Ironically, the poet finds new life in the light of a new day free from a religion they may have found stifling.

(Unsolicited recommendation: Along with Tia Haynes, Jonathan Roman has co-authored a critically acclaimed collection of similar poems. It’s called After Amen. Well worth a look here.)

hunter’s moon
leaving him
before he can stop me

Susan Burch
Hagerstown, MD

This haiku stopped me in my tracks. In the light of a full autumn moon, the poet decides tonight is the night for the subject of this poem to embark on a journey of freedom. In three short lines, the poet draws us deeply into the expansive story of this poem. Expansive, because even as we don’t know how the story will end, how it started, nor what exactly this person is running away from or to, there is enough present here in the shifting shadows of the hunter’s moon to evoke the scene in our mind’s eye and a visceral response in our heart. Are we not on the edge of our seat cheering on our clandestine hero? But wait; what if the desire is for self-harm, for leaving him (spouse, lover, friend, therapist) before they thwart that plan? See what I mean? There are many angles within the shadows of this poem. Who says haiku can’t tell a story? This one certainly does.

immigration
beyond the border
my second identity

Nitu Yumnam
India

This poem by Nitu Yumnam is an example of what Michael Dylan Welch calls “Deja-ku”. Intentionally or not, the poem alludes and pays homage to Canadian Poet, George Swede, and his famous “passport check” poem (click here and scroll down to find it). In the West, with our litigious mindset and strict copyright laws, we often decry writing that brushes too closely to original source inspirations. Of course, there is a place for guarding the integrity and authorship of an artist’s unique creation. That said, as Michael points out, there is also a long-held Japanese tradition (honkadori in Japan) of celebrating parody, allusive, and homage poems for honouring, interpreting, and advancing the dialogue between old and new.

Here, the poet either rejoices that someone will soon embody the new life they have only dreamed about, or laments the sad reality that even though this new life is in sight just beyond an arbitrary and imaginary line on the earth, it is unattainable. The poem, for me, calls into question how the global community can do more to help immigrants, refugees, displaced and marginalized peoples amid very trying circumstances.

traveling light a backwards wave

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton UK

An enlightening poem! I love haiku that invite multiple readings and this one does just that. We can read both the fragment “traveling light” and the phrase “a backwards wave” in several ways. Since this series is about setting off on a pilgrimage, my initial reading was that the speaker in this poem, like me, had researched all the best ultralight gear for the journey and judiciously included only the essentials to keep their burden light. With a spring in their step, the speaker gives a playful wave to supporters as they embark on their journey. Another reading is less joyful.

Perhaps the person is destitute, suddenly homeless even. Their load is light through the abject loss of a previous identity and all the material possessions that came with it. The speaker in this reading gives a backward wave to a life that is now inaccessible. Finally, a scientific reading of this poem reveals a strange phenomenon called “time reversal” that the poet describes. Ostensibly, as scientists observe light particles traveling at faster-than-light speeds, the light waves appear to travel backward in time. Where will this research take us? One fruit of this knowledge is this haiku. For an ultralight poem of 5 words, you’ve certainly packed a lot in there, Keith!

syllable count –
my first steps
in the haiku world

Maria Teresa Piras
Sardinia – Italy

I hear you, Maria! Most of us remember taking those first steps as well. When I started seriously writing haiku, passersby may have giggled as they watched me counting syllables with my fingers. I still do it occasionally – not to ensure line-by-line compliance with an old rule of haiku writing, but simply to get a feel of the syllabic length of each line. And old habits die hard! For reasons you can read about here, most of us have moved on from writing haiku with strict 5/7/5 syllable counts choosing to focus on more important goals of haiku such as seasonality, kireji (caesura or cutting word), juxtaposition, brevity, suggestiveness, etc. This is a fun poem that made me laugh as a bit of an “inside joke” for haiku poets.

and here are the rest of the selections:

wrapped
in a roadmap
travel journal

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa, USA

 

birdcage
the journey nowhere also begins
with a single step

Alex Fyffe
Texas, USA

 

trapped inside
the voices of others go on
go out just GO OUT

Helen Buckingham
Wells, UK

 

baby step
the runaway puts out
a thumb

Richard Straw
Cary, North Carolina

 

first steps
a finger to
hold onto

Vicki Vogt
Watertown MA, United States

 

pilgrimage
the hardest prep
the guts

AJ. Anwar
Jakarta, Indonesia

 

sliding doors my feet in parallel realities

Ella Aboutboul
West Sussex, UK

 

starting point . . .
our excitement palpable
in many languages

Marion Clarke
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland

 

first step towards Santiago…
mother’s rosary
in my hands

primo passo per Santiago…
il rosario di mamma
fra le mie mani

Giuliana Ravaglia
Bologna, Italy

 

