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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Ad Astra – distant suns

Ad Astra with Guest Editor Alex Fyffe

My name is Alex Fyffe, and I am honored to be the Guest Editor of Haiku Dialogue. I would like us to look up and take inspiration from the vastness of outer space. Each week, in a series called Ad Astra (To the Stars), I will present a new topic based on the Great Out There, ranging from satellites to constellations. However, we will be avoiding our sun and moon, as they already get enough exposure in haiku, and, frankly, I think their egos are big enough as is. So we will focus more on their siblings and hopefully write some stellar haiku in the process. I look forward to reading all of your submissions each week.

next week’s theme:  At some point in their lives, I think everyone wants to fly, and one of the things about space travel that always seems to inspire awe is seeing astronauts floating in their ships, weightless, gliding down halls from one surface to the next. We have even learned to replicate this feeling through zero-G airplane flights that allow people to float around for a few minutes before gravity once again reasserts its great pull. Write a haiku inspired by escaping gravity for a while, the feeling of weightlessness.

The deadline is midnight Central Time, Saturday December 11, 2021.

Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 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 Alex’s commentary for distant suns:

smell of pines
foraging mushrooms
grandma’s way

Tomislav Sjekloća
Cetinje, Montenegro

Many of the poems for this prompt use scent to access memory. This haiku by Sjekloća puts us right there in the woods with the speaker, still foraging the way Grandma taught all those years ago. Through the scent and through the act, the memory is alive, and Grandma is right here with us, in our lungs, in our hands.

stargazing
grandpa knows their names
but not mine

M. R. Defibaugh
Chesterfield, Virginia

Multiple poems also dealt with the way age can affect memory and one’s perception of time, especially those dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. I remember as a young man seeing my grandmother for the first time in years, and she asked my aunt, “Who’s that little girl?” It was so odd to think that her reality and mine were so far apart. There is a melancholy to being forgotten by those we’ve known our whole lives. I think part of it comes from the realization that our identities are not as solid as we usually think them to be.

broadway
lights dim
a legend gone

Rehn Kovacic
Mesa, Arizona

This timely poem appears to be a lovely tribute to the late Stephen Sondheim, one of the legends of musical theater. Early reviews of Stephen Spielberg’s remake of the classic West Side Story (lyrics by Sondheim) are highly encouraging, but even if they were not, it’s likely that Sondheim’s influence will continue to be felt for light years to come.

The responses to this prompt were incredible, and most of the poems that tackled the prompt directly stand out because of their technical skill and/or emotional impact. But it is always a delight to see some new twist on the theme that takes me by surprise, so lastly, I just want to highlight some poems that caught my eye, whether because of their distinctive voices, their unique topics, or their bold formatting:

dark stars
I discover the origins
of my right hand

Robert Kingston
Chelmsford, UK

 

sky-light contouring the edges of her deep blue bruises

Hifsa Ashraf
Rawalpindi, Pakistan

 

Lochnagar Crater quieter
its Western Front light years
from now

Alan Summers
England

 

seasonal river
someone’s remains
on the dry bed

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

 

crown of Helios astigmatism

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa

 

shooting star –
in the dark
I wait

C.X. Turner
UK

 

planet-bound
while you are light years away
astronaut widow

Deborah P Kolodji
Temple City, California

 

forgotten name
of a stranger
who sang me a song one winter night

Mircea Moldovan
România

 

redshift…
the drone of her snores
two rooms away

Joshua Gage
Cleveland, Ohio

 

pressed gentians
slip from an old diary –
your eyes were so blue

Annie Wilson
Shropshire, UK

 

her laughter sparkles in the chalk dust

Margaret Walker
Lincoln, Nebraska

 

basketball star…
the sun sinking
in an old gym

Geoff Pope
USA

 

gravitational lensing–
the line between space and time bends
into light

Pippa Phillips
Kansas City, Missouri

& here are the rest of the selections:

old diary…
my late aunt tells me
how to be happy

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany

 

drifting stars
the smoke from my cigarette
unfiltered

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, Washington

 

Aldebaran
sees me aged three
make those mistakes again

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton, UK

 

Remembrance day
father’s light sets out to sail
across the Ganges

Lakshmi Iyer
India

 

as if
he was never gone
photo of dad at age 38

Christina Sng
Singapore

 

