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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Finding peace and contemplation… in the great outdoors… with curious donkeys

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 worn, imperfect and transient things… rustic wagon

Among art galleries along long narrow Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico, there are reminders of the early farming days of the City Different, as its inhabitants call it. This old wagon with its faded copper-verdigris paint and finely detailed railing could have carried supplies to outlying farms, then returned with loads of wood for town dwellers. The wheel rim is iron-bound, so maybe it really was a working wagon, not a prop outside a gallery. Overgrown by creepers, it has the wabi-sabi appeal of simple and rustic objects. This week you’re invited to write a haiku about thoughts stirred by the old wagon, or by how we travel.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday September 04, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 with curious donkeys:

An enjoyable ‛ride’ with you and donkeys this week, thanks all! Poems ranged from playful to surreal and somber. Donkeys featured in affectionate childhood memories of places and family. The eye is said to be a key to the soul. Many found this true of donkeys and their expressive liquid gaze. Their distinctive voices came in for mention too. The donkey and its traits also provided rueful metaphors for human foibles. Nick Bottom with his ass’s head, the only character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream who co-exists with humans and fairies, playfully turns up in one haiku. There are other encounters with animals from invertebrates to toys, and moments which may or may not have been with members of the animal kingdom. This brings us to the end of our great outdoors prompts. Through September I’ll be with you again, seeking peace and contemplation observing simple, aged or rustic objects. I hope you’re inspired and I look forward to your haiku. Please send just two poems, in English. We’re happy for submissions also to include your poem in your own language as well as English if you like. Thank you as always to managing editor Katherine Munro, post manager Lori Zajkowski and The Haiku Foundation for bringing us Haiku Dialogue.

Yarmouth beach
donkeys and children return
to full size

Robert Kingston
United Kingdom

I head for the sea wherever I travel, but I’ve never made it to Yarmouth Beach except in photos. With its sweeping stretch of sandy beach bordering the coast of Norfolk in Britain’s east, Yarmouth has been a resort since 1760. The popular beach has a number of piers and amusements, including donkey rides. Several readings are possible. Perhaps years have elapsed, and the poet returns to Yarmouth where they holidayed as a young child. Rather than feeling small among a forest of donkeys’ legs with older kids milling around, the surprise is discovering a new perspective, a sort of reverse ‛Alice in Wonderland’ experience. Or maybe the poet is stretched out drowsing in the sun, staring at the long vista of sand and sea. Donkeys and their riders slowly trail out of the distance, appearing bigger as they get nearer. Either way, it’s a haiku imbued with nostalgia and a sunny peace.

political turmoil
the donkeys don’t
stop braying

Vandana Parashar

This sharply pitched senryu may be read as a straight account of a day’s activity, perhaps during a village demonstration on polling day or a visit by a controversial politician. As a noisy backdrop to the general commotion, stirred-up local donkeys begin to call, one after the other, adding to the hubbub. Or the poem may be a metaphor which plays on another meaning of ‛donkey’. Early authors of moral tales, such as those credited to Aesop (6th Century BCE), often depicted the donkey as stupid and lacking in discretion. In Australia and New Zealand, a ‛donkey vote’ is a cast ballot which marks all candidates on a ballot paper from top to bottom in the order they are listed, without any reference to their political affiliation. Because it counts in the tally, candidates like to get their names high on the ballot list, rather like runners drawing a good starting gate in a horse race! A third meaning can be drawn from the descriptive sound itself. Someone who speaks in a loud, hectoring way is said to have a ‛braying voice’. This could well be what is happening here.

their rumble
through the valley
wild horses

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA

As a horse lover and avid former reader of children’s books about prairie mustangs, this haiku appealed to me both for its sound and the pictures it conjured. I imagine a cloud of dust rising in an arroyo as the band gallops through, and the way their hoofbeats echo from the rocks. A ‛rumble’ can also mean a skirmish between two rival gangs. This poem could be alluding to a show of strength between stallions fighting over territory and leadership of a group of mares in a herd.

ouzo moon—
I tell my troubles
to a donkey

Pippa Phillips
United States

I like the image of ‛ouzo moon’, a new one for me, but one I can easily imagine. The Greek anise-containing liquor ouzo is crystal clear until water is added, then swirls into a milky opalescence, like clouds suddenly veiling a full moon. While not strictly a prescribed kigo or season word, the haiku could in fact refer to spring, the time of a hazy moon. So it seems we’re in a coolly moonlit field, leaning over a fence as a donkey approaches. Maybe after a couple of glasses of ouzo it’s easier to open up to a sympathetic confidant, a donkey which can be relied on never to give away any secrets.

