skip to Main Content

HAIKU DIALOGUE – Finding peace and contemplation… in hidden corners – Photo One

Finding Peace and Contemplation… in hidden corners 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: in hidden corners Photo Two – entryway at dusk

Autumn leaf viewing is a kigo or season signifier in Japanese haiku. Kyoto is notable for its shrines, temples and classical gardens, usually thronged with worshippers and tourists in autumn. Back streets in the old town are quieter, especially in the early evening. This entrance intrigued me. I’m not sure if it was a private home or restaurant. The warm light invited the eye in and up to the red maple leaves above. There was a feeling of intimacy. Your haiku are invited about this photograph or other quiet, tucked-away corners that welcome you, in your favourite season.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Standard Time, Saturday March 13, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 Photo One – lichen-covered seat:

The haiku this week were very reflective, often addressing loss and dark themes. But not all were sad poems. For many of you, the image brought to mind fond memories of a place you’d visited, perhaps with a beloved parent or grandparent, or as one of a couple. I’m sure we all have a secluded place where we love to go and sit, soaking up the atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle. The scent and colour of gardens and gardening are a source of quiet enjoyment as well. Interestingly, there were almost no haiku relating to the pandemic.

I look forward very much to your poems over the next weeks. You can send up to two haiku each week. Because of the number of great responses, I can only include one for each poet, though I could include many others. Thank you all for contributing to Haiku Dialogue and for coming along with me this first week in March. I hope you enjoy the rest of the month!

park bench
next to me the shadow
of a memory

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio USA

Its very elusiveness is what first drew me to this haiku. Memory is a precious thing. Its loss or even partial loss is almost unimaginable, and even makes us afraid. When we revisit familiar places – we might call them old haunts – we revisit memories, some happy, some not. The poet seems to be doing just that by sitting down on a park bench where a shadow is cast. We find out it’s not the poet’s own shadow, but ‘the shadow of a memory’. Synapses are triggered by a sideways glance to connect this moment to another earlier time. But a memory glimpsed from the corner of an eye is fickle, and won’t fully materialise. Did the poet sit here once with someone they loved? Or was it on another entirely different bench somewhere else far away? Is it a moment of déjà vu? I’ve experienced times when half-memories just don’t want to come back into focus, so this haiku and its shadings resonated for me.

free period
losing track of time
in the stacks

Tim Cremin
United States

Layer upon layer of folded, perforated, stitched and bound paper. Hushed silence. A characteristic scent of old lignin, buckram and gum. That’s ‘the stacks’ of a library for me. The ‘free period’ is an opportunity for someone who may be a busy teacher or student to escape for some quiet respite. So beguiling it is to drift from shelf to shelf, following Alice down endless rabbit holes. The poet is engrossed. Time stands still. For me the haiku successfully manages to link and shift away from an image of multi-layered lichens on a garden seat in a peaceful corner, to the hush of a library crammed with scholarly books and journals. There’s a worrying undertone though. The rustic timber bench with all its epiphytes must eventually rot away. Will libraries survive modernisation? Already, some hard copy ‘stacks’ have been digitised and done away with. This ‘free period’ is maybe the only time the poet will have to browse through secret corners of a printed collection.

ribboned horizon
an artisanal teacup
warms my heart

Mary Vlooswyk
Calgary, AB

I love the image of the fragment in this haiku of ‘ribboned horizon’. That horizon is something I recognise from living in Tasmania as a child. It’s not often seen in more northerly parts of mainland Australia because the light is stronger. Brought to mind by the soft colours of the slats of the garden bench, the layers of pale-lit sky intermingled with pastel strands of cloud most often appear low on the horizon after sunup on chilly mornings. This leads me to think it must be cold where the poet is making the observation. What better than to pour hot tea into a favourite handmade ceramic or earthenware cup as you look at the sky! The poet would wrap both hands around the beautiful cup to warm them. Maybe describing this could be enough for a good haiku; however, line 3 goes to another level to tell us the cup is warming more than hands. The poet links into a long tradition of tea drinkers from Japan and beyond, who not only enjoy a warming cuppa but also have the pleasure of knowing the vessel they drink from comes from the hands of an artist.

moss-covered bench . . .
I settle into a depression
left by another

Carole MacRury
Point Roberts, WA USA

A reflective haiku, this one. The poem to me has wabi sabi – the beauty implicit in worn or rustic things and an acceptance that nothing is perfect, or permanent. It is a joyful acceptance, I think, from the first words of line 2: ‘I settle’. To me this implies the poet is comfortable and at peace sitting here, knowing they’re not the first to occupy the bench, and probably won’t be the last. There could be a sad reading too. Maybe this seat was once occupied by two people sitting together – a married couple, close friends or members of a family. Time has passed, there has been a loss, and now only one person has come to sit here. They sit in the same spot where their companion once sat, seeking the comfort of memories.

