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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Ad Astra – star clusters

Ad Astra with Guest Editor Alex Fyffe

My name is Alex Fyffe, and I am honored to be the Guest Editor of Haiku Dialogue for the month of November. For this month, 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:  So far, we have been focused on the depths of space, but today let’s take a step back and turn our gaze much closer to home. Orbiting our planet are more than 2,500 active artificial satellites along with about 20,000 pieces of “space junk” that are large enough to track. Even smaller space debris numbers in the hundreds of thousands. This could cause problems for future space missions, and there have already been some measures to address the situation. Write about satellites or other debris, whether those orbiting our planet or those orbiting you in your daily life.

The deadline is midnight Central Time, Saturday November 20, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 star clusters:

Thank you for all of your submissions on the topic of star clusters and constellations. Alongside the usual suspects like Orion, the Big Dipper, Sirius, and Ursa Major, I was introduced to some stellar figures I’d never known before like the “emu in the sky,” the “jewel box,” and the “double double star.” I had a blast reading all of your work — here are just a few I wanted to highlight:

misty window…
his name strung
between the stars

Ishaan Singh
New Delhi, India

A few haiku dealt with the topic of making new constellations, and I especially loved Singh’s version of this, with the name written on the window, “strung / between the stars,” creating the visual illusion of a constellation, the name of a loved one that acts as a guiding light in the writer’s personal night sky.

home from war
stars no longer
awe

Christopher Seep
Ballwin, Missouri

Seep’s poem shows how someone’s childlike sense of wonder can be cut out of them after being exposed to horrific things, in this case the trauma of war. The soldier may be home, but something in him was left behind, disconnecting him from the wonder and mystery of the stars.

first date
at the planetarium
Heart Nebula

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
Kolkata, India

A few responses mentioned the planetarium. Dutt’s poem, in particular, won me over with its simple juxtaposition of the “Heart Nebula” next to the phrase “first date / at the planetarium.” There is a lovely warmth in its direct simplicity that captures that feeling of joy at a blossoming romance, of stars burning inside of you through the night.

halloween dance
seven sisters stand apart
in darkness

m shane pruett
Salem, Oregon

Unsurprisingly, the Pleiades were probably the most popular subject under the topic of star clusters and constellations. pruett’s poem turns the sisters into wallflowers at a Halloween dance, mysterious young women just a little apart from it all.

& here are the rest of the selections:

midnight thoughts –
the space between
city lights and twinkling stars

Amrutha Prabhu
Bengaluru, India

 

starry night
so many so close
yet so far apart

Vishnu Kapoor
Chennai, India

 

star clusters
my children and I
huddle together

Christina Sng
Singapore

 

lightyears away
the Hyades star cluster
tears apart

Seretta Martin
USA

 

gathering light
in the evening sky
telescope

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa

 

a kind of afterlife
seven sisters wander
across the night sky

Roberta Beary
County Mayo, Ireland

 

hospice visitation
in grandma’s eyes
a cluster of stars

Hifsa Ashraf
Rawalpindi, Pakistan

 

lost in thought globular cluster

martin gottlieb cohen
Egg Harbor, New Jersey

 

fireflies
a cluster of stars
along the river

Vincenzo Adamo
Italy

 

dark sky park —
my brother finds
the seven sisters

Alan Peat
Biddulph, UK

 

a nearby mosquito –
the horse head nebula
in the telescope

una zanzara vicina –
la nebulosa testa di cavallo
nel telescopio

Dennys Cambarau
Sardinia, Italy

 

Sirius
trying to imagine
a dog

Pat Davis
Pembroke, New Hampshire

 

the Perseids again aunty’s mystical muffins

Corine Timmer
Portugal

 

sub Equator night,
from the stardark balcony,
obscure constellations

Sarah Davies
Bedford, UK

 

pareidolia
through the ages
shepherds stargazing

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia

 

sickle moon
a north wind sharpens
the stars

Lev Hart
Calgary, Canada

 

let’s play hide and seek …
find me blindfolded
in the constellations

Ljiljana Dobra
Croatia, Šibenik

 

silver mukaish on
my blue-black sari
scattered star clusters

(mukaish – a dotted pattern in silver or gold metal, embedded in a lightweight fabric)

