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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Finding peace and contemplation… in the great outdoors… in a forest

Finding peace and contemplation… in the great outdoors 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 themein the great outdoors with curious donkeys

When out and about you never know what you’ll see around the next corner. In this case it was a friendly donkey family. They trotted across the field to check if I had any food for them. I didn’t, but I told the donkeys how beautiful they were and they stood quietly with me for a while. Donkeys have been reliable beasts of burden in many cultures since biblical times. Buddhists hold them sacred. Herd animals, they seem gifted with infinite patience as well as not a little stubbornness, and are symbols of integrity, gentleness, endurance and determination. Your haiku this week could be inspired by donkey qualities or your own enjoyable animal encounters.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday August 28, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 the great outdoors in a forest:

What a refreshing walk in the woods with you this week, thank you all very much for your company. There’s something transformative about being among big trees. My birth island state of Tasmania, Australia, holds the record for the tallest flowering plant (angiosperm) on Earth, an individual of the Australian mountain ash, or swamp gum species (Eucalyptus regnans) called Centurion. Truly a noble tree. From your haiku I learned a lovely word, komorebi, which can mean “to the sunlight shining through the trees”. We’re drawn to this light in all seasons as it patterns the path in front of us. It has something hopeful about it. Thank you again to Kathy, Lori and The Haiku Foundation. I look forward to your haiku next week.

autumn breeze
in my ginko walk
i unpack myself

Lakshmi Iyer
Kerala, India

Line 1 of this haiku is an autumn kigo, helping us feel the cool briskness of the day. Perhaps the poet begins the ginko at a smart pace, but in the course of the walk gradually slows down and becomes more ruminative. Ginko walks are usually made in silence, and this quietude is helping the poet to go deeper into feelings which may have been buried and are now allowed to come to the surface for scrutiny, and perhaps a renewed sense of acceptance.

winter star
I fall in love with
a redwood

(There is an amazing trail in a forest park at the foot of the Mourne Mountains that contains many species, both native and planted. I was very struck by a grove of coast redwoods and have used these beautiful trees in my art and poetry.)

Marion Clarke
Warrenpoint, N Ireland

I’ve fallen in love with a tree too, except it was with a 500-year-old spotted gum (Eucalyptus maculata). The magnificent height and breadth of giant redwoods inspires a loving wonder that they inhabit the same world as we do. The moment captured may be just before dusk. The poet looks upwards between soaring trees and catches a glimpse of a star. The redwood is the poet’s sublime bridge between Earth and sky, surely a moment for love.

at peace—
standing in a forest
of bonsai

Dan Campbell
Virginia

As well as loving tall trees, we can be enthralled by the scaled-down perfection of bonsai. Each tree in the poet’s forest has been painstakingly shaped by human hands, in some cases over generations. The most revered specimens often reflect shapes trees take in nature, perhaps a wind-carved cliff-clinging juniper or a miniature copse of glowing red maples. Bonsai trees are usually displayed at waist height. The poet has paused in this alternative forest for a calm moment of reflection.

sunbeam
I’m born again
with the flying dust

Vladislav Hristov
Bulgaria

Cosmologists hold that we’re made of interplanetary particles borne by stellar winds from giant stars, which ultimately fall to Earth and become a part of us. This unusual haiku reflects the transience of life and the certainty of our mortality, but also conveys a sense that we’re part of a cosmic continuum. The poet sees dust motes in a sunbeam and foresees a new beginning.

clearcutting—
forest 森 shrinks to woods 林
then to a bare tree 木

John Zheng
Itta Bena, Mississippi, USA

Clear felling in Australia is contentious ‒ even old-growth forests are rarely spared. I was drawn to this haiku by the way the poet treated the theme. I imagine the process of felling is being observed over a relatively short time frame. The kanji or Mandarin characters for ‛forest’, ‛woods’ and ‛tree’ graphically underline what is happening. With characters as visual markers of the visible change, the poet reinforces the image of how an expanse of forest shrinks, deepening the poignancy.

somewhere ⁹⁸ the bare beechwood ⁹⁹ giggles ¹⁰⁰

simonj
UK

My reading is that we’re in a winter wood where a hide-and-seek game is in full swing. The count nears its end. The hidden quarry is keyed up and excited knowing a searcher will soon be looking for them. Hence muffled giggles from behind a tree trunk or in a hollow. The poet could have chosen to write ‛. . . 98, 99, 100’ on a separate line. However, superscripting the numbers lifts the count out of the poem and sets it apart, making it easier to picture someone calling it out from some distance away. Interposing the superscripts draws out the count and prolongs the suspense. The monoku could be described as a concrete haiku, a playful example of the unexpected directions a haiku can take while still recognisably haiku.