my daughter nuzzles
the little donkey . . .
straw hats with daisies

Barrie Levine
Wenham MA USA

An irresistible image redolent of childish pleasure. The poet’s child has quite clearly fallen head-over-heels in love with the donkey and is giving it a big hug. Line 3 adds to the delightful picture as we have not one hat but ‛hats’, plural, which hints that both child and donkey are wearing flowery headgear. It’s easy to imagine her donkey friend having a surreptitious nibble of the little girl’s hat, on the sly. A delightful and fresh haiku.

& here are the rest of the selections:

these eyes green nettles just out of reach

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany


transit area—
travellers and cockroaches
both in a hurry

Nicole Pottier


curious history . . .
untamed ancestors
tamed donkeys

Amrutha Prabhu
Bengaluru, India


mountain peak
a donkey’s bray echos
deep in the valley

Terri French


a long gaze
at their tied legs . . .
the bonded labour

Lakshmi Iyer


Amarnath Yatra . . .
donkeys cap the piety
of the pilgrims

(Amarnath Yatra: one of the holiest and toughest Hindu pilgrimages to the Amarnath cave in the Himalayas)

Subir Ningthouja
Imphal, India


autumn wind—
the moon is mirrored
on the donkey’s eye

Dennys Cambarau
Sardinia, Italy


modern times—
I carry a heavier load
than my donkey

Aljoša Vuković
Croatia, Šibenik


cobwebs shaking
lions in full throat
outside the camp

Tim Cremin


my donkey child
feet planted firmly
on the ground

edna beers
Rensselaer, NY, USA


the farmer’s wife
knits ear-gloves for donkeys—

Jenny Shepherd
London, UK


Beethoven’s 6th—
another goblet
of Montepulciano

Joshua Gage
Cleveland, OH, USA


melting my
cold cold heart—
donkey smile

Dan Campbell


autumn dusk
talking to the donkey
hauling cotton

John Zheng


mountain shrine
grimace of the pilgrim
riding a donkey

Anitha Varma
Kerala, India


awaked at dawn
cry of deer—
Nara Hotel

Teiichi Suzuki


through the lens
the Ghudkhur

(The Ghudkhur is the Indian Wild Ass that roams freely in the ‘Little Rann’ Wildlife sanctuary of India. It is an endangered species and also a photographer’s delight.)

Ravi Kiran


loaded with
myriad colours
a washerman’s donkey

(In rural India, donkeys are used by washermen to carry clothes back and forth.)

Teji Sethi


through the fence
my dog licks
the donkey’s ear

Helga Stania


cat and me
have a distant aura
blue moon

Nani Mariani
Melbourne, Australia


thistles a-plenty
two donkeys making faces
and pretend faces

Sheila Barksdale
Gotherington, England, U.K.


