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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Finding peace and contemplation… in the great outdoors… watching clouds

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 among mountains

As you climb higher into the mountains, the air gets thinner. Sometimes you feel breathless, even euphoric. Lifting our eyes up to the hills has long been a source of hope and strength. We can think about the way our Earth has shifted, folded, and been weathered away only to build up again. The glaciated landscape of Yosemite formed over 130 million years, and is still changing as rock slides off granite faces into the valley. Looking at this landscape the feeling for me was one of awe. I could relate to the young woman who was meditating on the cliff edge, but I would not have been game to join her as I’m nervous of heights! I look forward to your poetry inspired by mountains, hills and the emotions they awaken in you.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday August 14, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 watching clouds:

Thank you for a great read this week. Ephemeral phenomena though they are, clouds certainly do inspire uplifting poetry! If you don’t find your haiku in the selection it may be because there were a number of good poems along similar lines. Because clouds are familiar and we look at them almost every day, it’s easy for poetic images to veer towards the commonplace. Sheep popped up here and there, as did reflections of clouds in water and cups of coffee. Cotton candy, or fairy floss as British and Australian fairgoers call it, was a recurrent image. Nothing wrong with these haiku at all, but in making my selections, different ways of seeing were what drew me. I hope you all get as much enjoyment from this week’s Haiku Dialogue as I have. Thanks as always to Kathy, Lori and THF for creating this great place to share your haiku and interact with other poets.

white fleecy clouds—
chigiri-e of
passing summer

Teiichi Suzuki
Japan

In this haiku, perhaps the poet is looking up at the sky and from its cloud forms, realising that the seasons are on the verge of changing and summer will soon be over. The irregular edges of the clouds bring to mind the soft shapes of torn washi, the handmade paper used in chigiri-e, a traditional Japanese collage art form. Or maybe summer is already over, and Line 1 describes what is past – a collage artwork is being created in the studio to capture those memories of a summer’s day and clouds. The haiku has wabi-sabi, a feeling of melancholy in the passage of time.

Fuji
cloud
Fuji

Aljoša Vuković
Šibenik, Croatia

Much of the emphasis of modern tourism which involves natural attractions or man-made sights, whether it’s a visit to Venice, the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon or any other famous beauty spot, is all about seeing the tourist attraction. Selfies rely on sun-drenched seas and skies. Rain or fog can dampen the experience for many! Not so for Matsuo Bashō. When he passes Mt Fuji in autumn 1684, he finds the peak shrouded in fog and rain. Far from being disappointed because he’s missing a famous view, he’s intrigued. His haiku appreciates the veiled mountain ‒ Fuji-san is indeed present in spirit, and equally beautiful. Here the poet has cleverly created in only three words an allusive haiku. Haiku using the allusive technique, called honkadori, refer directly or indirectly to more famous poems. Honkadori is more commonly used by Japanese haijin.

clouds
islands animals angels
clouds

John S Green
Bellingham, WA USA

Whereas the previous haiku’s image depicted a very solid landmark, here the poet takes a more dreamlike view of clouds, at least for some of the time. For me it conjures someone sitting alone or wandering ‘lonely as a cloud’, looking at the sky and drifting into a sort of reverie. The clouds are morphing into a variety of different forms, both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial. Simulacra segue from one to another, shapeshifting almost seamlessly. Then suddenly the spell is broken, perhaps by passersby or a random comment, the imaginative moment is lost and the clouds which adopted those extraordinary forms are back to being just ‘clouds’. I like the ‘shape’ of the haiku too. L1 sets the scene, L2 has us racing through the sky, and L3 brings us back to earth.

lost childhood . . .
the clouds
have no patterns

Priti Aisola
Hyderabad, India

This poem left me with a strong feeling of sadness. Its tone is wistful, reflecting the thoughts of an older person looking back who has missed out on the imaginative flights of a small child. There are no limits to human imagination. Learning new things can help expand our vision. Perhaps there were no parents or siblings to sit down with the small one and play simple games, no children’s books to read aloud, no paper and pencils to draw with, no hillside where they could lie on their backs looking at clouds overhead, or no time to daydream because of hard work that had to be done. Also, some places have their skies shrouded in fumes for much of the year, so clouds (and stars) go unseen. The poet has created a poignant haiku about what is missing, and is missed.