& here are the rest of the selections:

old garden—
birch leaves
fill the wind

Angiola Inglese
Italia

 

drop by drop
the forest swallowing
the clouds

Bakhtiyar Amini
Germany

 

spring again . . .
how the sap cracks
in the pine

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany

 

forest walk losing myself
finding myself
passing clouds

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, Wa. USA

 

concrete jungle
we were once
hunters

Teji Sethi
India

 

fire tongues . . .
among the forest leaves
summer chills

Francesco Palladino
Italia

 

shinrin-yoku . . .
on the stone walkway
I touch silence

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India

 

autumn
colours
everything

Helen Buckingham
United Kingdom

 

long forest trail . . .
I open the pandora’s box
of my thoughts

Hifsa Ashraf
Rawalpindi, Pakistan

 

bamboo forest
the shakuhachi
reveals its voice

Terri French
RV

 

a parrot flies
over the walnut tree—
summer sunset

Dennys Cambarau
Sardinia, Italy

 

fading day
birdsong folds
into the treetops

Kathleen Vasek Trocmet
Texas, USA

 

paddling down river
we duck under the stillness
of tree branches

Pris Campbell
USA

 

walking in deep woods
the busy highway with cars
silenced by greenness

Lorraine Schein
Queens, NYC

 

two yews
grown together . . .
woodland bench

Alan Peat
Biddulph, United Kingdom

 

deep silence
before the landslide
mud swept trees

Jeff Leong
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

thick forest . . .
he plucks a white hair
from my head

Aparna Pathak
Gurugram, India

 

inside the forest
I am
everywhere and nowhere

Ram Chandran
India

 

drifting through trees
a boy with a butterfly net
chasing dreams

John Hawkhead
UK

 

woody scents—
a solitary walker dreams
of distant worlds

Nicole Pottier
France

 

tracing roots
our old tree house
reclaimed by the forest

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

tai chi class—
a gentle wind
through the trees

Mirela Brăilean
Romania

 

spring stream . . .
we cross the oak
which held our swing

Richard Matta
San Diego, California

 

wandering
in the forest
in the picture frame

Ravi Kiran
India

 

moonlight stroll
scattering silence
in the fallen leaves

Barbara Tate
Winchester, TN

 

still the knock
of a woodpecker—
charred pine

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

 

under a canopy
of eucalyptus trees
my spine un-furls

Genie Nakano
Gardena, CA

 

forest bathing
the park ranger insists
I put clothes back on

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA

 

high canopy
I breathe in
green air

Peggy Hale Bilbro
Alabama

 

a walk in the woods
with my brother
not a breadcrumb in sight

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, New York

 

lifting a cone—
sea view through
the smell of pine

Tomislav Maretić
Croatia

 

honey hues—
autumn twilight
in the forest

sfumature di miele—
crepuscolo autunnale
nella foresta

Daniela Misso
Italia

 

all eyes—
our ginko through the grove
of golden aspens

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia

 

snow
the grip
of bare oaks

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton UK

 

fallen leaf
in my hand a tree
walks with me

Maurice Nevile
Canberra, Australia

 

winter woods . . .
the blue sky
after the fall

Ed Bremson
North Carolina

 

forest dusk
all the walks
we’ll never take

Kanjini Devi
The Far North, Aotearoa NZ

 

in the doze
space travel—
forest hammock

Teiichi Suzuki
Japan

 

first leaf fall
favouring the right foot
for the strike

Robert Kingston
UK

 

