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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Finding peace and contemplation… in a city

Finding peace and contemplation… with Guest Editor Marietta McGregor

At times in our lives, fast-moving events of our day-to-day existence may become overwhelming. Between work and family responsibilities, daily needs and doomscrolling, days rush by in a breakneck blur and we sometimes end the week with a sense of ‘where did that go?’ We’re surrounded by the wonders of our shared universe. Maybe it’s time to become immersed in the enjoyment of one aspect of this spectacular world which amazes, delights and refreshes us. We can marvel at the night sky or clouds by day, cheer a ladybug as it climbs a twig and opens its wings, dangle our feet in a cool river, rest in a tree’s benevolent shade, stroke velvety green moss, smell ozone freshness at the coast, crunch through frosty grass, listen to morning birdsong, taste a last autumn apple. Small pauses in quotidian life may be devoted to living slower, using every sense, and sharing our pleasure through poetry. Simple gifts.

Each week for the next few weeks there will be a photographic prompt on the theme of ‘Finding peace and contemplation. . .’ with images capturing moments when we might seek inspiration if the going gets tough. I look forward to reading your personal response to the moments you’ve discovered.

next week’s theme: … meeting with old friends

Old friends are people we feel comfortable with. They know our history. They may have lived in our town or have attended school with us. With them, we can be ourselves. I took this photograph in a small village on a Greek island. I wondered how many years these two gentlemen may have been meeting for coffee and a chat. After years of shared friendship, maybe there’s no more need to talk. Just sitting together is enough. Your haiku about finding peace and contemplation with old friends are invited this week.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday October 30, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 Marietta’s commentary for… in a city:

My deep bow to all poets for such a wonderful journey through many facets of city life at different times and throughout the seasons. I believe it’s one of our most varied weeks of Haiku Dialogue. Traffic noise abounds, with some finding it obtrusive, and others, curiously lulling. Many of you sought gardens, rooftop hideaways, courtyards and other peaceful oases. Others embraced the busy city and its myriad charms. From cats to cappuccinos, buskers and blackouts, churches and chess, subways and stars, all were explored. There were encounters with wild animals and birds, including raptors which nest on skyscraper cliffs. But, unsurprisingly, no one sang the praises of shopping! I could have written about many more haiku. All were enjoyed. Thanks for enriching my week with your poems, and thanks as always to THF, Kathy and Lori for all their work.

quiet city—
smell of fresh bread
rises with dawn

Nicole Pottier
France

Our day starts with this haiku, which clearly evokes a moment through scent. In the atmospheric Old Town of Nice as in other French towns and cities, bakers are the early birds, among the first to stir. The warm yeasty scent of dough rising is unmistakable and irresistible as it drifts in open windows, drawing people out of their apartments to line up outside a favorite neighborhood boulangerie for a rich crusty baguette, croissant or pain au chocolat. In this haiku not only the dough and its scent, but the entire city, will rise with the sun.

bridge traffic
yet my day flowing
with the river

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

A clever juxtaposition is employed here. The reader is led to imagine a hectic bumper-to-bumper morning peak hour in a busy city. As the line of traffic slows to a crawl across a bridge, the poet is moved to send their thoughts off in an entirely different direction, going with the unhurried and timeless flow of a river, which simply follows the lay of the land with no need to rush, no deadlines and no purpose. The haiku implies a meditative sense of acceptance. Hopefully the poet can carry this tranquil morning moment with them through the rest of a busy working day.

hours in the art museum
the unnamed
part of me

Pat Davis
Pembroke, NH USA

As we move through our poetic day in the city, we find this intimate haiku. Line 1 is self-explanatory ‒ who among us has not spent many happy hours looking at art? Lines 2 and 3 introduce us to the personal, a place in the heart and mind of the poet. It’s said that art changes our consciousness. We perceive visual images, which are transferred to the frontal lobe and matched with stored memories and emotions, leading to our perceptions of beauty. These complex neural transmissions happen simultaneously, explaining why a work of art seen for the first time can inspire awe and wonder, or move us to tears. There’s a sense of longing in this poem, a yearning brought into sharp focus in the gallery as if the poet searches for something they’ve sought for a long time. They’re content to immerse themselves in art to find it. The juxtaposition creates space or dreaming room, making different readings possible. The haiku uses no verbs or participial phrases and is the stronger for that.