big kids
maybe the donkeys
should ride them instead

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK


a pat
on the donkey’s back . . .
cloud of dust

una pacca
sul dorso dell’asino . . .
nuvola di polvere

Daniela Misso


summer meadow
in the donkey’s eyes
years of weight

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India


circa 1980s birthday party
pin the tail
on the donkey

Margaret Mahony


packing out
I offer to carry her load
she hee-haws back

Richard Matta
San Diego, California


harmattan haze
catching my eye
a zebrinny

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India


frisson  the fox yet warm



country road—
I give priority to
a donkey

Daniela Lăcrămioara Capotă


ghost town
a wild burro’s bray
wakes the dead

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, CA


weekly market
the seer takes pride in his
prophetic mule

Richa Sharma


essential workers—
the deer continue
their pruning

Sheila Sondik
Bellingham, WA USA


before quake
at mountain pass—
our donkeys bolt

Neera Kashyap


silent woods
a lone woodpecker
is measuring time

Rajeshwari Srinivasan


autumn morning . . .
the sparrow’s singing
awakens the cat

Ronald Degler
United States


photo memories
a three-year-old girl
riding a donkey

Zdenka Mlinar


deer scat
getting fresh tips
on urban foraging

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC


dusky sky . . .
a symphony of

Dr. Priti Chahar
Agra, India


kitchen window
the face of a donkey

Slobodan Pupovac
Zagreb, Croatia


on a hiking trail
next to me . . . floating
Muhammad Ali

Ronald Degler
Harbor City, California


deer’s call our eyes first meet

Mirela Brăilean


Palm Sunday
the donkey’s ears
pricking up

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India


holding stubbornly
to a moment of sadness

Rehn Kovacic
Mesa, AZ


dusty sandpit
having a good scratch
the donkey kicks the sky

Kathleen Vasek Trocmet
Texas, USA


morning walk
I let the family of deers
pass through

Wakako Miya Rollinger
Topanga, CA


workaholic the donkey in us

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA


windswept sands—
beach donkeys carrying
my childhood

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom


summer festival
a donkey steals
the show

Meera Rehm


a well in the heat
donkey with eye-flaps
in a water-wheel

Stoianka Boianova


one at first
then the whole herd
Jersey cows

Olivier Schopfer
Geneva, Switzerland


velveteen donkey
winter semester

Peggy Hale Bilbro


the rhythm of a hymn
in my donkey’s trot

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India


farmer girl
the velvet she knows
from her donkey’s ears

Sandra St-Laurent
Whitehorse, Yukon


in the front line
pandemic’s beast
of burden

Didimay D. Dimacali
California, USA


awakening the puppy
in old beagle
fluttering pigeon

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India


‛errant wings’ swivel
in greeting—
lone village donkey

(from G K Chesterton’s ‛The Donkey’)

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia


holiday photo
between the drops of dew
frog eyes

Wiesław Karliński
Namysłów, Poland


overloaded cart
in the donkey’s eyes
dusk deepens

Hifsa Ashraf
Rawalpindi, Pakistan


sharing meal . . .
a weather beaten donkey
with its master

ꯆꯥꯛꯌꯣꯝ ꯆꯥꯃꯤꯟꯅꯔꯤ . . .
ꯀꯥꯍꯠꯂꯕ ꯒꯙꯥ ꯑꯃꯁꯨꯡ
ꯃꯥꯒꯤ ꯃꯄꯨ

(The above haiku is translated in Meitei mayek script.

Milan Rajkumar
Imphal, India


morning walk
a wallaby’s momentary gaze
before he melds into the bush

Madhuri Pillai


grassy path—
grandpa’s little donkey
in my memory

sentiero erboso—
l’asinello del nonno
nella mia memoria

Maria Teresa Piras
Sardegna – Italia


the first flowers
of convolvulus—
grazing horses

Angiola Inglese


a hot day—
a donkey snoops
behind the wall

Jorge Alberto Giallorenzi
Chivilcoy, Buenos Aires, Argentina


closing the tent—
the raccoons’ shining eyes
on the picnic table

Julia Guzmán
Córdoba, Argentina


country of childhood—
in the street the ticking
of the donkey’s hooves

Elisa Allo
Zug, Switzerland


stubborn as a mule mother’s favorite reprimand

Pris Campbell
Lake Worth, FL


Labor Day—
the donkey business
as usual

Melanie Vance


dense fog—
i follow
burro’s braying

Devoshruti Mandal
Varanasi, India


twenty years later
same holiday house
same donkey wanting a scratch

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand


home range
a donkey’s bray

Sherry Grant
Auckland, New Zealand


donkey . . .
carrying the weight
of my thoughts

Ana Drobot


a half moon

Helen Buckingham
United Kingdom


dining al fresco
hidden crickets chirp
a serenade

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams


Grandpa’s funeral—
across the pasture
his donkey’s bray

Carol Judkins
Carlsbad, CA USA


metro-park farm
the donkey hangs
with the llamas

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio, USA


Shakespeare camp
a young Puck yells
Bottom’s up!

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada


Donkey Crossing
descendants of the braying
Kona Nightingales

(Donkeys were part of the workforce in the early Kona Coffee farms. Because of their braying, they were affectionately nicknamed the ‛Kona Nightingales’.)

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI


nuzzling a baby
in their manger
curious donkeys

Charles Harmon
Los Angeles, California USA


donkey eyes
mother told me to look
into them for truth

Kath Abela Wilson


the unburdened brays
at the trough

C.R. Harper


the camel kneels
offers us a ride
over the dunes we fly

(This took place in the Thar desert of India. I’ll never forget it! I loved my camel and sang him songs.)

Genie Nakano
Gardena, CA 


Mercado del Lago
under the sign don’t feed geese
they eye my pizza

Susan Rogers
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:

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 24 Comments

  1. Thanks Marietta & co for publishing another of my ku – lots of great donkey poems (my poor swan felt a bit incongruous among them!) Congratulations everyone, especially the ‘top five’ – love Robert Kingston’s – I know Yarmouth Beach of old, so nostalgic for me too!

