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

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 Four – window garden

A former garment factory in industrial inner-city Sydney, Australia has been transformed into a café for coffee and meals with friends. Wandering through back rooms of the old warehouse I came across a small side office, which was dimly lit and crammed with plants, pots, garden tools and quite a few spiderwebs. It seemed to be used as a potting room. I felt enclosed behind the multi-paned window and its profusion of greenery, but it was pleasant, not at all claustrophobic. Imagine if you were sitting here. How would you feel? Would you glance out? Slip cuttings into pots? Or daydream? Please send in your haiku inspired by this window or other hidden corners with a view.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday March 27, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 Three – island alley

Thank you all for responding so graciously and creatively to the prompt. What a wealth and variety of poems came in this week! You obviously enjoyed exploring many amazing hidden corners. For most writers it seems getting lost is a positive experience, freeing up your travel and leading to new sights, sounds, and experiences, including encounters with friendly locals and the joy of unexpected vistas. For others, there’s a slight sense of foreboding in losing one’s way, or in being in unfamiliar territory. Some poets wrote very personal haiku about roads taken, or not taken, in life. Others explored the depths of memory, and took us where those thoughts led. As good as a holiday for me, this week’s selection was a hard one as so many poems were heartfelt. My thanks to all, and thanks of course to Kathy, Lori and THF.

narrow alley—
a different smell
from the windows

Maria Teresa Sisti
Italy

This haiku draws me because of its immediacy and the way it conveys real, lived experience. How vivid memories are when they’re linked to our sense of smell! In my mind, places have distinctive smells, all interesting and unforgettable, like onion soup from a monastery window (many years ago I smelled this in the Capuchin Crypt in Rome). Here the poet is wandering back streets. It’s a warm day maybe close to lunchtime, and they’re feeling hungry. From windows flung wide, a new aroma drifts into the street. Is the smell unfamiliar, emphasising to the poet they are only travellers, not locals? Is it a familiar smell evoking a sudden sense of homesickness? Or does its very familiarity make the poet feel at home even in a strange town?

on the wrong alley
to the clinic
hollyhocks

Keiko Izawa
Japan

So much in this poem remains unsaid and that is what makes it memorable. A wrong turn is taken on the way to a doctor’s surgery or health centre. Maybe the mind of the person who mistakes the route is distracted by worrying thoughts about possible test results or nervousness about a checkup they must have, so they become confused about which street to take. Taking this wrong alley, the person is surprised by flowers. Hollyhocks are an early summer or summer kigo in haiku poetry. They are tall, strong plants with a spike of beautiful, silk crêpe-textured flowers. They flourish in impoverished ground and will live longer if the ground is not treated at all. In some places, their leaves were thought to protect from natural disasters. The juxtaposition seems to convey a sense of optimism and hope. Taking this ‛wrong’ route may not be a mistake after all, but a deliberate choice stemming from a desire to see the hollyhocks and be cheered and reassured by their resilience. The haiku is open-ended, leaving the reader to wonder.

dead end
the way back looks
different

Rehn Kovacic
Mesa, AZ

A spare haiku which uses only seven words to express a great deal. It’s a common experience to have to retrace your steps whether you’re hiking in the country or walking round an unfamiliar city, only to find you don’t recognise any of the features or landmarks you thought you recalled. Things have a disconcerting way of looking different from other angles and in changing light. While that’s my literal reading, the poem may not be referring to the physical world. The haiku could be about a different kind of journey that’s also going nowhere, one that involves choices at work or in one’s personal life. Again, it’s possible to try to go back from life’s dead ends to the place where you started, but the road back is not the same at all, and may be unrecognisable. Or it could even be a journey through the poet’s mind. Although overt metaphor or allegory is not used much in haiku, in this instance it’s perhaps up to the reader. A haiku that is open to various interpretations.