old bookshop
the scent of peace
a little musty

Sanjuktaa Asopa
India

Another ‛scent’ haiku. As we move on through our city afternoon, it’s tempting to turn aside from the hustle and bustle. One of the best places to duck into for peace and calm is a second-hand bookshop. I love the synesthesia used in this haiku, mainly because I’ve always wanted a perfume that smelled like old books! The scent even has a name – bibliosmia. The distinctive woody/chocolatey smell of old paper comes from volatile organic compounds formed by the breaking down of cellulose and lignin fibres. In more humid climates, the scent may be overlain with a hint of damp. The deeper you move into the dark recesses of the ranked shelves of an old bookshop, the quieter it feels. The poet endows the calmness with an apt perfume, rather wryly and with a slightly wrinkled nose, we suspect.

top floor bar
the soul in the singer
at sundown

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton UK

Evening approaches, and we’re transported to a city nightspot. I imagine somewhere like the historic sixth floor Saigon Saigon Bar of the Caravelle Hotel, in former Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City. Foreign correspondents frequented the open terrace at sunset for its sweeping views right down to the river over the embattled city. The haiku uses alliteration to underline the performer’s breathy intimacy with their audience, and the lowered pitch and slower rhythm of their song as the lyrics touch on longing, loss, and home.

& here are the rest of the selections:

school bus
a child with her first
painted yellow sun

Vibeke Laier
Randers, Denmark

 

bar tables
on the waterfront—
sandwich and sun

Angiola Inglese
Italia

 

mirrored surfaces inside the stillness building

Betty Shropshire
United States

 

morning bird calls
my name on the beak
of a sparrow

Jackie Chou
United States

 

a balloon minus the string
today I follow
the sky

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, Wa. USA

 

from his corner
a masked street mime
sharing air hugs

Terri French
RV

 

rush hour . . .
the ebb and flow
of a dog’s snore

Ishaan Singh
New Delhi, India

 

traffic sounds
another form
of meditation

Connie Pittman Ramsey
Irving, TX USA

 

sunrise
a skyscraper jungle
missing birdsongs

Sherry Grant
Auckland, New Zealand

 

another siren
trying not to hear
the crescendo

Mariel Herbert
California, USA

 

ginkgo avenue—
feeling breeze’s head
and breeze’s tail

Teiichi Suzuki
Japan

 

twelve tracks
so many ways to escape
this city

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa, USA

 

patches of sky
between the skyscrapers
lunchtime meditation

Louise Hopewell
Australia

 

canal bank
I greet my old friend
the heron

Marion Clarke
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland

 

removed
from the bustle of cars
a field of goldenrods

Tiffany Shaw-Diaz
Centerville, Ohio, USA

 

big city . . .
only a child smiles
for me

Subir Ningthouja
Imphal, India

 

in the balcony
of an apartment
bonsai trees

Ravi Kiran
India

 

morning ginko
entering the garden
it enters me

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India

 

open market in a city—
a light within absorbs
the shadow around

Amrutha Prabhu
Bengaluru, India

 

steps away
hides the noise
of shadows

Ronald Degler
Harbor City, CA USA

 

busy sidewalk
my daydream goes
down the rabbit hole

Hifsa Ashraf
Rawalpindi, Pakistan

 