Neera Kashyap
India

 

taking away
what is left of me
Pleiades

Agus Maulana Sunjaya
Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia

 

from her fingertips
emerges the cluster of stars-
drawing rangoli

(Rangoli is an art form of India, in which patterns are created on the floor or a tabletop using materials such as powdered lime stone, red ochre, rice flour, coloured sand and flower petals etc.)

Ram Chandran
India

 

planetarium
under the starry dome
goosebumps

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India

 

Pleiades –
a few hundred light-years
without worries

Elena Zouain
France

 

Pleiades
my mother hugging my aunts
when quarantine ends

Khoa Ngo Binh Anh
Vietnam

 

midnight stroll
my dog pees in a puddle
full of Pleiades

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

on the hospice lawn
she waits for a falling star
to unzip heaven

Alex Lubman
Morgantown, West Virginia

 

Altair and Vega
the lovers
we used to be

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois

 

jazz night –
clusters of stars
in my dress

serata jazz –
grappoli di stelle
nel mio vestito

Daniela Misso
Umbria, Italy

 

vying for
a virgin’s affection
the twins

Ravi Kiran
India

 

night-train –
with the same speed
Ursa Major

Mirela Brăilean
Romania

 

only child
she looks up to
the seven sisters

Carly Thorp
Massachusetts, USA

 

big dipper
mother ladles hot soup
this chilly night

Pris Campbell
USA

 

bright stars
illuminating
the scatterplot dots

Luisa Santoro
Rome, Italy

 

Sagittarius. . .
her wild aim
outside the tradition

Meera Rehm
UK

 

lost in the stars
snowflakes
f
a
l
l

Terrie Jacks
USA

 

Cassiopeia
the bites
on my forehead

Mark Gilbert
UK

 

sharing the pool
with the seven maidens
midnight swim

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

 

campsite
small children
counting stars

Margaret Mahony
Australia

 

black holes
diving deeper and deeper
the nimble bee

Shalini Pattabiraman
UK

 

dingo tracks
deep in desert sand
Southern Cross

Louise Hopewell
Australia

 

homeless
sleeping in every
constellation

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

 

beyond a distant star —
more stars and then
— more stars

Linda Ludwig
Inverness, Florida

 

star cocoon
butterfly nebula
sprouts new wings

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California

 

naked-eye star clusters Ursa Major this deadly night

Alan Summers
England

 

progress report cards
highlighting clusters
of gold stars

Caroline Giles Banks
Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

asterism
to whom all
am i linked

Richa Sharma
India

 

forming night blooms
in a lily pond
the milky way

Richard Matta
San Diego, California

 

my dad points out
the big dipper
and takes a sip

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, New York

 

star cluster looking at old pictures

John S Green
Bellingham, Washington

 

night waves-
above the beach
the Big Dipper

Dorothy Burrows
UK

 

emu in the sky…
silently I merge
into a silhouette

Madhuri Pillai
Australia

 

winter night
the Pleiades and i
talk to each other

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

 

drawing his first
constellation
my son aims at Orion

Anna Yin
Ontario, Canada

 

the wind
through Orion
dry leaves

Ann K. Schwader
Westminster, Colorado

 

night hike
finding galaxies
in the dog’s fur

Mariel Herbert
California, USA

 

first light–
my granddaughter’s eyes fill with
the jewel box cluster

(“first light” refers to the first time a telescope is used)