a refugee resting
inside his chalk drawing—
cobblestone street

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

The two-line phrase of L1 and L2 is a very powerful image of someone who is trapped by circumstance. A man is creating a large chalk street drawing, big enough for him to be resting not ‛beside’ but ‛inside’. We can speculate about what the drawing looks like, but we can’t know. It could be circular like a mandala, or rectangular. Whatever the drawing is, the reader immediately sees a disturbing picture of a refugee somehow enclosed by what he creates. While he may have fled from famine or to free himself from a repressive régime, he now tries to make a living from his street art. He may be constrained by poverty and his drawings are the only way he can provide for his family. Tired from drawing, he takes a break and rests inside his work to ensure no one walks on or defaces it. He will stay there until night comes and there are no more passersby with a few coins to give. It’s possible that another choice of juxtaposition could have created a different resonance, but the poet has allowed L1 and L2 to carry the poem.

below are the rest of the selections:

entrance path
through a maze of wild roses
lost in memories

Tsanka Shishkova
Bulgaria

 

lemon tree getting lost in her favorite song

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany

 

cityscape
just off main street
birdsong

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, Wa. USA

 

echoes of giggles
in hidden corners . . .
kanyadaan

(Kanyadaan: giving away the bride in marriage to the groom)

Lakshmi Iyer
India

 

unmapped road—
I wait for myself
on the other side

Teji Sethi
India

 

lost in a foreign city
we come across
a ghost sign

Olivier Schopfer
Switzerland

 

island alley
between the cobblestones
white sand lilies

Tsanka Shishkova
Bulgaria

 

precipitous steps
they take off
the blindfold

Alice Wanderer
Australia

 

off the map
the kindest strangers
living there

Dana Rapisardi
United States

 

lover’s holiday
with any luck
getting a little lost

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA

 

how azure—
island sea
from the tea house

Teiichi Suzuki
Japan

 

star gazing
I find a cat family
on my roof

Rajeshwari Srinivasan
India

 

Naxos . . .
wherever you go
there you are

Michael Henry Lee
Saint Augustine FL

 

imposter syndrome
she wanders the corridors
of her husband’s home

John Hawkhead
United Kingdom

 

emptied purse
searching for a long lost
earring

Pat Davis
Pembroke, NH USA

 

alleyways of Casbah—
behind each door
a historical story

(The Casbah is the citadel of Algiers in Algeria and the traditional quarter clustered around it. In 1992, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed Kasbah of Algiers a World Cultural Heritage site. Casbah is well-known with its very narrow alleys.)

Hassane Zemmouri
Algiers, Algeria

 

back alleys . . .
I look for
my childhood

Surashree Joshi
Pune, India

 

liquor store—
a crooked Help Wanted sign
in the window

Dan Campbell
Virginia

 

alley cat
the darkness
of the curving street

Shalini Pattabiraman
United Kingdom

 

lost in paradise
every narrow street
widens my smile

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

odyssey—
in no rush to leave
life’s labyrinth

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom

 

cats
the silence
of alleys

Daniela Misso
Italy

 

totally lost
somewhere in Tokyo—
this strange freedom

Mark Meyer
Mercer Island, WA USA

 

island alley
each door the same
ocean’s blue

Ann K. Schwader
Westminster, CO

 

the sound of dreams
in a long alleyway
cobblestones

Kanjini Devi

 

empty landing
the steps on the staircase
worn smooth

Pippa Phillips
United States

 

that decision
not to take the other path
I lose myself

Peggy Hale Bilbro
Huntsville, Alabama

 

deserted alley
at almost every turn
a creep(er)

Vandana Parashar
India

 

city of caves
finding myself
in a trip to jerusalem

simonj UK

 

tourist season
the cab driver takes us
for a ride

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

 

flower path—
hidden in my pocket
your love letter

Nicole Pottier
France

 

each pause
to catch my breath
a new landmark

Anjali Warhadpande
Pune, India

 

dead-ends—
from under every flowered vault
the open sea

Mirela Brăilean
Romania

 

pink petals
on the grave—
I remember her voice

Margaret Mahony
Australia

 

first labyrinth
the exciting twists and turns
of her daughter’s birth

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

Sicily
my garden of orange blossoms
so far away

Nazarena Rampini
Italy

 

just married—
blossoming trees
celebrating

Aljoša Vuković
Hrvatska

 

street juggler—
applause
hangs in the air

Nick T
UK

 

back lane
not in my map
violin from the window

Meera Rehm
UK

 

out of sight—
at the end of the spiral steps
The Wall of I Love You

(Butte Montmartre / Paris/France
‛I love you’ translated into all languages)