below are the rest of the selections:

coping with grief
the garden still
overgrown

M. R. Defibaugh
Richmond, VA

 

spring rain
our hidden place—
the silence between us

Vladsilav Hristov
Bulgaria

 

the moss
in your place . . .
long evening

Subir Ningthouja
Imphal, India

 

secret garden
there are no words
to describe it

Michael Henry Lee
Saint Augustine Florida

 

moonrise over the pawtuxet
fragments hidden before
becoming visible

Michelle Beyers

 

up on the loft
in the old trunk
black and white photos

S.Ram Chandran
India

 

serenity
the hyacinths fading
to a darker purple

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany

 

rising up
through blackbird song
new growth

Patricia Hawkhead
United Kingdom

 

beside me
on a park bench
my wedding ring

Vandana Parashar
India

 

terracotta corner
the cat and I catch
the last rays

Marion Clarke
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland

 

elder park bench
the green
of its stillness

R. Suresh Babu
India

 

I know a bench
where wild lichen grows—
poet’s corner

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom

 

wild bo tree shade
a peacock opens its feathers
for the ruined buddha

Malintha Perera
Sri Lanka

 

tranquil corner
not even my ghosts
haunt me here

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

daffodils
a bit of sun
in a corner

Nazarena Rampini
Italy

 

tombstone lichen
how difficult it is
to get detached

Hifsa Ashraf
Pakistan

 

a mossy bench
in the back garden—
our forgotten conversation

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY

 

lush green—
is this the hue
of my scars?

Teji Sethi
India

 

no sign
they were ever here
fairy bench

Kristen Lindquist
Maine, US

 

silence
weeding my way
to the scent of peonies

Pat Davis
Pembroke, NH USA

 

winter waves
that rock that holds my seat
now rocks

Simon J
United Kingdom

 

New York Times
these days only
the crossword

Paul Geiger
Sebastopol CA

 

nana’s old garden
yellow butterflies
still visit

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, IA, USA

 

alone in the park
two names hidden
under ivy trails

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

 

mountain campsite
our breath mingles
with clouds

Louise Hopewell
Australia

 

where we hung over the fence
admiring the view
mother’s ashes

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia

 

harvest moon
in the straw bowl
the song of a cricket

Radostina Dragostinova
Bulgaria

 

at mom’s grave—
after so many years
still looking for peace

Mirela Brăilean
Romania

 

moss-covered footbridge
the twelve steps it takes
to cross

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

Nova Scotia—
lying in a hayfield
halfway sky

Kit Nagamura
Japan

 

the wood moth and I
share invisibility…
garden bench

Michele L. Harvey
New York

 

soft landing
place to ponder
hard choices

Kathleen Mazurowski
Chicago, IL

 

backyard hideout . . .
my son and I check the guns
for bamboo bugs

Milan Rajkumar
India

 

opening day
I cast my line under
the same old log

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA

 

spring runway
the showy poise
of purple irises

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI

 

sharing wisdom
the hidden bench in
grandpa’s garden

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

 

spring cleaning
the discolored poems
in my childhood notebook

Keiko Izawa
Japan

 

our bench—
I would like to tell you
that now there is moss

Maria Teresa Piras
Serrenti – Italia

 

the darkest
corner of my thought
moss on moss

Agus Maulana Sunjaya
Tangerang, Indonesia

 

pandemic year
new corners
to clean

Peggy Hale Bilbro
Huntsville, Alabama

 

daily chats
on a rusty bench
old graffiti

Luisa Santoro
Rome, Italy

 

counting the days . . .
the last full moon
for me and the garden

contando i giorni . . .
l’ultima luna piena
per me e il giardino

Angiola Inglese
Italia

 

empty bench
the mossy imprint
of your absence

Orense Nicod
Paris, France

 

early morning dew
twinkling in the lichen
a song of stars

Susan Rogers
Los Angeles, CA US

 

hammock hour willow strands caressing the air and me

Carole Harrison
Jamberoo, Australia

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 26 Comments

  1. moss-covered bench . . .
    I settle into a depression
    left by another
    .
    Carole MacRury
    Point Roberts, WA USA
    .
    I found the description of Carole’s poem fascinating—one beautiful thing about haiku are the many different interpretations possible from such a short poem. I found ‘depression’ to simply infer the dent of the moss, like a head makes in a pillow, indicating a person had just been sitting on that bench. Of course, the more the possibilities the more interesting the poem!

  2. no sign
    they were ever here
    fairy bench

    Kristen Lindquist

    I love this secret moment, Kristen. A hidden away presence , known but invisible, like the essence of one we love…intangible but sure, unique and a shared moment of “they” perhaps two… a small gathering place that has a special feeling. We are drawn. For unveiling the certainty …of shared delight thank you Kristen!

  3. Thank you, Marietta, for your insightful commentary these past few weeks. I have enjoyed reading you. Also thank you for mentioning one of mine.. Congratulations to all the poets!

  4. cold hands-
    this corner of the beach
    in full sun

    le mani fredde-
    quest ‘angolo di spiaggia
    in pieno sole

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    closed windows-
    the first dry leaves
    on the green grass

    vetri chiusi-
    le prime foglie secche
    sull’erba verde

  5. Thank you, Marietta Mc Gregor-Editor, for placing my verse in this week’s collection, also to Post Manager Lori Zajkowski, and Managing Editor Katherine Munro! I enjoyed reading your comments. Congratulations to all poets.