retreating clouds . . .
how quickly I make a
bucket list

Priti Khullar
Noida, India

In this haiku Line 1 seems at first to be a straightforward descriptive nature image. Then we move on to Lines 2 and 3, where the poet is very much a part of the story. Looking back at L1, we can now imagine it refers to changes on a much larger scale, perceived improvements in the political or social landscape. I take the juxtaposition to be a metaphor for what is happening in the world today. Could ‘retreating clouds’ possibly be referring to the pandemic? Is the poet beginning to feel a sense of guarded hope that things will change for the better? Many of us compile a bucket list of things we’ve set our heart on one day seeing or doing. They can be simple or ambitious. The fact that the clouds are clearing and a bucket list is being made is definitely cause for optimism.

& here are the rest of the selections:

fairground romance
we both stick a tongue in
a pink fluffy cloud

John Hawkhead
UK

 

cloud cry the tears she holds back

Lakshmi Iyer
India

 

beach walk
wave after wave chases
the clouds

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany

 

shifting shape
the first tadpole escapes
its transparent cage

Anitha Varma
Kerala, India

 

a dragonfly
stirs a cloud—
calm waters

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

 

clouds gathering—
a child looks out the window
and waves to the sky

Nicole Pottier
France

 

fire rainbow
the kaleidoscope
of my spring dreams

Hifsa Ashraf
Rawalpindi, Pakistan

 

placid pond
in and out of clouds
a zig-zagging dragonfly

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove, CA

 

clouds—
the snow
from a long time ago

Angiola Inglese
Italia

 

my castles
in the air
i walk on clouds

Subir Ningthouja
Imphal, India

 

star gazing—
a piece of cloud
wanders by

Teji Sethi
India

 

big sky country
a hawk’s scree
connects the clouds

Terri French
RV

 

white clouds
cotton candy
in the window

Neni Rusliana
Indonesia

 

cloudy morning
sipping
unfinished dreams

Ram Chandran
India

 

far from home
the blues way downstairs man
autumn rain

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, Wa. USA

 

cloud babies . . .
how some dreams
fade away

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
Kolkata, India

 

small red sun
from a smokey lake—
august loon

(Common Loon, Bednesti Lake, BC, Canada. The loons’ eyes turn a deep crimson in summer, and revert to, well, fall colours in the fall – and red suns have once again become common place this ‘fire season’ up and down the pacific coast of NA, in no small part due to climate change. The anthropocentric critique resonates with me. As a biologist and environmental scientist, this vanity has become increasingly detrimental. My haiku commonly ignore ‘me’ and instead consider all of the millions of other species on our planet that we are pushing aside.)

Art Fredeen
Canada

 

paddles after rain—
walking on clouds with you
for the first time

Daniela Sorina Ciurariu
United Kingdom

 

moon rays
filtered by the clouds—
thoughts on the run

Vincenzo Adamo
Sicily Italy

 

border town—
the clouds also
passing through

Alan Peat
Biddulph, United Kingdom

 

flowing
with the prairie stream
cloud reflections

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA

 

I float
through the afternoon
summer clouds

Kim Klugh
Lancaster, PA

 

White clouds—
suddenly here
full moon

Dennys Cambarau
Sardinia, Italy

 

marsh sunset
clouds rest among
the rainbow

Wakako Miya Rollinger
Topanga, CA

 

summer day . . .
the sides of clouds
I haven’t seen

Ed Bremson
North Carolina

 

summer cloud
gently flying my thanksgiving prayer

Albertus Hariantono
Malang, Indonesia

 

storm leaves
no words for
inside out umbrella

Kathleen Mazurowski
Chicago, IL

 

network of clouds . . .
wherever i go
data follows

ಮೋಡಗಳ ಜಾಲ …
ನಾನು ಎಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಹೋದರೂ
ಡೇಟಾ ಹಿಂಬಾಲಿಸುತ್ತದೆ

Amrutha Prabhu
Bengaluru, India

 

clouds
above the ocean
past present future

Ravi Kiran
India

 

cloudgazing—
all the dreams
that won’t come true

Pippa Phillips
United States

 

skyscraper dawn
floating on what ifs
of cloud billows

Sushama Kapur
Pune, India

 

sailing high
seeing towns now and then
below the sea of clouds

Xiaoou Chen
Kunming, China

 

shady illusions
cleared by Buddha’s rays
meditating

Hla Yin Mon
Yangon, Myanmar

 

better than cartoons
the cloud coyote
comes out on top

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

stagnant clouds
in a blink
swallows out of sight

Manoj Sharma
Kathmandu, Nepal

 