Old wall clock
slow hands still count
the elapsed time

Dejan Ivanovic
Lazarevac, Serbia

 

old dreams…
a supernova’s death throes
light the sky

Stewart C Baker
Dallas, Oregon

 

love light flared
eons ago–
flickering

Stephen J. DeGuire
Los Angeles, California

 

old school photo-
daughters captured, light years,
sun eyed, lost in time

Sarah Davies
Bedford, UK

 

ancient starlight—
my past lives and I
co-existing

Sonika Jaiganesh
UK

 

gazing at
their shimmering lights –
dead stars

Dan Campbell
Virginia, USA

 

the sunlight
of a time before –
white lilies

la luce del sole
d’un tempo prima –
gigli bianchi

Dennys Cambarau
Sardinia, Italy

 

his passing…
light from the dead star
blinks off

Pris Campbell
USA

 

until
we meet again
supernova

Agus Maulana Sunjaya
Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia

 

starry night
admiring the artist
with one ear

Jeff Leong
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

no difference between
existence & nonexistence
starless night

Xiaoou Chen
Kunming, China

 

distant sun
the coldness
of her parting words

Bakhtiyar Amini
Germany

 

Polaris
always pointing right
my father’s voice

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India

 

only the loneliness
of a star is deeper
than mine in winter

Nikola Đuretić
Zagreb, Croatia

 

red giant . . .
Lucille Ball
still in reruns

Ronald Degler
Harbor City, California

 

observing the sky
the light of Rigel
eight hundred years ago

Vincenzo Adamo
Sicily, Italy

 

after all these years
in the night breeze
scent of her skin

Ravi Kiran
India

 

every time
i see bluebells —
dad

Alan Peat
Biddulph, UK

 

wedding album
once
starry eyed

Neera Kashyap
India

 

behind closed eyes
the star he named for her
still shines

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

school reunion–
filling the gap of her image
with time lag

Teiichi Suzuki
Japan

 

July sunbeams
slip through my fingertips
pool of honey

Kelli Lage
Iowa, USA

 

the heavy weight
of his starlight twinkle
dad’s snow shovel

Richard Matta
San Diego, California

 

old photos
the light in his eyes
back then

Pat Davis
Pembroke, New Hampshire

 

grandpa’s face
in the pale moon . . .
the day after

Kathleen Vasek Trocmet
Texas, USA

 

three years on
her light begins
to flicker

Maurice Nevile
Australia

 

failing eyesight
through the haze
the north star

John Hawkhead
UK

 

time out . . .
all those questions
I never asked them

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia

 

butterfly season
only seeing
the light

Margaret Mahony
Australia

 

flickering candle
what would have been
your fiftieth birthday

Louise Hopewell
Australia

 

seeing distant stars
my body melts into
the touch of you

Deborah Beachboard
Adna, Washington

 

wrapped in an old betel leaf –
grandma’s recipe
for stomach bite

R. Suresh Babu
India

 

break of dawn
a drop of dew
fills with stars

Barrie Levine
Massachusetts, USA

 

distant suns
my late father’s nose
now on my son

Firdaus Parvez
India

 

one star
in report card-
cluster in his eyes

Chittaluri Satyanarayana
Musheerabad, Hyderabad, India

 

star gazing waiting for the porch light to go out

John S Green
Bellingham, Washington

 

super nova
a love that grows
post mortem

simonj
UK

 

moving day
with forty years of photos . . .
my fading smile

Alfred Booth
Colombes, France

 

attic cleaning
my childhood barbie
still young

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

 

hand-knitted stockings
once again I mend
my memories

Eva Limbach
Germany

 

riverbed
a lot of childish joys
pearls of memory

Zdenka Mlinar
Croatia

 

Last Christmas . . .
George Best’s lingering voice
in the gift shop

Meera Rehm
UK

 

expired passport
the same distant smile
coming and going

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

yellowed photo…
mum’s smile
always the same

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore
Catania, Italy

 

grandpa’s hymns
the sun far away still
lighting my way

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

 

bell bottoms —
all the colours of
my mother’s youth

Teji Sethi
Bangalore, India

 

childhood home
a fetal ultrasound
still on the fridge

Vandana Parashar
India

 

steamer trunk
mother tight-lipped
about the loss

Richa Sharma
India

 

distant light
in the widower’s eyes
wedding photo

Seretta Martin
San Diego, California

 

neutrino shower —
from some exploding sun
how they zip through me

Mark Meyer
Mercer Island, Washington

 

putting lights
in the winter birch
long extinct stars

Helga Stania
Switzerland

 

reincarnation –
she discovers her gran in
the dressing-up box

Dorothy Burrows
UK

 

no matter
how distant your light
Icarus

Maurice Nevile
Australia

 

under the stars
the calving
of an iceberg

Mark Gilbert
UK

 

wondering
which ones are cinders
winter stars

Ann K. Schwader
Westminster, Colorado

 

weeding with her hoe
a soft breeze
brushes my cheek

Susan Farner
USA

 

old light
the little
that reaches us

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California

 

icicles
the tension of light
from afar

John Zheng
Itta Bena, Mississippi

 

where we wished
upon the stars
periwinkle walks

Vicki Miko
California

 

now then
crossing the universe
starlight

Tim Cremin
Massachusetts

 

watching
a star fade with time
yahrzeit

(Yahrzeit [Yiddish: “year time”] is a custom in Judaism that marks the anniversary of the death of a parent or family member. A memorial candle burns out over the course of a day.)