  6. Congratulations to all the poets and many thanks to Marietta for including my poem. There are so many poems to admire in this column and , as usual, I have enjoyed reading them all. Several poems stood out for me because of the memories or thoughts they evoked. Currently living in lockdown, I very much enjoyed the vistas that the following two poems provided…

    mountain campsite
    our breath mingles
    with clouds

    Louise Hopewell
    Australia

    Nova Scotia—
    lying in a hayfield
    halfway sky

    Kit Nagamura
    Japan

    For me, both poems have a lovely cinematic quality and this allowed me to imagine I was there in that moment. I also loved the musicality of Kit’s poem. For me, this added to its dream-like quality. I also really enjoyed the musicality in …

    terracotta corner
    the cat and I catch
    the last rays

    Marion Clarke
    Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland

    I love both the image and the pleasing sounds in this poem – it demands to be read out loud!

    Thank you once again, Marietta, for the challenge and the incisive commentaries. Many thanks to Kj and Lori for the administration. I look forward to next week!

  7. Thank you Marietta for choosing one of mine to comment on this week. Congratulations to everyone! A lot of fine poems to enjoy! I have found your photographs and commentary inspiring!

    I can’t wait to bask in the warmer spring weather, and these three poems spoke to me of this desire….

    serenity
    the hyacinths fading
    to a darker purple

    Deborah Karl-Brandt
    Bonn, Germany

    Such a peaceful moment, yet at the same time I love the way it acknowledge the beauty in the aging process. The way hyacinth and iris too, deepen in color before their time is up.

    terracotta corner
    the cat and I catch
    the last rays

    Marion Clarke
    Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland

    Marion’s haiku had me longing for my own ‘terracotta corner’. The very words summon up such warmth!

    tranquil corner
    not even my ghosts
    haunt me here

    Tracy Davidson
    Warwickshire, UK

    I loved Tracy’s for the same reason. I must really want my own tranquil corner, make it terra cotta, and I’ll be in heaven!

    1. I’m so happy you’re enjoying the prompts, Carole! And I love the warmth of your favourite haiku, too! I’m sure your favourite corner is close to home!

    2. Thank you so much, Carole. We have a very small patio with whitewashed walls and terracotta tiles and, during summer, the cat and I race to get the corner with the last rays of sunshine! 😄

      marion

      1. And I meant to say, I found your haiku sadly thought-provoking.

        And what great visual prompts from Marietta. 🙂

        marion

      2. Thank you Marietta for your wonderful lichen covered seat photo and for including my haiku ths week!
        I enjoyed your comments very much as well as all the haiku
        especially

        serenity
        the hyacinths fading
        to a darker purple
        –Deborah Karl-Brandt

        A moment of quiet grace
        and

        our bench–
        I would like to tell you
        that now there is moss
        –Maria Teresa Piras

        Such heart in those few words

  8. Thanks, Marietta Mc Gregor-Editor, for including my haiku in the weekly collection. Thanks also to Post Manager Lori Zajkowski and Managing Editor Katherine Munro! Very beautiful haiku that you have commented and very beautiful your comments. I enjoyed reading all the haiku. Congratulations to all the poets.

    1. Thank you, Maria Teresa, for your deeply moving haiku and for your kind words. I’m so glad you are enjoying Haiku Dialogue!

  9. Marietta, thank-you for selecting my haiku for commentary. I am very pleased and surprised. Thank-you to Kathy and Lori for their efforts. Congrats to all the poets who were selected.

    1. You’re welcome, Valentina. It was a pleasure to write about your lovely poem. I’m so glad you’re enjoying Haiku Dialogue

  10. Thank you, Marietta Mc Gregor-Editor, for placing my verse in this week’s collection, also to Post Manager Lori Zajkowski, and Managing Editor Katherine Munro! I enjoyed reading your comments. Congratulations to all poets.

    1. Your poem about losing someone most dear and how difficult the acceptance of loss can be touched me, Mirela. Thank you for contributing to Haiku Dialogue and hope you will continue to contribute.

  11. Thank you so much Marietta for including my haiku in your Haiku Dialogue this week! I too love this one that you commented on. I always think it is a great compliment when you read a haiku and wish you had written that haiku yourself. That is how I feel about this one!
    free period
    losing track of time
    in the stacks

    Tim Cremin
    United States

    I also find this one to be a standout:
    our bench—
    I would like to tell you
    that now there is moss

    Maria Teresa Piras
    Serrenti – Italia
    This just gets me right in the heart.

    And I think this one makes a really poignant connection:
    spring cleaning
    the discolored poems
    in my childhood notebook

    Keiko Izawa
    Japan

    1. Thanks so much for your comments, Sari. I’m very glad you’re enjoying the variety of haiku. Look forward to yours in future weeks!

      1. silence
        weeding my way
        to the sceent of peonies

        Pat Davis

        I feel the diligent work, continuous and, repetitive and solitary, concentrated. And the sudden unexpected reward! Love this kind of moment. Our reward, the sweetness of life opens! Thank you for reminding us by describing it so well Pat!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top