Smoky Mountains—
morning coffee
with visiting clouds

Ba Duong
Florida, USA

 

stratocumulus
the other word
for ‘reef the sails’

Pris Campbell
USA

 

heaven’s beams
touching the sea mist
my cloud of breath

Peg Cherrin-Myers
Michigan

 

breaking stride . . .
fans of golden rays
from a molten sky

Richard Matta
San Diego, California

 

first rain clouds—
lighting up again
father’s eyes

Mirela Brăilean
Romania

 

backlit storm clouds the eye of God

Lorraine Pester
Texas, USA

 

over the hill
chasing the cloud’s shadow
the cloud

martin gottlieb cohen
Egg Harbor, NJ, Atlantic County, East Coast of U.S.

 

first cup of coffee
across the sky
slow-drifting clouds

Olivier Schopfer
Geneva, Switzerland

 

red clouds
over red kochia bushes
sunset

Tsanka Shishkova
Bulgaria

 

quarantine ending
the gray winter clouds unmask
a sliver of sun

Lorraine Schein
Queens, NY

 

low clouds
cover the mountain
what she didn’t say

Rehn Kovacic
Mesa, AZ

 

stream’s murmer
a cloud floats
soaked in light

Suraja Roychowdhury
Lexington, MA, USA

 

mile-high view
the plane’s shadow drifts
across the clouds

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
USA

 

wilted flower
the cloud leaves
a shadow behind

Robert Kingston
Essex, United Kingdom

 

sun-kissed . . .
maverick clouds play
peek-a-boo

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India

 

faces
in the clouds
wish you were here

Margaret Mahony
Australia

 

overcast sky
letting the tea leaves seep in
I become dusk

Vandana Parashar
India

 

cuckoo’s call a cloud pauses

Richa Sharma
India

 

deep autumn—
all his breath
in a cloud

Maria Teresa Piras
Serrenti Italia

 

skin mole—
the lonely bird
facing the clouds

Rudi Smets
Belgium

 

teddy bear cloud
I remember you
in a summer dream

Marion Clarke
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland

 

turmeric tea
still hiding behind clouds
morning sun

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

 

descaling fish
across the morning sky
cirrocumulus floccus

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia

 

overcast
sitting idle—
the sundial

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

 

catching sunrise
above the clouds—
red-eye flight

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA

 

moonlight
seeping through cloud seams
cold feet

Tim Cremin
Massachusetts

 

on my window
the shape of clouds . . .
hydrangea

Daniela Misso
Italia

 

always looking up
I’ve still yet to find
cloud nine

Mark Meyer
Mercer Island WA USA

 

magpie alarm
the mown meadow
dusting clouds

(England’s hottest day, and a large and tall heat vortex was spinning up the dry and dusty mown meadow about a hundred feet or so as if into the clouds themselves.)

Alan Summers
England

 

meandering clouds
my imagination
runs amok

Meera Rehm
UK

 

mackerel clouds
the way you dot my neck
with kisses

Surashree Joshi
Pune, India

 

virga reaching
down from the clouds
the memory of his touch

Sheila Sondik
Bellingham, WA USA

 

as above
so below
old pond

Kanjini Devi
The Far North, Aotearoa NZ

 

immigrant diary—
how easily clouds
cross the border

Dan Campbell
Virginia

 

sky lines—
through swirls of snow
a blue whale swims

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom

 

microburst
a lone dark cloud
goes rogue

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California

 

thunderheads
a waterspout
traces the river

JL Huffman
Blue Ridge Mountains of NC, USA

 

cloud wisps
in the spring sky
magnolia blossoms

Louise Hopewell
Melbourne, Australia

 

cloud watching
down by the fish pond
meadowlark sky

Ann K. Schwader
Westminster, CO

 

on a blanket
we watch the clouds
shape-shift

Christopher Peys
Los Angeles

 

a sprinkle of tears
before dispersing . . .
extended lockdown

Madhuri Pillai
Australia

 

summer sky
a white cloud stretches
into an elephant

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India

 