Mariel Herbert
California, USA

 

sickle moon –
granny’s rocking chair
casting shadows

Joe Sebastian
Bangalore, India

 

meteor rain…
alone again
by the lake

Sherry Grant
Auckland, New Zealand

 

stars
in and around the Milky Way
light show in my window

Tsanka Shishkova
Bulgaria

 

long-dead stars–
I chart a course by
my ancestors’ light

Lev Hart
Calgary, Canada

 

light years…
the distance
between us

Rebecca Grant
Auckland, New Zealand

 

star gazing
seeing the beagle
I laid to rest

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India

 

twentieth winter
her favorite rose
still red

Zahra Mughis
Lahore, Pakistan

 

grandma’s prayer…
whispering to myself
at the twilight hour

Madhuri Pillai
Australia

 

dark clouds –
the lost look of the old puddle

Jorge Alberto Giallorenzi
Chivilcoy, Argentina

 

your old photo . . .
the morning star
still so bright

Milan Rajkumar
Imphal, India

 

winter twilight
your warmth all but gone

Surashree Joshi
Pune, India

 

the long journey
to get where we are
Andromeda

Peggy Bilbro
Alabama, USA

 

gone by morning
the wish
the star

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois

 

winter night…
the light you left behind
still in the stars

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove, California

 

finding again
the old turntable …..
as if I were listening with you

Angiola Inglese
Italy

 

what should have been
a museum
his demolished house

Kath Abela Wilson
Pasadena, California

 

Sun turns its back
So this is how we end up
Alone and cold

Christopher Calvin
Indonesia, Kota Mojokerto, Jawa Timur (East Java)

 

distant sun
the sock drawer still full
of your socks

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand

 

a wind
brings back the smell
of her absence

Vijay Prasad
Patna, India

 

white lace handkerchief
monogrammed with a J
I breathe in your scent

Susan Rogers
Los Angeles, California

 

last of the light
to reach just one more thing
lilting of the lily

Ron Scully
Burien, Washington

 

supernova
we sell his cameras
on ebay

Lafcadio
USA

 

pinpoint glow
light years
of influence

Kathleen Mazurowski
Chicago, Illinois

 

distant stars…
Basho’s frog
still splashing

Florin C. Ciobica
Romania

 

custody shuffle
the daughter’s starry eyes
extinguished

Roberta Beary
County Mayo, Ireland

 

blue eyes
smiling just like
his father’s

Mona Iordan
Romania

 

even the sun
is on eight minute delay
game day

C.R. Harper
USA

 

falling star
a flash of recognition illumines
dad’s vacant eyes

Sharon Martina
USA

 

parent tapes…
certain lessons still come
to mind

N Brady
Huron, Ohio

 

glimmers of past lives
in the golden eyes
of a cat

Greer Woodward
Waimea, Hawaii

 

lone star
in the winter sky
…graveyard shift

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
Kolkata, India

 

distant sun
the last in the family
to shine

Peter Jastermsky
Morongo Valley, California

 

holding back time
the morningstar
visible again

Shalini Pattabiraman
UK

 

Guest Editor Alex Fyffe teaches high school English in the Houston area. Although he has been writing haiku off and on for a decade, he only started submitting his work during the Global Event known as 2020. Since then his haiku and senryu have been published in various journals, including Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Failed Haiku, Akitsu Quarterly, and the Asahi Haikuist Network. Alex’s first glimpse of haiku was in a collection of writings by Jack Kerouac, and he found the work of Issa while studying abroad in Japan, but he didn’t fall in love with the haiku until he discovered the free-form work of Santoka Taneda. Currently, Alex uses haiku in the classroom to ease students into poetry and build their confidence as readers and writers. Alex also posts haiku on Twitter @AsurasHaiku.