Central Park oasis
even the turtles
stop snapping

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

Notre-Dame
I study
each gargoyle

Helene Guojah
UK

 

day out—
the green tea latte
a must-have

Hla Yin Mon
Yangon, Myanmar

 

idling
as I listen to the street roar
white noise

Peggy Hale Bilbro
Huntsville, Alabama

 

riding the T
the clickity clack
through history

Carly Siegel Thorp
Massachusetts, USA

 

park alleys . . .
I imagine my steps
elsewhere

Ana Drobot
Romania

 

deepening dusk
behind papercut buildings
a golden glow

Neera Kashyap
India

 

backyard hammock
the lulling rhythm
of distant traffic

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA

 

rooftop garden . . .
the sound of traffic
far below

Jeff Leong
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

clockwise
today’s pull
into the suburb

Maurice Nevile
Australia

 

Manhattan tonight
mantras in the square
of light

Ljiljana Dobra
Croatia, Šibenik

 

sipping tulsi chai
in a bustling old café—
the quiet eye

(tulsi chai is basil tea)

Sushama Kapur
Pune, India

 

night on the town . . .
a sidewalk cherry tree
glows under neon

Kristen Lindquist
Maine, USA

 

meditation—
drowning out the sirens
and jackhammers

Dan Campbell
Virginia

 

crowded bookstore—
quiet corner
in the back

Lafcadio Orlovsky
USA

 

standing in front
of a Rothko at the Modern
faint sound of car horns

Rehn Kovacic
Mesa, AZ

 

bayside night walk
a passing stealth ship
ripples city lights

Richard Matta
San Diego, California

 

metro apartments
a sunflower field
in the drawing room wall

Bidyut Prabha Gantayat
Bhubaneswar, India

 

Hibiya Park—
the clamor of Tokyo
goes elsewhere

Mark Meyer
Mercer Island WA USA

 

cityscape—
i adjust my settings
for socialising

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand

 

bus stop—
the bench aglow
with lichens

Sheila Sondik
Bellingham, WA USA

 

city park blanket
a takeout menu
the bookmark

John S Green
Bellingham, WA USA

 

stars escort
a homebound train . . .
city beautiful

(my city Chandigarh is known as the city beautiful)

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

 

Portrait Gallery
just me on a bench in the
eighteenth century

Alan Peat
Biddulph, United Kingdom

 

rush-hour subway
dancing with headphones
to Chopin waltzes

Alfred Booth
Colombes, France

 

rush hour—
I turn on
the walkman

Mirela Brăilean
Romania

 

he skates down Fifth
in his aviator suit
time traveling

Pris Campbell
US

 

after rain
the stars go swimming
underfoot

Brian Thompstone
Wirral, UK

 

a lunch break—
sharing bread crust
with a crow

Franjo Ordanić
Croatia

 

urban park
my pockets filled with
flower seeds

Eva Limbach
Deutschland

 

falling leaves
I can see again
city chimneys

Wiesław Karliński
Namysłów, Poland

 

mason bee . . .
following the purple love grass
to a secret garden

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

city lights
through the plane’s porthole—
home . . . sweet home

Natalia Kuznetsova
Russia

 

autumn leaves
in a city park
—my heartbeat

Danijela Grbelja
Croatia Sibenik

 

Peace Garden
on the weeping willow
1000 cranes

Caroline Giles Banks
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

 

rush hour—
I take refuge
in a church

Helga Stania
Switzerland

 

museum courtyard
the storied hush
of Roman statues

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California

 

dining solo
at the best place in town
alley cat

Margaret Tau
New Bern, NC

 

church bells—
cappuccinos and a book
in a quiet square

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom

 

city din
but I stop
listening

Meera Rehm
UK

 

through gaps
between buildings
sky mind

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove, CA

 

private island
on the boulevard
my meditation app

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY

 

roof top sky
an array of hidden stars
to wish upon

Gloria Whitney
Findley Lake, NY USA

 

city park—
the voices of children
cover every noise

Maria Teresa Piras
Italia

 

city lockdown
outside the shutter
unpaid bills

Mona Bedi
Delhi India

 

starry night
above the sky and below
nocturnal chorus

Didimay D. Dimacali
Norwalk, California USA

 

dusk in the park—
a falcon catches the mouse
in the sandbox

Tomislav Maretić
Zagreb, Croatia

 

watching my breath
from sunrise to sunset
at least once

Kanjini Devi
The Far North, Aotearoa NZ

 

above the hubbub
a lunch shared with robin
nottingham castle

simonj
UK

 

post lockdown
the city
that never sleeps

Margaret Mahony
Australia

 