new trail boots
if you only knew
what’s to come

Carol Jones
Wales, UK

 

rushing water
the unmarked trail
becomes an arroyo

marilyn ashbaugh
edwardsburg, michigan

 

stepping
into heaven or hell…
Chomolungma

Keiko Izawa
Yokohama, Japan

 

unpaved path
I pause a while to listen
to the wind

sanjuktaa asopa
Belgaum, India

 

eyes trained one step ahead…
the path teaches me to walk
like a pilgrim

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

heartbreaks
the long road
to learning haiku

Neera Kashyap
Delhi, India

 

passing autumn–
on the pilgrimage way
with migrant birds

Teiichi Suzuki
Japan

 

into the labyrinth
i and a bee –
autumn evening

Deborah Bennett
Carbondale Illinois USA

 

retirement day
I give up
my key card

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA

 

their home of many years
the step
across the threshold

Maxianne Berger
Outremont, Quebec

 

though empty
I wave farewell –
the old hut we shared

Milan Rajkumar
Imphal, India

 

old sisters step
one page at a time
travel book stickers

Mukudori M.
United States

 

she circles back
to baby steps . . .
arthritic hip

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio USA

 

grandpa’s folk chants
her signpost

Zdenka Mlinar
Croatia

 

new moon
dad’s first steps
after the stroke

Meera Rehm
UK

 

hallowed ground
I kiss the cobblestones
for him

Kath Abela Wilson
California, US

 

first steps
to the end of this journey—
making my will

Rupa Anand
New Delhi, India

 

levayah
the heaviest dirt
on the blade’s back

Richard L. Matta
San Diego, California, USA

 

a pallbearer
taking the first steps
for the stillborn

John Hawkhead
UK

 

every day
just getting out of bed
seasonal depression

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA

 

discharge lounge window—
a house wren hops
to the elderberry

Astrid Egger
Daajing Giids, Haida Gwaii

 

my old diary
the beginning
of the journey within

Marianne Sahlin
Sweden

 

turning fifty
I take baby steps
towards a new self

Teji Sethi
India

 

hitting the road
whenever loneliness
seeps in

Cristina Povero
Italy

 

midday snowmelt —
the path’s first footprints
running off

Alan Peat
Biddulph, United Kingdom

 

entering old growth forest first touch

John S Green
Bellingham, WA

 

canyon layers
a raven meets us
on the Trail of Time

Deborah P Kolodji
Temple City, CA

 

through high grass
I follow the tortoise
pilgrimage

Margaret Tau
North Carolina

 

full moon
fragrant herbs
with the first steps

Minko Tanev
Bulgaria

 

between footsteps
between us
starry sky

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, WA

 

walking tour—
he admires the colors
of her pedicure

Adele Evershed
Wilton, Connecticut

 

gates to Everest
the spinning prayer wheels
of good karma

Bruce H Feingold
Berkeley, CA, USA

 

virgin snow
I hesitate to make
the first step

Nikola Đuretić
Zagreb, Croatia

 

alpine path
the shape of my dream
unfolding

Annie Wilson
Shropshire, UK

 

resting in the
quiet possibilities
first snowfall

Tina Mowrey
Austin, TX

 

cross country trip–
watching the empire shift
through my windshield

Pippa Phillips
Kansas City

 

open gate
my feet catch up
with my heart

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California

 

refugee steps
life so far put
into a shoulder bag

Stoianka Boianova
Bulgaria

 

fully clothed
racing to jump in
our first ocean

Eavonka Ettinger
Long Beach, CA

 

blue water • • •
a set of waypoints
in soft 2B

Harrison
Netherlands

 

slow dance
my firstep
nervouslyours

Geoff Pope
Paducah, Kentucky

 

tramping out
in search of our new home
squeaky clean sneakers

Ingrid Baluchi
Cambridge, U.K.

 

at the end of a long journey my grandson’s first steps

Eva Limbach
Germany

 

first step
grabbing the table
cloth

Pamela Jeanne
Yukon, Canada

 

the little girl’s
first steps–
snowdrops

Helga Stania
Switzerland

 

first day of school
geese getting
into a V

Tim Cremin
Massachusetts

 

Planetarium
step by step I enter
the night sky

Grace Galton
United Kingdom

 

still up there
preserved in powder–
first moonprints

Stephen J. DeGuire
Los Angeles, CA

 

that first flight off the limb of a maple tree

Dan Campbell
Virginia

 

blue hills
i step towards
the morning sun

Subir Ningthouja
Imphal, India

 

outback tour
I step into
a Dreamtime story

Carol Reynolds
Australia

 

hit by a wave
of tropical heat…
homesick already

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

Dashain festival
the winding road
to mother’s place

Manoj Sharma
Kathmandu, Nepal

 

baby steps
I help my mother
try her prosthetics

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India

 

each step placed with care
the unevenness
of aging

Susan Farner
USA

 

family prayer
father looks around
for everyone

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

 

first steps
the curve of each cobble
beneath my boots

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove

 

early morning fog
i walk to the temple gate
and back

kris moon kondo
Kiyokawa, Japan

 

morning mass
a tiny black beetle
makes its way to the altar

Margaret Mahony
Australia

 

one small step
in the regolith
earthrise

petro c. k.
Seattle, Washington

 

Manhattan —
jazz in the Village
the promised land

Pris Campbell
U.S.

