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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Finding peace and contemplation… in worn, imperfect and transient things… cast iron kettle

Finding peace and contemplation… in worn, imperfect and transient things 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… rusty hitching iron


I was struck by the beauty of this corroded metal shape attached to an adobe wall. Its sinuous ‛s’-curve threw an expressive shadow on the mellow ochre of the wall. Shadows for me lend great interest to objects. I often find myself photographing a shadow of a tree or building in preference to the real thing. An artist would say that shadows are never black, but can be any colour. I think this iron hook may once have served as a useful place to loop a horse’s bridle while the rider visited a house or shop. No horses or burros are seen in this neighbourhood now, but the hitching iron, if that’s what it is, has gained a patina of age which gives it a special, rather melancholy appeal. Nothing lasts forever, it seems to say. This week you may like to write about impermanence, or perhaps shadows.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday September 18, 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 worn, imperfect and transient things… cast iron kettle:

My thanks for your generous responses to the cast iron kettle. So often, a three-dimensional object sparks a vivid memory. The old vessel has drawn out family stories from all over the world, of parents and grandparents and the keepsakes they leave for the next generations. Treasured mementoes are brought out for celebrations or are used for their original purpose, with many recollections attached. This week’s poems could be characterised as senryu, which often lack a kigo and address the human condition. You can read more about the senryu form in The Haiku Foundation’s Digital Library:
Thanks again to THF for supporting Haiku Dialogue, and especially to Kathy and Lori for their hard work. And please take the opportunity to respond with your thoughts about the posted poems.

ghostly fingers
play ragtime
gran’s pianola

Louise Hopewell

When I was young, many Australian families owned a pianola, or player piano. This was a self-playing instrument operated mechanically by foot pedals, using music recorded as perforated notes on paper rolls. The pianola took pride of place in the living room, a focal point for all the family where everyone gathered for concerts of favourites like ‛You are my Sunshine’, ‛Tennessee Waltz’ and ‛Tiger Rag’. This haiku, or senryu, captures the fun children had as they happily pumped away at the foot pedals and made the piano keys move as if by unseen hands. Line 1 also conveys a sense of melancholy and of time passing. Large, dark and solid pieces of furniture, few pianolas survive in modern homes. And those who once played them are, themselves, long gone.

Red Hat Society
a wolf whistle
from the teapot

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio USA

Wolf whistles may be politically incorrect these days so it’s amusing to think a kettle has the temerity to come out with an admiring tootle. This poem begins with the name of a global support organization originally created to bring together women of similar ages in a spirit of fun, friendship and support. Red Hat Society members don their namesake headgear, often with purple clothes. Here we imagine the poet is describing someone preparing for an outing or get-together, perhaps having breakfast before a pleasant day out with her cohorts. The kettle appears to approve of the red hat! Modern English language senryu tend to deal with the foibles of daily life, illuminating our day-to-day existence. I wonder how many poems have been written about the Red Hat Society?

between stations Pop’s workshop radio

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada

A member of my own family once bought an old house where the former engineer owner had fitted out the garage as an elaborate workshop. After his death the workshop was left untouched. Everything there reflected the idiosyncrasies of a person who was no longer with us. In the five short words of this poem, the poet depicts a father or grandfather, a handyman who spent time working on projects in a back shed with a radio playing for company. We don’t know if it’s a bakelite wireless or a battered transistor radio, but it’s probably not something more modern. There’s the sense that the radio’s owner left his workshop, and no one has been back, maybe out of sadness. The radio sits forgotten until one day someone idly switches it on, only to hear static.

cast iron kettles
in the museum gift shop
coffee at Starbucks

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
Kolkata, India

How often does this story play out in museum shops? This wry poem contrasts old with new, pointing up the irony of places that sell ‛old’ artefacts which are often cheap reproductions. When the visitor leaves the gift shop there’s a coffee chain waiting, where you would not find something as old-fashioned as a kettle. The poem uses a 5/7/5 form. Haiku were once taught as a poetic form of 17 syllables, in a short/long/short structure, but this is rarely used now. Most commonly, haiku are between 10-14 syllables, which correspond to the 17 ‛sounds’ in Japanese haiku. This poem avoids padding with adjectives and adverbs that can overload a poem when trying to maintain a 17-syllable count.