Japanese rose
a splash of yellow
touches her loneliness

Padmini Krishnan
Singapore

 

forest bathing
the glee of sparrows
in a splash of dust

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

alone again at dawn
among birds—
the mighty sugar pine

Wakako Miya Rollinger
Topanga, CA

 

firefly by firefly
sowing the night . . .
summer meadow

Sanjuktaa Asopa
India

 

awakening—
through the oak’s canopy
I see the light

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom

 

breeze
the forest changes
its color

Slobodan Pupovac
Zagreb, Croatia

 

caught in the forest rhythm my thoughts

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA

 

winter forest . . .
the peace trails me
home

Meera Rehm
UK

 

pine needle trail
a hike through
deep time

Ann K. Schwader
Westminster, CO US

 

coastal mist
dwarf live oaks reach
for hidden light

(This poem refers to the Elfin Forest overlooking Morro Bay – a grove of California live oaks renowned for their short stature.)

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, CA

 

escape
or something else?
mushroom pickers

Danijela Grbelja
Croatia Sibenik

 

phoenix trees
her 10 year
sobriety chip

Lorraine A. Padden
San Diego, California USA

 

forest walk
the trees and I
bare our souls

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

 

deep woods
my Google maps
is useless

Mona Iordan
Romania

 

red gum swamplands
the river wends
through frog song

Louise Hopewell
Australia

 

forest canopy
in the dappled sunlight
many faces

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

 

pristine forest
small stars at the edge
of sinkholes

Helga Stania
Switzerland

 

once was a forest
fading scents of camphor
and wild honey

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI

 

crawling night
all around me, the forest
becomes alive

Vandana Parashar
India

 

first snow
piercing this pine forest
a crow

Agus Maulana Sunjaya
Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia

 

distant buzz . . .
looking for silence
under an oak tree

Elisa Allo
Zug, Switzerland

 

forest ramble
soaking in
the length of a pause

Sushama Kapur
Pune, India

 

prattle of crows
filling the treetops—
storm-bruised sky

Annie Wilson
Shropshire, UK

 

the calm
of my primordial self . . .
whispering gum trees

Madhuri Pillai
Australia

 

waxing gibbous—
among the trees
a running deer

Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo
The Hague

 

bush walk
the twists and turns
of Angophora

Carol Reynolds
Australia

 

shiver at forest’s edge
maybe an owl
maybe the wind

Mircea Moldovan
Romania

 

tadasana pose—
leaving everything
behind

Benedetta Cardone
Italy

 

dense forest
only the drumming
of a yellow-crested woodpecker

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India

 

water lilies
the pointy stumps
of beavered trees

Tim Cremin
Massachusetts

 

a breezy walk
in Jayanti Forest . . .
minstrel’s melody

(Jayanti Forest is one of the popular forests of Dooars, India.)

Devoshruti Mandal
Varanasi, India

 

absence
the boundless blue
of a bluebell wood

Claire Ninham
North Yorkshire, UK

 

Patagonia petrified forest—
a remote past
beating in me

Julia Guzmán
Córdoba. Argentina

 

hardly a trail
I inhale the forest
eyes closed

Anitha Varma
India

 

forest in March
the precipice blooms
in sunny crocuses

Stoianka Boianova
Bulgaria

 

entangled
branches of trees
I catch the netted sunbeam

Priti Khullar
India

 

forest fires—
in the grey city
a skater

Jorge Alberto Giallorenzi
Chivilcoy Buenos Aires Argentina

 

the scent
of coffe-bean flowers
my morning walk zest

Lisbeth Ho
Salatiga, Indonesia

 

a life once lived
in an ancient forest
a moth in amber

Mark Meyer
Mercer Island WA USA

 

curled
birch bark
my 1980s hair

Roberta Beach Jacobson
USA

 

entering the woods—
i lift myself
from a fallen leaf

Vijay Prasad
Patna, India

 

hollow tree
the secrets
within

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
USA

 

childhood forest
regaining the ability
to relax

Tomislav Sjekloća
Cetinje, Montenegro

 

flaming maples . . .
young geisha’s
autumn kimono

Melanie Vance
USA

 

shedding my worry
litterfall
on the forest floor

Deborah P Kolodji
Temple City, California

 