as if clouds know
this rainfall takes all day
a sunset elsewhere

Alfred Booth
France

 

dementia cloud . . .
the secret my mother forgot
to keep secret

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand

 

briefly so still . . .
clouds
in the lake

Joe Sebastian
Chennai

 

hermit’s prayer
counting the clouds
with the third eye

Mircea Moldovan
Romania

 

early morning walk
a croissant
in the clouds

Helene Guojah
UK

 

cloud shadow
plop of muskrats
from the logs

Matt Robison
Kettering, Ohio, USA

 

smoke clouds—
migrating birds
scratching the grey

Benedetta Cardone
Italy

 

a beautiful grey day
I dip my paint brush
into the clouds

Claire Ninham
North Yorkshire, UK

 

drifting clouds
the moon goddess tries
her nightgowns

John Zheng
Itta Bena, Mississippi

 

summer clouds
under the blooming lotus
a koi

Agus Maulana Sunjaya
Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia

 

cherubic clouds
over the old graveyard . . .
undisturbed peace

Natalia Kuznetsova 
Russia

 

bulbous cloud
the shape of the thought of it
in passing

Ronald Scully
Manchester NH

 

rain cloud
full
of itself

Barrie Levine
Wenham MA USA

 

post war life—
from drifting clouds
haze sunshine

Devoshruti Mandal
Varanasi, India

 

broken sky
upon the sea
an archipelago of cloud shadows

Christopher Seep
United States

 

the enigma
of dark clouds
starlings murmuration

Melanie Vance
USA

 

the curly hair
of the child I was . . .
cirrus clouds

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore
Catania Italy

 

silence
fills up the gap
among clouds

Mihovila Čeperić-Biljan
Senj, Croatia
(Translated by Đurđa V.Rožić)

 

scorching sun
I bow and thank
the passing clouds

Cristina Povero
Italy

 

state fair
cotton candy clouds
lead the way

Carol Judkins
Carlsbad, CA USA

 

monsoon drizzle
under the mango tree
a newly born calf

Mohammad Azim Khan
Peshawar Pakistan

 

miscarriage—
the clouds
softly weep

Roberta Beary
Wesport, Mayo Ireland

 

cumulonimbus
Mother’s sheets
to the wind

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada

 

cloud micro-burst
a sailboat tossed
by wind and rain

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio, USA

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 31 Comments

  1. virga reaching
    down from the clouds
    the memory of his touch

    Sheila Sondik
    Bellingham, WA USA

    This haiku is wonderful. The juxtaposition is perfect. I long for virgo reaching for me . . . and for memories of touch that equates . . .

  2. Many thanks Marietta! Your kind words were welcome. You did not mention but I tried to create a fun alliteration within the three cloud shapes . . .

    islands animals angels

    Such a fun and productive weekly event!

    Hugs to all!

    John

    1. Hello John. I did like the sound of those three words together! They made the haiku fun to read, with an effective internal ‘rhyme’. Cheers from Australia.

  3. Such a vivid and memorable collection of poems this week. I loved reading them all. Many thanks to Marietta for including my poem and also for providing another really useful commentary. Thank you also to Kj and Lori for all the admin.

    One poem that has lingered in my mind is …

    cumulonimbus
    Mother’s sheets
    to the wind

    P. H. Fischer
    Vancouver, Canada

    Apart from the cinematic image that the poem creates, I love the choice of the word ‘cumulonimbus’. It not only suggests the approaching storm but the syllables add a sense of movement as the sheets flap on the washing line.

    I look forward to reading next week’s selection.

    1. Thank-you for your kind comment, Dorothy.

      It’s such a pleasure when others see things that I didn’t. You’re right, there is a sense of snappy movement in all of those syllables!

      Btw, another reading of the poem forebodes a different kind of storm and different kind of sheets. This is the frightening storm of an alcoholic parent—mother is (three) sheets to the wind.

      Your haiku stood out for me as well. Amazing—here’s the planet’s largest mammal swimming limitless, high above all of its (and our) worries. The power of imagination!

      Thank-you,
      Peter

  4. Thank you, Marietta, for mentioning my haiku in this collection. Thanks to Lori and Kathy for their commitment. Congratulations to all poets.