Joubert-Gaillard Anne-Marie
France

 

abandoned pink beetle . . .
through the fenders
fireweed

Ingrid Baluchi
Ohrid, North Macedonia

 

a river curves . . .
red hibiscus
on a mud shrine

Priti Aisola
Hyderabad, India

 

at the end
of a cobbled alley
mom’s call

Hifsa Ashraf
Rawalpindi, Pakistan

 

just there
beneath the overhang
a tiny toad

Edna Beers
USA

 

rushing breathlessly
along the alleys
a tarantella

Luisa Santoro
Rome, Italy

 

bluer
through umbrella pines
the ocean breeze

Orense Nicod
Paris, France

 

meeting
the
serpentine
pathway
leads
me
straight
to
you

Marisa Fazio
Australia

 

Alzheimer’s. . .
I lead my neighbor
back to her home

Carole MacRury
Point Roberts, WA USA

 

losing my way . . .
down every path
a wilder blooming

Mark Miller
Australia

 

retirement
all the roads
not taken before

Madhuri Pillai
Australia

 

lost in memories . . .
bougainvillea flower
entangled in the curls

Elisa Allo
Switzerland

 

unmapped alley
not taking it
too seriously

Tim Cremin
Massachusetts

 

dead end
of a city alleyway
a prostitute beckons

Adjei Agyei-Baah
Kumasi, Ghana

 

between the shoulders
of seaside cottages . . .
postcard view . . .

Michele L. Harvey
Hamilton, NY USA

 

cooling the gap
between fences
rose thorn bud

Roberta Beary
County Mayo, Ireland

 

losing the tourist map
I discover
the town

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove, CA

 

cul-de-sac
back against the X-ray
we’ll find another way

Sandra St-Laurent
Whitehorse (Yukon) Canada

 

waiting for
the roadside assistance,
I listen to the wind

Maria Teresa Piras
Italy

 

hidden passageway
stopping for tea
flood of memories

Kathleen Mazurowski
Chicago, IL

 

long meander
on Canyon Road we wind up
in Shangri-la

Kath Abela Wilson
United States

 

through the gates
another family member
reading headstones

Margaret Walker
Lincoln, NE, USA

 

plantation
the path away
from the shacks

Lorraine Padden
San Diego, California

 

Oahu afternoon
we stroll down an empty beach
lost now found

Pris Campbell
USA

 

aroma of ma’s baklava
from the alley
childhood treasure

Melanie Vance
USA

 

the balance
of yin with yang
apple blossoms

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio USA

 

old cathedral
I lose myself
in the labyrinth

Maya Daneva
Netherlands

 

last pigeon hole
on the right
our checkbook

Paul Geiger
Sebastopol CA

 

in the woods
no bars
only the moss

Susan Farner
United States

 

bougainvillea
I lose myself
in the word

Barrie Levine
Wenham MA

 

vine alley
entwining history and
a slant of sun

Carole Harrison
Jamberoo, Australia

 

lost in the alley—
we chance upon
a wishing well!

Sushama Kapur
India

 

we get lost looking
for the hole-in-the-wall
early buds

John Green
Bellingham, WA

 

Grecian yearn—
never in
the picture

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada

 

a wrong turn
in the trail
hidden waterfall

Deborah P Kolodji
Temple City, California

 

even though
I know I am lost
bougainvillea

Susan Rogers, Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles

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 15 Comments

  1. Thank you very much Marietta for including my haiku. This has been a challenging week and I am just looking at the comments now. I am also very grateful for the encouraging words from Peggy and Dorothy, Simon and Pippa.
    You have all given me a boost of bright energy!
    I was also brightened by all of the haiku this week including

    a wrong turn
    in the trail
    hidden waterfall
    ..Deborah P Kolodji

    on the wrong alley
    to the clinic
    holly hocks
    …Keiko Izawa

    and

    cats
    the silence
    of alleys
    …Daniela Misso

    All wonderful

  2. Beautiful collection of intriguing poems! Kudos to Marietta for your choices, and kudos to all the poets for inspiring work.
    Here are just a few of the many stellar poems that spoke directly to me:

    even though
    I know I am lost
    bougainvillea

    Susan Rogers, Los Angeles, CA
    The poet readjusts her vision to find beauty along her unexpected route.
    ….
    through the gates
    another family member
    reading headstones

    Margaret Walker
    Lincoln, NE, USA
    How many times have I been in a cemetery reading names and dates on moss covered tombstones, wondering about the lives that led to that spot.
    ,,,
    between the shoulders
    of seaside cottages . . .
    postcard view . . .