Gary Evans
Stanwood, Washington

 

the constellation
of a starling’s keel
facing heaven

simonj
UK

 

new moon
tracing star clusters
on her back

Surashree Joshi
Pune, India

 

pier edge-
mirroring the Hyades,
Christmas lights

Joe Sebastian
Bangalore, India

 

the longest night
the Star of Bethlehem
on our way

Minko Tanev
Sofia, Bulgaria

 

ballerina’s bowing to first light the Jewel Box

Peg Cherrin-Myers
Franklin, Michigan

 

grief maps
a constellation
stardust

Jenn Ryan-Jauregui
Tucson, Arizona

 

tracing a trail
back to the moon
country night

Zahra Mughis
Lahore, Pakistan

 

shaking off a bath
his shape goes airborne
Canis Major

Margaret Tau
New Bern, North Carolina

 

first dot-to-dot
she proudly names
her constellation

Claire Ninham
North Yorkshire, UK

 

stars on the ceiling
my niece takes me by the hand
to Andromeda

Mircea Moldovan
România

 

fireworks
he aims the last rocket
at her star sign

Nick T
Somerset, UK

 

starry night ramble
just me and the universe
walking hand in hand

Jonathan Aylett
Liverpool, UK

 

the Southern Cross
finding a way
out of my quagmire

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, California

 

separation we drift into new constellations

Künney
Richmond, Virginia

 

blind date-
the beating heart
of a new constellation

Bidyut Prabha Gantayat
Bhubaneswar, India

 

woodland path –
my way lit by stars
of wild garlic

Annie Wilson
Shropshire, UK

 

Andromeda Galaxy
which star
to wish on

Peggy Hale Bilbro
Alabama, USA

 

long waiting –
a meteor flies into
the whirl of stars

Tomislav Maretić
Zagreb, Croatia

 

last rites
he opens her jewel box
and takes out the cross

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand

 

Capricorn a double star orbits my dreams

Carole Harrison
Jamberoo, Australia

 

star cluster…
open wings
of a butterfly

Giuliana Ravaglia
Bologna, Italy

 

planetarium seat
in the half-darkness
of a galaxy

Barrie Levine
Wenham, Massachusetts

 

night beachcomber
a sprinkling
of star pools

Vicki Miko
California, USA

 

silent night
the Swan swims along the lake
with the fish

Mona Iordan
Romania

 

Stellarium app…
My wife cries out, “Come see!”—
Venus through the roof

Geoff Pope
USA

 

Pleiades –
suddenly missing
my far away sisters

Cristina Povero
Italy

 

rainy October sky–
water flowing
from Aquarius’ cup

Lafcadio
USA

 

planetarium–
we make up our own
constellations

Pippa Phillips
USA

 

north star . . .
the guide tells stories
of his ancestors

Milan Rajkumar
India

 

draco
where are you lying
tonight

C.R. Harper
USA

 

double double star ex-husbands

Deborah P Kolodji
Temple City, California

 

GPS down
I follow Polaris
to the gas station

Susan Rogers
Los Angeles

 

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 24 Comments

  1. Congratulations to all the poets featured in this lovely selection! Many thanks to Alex for an enjoyable prompt and a really helpful commentary. Thanks also to Kj and Lori for all your work. I’m delighted to have a poem included.

    As usual, it’s impossible to select a favourite poem as I loved so many of them. One that I really enjoyed because, for me, it conjured up a beautiful illustration from a folk tale was…

    a kind of afterlife
    seven sisters wander
    across the night sky

    Roberta Beary
    County Mayo, Ireland

    This is such a memorable and poignant image.

  2. Thank you Alex! I love the diverse themes within a theme within a theme, kind of like the theme itself 🙂

    Loved reading all the poems. Thank you. These are very cool:

    a kind of afterlife
    seven sisters wander
    across the night sky
    Roberta Beary
    County Mayo, Ireland

    sickle moon
    a north wind sharpens
    the stars
    Lev Hart
    Calgary, Canada

    beyond a distant star —
    more stars and then
    — more stars
    Linda Ludwig
    Inverness, Florida

    asterism
    to whom all
    am i linked
    Richa Sharma
    India

    forming night blooms
    in a lily pond
    the milky way
    Richard Matta
    San Diego, California

    stars on the ceiling
    my niece takes me by the hand
    to Andromeda
    Mircea Moldovan
    România

  3. What a treat to read all these stellar haiku! Thanks you for putting them together and for including mine. ‘A couple that particularly appealed to me were:

    Pleiades –
    suddenly missing
    my far away sisters

    Cristina Povero
    Italy

    This one really struck home for me since I am in Alabama and my sisters are in Tucson and it has been several years since we’ve been together.
    …….

    beyond a distant star —
    more stars and then
    — more stars

    Linda Ludwig
    Inverness, Florida

    This poem by Linda Ludwig captures the sense of awe when we are faced with the unfathomable enormity of our universe.