  5. Thank you for selecting my haiku. Really honoured!
    Some poems are so inspiring!
    Thank you!
    Best regards to all

  6. Thank you for selecting my haiku for publication. Really honoured!
    Congrats to all the poets. Some poems are so inspiring!
    Thank you!
    Best regards to all

  7. So many good poems this week I can’t pick them all out – great job everyone. However, my inner child holds onto this:

    better than cartoons
    the cloud coyote
    comes out on top

    Tracy Davidson
    Warwickshire, UK

    Gotta love those Wile.E Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons. Hmmm, perhaps there’s an Acme made senryu in the factory…

  8. Thank you Marietta for another eclectic selection. Thanks too to KJ and Lori for bringing to us this fine feature.

    I very much enjoyed reading through this weeks selection. Quite an emotional ride.

    I selected the one below as it to me provides a depth of .perspective. Clouds IMO do this, be it emotional or visible.

    border town—
    the clouds also
    passing through

    Alan Peat
    Biddulph, United Kingdom

  9. monsoon drizzle
    under the mango tree
    a newly born calf
    /
    Mohammad Azim Khan
    Peshawar Pakistan
    /
    This haiku tells me something of what life is like in a place far from where I reside. I have
    never experienced a monsoon or seen a mango tree.

  10. Thank you for selecting my haiku for publication, Marietta McGregor. Thank you to Lori and Kathy for their efforts on this column. Congrats to all the poets.
    What a wonderful collection of poems reflecting so many different styles! I loved them all, but a few really stood out for me:
    Fuji
    cloud
    Fuji

    Aljoša Vuković
    Šibenik, Croatia
    .
    cloud cry the tears she holds back

    Lakshmi Iyer
    India
    .

    cloud babies . . .
    how some dreams
    fade away

    Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
    Kolkata, India
    .
    magpie alarm
    the mown meadow
    dusting clouds

    (England’s hottest day, and a large and tall heat vortex was spinning up the dry and dusty mown meadow about a hundred feet or so as if into the clouds themselves.)

    Alan Summers
    England
    …………………………………………………….

    1. Dear Mirela,

      Thank you for mentioning mine! I’ve just given a full blown mega account of this haiku to a poetry site. Who knew so much negative space resided in even a quiet haiku! 🙂

      warm regards,
      Alan

  11. Thank you Marietta McGregor for selecting my haiku for publication. It is indeed an honour for me!!
    It’s amazing how well you read my mind !!!
    Thanks to Kathy, Lori and THF for this wonderful platform which offers great compilation of amazing haikus by all creative poets. There is so much to learn from each one of them.

  12. a beautiful grey day
    I dip my paint brush
    into the clouds

    Claire Ninham

    Although ‘beautiful’ is a subjective description, the haiku is written in the first person and it establishes the artist’s mood.
    I do think that ‘day’ is superfluous though, both informationally and rhythmically. Overall, it has a joy contrary to the weather.

    1. Thank you, Marietta, for including my haiku. And thank you, simonj, for your feedback.

      I know that ‘grey day’ and ‘clouds’ is almost a repetition (the former also rhymes) but omitting ‘day’ would change the haiku’s meaning. As an artist, a cloudless day is the least inspiring but I have several blue day haiku! I shall contemplate an edit to this rapidly composed haiku.

  13. Thank=you for selecting my haiku for publication, Marietta. Thank-you to Lori and Kathy for their efforts on this column. Congrats to all the poets.

  14. I miss seeing poems in other languages, especially Italian a I speak a little. I miss the musicality of it. I also love seeing the script of other languages, the beauty of it, though I may not be able to read it. It seems there used to be more of that. Thank you for my weekly dose of vitamin H.

  15. Overcast and cloudy with storms on the way, yet the clouds here are playful, hopeful, wistful, and so much more. So many ways to see clouds this week and am think of clouds in new ways. Plenty to read, congratulations to all, and appreciate that I was fortunate enough to be included. I was particularly taken with Roberta Beary’s haiku about the miscarriage for its poignancy as well as Carol Judkins’ lighthearted state fair. Will read them all more thoroughly, but we’ll done to all

          1. I know it well, and follow you loyally, Roberta. ‘Difficult’, as if I had questioned it, ought not to have been in inverted commas.

      1. Roberta,
        Yet it needs to be spoken of…pretending the life never happened is disrespectful to the parents and the child. Your haiku made me weep, frankly. Wishing you all the best.

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