Tokyo sidewalk umbrellas sprouting

Kathleen Vasek Trocmet
Texas, USA

 

evening commute
the glow worm
of a distant bridge

Peter Jastermsky
Morongo Valley, California, US

 

pedestrians in a hurry—
at the bus stop
I contemplate the park

Jorge Alberto Giallorenzi
Chivilcoy Buenos Aires Argentina

 

rush hour—
breakfast in the patio
contemplating the iris bloom

Hora pico . . .
Desayunar en el patio
contemplando los iris

Julia Guzmán
Córdoba Argentina

 

Guiyuan Temple
in the striking bell
drifting snow

John Zheng
Mississippi USA

 

noisy metro
the book I read
a silent friend

Kavya Janani. U
India

 

tour of Kyoto
I feel as if I were in
Tang China

Xiaoou Chen
Kunming, China

 

the homeless man
stoops and stares—
snail on a vacant lot

Karen Harvey
North Wales

 

underpass
a man curls up
with his German Shepherd

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India

 

a frog hesitates
in the quiet pond
skyscrapers

Mircea Moldovan
Romania

 

nods of approval
at the old man’s move
chess in the park

Ingrid Baluchi
Ohrid, North Macedonia

 

fire horizon—
cross-legged on the lakefront
waiting for silence

Elisa Allo
Zug, Switzerland

 

Market Day mayhem—
the bench under the weeping willow
is free . . .

Claire Ninham
North Yorkshire, UK

 

leaving the subway winter moon

Daniela Misso
Italia

 

rush hour
the sound of autumn
as I walk

Neha R. Krishna
Mumbai, India

 

the balm
of a busker’s ballad . . .
city stroll

Madhuri Pillai
Australia

 

a hawk
loops the canyon
concrete and glass

Tim Cremin
Massachusetts

 

street fair
the magician conjures up
smiles

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio USA

 

child’s hand print
on the bus window
I wave back

Ron Scully
Seattle WA

 

big city
in a golden alley
autumn and me

Gordana Kurtović
Croatia

 

urban heat—
a part of me
still frozen

Vijay Prasad
Patna, India

 

street crossing—
the intersection
of our shadows

Pippa Phillips
United States

 

the sky and I rooftop meditation

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA

 

corner table
in a courtyard cafe
stories unfold

Margaret Walker
Lincoln, NE, USA

 

museum afternoon . . .
lost in the silence
of yesterday

Barrie Levine
Wenham MA USA

 

tree lighting
filling an empty bowl
of the homeless

Anna Yin
Ontario, Canada

 

city blackout
for the first time
I can see my star

Mona Iordan
Romania

 

noonday sun
a busker sings of darkness
his old friend

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada

 

hectic Dublin—
I fling myself into Hodges Figgis
poetry time

Cristina Povero
Italy

 

scent of gardenias
through the narrow lanes
my hop-on-hop-off ride

Melanie Vance
USA

 

city garden—
wading without ripples
one step at a time

B. A. France
Maryland, USA

 

unfolded map
lost in the scent
of evening jasmine

Kath Abela Wilson
Pasadena, United States

 

research library
words weave me
in a nest of silence

Greer Woodward
Waimea, Hawaii

 

stargazing . . .
they soak
in the hot tub

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio, USA

 

sips of tea
at a Pathan hotel
haiku in progress

Yasir Farooq
Pakistan

 

although you’ve long gone
you follow me to the roof
Orionids

Susan Rogers
Los Angeles

 

traffic stalled
the swans head
for water

Donal O’Farrell
Dublin, Ireland

 