 

last call…
the snag in my jumper
leaving a trail

Shalini Pattabiraman
United Kingdom

 

a few too many…
my ancestors walk me home
from the pub

Kerry J Heckman
Seattle, WA

 

snowstorm
each of my steps
is the first step

Chen Xiaoou
Kunming, China

 

his S tracks
down the snowy mountain
my bum print

Kimberly Kuchar
Austin, Texas

 

a stand of pines—
I slip off the chairlift
into fresh snow

Julie Bloss Kelsey
Germantown, MD, USA

 

rerouting
the air dancer waves at me
coming around again

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY, USA

 

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 33 Comments

  1. Thank you, STEPeter, for including my “slow dance” (which I need to do more often).

    Among your top picks, I especially like Keith Evetts’ “traveling light” and Maria Teresa Piras’ “syllable count.”

    Then the one that moved me the most (partly because of some current POA-related family discussions):

    first steps
    to the end of this journey—
    making my will

    Rupa Anand
    New Delhi, India

    And for the joy! —

    fully clothed
    racing to jump in
    our first ocean

    Eavonka Ettinger
    Long Beach, CA

    Thank you, too, steadfast Post Manager Lori Zajkowski and the “Yukon froghat” poetry cultivator, Managing Editor Katherine Munro! 🌟 🌟

    1. Heartfelt thanks, Geoff, for appreciating my poem, a little joking, but how true !!!

  2. another great set of poems
    apart from the ones Peter highlighted, these stood out for me:
    *
    wrapped
    in a roadmap
    travel journal
    Roberta Beach Jacobson
    *
    first day of school
    geese getting
    into a V
    Tim Cremin
    *
    a stand of pines—
    I slip off the chairlift
    into fresh snow
    Julie Bloss Kelsey

  3. Grazie, Peter, per avere incluso il mio haiku in questa bellissima raccolta, per il tuo prezioso commento e per il link alle interessanti letture di approfondimento.
    Ho sorriso ricordando un tempo in cui “pensavo” solo in diciassette sillabe, e se il verso era troppo lungo o troppo corto, cambiavo l’espressione per fare tornare i conti.
    Oltre agli haiku commentati , mi ha colpito lo haiku di Tim Cremin … nel mio lavoro di insegnante (ex) per bambini ho visto tante oche entrare in una V …
    Ho apprezzato molto anche i componimenti di Alex Fyffe, di Giuliana Ravaglia e di Valentina Ranaldi Adams ma tutti, proprio tutti, mi hanno emozionato. Grata sempre allo haiku.

    1. Grazie Maria, apprezzo le tue parole gentili e i tuoi commenti sulle poesie che ti sono piaciute. È una vera gioia leggere tutte queste grandi poesie sulle nostre esperienze nel viaggio della vita. Tantissimi auguri, Peter

  4. Thanks Peter for including my haiku. I am loving the stories of your pilgrimage and the inspiration they bring.

    1. You’re welcome, Pamela. And thank you for your kind words! I’m enjoying the journey with all of you. 🙂

  5. Forgot to mention, Peter. Thanks for the recommendation regarding the haiku book, “After Amen.” I purchased that book and another you mentioned on Instagram, “Alone, I Am Not,” last week. Beautiful and thought provoking haiku by Tia Haynes and Jonathan Roman in “After Amen”, and from Vandana Parashar in “Alone, I Am Not”. Thanks again.

  6. Thank you for including my poem, Peter. I am really enjoying this journey with you as our guide. My gratitude to Kathy, Lori, and THF for creating a space for learning and growth.

    So many excellent poems, I am glad I just have to read and enjoy them without choosing a favorite.

    1. Thanks, Eavonka! Indeed, so many talented poets in our midst and, yes, it is quite difficult making the selections and highlighting just a handful. I’m enjoying this role immensely, but the hardest part is leaving out poems, in some cases, from poets I really admire. Ouch!