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 23 Comments

  1. Such enlightening prompts to think about, Alex! I Loved reading every poem something new to think about in each one too. I’m delighted to be included.
    I especially like these:

    forgotten name
    of a stranger
    who sang me a song one winter night
    Mircea Moldovan
    România

    July sunbeams
    slip through my fingertips
    pool of honey
    Kelli Lage
    Iowa, USA

    sickle moon –
    granny’s rocking chair
    casting shadows
    Joe Sebastian
    Bangalore, India

    meteor rain…
    alone again
    by the lake
    Sherry Grant
    Auckland, New Zealand

    dark clouds –
    the lost look of the old puddle
    Jorge Alberto Giallorenzi
    Chivilcoy, Argentina

  2. Another lovely selection and commentary! Many thanks, Alex, for the inspiration and for including one of my poems in the column. Thanks, as always, to Kj and Lori. There were so many poems to admire this week. One that I particularly enjoyed for its poignancy and because I have inherited gardening tools too was…

    weeding with her hoe
    a soft breeze
    brushes my cheek

    Susan Farner
    USA

  3. Thank you to Alex Fyffe for adding my poem to the list this week,
    and thanks to the other editors, KJMunro and Lori.
    Loved reading all the poems and having a great time with Alex’s themes.

    A couple that stood out for me was;

    break of dawn
    a drop of dew
    fills with stars

    Barrie Levine
    Massachusetts, USA

    . . . and this poem which caught my eye was by one of Sherry Grant’s daughters.
    Sherry is bring up some fine young poets in the her house.

    light years…
    the distance
    between us

    Rebecca Grant
    Auckland, New Zealand

  4. Thank you, Mr. Fyffe, for another scintillating prompt and for featuring/highlighting my “basketball star.” I grew up in Kentucky, and in my senior year of high school, I was the sixth man (a guard) on the basketball team—so this acceptance/appearance is like a game-winning swish!

    Among my favorites:

    grandpa’s hymns
    the sun far away still
    lighting my way

    Minal Sarosh
    Ahmedabad, India

    1. Thank you for sharing! I liked your unique take on the prompt, revisiting those glory days — does that make you the Bruce Springsteen of haiku?

  5. Thanks to Alex Fyffe for including my poem again this time. All other poems are so good. Commentary on a few selected poems splendid.
    Thank you once again.

  6. Thank you Alex for including mine in this wonderful set of haiku. Of course I tend to take haiku prompts too literally, so it was good to see quite a few which may have taken that route too, eventually. Examples include those by Keith Evetts, Dennys Cambarau, Jeff Leong, Tim Cremin, Peggy Bilbro, and possibly my favourite of these, by Seretta Martin:

    distant light
    in the widower’s eyes
    wedding photo

    1. Literal or not, it’s always good to see your work here — excellent as always! I had never heard the verb “calve” before your submission, and the sound of it in your poem is great.

  7. Thanks to Alex Fyffe for keeping these space-themed prompts coming. It’s always interesting to see the varied takes on the week’s theme. This one especially stood out for me:
    ancient starlight—
    my past lives and I
    co-existing

    Sonika Jaiganesh
    UK

  8. behind closed eyes
    the star he named for her
    still shines

    Tracy Davidson
    Warwickshire, UK

    This one by Tracy brought back memories of my own childhood. How those magical moments when encouraged to dream remain with us for the rest of our days.
    And then later on discovering Dylan Thomas’s “under milk wood” where line one features in that famous play for words. Thank you Tracy for the galactic journey.

  9. Alex, thank you for including my poem and choosing it for commentary! There were many worthy poems! Here are just three of my favorites:

    putting lights / in the winter birch / long extinct stars
    Helga Stania

    I like how the poem shifts from Christmas decorations to a romantic description, the dead stars adding life to the scene.

    watching / a star fade with time / yahrzeit
    Mariel Herbert

    The provided context was wonderful, making this culturally unique and personal. The candle fades as the memory fades.

    dark clouds – / the lost look of the old puddle
    Jorge Alberto Giallorenzi

    There is something tragic and haunting here. I imagine it as a metaphor for dementia and the grief it causes. A reflection in the puddle implies self-recognition is still present with knowledge of what lies ahead. A lot is said without saying it!

  10. Many to enjoy here, many to commiserate alongside. Thank you for including mine, Alex.
    I particularly liked the following two, the first for its courage and strength in an act of simple devotion in memory of someone much loved:

    Remembrance day
    father’s light sets out to sail
    across the Ganges

    Lakshmi Iyer
    India

    and the second for the timelessness of past pleasures:

    hand-knitted stockings
    once again I mend
    my memories

    Eva Limbach
    Germany

  11. Thank you Alex! Great to be among some fine poets. Congratulations all! Thank you too to KJ and Lori for keeping great page alive.

  12. Thanks to Alex Fyffe for selecting my verses too: many of the haiku read thrilled me, I shared the pain of someone who has lost a loved one.

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