Guest editor Marietta McGregor is a fourth-generation Tasmanian who has made her home between Australia’s national capital Canberra and the scenic south coast of New South Wales for over four decades. A lover of the natural world since childhood, she went on to study botany and zoology, and has worked as palynologist, garden designer, science journalist, editor, university tutor, education manager, and grants developer for the national wildlife collection. A photography and travel enthusiast since retiring, she enjoys capturing fine detail of fleeting moments. She came late to haiku, which appealed for its close observation and poetic expression of ephemeral experience. Her haiku, haibun and haiga have been widely published, have won awards and appear in anthologies.

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 18 Comments

  1. Thank you Marietta, Lori and Kathy for including my haiku this week. I enjoyed all of the ones I read here especially the beautiful one by Kathabela Wilson

    unfolded map
    lost in the scent
    of evening jasmine

    What a delicate, evocative haiku! It’s lovely imagery lingers in my mind like the very scent of jasmine it describes

  2. Congratulations to all the poets in this week’s line-up! The whole collection is fabulous and a treat to read and re-read. Thank you, Marietta, for another inspirational prompt and a really helpful commentary and to Kj and Lori for all your work. Many thanks for including my poem too! I’ve no favourites as I loved them all this week but one that I immediately related to was…

    Portrait Gallery
    just me on a bench in the
    eighteenth century

    Alan Peat
    Biddulph, United Kingdom

    A lovely image that sums up the joy of art galleries – I would probably be sitting in the sixteenth or twentieth centuries!

  3. Amazing how these short poems can elicit a quiet bursting of joy and a deep calm at the same time – in me. Thank you authors for these gifts. 🙂

  4. Many thanks Marietta and team for another inspiring week, I especially enjoyed the verses about city parks.

  5. Thank you for an amazing team Marietta, Lori & Kathy! You also bring us a quiet time to read through all these wonderful haiku. A poetic oasis amidst these chaotic times for everyone! Kudos to all poets!

  6. Thank-you Marietta, Kathy, and Lori. Always a pleasure to be selected. Congrats Tiffany, Nancy, and all the poets.

  7. Thanks, Marietta, for your lovely comments about my poem. I’m smiling from ear to ear. Thanks, as well, to THF, kj and Lori. Congratulations to all the poets featured!

  8. What peaceful cities despite the hustle and bustle. The smiling child,(Subir, Ron Scully), parks, museums, magicians (Valentina), and mimes bring a smile to my face. Even a gargoyle from Notre Dame, all with a quick skimming of the haiku. I am sure subsequent reads will find more gems. Congratulations to all poets, and thanks Marietta for including one of mine in this week’s column.

  9. Awesome week of haiku. Thank you Marietta for including mine. Love all Marietta’s comments and all these urban calm haiku. This one is great. I live in a rural area and many people leave the city every weekend and come to my area by car, train or bus:

    twelve tracks
    so many ways to escape
    this city

    Roberta Beach Jacobson
    Indianola, Iowa, USA

    Thank you Lori, Kathy and Marietta for keeping this Haiku Dialogue going. It is terrific and I love how there is international participation. I have always appreciated this haiku community here and even more so during the pandemic.

  10. Thanks Marietta.

    A fine crop of haiku/senryu this week, with real engagement. I can’t help wondering whether more of us have deeper, or longer, experience of city life than of country life these days?…..

    1. Well, if you mean by ‘us’, the poets who submit to THF, it would appear that quite a few come from urban environs, whether in India, Australia, Europe or the US.
      In 1950, there were an equal number of inhabitants in rural areas (in the ‘developed countries’) as there were in urban environments. By 2050, there are predicted to be 5 billion people living in cities, something like 67% of the total population. We need parks and trees and wide open spaces to keep us sane.

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