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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Ad Astra – the new frontier & Introduction to Ekphrasti-ku

At this time I would like to thank Guest Editor Alex Fyffe for such a stellar poetic journey, & now welcome Pippa Phillips, our new Guest Editor for the next few weeks… wishing everyone a better new year! kj

Introduction to Ekphrasti-ku with Guest Editor Pippa Phillips

Once upon a time, under the dubious influence of Nietzsche, I grew despairing of the undeniable fact that I wasn’t a cool Dionysian at all, but a nerdy and visually fixated Apollinian. Once I got over myself, I leaned into it. There’s nothing I like more than taking a sketchbook to a museum on one of its free days. This time, I’d like to take you with me, to visit some of my favorite paintings, and the stories behind them, on a kind of digital ginko walk. These paintings are rich with detail and all are open to metatextual rumination. I look forward to seeing how they inspire you.

next week’s theme: “The Garden of Earthly Delights”

The link to “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” from Museo del Prado, which houses Hieronymous Bosch’s painting is here.

Did you know that Hieronymous Bosch’s triptych can be closed? Its front panels are emblazoned with a gray image of the creation of the world. God is small in the upper left hand corner, outside of the firmament of its dome.

When you open the wings to the painting, find the egg in the center of the center panel. It is unhatched, pure. Follow the water from Eden, to the World, to Hell. Notice the rabbit by Eve, and its color; the tomcat by Adam, and what it’s caught. Notice that the tree of life is a dragonblood tree, that it appears to bleed when cut.

In the center panel, the fish is out of its element, pearls fall out of a mussel shell, gigantic fruit abounds, the unicorn has been corrupted, and the fountain is cracking. In a lowerhand corner, a group in conversation point to the previous panel.

Notice the hellfire burning in the background of the last panel. They say the flames were inspired by those that burned the artist’s eponymous birthplace, Den Bosch, to the ground when he was a child. Draw closer, so that you can see the brushstrokes that compose this world, as well as the cracks in its surface. You are free to wander as you like. Let me know what you find.

The deadline is midnight Central Time, Saturday January 08, 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 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 the new frontier:

leaving earth
I still pack
my saijiki

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada

In this imagined future scenario, Fischer can’t leave behind his dictionary of kigo words, even though the seasons will be different on another world. As a haiku poet, there is a sense of attachment to what we know. Keeping the saijiki close at hand will keep the Earth and its cycles with him, even if they will no longer be relevant in his daily life. I found this to be a highly clever take on the theme. It has some humor to it, but there is also a feeling of the need to stay connected to one’s roots, to remind oneself of the importance of things even when they no longer serve a direct purpose for us.

multiverse …
i explore a
hall of mirrors

Subir Ningthouja
Imphal, India

Seeing an endless hall filled with versions of ourselves, similar but oddly distorted, all in different ways. Ningthouja imagines this common experience in a funhouse of mirrors as glimpses into alternate realities in the multiverse. There is a strange joy in seeing these versions of ourselves. We laugh at the absurdity of it, or maybe we flinch in horror at something we don’t like to see so exaggerated. But still there is a compulsion to continue exploring these different visions of who we are or could be.

in your calloused hands
a brave new world

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

This poem is open to a number of interpretations, including the cosmic interpretation of those who literally build the new world for humanity. But I like the personal take on it, of someone finding a world of pleasure in the work-worn hands of someone they love. Then again, an allusion to a “brave new world” tends to be about cold, conformist, drugged-out dystopian visions of the future, perhaps suggesting that the world the speaker finds in the rough hands of the builder is as flawed as or worse than our own. Many ways to take this one, but all interesting.

out of stasis
I rediscover the stars
in your eyes

Greer Woodward
Waimea, Hawaii

Another poem that works on multiple levels, the direct sci-fi reading of someone coming out of a cryogenic sleep in order to travel a long distance, awakening to find again not only the stars but the eyes of a lover. But coming “out of stasis” can be removed from the SF context, as well – someone has been stuck in place for a long time, perhaps in a depression or similar rut, and now they’re coming out of it and seeing the beauty in the one they love once again for the first time in far too long.

life on mars
the adventure
into new similes

Pat Davis
Pembroke, New Hampshire

A new world, a new language of comparisons. Davis’s poem reminds us that the way we see the world, the way we talk about it, is all because of where we are, and removed from that context, our language would have to adapt to meet the needs of a life elsewhere. Language is always evolving, and if we do manage to colonize other planets, it will continue to find new means of expression. Taking it back to Fischer’s poem, perhaps some worthy haiku poets in the far-flung future will work together to create a new saijiki to match the needs of their new world.