forest bathing
the harvest moon hung
among old pines

Florin C. Ciobica
Romania

 

in and out
do you appreciate my CO2
as much as i your O2

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio, USA

 

old forest
the pine needles
thread the light

Cristina Apetrei
Romania

 

mountain theater—
ravens do a dance
for themselves

Elizabeth (kozan) Andrews
United States

 

a single oak
fifty years on
a lone crow

Mike Gallagher
Lyreacrompane, Ireland

 

out of the forest greens into the delta blues

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand

 

hide and seek
in the underbrush
pixie giggles

Maxianne Berger
Outremont, Quebec

 

feet ready to climb
I tune my breath
with the trees’

Cristina Povero
Italy

 

after rain
only clouds are higher
redwood forest

Charles Harmon
Los Angeles, California USA

 

forest light
a tassel-rue’s time
to shine

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada

 

I let the firefly inside – wood camping

Adjei Agyei-Baah
Ghana/New Zealand

 

clouds resting
on a forest floor . . .
moss trail

Barrie Levine
Wenham MA USA

 

pouring down
through the rainforest
komorebi

Pam Joy
Southeast Alaska

 

snares . . .
a tangle of roots
at dusk

Priti Aisola
Hyderabad, India

 

we lie in silence
under a starry night
the smell of forest

John S Green
Bellingham, WA

 

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 35 Comments

  1. clearcutting–
    forest森 shrinks to woods林
    then to a bare tree木

    John Zheng
    USA

    This haiku display kanji(an ideograph)’s characteristics.
    I respect John‘s humor.

    (my humor)

    precaution–
    fire火calls a fire炎
    then to a great fire大火

  2. These two haikus imply coexistence among human being, animals and nature.
    Meaningful haiku I love.

    concrete jungle
    we were once
    hunters

    Teji Sethi
    India

    tracing roots
    our old tree house
    reclaimed by the forest

    Tracy Davidson
    UK

  3. Thanks to all the poets featured here. I have only recently discovered this site. It has offered me a joyful re-connection with haiku. I found the following two haiku particularly evocative….
    From Keith Evetts in the UK:
    snow
    the grip
    of bare oaks

    and from Meera Rehm in the UK:
    winter forest
    the peace trails me
    home

  4. Thanks again, Marietta, for your inviting themes! This one, as vast as the woods, or what is left of the primeval forest, has inspired so many fine ku, like the following two:

    distant buzz . . .
    looking for silence
    under an oak tree

    Elisa Allo

    old forest
    the pine needles
    thread the light

    Cristina Apetrei

    Many thanks for selecting mine too. Thank you also to Kj and Lori. Congratulations to everyone featured!

  5. Many thanks, Marietta, for including my poem in this week’s column. Thank you also to Kj and Lori for all the administration. A lovely selection again this week. Congratulations to all the writers!

    As I often find myself looking at the leaves on the ground and being fascinated by the patterns they make, I particularly enjoyed…

    shedding my worry
    litterfall
    on the forest floor

    Deborah P Kolodji
    Temple City, California

    Fab!

  6. Thanks Marietta and all for publishing my ku, and well done for selecting such a diverse and innovative bunch, not least John Zheng’s and simonj’s, great that Anna Yin’s taking their journey further. Congratulations everyone whose work is included this week.

  7. So sorry to have missed this week’s deadline! Forests…one of my favorite topics… Too many wonderful haiku to call out but thank you Bryan Rickert for my first laugh of the day and love the visual impact of Chinese characters within a poem!

  8. pouring down
    through the rainforest
    komorebi

    Pam Joy

    Very nice. Esotericism is actually engaging in theses days of net publishing and search engines.

    1. Thank you, simonj. I am constantly looking up unfamiliar words – how else to learn? Since learning of komorebi many years ago, I think of it often when I am in the woods. I forget that it’s not a common term but I’m happy to share it.

  9. Thanks again Marietta. You nailed the narrative in hiding behind treetrunks.
    And a shout out to Maxienne – something universal in play.