  2. Many thanks to Marietta and kj for including and commenting on my poem! Many thanks to the other poets for providing so many fine examples.

  3. Many thanks to Marietta, Kj and Lori for including my poem in this week’s column and congratulations to all the poets. I enjoyed reading all the poems, There was such a great variety of images created. I particularly appreciated Robert Kingston’s take on Yarmouth Beach and also

    the rhythm of a hymn
    in my donkey’s trot

    Arvinder Kaur
    Chandigarh, India

    The repetition of the ‘m’ sounds gave the impression of a donkey on the move. Lovely!

  4. So many beautiful poems. Thank you so kindly for adding two of mine, I am so honored. I enjoyed reading each and all of them.

  5. Lovely collection of donkey stories! I’m glad mine was included, but there must have been a switcheroo somehow. This was the original:

    velveteen donkey
    winter blues

    Replacing blues with semester actually adds a new meaning to it, so I am OK with that. Thanks for your work week after week. I look forward to seeing this column drop into my email each week.

    1. hi Peggy – just to say that I checked your submission, & the poem does appear the way it was submitted… I believe Alan Summers would call this some kind of happy accident… but thanks for letting us know – I like both versions, & love the discussion! cheers, kj

    2. Hi Peggy. Amazing to ponder how that switch happened! I like both versions too!
      Cheers, Marietta

  6. Congratulations to all poets!
    Thank you Marietta for selecting mine.
    Thank you KJ and Lori for your work behind the scenes.

  7. ghost town
    a wild burro’s bray
    wakes the dead

    Cynthia Anderson

    A nicely crafted ku where a figure of speach indicates volume and doubles as a link to the location.

    1. I agree, Dan! I’m also very happy with everyone’s enthusiastic response to my donkey pic. They were so beautiful!

  8. Thank you Marietta for including my haiku this week. It’s very encouraging for this newbie to HD.

    I see both daughter and donkey in straw hats with daisies in this delightful haiku:

    my daughter nuzzles
    the little donkey . . .
    straw hats with daisies
    Barrie Levine, Wenham MA USA

    I particularly like the childhood memories these two evoked:

    stubborn as a mule mother’s favorite reprimand
    Pris Campbell, Lake Worth, FL

    circa 1980s birthday party
    pin the tail
    on the donkey
    Margaret Mahony, Australia
    It makes me wonder if the game is still played at birthday parties these days.

    and this I found a very strong image:

    nuzzling a baby
    in their manger
    curious donkeys
    Charles Harmon, Los Angeles, California USA

    1. Hi Sue! I’m so pleased you’re enjoying the prompts. I look forward to seeing your work during September!
      Cheers, Marietta

  9. I am always pleased when one of my haiku is included. Thank-you Marietta, Kathy, and Lori for all your efforts. Congrats to my fellow Ohio poets Nancy Brady and Joshua Gage and to all the other poets.

  10. A great selection of views about our fellow creatures and many fine poems. I’m honoured to be included. Thank you!

    I admire your diplomacy, Marietta!
    As someone who has learned to become highly suspicious of politicians in general, and politicians specific, along with their deeds and motives, I would interpret the following as politicians are (emphasis on ‘are’) donkeys, with my heartfelt apologies to all donkeys.

    political turmoil
    the donkeys don’t
    stop braying

    Vandana Parashar

    It’s such a shame these ‘beasts of burden’ are alluded to as stupid and obstinate. Donkeys are not unintelligent, although they can be stubborn for good reason (self-preservation). They are and have been long-suffering creatures, abused throughout history, now deserving of our respect, love and admiration (unlike many politicians).

    1. Hello Ingrid! I must admit I was dancing around your interpretation too!

      Cheers, Marietta

  11. Congrats to all the poets. All the ways donkeys are experienced really comes through in these haiku. Some are obviously very regional, but the explanations helped so much. Pris Campbell’s stubborn as a mule made me laugh since I heard that way too many times in my own childhood (and I consider it strong-willed, but stubborn, Pris). Charles Harman’s manger haiku…delightful because it probably still happens in those living nativities. Valentina Ranaldi-Adams’ cricket serenade during dinner resonated, too, as the sounds of crickets fill the air each night on our porch. So many to read and re-read. Thanks Marietta for including one of mine in the mix.

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