I want to thank kj and Lori and everyone who has contributed to the Ad Astra series, exploring universes inside and out. It has been a great experience guest editing Haiku Dialogue these past two months. All of your fantastic submissions have made each week exciting and new. I hope everyone has a wonderful new year!

& here are the rest of the selections:

riverbed no stones unturned

Teji Sethi


still looking
for that perfect shade of blue

Sandra St-Laurent
Yukon, Canada


starry sky
breathe exhale
don’t look back

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, Washington


Cargo bay window
Future blossoms wonder
How they will know.

Rich Cassone
Los Angeles, California


sunshield membranes
0.5260 miles per second—
chills up our spines

Geoff Pope


zero hour …
new arrivals
from Earth

Richard Barnes
Cincinnati, Ohio


blossom viewing
in a new exhibit
the home we left

M. R. Defibaugh
Chesterfield, Virginia


Webb telescope mirror unfolding invisible light to find our warmth

Marcie Wessels
San Diego, California


the more
we learn the smaller
we appear

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa


the refuge
of a Martian spring

Jonathan Roman
Yonkers, New York


river of heaven
starting from
the downstream end

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton, UK


a heartbeat away
Lorentz Contraction

Agus Maulana Sunjaya
Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia


alien contact —
why has no human learned
even to speak dog

Eric Lohman
Powder Springs, Georgia


amidst stars and stars
this space odyssey
a sprinkle of stardust

Ram Chandran


Christmas Eve…
her first time with the family

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany


we leave Earth ‎
temple pillars awhirl with ‎
sparrow song

Lev Hart
Calgary, Canada


so wide the sky…
our packed boat heads towards
infinite futures

Pris Campbell


Buddha smiles on all those exo-planets wishes

Alfred Booth
Colombes, France


Milky Way the curtain over other worlds

Mirela Brăilean


wanted: a new planet
just like the one
we ruined

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California


on some planets –
there is no word
for war

Dan Campbell
Virginia, USA


distant stars
my father’s dreams entwined
with my child’s

Dolores Fegan


the scent of plumeria
on the exoplanet

Richard Matta
San Diego, California


to where it all began . . .
cosmic dawn

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand


terraforming mars
will the god of war
be pleased

Deborah Beachboard
Adna, Washington


ellipse . . .
my mind revolves
around Earth

Richa Sharma


holding time
in my hands

Margaret Tau
New Bern, North Carolina


along with first colonizers
a cockroach

Ingrid Baluchi
Ohrid, Macedonia


penning haiku on Ganymede

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India


unfurling universe ––
in the hand of a toddler
a spaceship

Meera Rehm


from dark space
a seedling

John S Green
Bellingham, Washington


deep space…
forever in our element
of je ne sais quoi

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC


a window view
Proxima Centauri
our destination

Ronald Degler
Harbor City, California


brave new worlds—
children of the Earth
trying again

Penny Harter
Mays Landing, New Jersey


dandelion lessons:
tiny travelers
in search of a home

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove, California


in swirls of cosmic dust
lie quiet
whorls of light.