    So many more wonderful ones, but these two held my attention.

    1. It’s great to hear that you appreciate the selections.

      Andromeda Galaxy
      which star
      to wish on

      Peggy M. Bilbro

      I like the bigness of that first line, with its capitalized words overshadowing the two evenly-spaced and lowercase short lines beneath it, the little stars in the vast beyond. The alliteration and near-rhyme of “wish” and “which” also has a twinkling musical quality to it.

  4. Thanks Alex for including my haiku in the collection. I really enjoyed reading all the poems. Some are amazing and so evocative. I too feel Wednesday has become a special day thanks to the Haiku Foundation! Looking forward to it every week!
    Thanks to all

    1. I’m happy to hear that–thank you for commenting! As Bilbro states above, yours was a very touching poem, even for this only child.

  5. This is a delightful collection. A couple that caught my eye…

    fireworks
    he aims the last rocket
    at her star sign

    Nick T
    Somerset, UK

    star cluster …
    open wings
    of a butterfly

    Giuliana Ravaglia
    Bologna, Italy

    Thanks Alex for your selections.

    1. Great choices. Nick T’s aim is true, and Ravaglia’s butterfly might be a famous nebula or perhaps a small insect with wonderfully speckled design.

      Capricorn a double star orbits my dreams

      Carole Harrison

      My daughter happens to be a Capricorn, and I always ask her what she dreams about, but she’s not old enough yet to really understand the question, despite my efforts to explain the concept. She usually just says the stars and moon (referring to the projected lights on her ceiling at night). Until a couple of days ago, perhaps, when she said she saw ten pink sheep on the porch…

  6. Thank you Alex. I am delighted to have my haiku included amongst your selections. The Southern Cross (Crux) is the brightest constellation year round in my night sky here in New Zealand and the Jewel Box cluster, part of the Crux constellation, is undeniably beautiful – sometimes visible with the naked eye.

    Of the other selections, this brought a smile …

    midnight stroll
    my dog pees in a puddle
    full of Pleiades

    Tracy Davidson
    Warwickshire, UK

    1. Yes, Davidson’s poem was an instant selection for me–a very unique way of looking at the stars; and I always enjoy a bit of irreverence. The internal rhyme even adds to the comic effect.

      I also liked the way you used double meanings in your haiku, so that it can be read as a galactic metaphor and/or as a ritual goodbye. I’m happy to have it here.

    1. Thank you for submitting. It’s amazing how technology can alter our world. A friend showed me one of those apps that highlights the constellations and planets when you point your phone at them. Technology is at its best when it brings us closer–thanks for sharing the poem!

  7. Wednesdays are wonderful thanks to the Haiku Dialogue! Something to look forward to each week. Congratulations to all the poets here and much thanks to Alex for including my haiku! These two haiku really spoke to me. I love the connection between family connections and the stars:
    star clusters
    my children and I
    huddle together

    Christina Sng
    Singapore

    big dipper
    mother ladles hot soup
    this chilly night

    Pris Campbell
    USA

    1. Thank you, Sari–I agree, Wednesdays are a treat! Sng’s poem is also among my favorites. Your poem, too, has a great way of capturing the maximal inside the minimal, taking a sip from the Big Dipper. As always, thank you for sharing!

  8. Thank you Alex for including my poem! A lovely theme and great haiku, this month, too. I loved reading them all. I look forward to every week! Thanks to Kj and Lori too! Congratulations to all the poets!

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