    Michele L. Harvey
    Hamilton, NY USA
    I just love the image here, with the unexpected use of “shoulders” of the cottages!

    Alzheimer’s. . .
    I lead my neighbor
    back to her home

    Carole MacRury
    Point Roberts, WA USA
    So poignant! I’ve done this for my neighbor’s mother. We all watched out for her meanderings.

    narrow alley—
    a different smell
    from the windows

    Maria Teresa Sisti
    Italy
    And finally, this evocative poem that brings back memories of wandering through Mexican and Italian villages.

  3. Congratulations to all the authors! A beautiful selection, with a beautiful image interpreted in different ways. Thanks to Marietta for the image and the comments and also to Kj and Lori for the administration of the column

  4. Congratulations to all this week’s poets! Reading this week’s column was a joyful and sun-filled experience. Thank you to everyone and a special thanks to Marietta for yet another enjoyable challenge and also to Kj and Lori for the administration.

    From such a wonderful selection, two I particularly enjoyed were…

    bougainvillea
    I lose myself
    in the word

    Barrie Levine
    Wenham MA

    Fabulous! Bougainvillea is such a wonderfully musical word to say out loud .

    even though
    I know I am lost
    bougainvillea

    Susan Rogers, Los Angeles, CA
    Los Angeles

    The poem succinctly captures the beauty of the flower and also those unexpected moments that can suddenly light up a day. Wonderful!

    I look forward to reading next week’s selection.

  5. even though
    I know I am lost
    bougainvillea

    Susan Rogers, Los Angeles, CA

    A nice contrast between the frightening and comforting familarty.
    Euphony and musical scansion complete the pleasantness.

  6. What a lovely collection of haiku! I enjoyed them very much, and of course was inspired to write a few of my own…Thank you to all the poets!

  7. retirement
    all the roads
    not taken before
    .
    Madhuri Pillai
    Australia
    .
    Retirement is a time of reflection on the past and on the future. This haiku can be read in a positive way since now there is time to take those roads. It also can be read in a negative way since there is no time now to take those roads. The interpretation is up to the reader.

  8. Beautiful selection, Marietta

    And such an extraordinary list of poems showing us the myriad ways the image resonated with the poets. A lovely read.

    Carole

  9. This series of poems left me feeling uplifted — and that is a strange sensation after a dark winter. Thank you editors for devising the prompt and curating a brilliant selection.

  10. a wrong turn
    in the trail
    hidden waterfall
    .
    Deborah P Kolodji
    Temple City, California
    .
    I would like to make a wrong turn and find a waterfall – nicely written ku.

  11. What a wonderful selection of haiku! Reading through them took me on the journey I am unable to take in person during these times. Having visited Naxos a few years ago, I was especially transported back by:

    Naxos…
    wherever you go
    there you are

    and

    island alley
    each door the same
    ocean blue

  12. Many thanks to Kj and Lori for the administration and to Marietta for a great prompt and for including one of my poems. Congratulations to all other haijins for amazing takes on the prompt. I look forward to each weekly session! 🙂

  13. Thanks so much for selecting one of mine, Haiku Dialogue team!

    Some that I love:

    lemon tree getting lost in her favorite song

    Deborah Karl-Brandt
    Bonn, Germany

    unmapped road—
    I wait for myself
    on the other side

    Teji Sethi
    India

    back alleys . . .
    I look for
    my childhood

    Surashree Joshi
    Pune, India

    bluer
    through umbrella pines
    the ocean breeze

    Orense Nicod
    Paris, France

    old cathedral
    I lose myself
    in the labyrinth

    Maya Daneva
    Netherlands

    even though
    I know I am lost
    bougainvillea

    Lovely work, all…

  14. Marietta, thank-you for picking one of mine for publication. Thank-you also to Kathy, Lori, and all the others at the Haiku Foundation for their efforts. Congrats to all the poets.

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