Geetha Ravichandran
Chennai, India


cemetery ridge
the flowers’ fragrance rising
to a nebula

martin gottlieb cohen
Egg Harbor, New Jersey


to reach
beyond the known
to know

Edna Beers
Renssealaer, New York


Mars exploration
a bumblebee lands
on the red peony

Marianne Sahlin


december night-
I’m still lost
among the stars

Elena Zouain


going to the moon
on a wish

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India


glass ceiling
glow-in-the-dark stars
left behind

Mariel Herbert
California, USA


second chances
my children and I
on the space ark

Christina Sng


James Webb telescope
looking far out into space
my mother waves back

Susan Rogers
Los Angeles, California


and yet this hunger
for power

Vandana Parashar


lighting the runway
for a reset

Tony Steven Williams
Canberra, Australia


inch thick glass
one sun sets
the other rises

Mark Gilbert


bucky balls
in the interstellar medium
summers cool



I rename my
favourite constellation

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India


boldly going…
we need some space
between us

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK


field trip
spring break
on Mars

Susan Farner


rooftop terrace
my eyes still seek
the moon

Madhuri Pillai


into nothingness
human echo

Zahra Mughis
Lahore, Pakistan


reaching the
the sound of stars



video call
with son
smudged eyeliner

Priti Khullar


all the things
we couldn’t do on earth

Seretta Martin
San Diego, California


where perhaps lovers
never quarrel

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore
Catania, Italy


from line to line
new moon

Luisa Santoro
Rome, Italy


and elmer’s glue
a poem about hope

Duende onFuego


planet with two moons
our souls travel
through space

Stoianka Boianova


newspaper blanket headlining ‘Life on Mars in Transparent Colonies’

Peg Cherrin-Myers
Franklin, Michigan


roadside daffodil
this craving
to be a better poet

Keiko Izawa
Yokohama, Japan


interplanetary travel
i dream
of earth

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio


first light
his glass eyes

Sherry Grant
Auckland, New Zealand


rusted tin roof
autumn leaves ready
to fly toward Mars

Florin C. Ciobîcă


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:

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 15 Comments

  1. Many thanks Alex, I sure did enjoy the weekly themes you chose for us. If you hear any strange noises this week I just bought a Hohner Rocket harmonica which is the loudest harmonica on the market!

  2. Thank-you for your comments on my poem this week, Alex (and Mark as well). This series was great, Alex! Thanks to you, kj and Lori for putting it together. Best wishes, Peter

  3. Thank you, everyone, for your kind words. It was delightful reading your poems week to week. I’m excited to see all the poems Pippa selects — sounds like an exciting theme! Take care.

  4. Congratulations to everyone here! Thank you Alex for your inspiring celestial guest editing and welcome Pippa. 2022 is off to a good start.

  5. Thanks to Alex for the fun themes during your guest editing seat. And thank you for adding my poem this week. Congratulations to the poets these past weeks with his themes. A great start to the new year.

  6. Thanks Alex for the challenging and thought-provoking themes during Ad Astra. It’s been fun being inspired to write haiku which are not necessarily science- or science fiction-based. Thanks for including mine this week. Like Alex I also appreciated P. H. Fischer’s

    leaving earth
    I still pack
    my saijiki

    – I suspect seasons are actually quite rare in the Universe so as haiku poets we should cherish them. I would also highlight Richard Barnes’

    zero hour …
    new arrivals
    from Earth

    – reminding me that we may not be the ‘good guys’ when we arrive on distant planets.

  7. Thank-you Alex for your efforts. Thank-you Kathy and Lori also. Welcome Pippa.

  8. Thanks Alex, for your comments on my poem. Congrats to all the poets of Ad Astra, and thanks to kj and Lori for your dedication to Haiku Dialogue.

    1. Thank you Alex, I have loved your approach – very inspiring all the way through, layered, scientific, emotional psychological, Really wonderful –thank you!

  9. Delighted to have my ku in The Haiku Foundation’s Haiku Dialogue this week on the theme: “Ad Astra—the universe, prompt – the new frontier”. Congratulations to all featured poets!
    Heartfelt thanks to Alex Fyffe (Guest Editor), for such a stellar poetic series, from these past weeks.My gratitude to Lori Zajkowski (Post Manager) and Managing Editor Katherine Munro for their great work!
    I’m proud to be part of this beautiful world.

  10. In the beyond…I am impressed with all these forward-looking haiku this week. To look outward toward worlds we can only imagine. Even those putting themselves in the “mind” is dandelion seeds, etc. are fascinating to consider. Lots of gems to consider as the week goes by. Congratulations to all. Thanks Alex for this stellar series; I have enjoyed reading them all through these past weeks. Thanks, too, for including one of mine this week

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