    1. Yes, Simon. Great to read Maxienne’s haiku pursuing the same theme. A whole world of fun there! Cheers, Marietta

    2. first of all to both simonj and Marietta, “Maxienne” is one of lovelier “variations” on my name .. and in my seven plus decades I have heard many ☺
      secondly .. I’d like to comment on these two haiku which share a similar theme. Simon, your version is brilliant, while mine is quite ordinary. The reason for this is the classic difference between show and tell.
      Simon, instead of saying “hide and seek,” you give the last three numbers of the count: 98, 99, 100.
      Instead of a somewhat generic “underbrush,” you specify a kind of tree: “beechwoods”
      We share the acoustic “giggles” ..
      here they are together: Simonj’s monostich, my ordinary tercet ..
      **
      somewhere ⁹⁸ the bare beechwood ⁹⁹ giggles ¹⁰⁰
      **
      hide and seek
      in the underbrush
      pixie giggles
      **
      hats off to you, simonj, for saying it so brilliantly .. ☺.. seeing the two ku together is a reminder of what can be achieved .. and so what can be strived for .. Maxianne

  10. Japanese rose
    a splash of yellow
    touches her loneliness
    /
    Padmini Krishnan
    Singapore
    /
    a very sweet haiku

    1. Hi Valentina, I am so glad you liked my haiku. Thank you so much for your kind words of appreciation:)

  11. Thank you Marietta for including my first monoku. New Zealand went into a snap lockdown last week when one case of the delta variant was detected in the community, hence my delta blues 🙁

    I particularly like the childhood memories in this haiku:

    somewhere ⁹⁸ the bare beechwood ⁹⁹ giggles ¹⁰⁰

    simonj
    UK

    And this one because I see faces in everything – but not so scary in the daytime:

    forest canopy
    in the dappled sunlight
    many faces

    Minal Sarosh
    Ahmedabad, India
     

    1. Hello Sue, I’m delighted to have published your first monoku! Look forward to seeing more of your work in future. Yes, we certainly are experiencing the delta blues, although maybe not the musical variety. Cheers, Marietta

  12. Thank you Marietta and thanks to all of the poets that contributed. One of my best friends was a donkey when I served in the Peace Corps in El Salvador so I am looking forward to haikuing about these spirited creatures!

    1. Hello Dan, what an interesting story! Maybe you’ll write a haibun about your best friend. Meanwhile, I will look forward to your haiku about lovely donkeys. Cheers, Marietta

  13. So glad to read these wonderful haiku! Congrats! Thanks Marietta.

    I wonder if I can share two haiku from the above at my upcoming haiku event? https://vpl.bibliocommons.com/events/60f732302ec0fa41005403f0

    1.

    clearcutting—forest 森 shrinks to woods 林then to a bare tree 木

    John ZhengItta Bena, Mississippi, USA

    2.

    somewhere ⁹⁸ the bare beechwood ⁹⁹ giggles ¹⁰⁰

    simonj
    UK

    Could you please let me know their emails or share my email to them? kjmunro and HaikuFoundation?
    Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Anna – of course, The Haiku Foundation won’t share personal information like email addresses… but I will email you about this – sounds wonderful! thanks, kj

  14. in and out
    do you appreciate my CO2
    as much as i your O2
    /
    Nancy Brady
    Huron, Ohio, USA
    /
    a clever haiku
    .

      1. You’re welcome, Nancy. Not too many haiku about photosynthesis, and I really enjoyed yours! Cheers, Marietta

  15. Thank-you Marietta for selecting mine for publication. Thank-you also to all the others at the foundation that help with this column. Congrats to all the poets.

  16. Thank you Marietta for including my haiku this week! Enjoying getting lost in the forest with these haiku. I like this humorous approach to the theme:
    curled
    birch bark
    my 1980s hair

    Roberta Beach Jacobson
    USA
    And very much felt this haiku on a serious note:
    forest fires—
    in the grey city
    a skater

    Jorge Alberto Giallorenzi
    Chivilcoy Buenos Aires Argentina

  17. What a great forest to wander through from bonsai to redwoods. Some quite profound, others like Bryan Rickart’s good for a chuckle. Congratulations to all the poets.
    .
    Thanks Marietta for fixing the subscript on mine.

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