  7. Thank you kj, Lori and Peter for this week’s edition of THF Haiku Dialogue. Always an enriching learning experience. I too was deeply moved by Susan Burch’s senryu, hunter’s moon.

    hunter’s moon
    leaving him
    before he can stop me

  8. Hello again, Peter

    I’ve just re-read your write-up for next week’s theme. An interesting read, within your words are many pickings to make up haiku verses.
    Would it be ok with you to post one or two in the submission box, for next week?
    I won’t be offended if you refuse or if you do allow, they aren’t published 🙂

    1. Of course, Carol, go for it! Thank you. I’m glad you’re enjoying this. I look forward to your submission. 🙂

  9. Many thanks for the commentary on my poem, Peter. It’s always nice to have work accepted, but it is deeply gratifying when that work truly resonates with someone, as it did with you. I would be very interested to hear about your experience leaving the ordained ministry.

    Thank you as well for recommending After Amen 🙂 Congrats to all the poets whose work appeared this week!

    1. Very welcome, Jonathan.

      It’s a poignant poem, as are all of the poems you and Tia published in After Amen. I do hope our paths can cross someday in person or virtually and we can share our stories. In a nutshell, for me, my personal and professional integrity compelled me to consider new career options when I could no longer reconcile my changing beliefs with my ordination vows and the theological milieu of the church I served.

      Be well, Peter

  10. Thank you for including me in this week’s Haiku Dialogue! I love reading the selections each week. I too also really enjoyed this one:
    syllable count –
    my first steps
    in the haiku world

    Maria Teresa Piras
    Sardinia – Italy
    A fresh take on the idea of first steps into a new creative form. Also this one:
    slow dance
    my firstep
    nervouslyours

    Geoff Pope
    Paducah, Kentucky
    Alluding to an inadvertent stepping on your dance partner’s toes through the use of language running together like that.

    1. Thank you, Sari, for appreciating my somewhat joking poem in recalling my approach to the world of haiku.

    2. Hi, Sari! I’m so glad you enjoyed my poem with the nervously merging “firstep”. And congratulations on your “rerouting” — we both had dancing poems!

      Geoff

  11. Many thanks, Peter. Fine comments. Well done, poets.

    In addition to the layers mentioned, there was the tendency to look back with a twinge of sadness at the farewell place, which I’m sure is pretty universal (I’ve moved house ten times in UK, and another eight or so in postings abroad, and learned to travel light). And many of the light waves we see when we look over our shoulder are from long ago in time, before one gets to the faster-than light-speed reversal conundrum (which was what made me choose biology over physics)!

    Often, the shorter the verse, the more space for the reader.

    I dwelled particularly on:

    kicking the air
    a toddler’s feet above
    the pool waters

    Ravi Kiran

    hunter’s moon
    leaving him
    before he can stop me

    Susan Burch
    (above two for all the reasons you mention)

    blue water • • •
    a set of waypoints
    in soft 2B

    Harrison
    (I liked the three dots, and the double meaning in 2B pencil – marked on the chart – and the voyage to be in chat lingo)

    first day of school
    geese getting
    into a V

    Tim Cremin
    (Cute and acute)

    1. Ah, there’s another layer! As someone who has moved many times, I can appreciate that sentiment, Keith. Moving usually brings a mix of emotions for me. On a practical level, moving is certainly easier when we “travel light.” Before each of our moves, we always jettisoned lots of stuff that didn’t make the next leg of the journey.

  12. A great selection this week, but Susan Burch’s senryu stopped me (!) in my tracks:

    hunter’s moon
    leaving him
    before he can stop me

    Real tension and atmosphere. Love it!

  13. P. H. I am quite pleased that you selected my haiku for publication. Thank-you to all who make this column possible – Kathy, Lori, and the Haiku Foundation.

    1. Very welcome, Valentina.

      I’m likewise grateful to kj, Lori and THF. I now have insight into how much work goes on behind the scenes here each week. kj and Lori are stars!

      Peter

  14. Thank you KJ Munro and PH Fischer for Haiku dialogue.

    Congratulations to all poets that have had their verses published. A wonderful read.
    Thank you also for placing mine in the line-up.

    This verse caught my attention, for its visual and sound —
    unpaved path
    I pause a while to listen
    to the wind
    – sanjuktaa asopa

    I like how L2 acts as a pivot. Wonderful verse.

    1. You’re welcome, Carol!

      sanjuktaa’s beautiful poem inspires me as well. Do I pause enough to just listen to what surrounds me? I’ll make a point of it today. 🙂

      Peter

      1. For the quest editor, just to read close to 300 haiku takes a bit of time. Reflecting on them, choosing the best, and writing commentary also takes a bit of time. Once the weekly column is done, the effort starts again for the next week’s column.

      2. Thank you a lot for the inclusion, P.H.Fischer! And thanks a ton for the kind words too 🙂

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