& here are the rest of the selections:

ancient clay jar
collecting rainwater
before me, after me

Christopher Seep
United States


moving from home
the look she gave me
with the towels

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany


brass kettle
pouring my heart out
to my reflection

Jackie Chou
Pico Rivera, CA USA


a spider runs out
of the old kettle’s spout
attic inspection

Anitha Varma
Kerala, India


grandma’s pie dish
so much love
and a hairline crack

Alan Peat
United Kingdom


an old iron
through dad’s pants—
memories evaporate

Aljoša Vuković
Croatia, Šibenik


a snail shell
in the old watering can

Françoise Maurice
Draguignan, France


old kettle
flowers instead
of whistles

Jeff Leong


through the spout
a money plant shoots out
backyard junkyard

Lakshmi Iyer
Kerala, India


old juicer
breakfast memory
a heart squeeze

Lyntha Nelson
Colorado, USA


grandma’s house—
in the rusty kettle

Maria Teresa Sisti


sil batta
the guests praise my chutney
for the first time

(sil batta was an ancient grinding stone that was used to make wet pastes like masala and chutney.)

Kavya Janani. U


grandma’s attic
I’m looking for my favorite
music box

Tsanka Shishkova


the old scoop
still dishing out
fond memories

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove


mom’s cup—
on the sideboard still
the cold of winter

Dennys Cambarau
Sardinia, Italy


annual cleanup
at grandfather’s attic
all still useful

Wiesław Karliński
Namysłów, Poland


a kotatsu
at the center of family—
distant old home

(kotatsu: a foot warmer with a quilt over it)

Teiichi Suzuki


cast iron griddle
hundreds and thousands
on the pikelets

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand


whistling tea kettle
the sound of
past and present

Lafcadio Orlovsky


tea break . . .
spilling out

Aparna Pathak


strong rain
smell of earthen kettle
from ginger tea

Sudebi Singha
Kolkata, India


old kettle—
memories of summer gone
still warm

Nikola Đuretić
Zagreb, Croatia


now full
of tea roses
the pierced kettle

Orense Nicod
Paris, France


smoldering charcoal
Mom is ironing
childhood memories

Nani Mariani


charcoal samovar—
a savor of tea
in exile

Nicole Pottier


tea pouring . . .
slowly our grudges

Richa Sharma


old rocking chair
my daughter’s turn
to sing lullabies

Sherry Grant
Auckland, New Zealand


a clatter of copper pots
my childhood autumns
making jam

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK


the family banter
grandfather’s clock

Ravi Kiran


grandma’s steel
what she never shared

Richard Matta
San Diego, California


grandma’s tea kettle
the dreams
still the same

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, Wa. USA


autumn dawn—
holding the mug with both hands
the jasmine pearls unfurl

Sam Blair
North Oregon Coast


winter breakfast
our pot belly warms
our bellies

Pris Campbell
Lake Worth, FL U.S.


kerosene lamp—
the labors of my father
in its dim light

Maria Teresa Piras
Serrenti – Italy


cast iron skillet
with each passing year
better and better

Mark Meyer
Mercer Island WA USA


hand-me-down laptop
good job I know
where the E S and Ns are

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia


I knead flour
in mom-in-law’s paraat—
large as her heart

(paraat: heavy-bottomed brass platter traditionally used in Indian kitchens for kneading flour for chapatis.)

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India


apple cobbler baked
in the scouts’ old Dutch oven
no second serving

Ba Duong
Florida, USA


teapot shards
glued together
dad’s shaky hand

Caroline Giles Banks
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA


the old rolling pin
in the dusty attic . . .
granny’s Sunday buns

Natalia Kuznetsova


peach tree in bloom—
an old coffee pot
on the cupboard

pesco in fiore—
una vecchia caffettiera
sulla credenza

Angiola Inglese


the bent prongs
of my fork
this hard land

Maurice Nevile
Canberra, Australia


dawn moon—
tea kettle

Kathleen Vasek-Trocmet
Texas, USA


cast iron kettle
the weight of a memory

martin gottlieb cohen
Egg Harbor, NJ U.S.


new teapot
boiling away
the past

Rehn Kovacic
Mesa, AZ


still in bud
pale pink tulips
from blue rain boots

Anna Yin
Ontario, Canada


printing copies
of the copy
of a hundred year old photo

Peggy Hale Bilbro
Huntsville, Alabama


garage sale
I rescue the old kettle
full of stories

Margaret Mahony


brass pitcher
the dance of river waves
fifty years ago

ਪਿੱਤਲ਼ ਦੀ ਗਾਗਰ
ਪੰਜਾਹ ਸਾਲ ਪਹਿਲਾਂ ਵੀ
ਲਹਿਰਾਂ ਦਾ ਨਾਚ

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India


blue morning glories bloom
from the repaired dish

John Zheng


losing a whistle
for a rattle
me and my old kettle

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton UK


embers in the field
between peppers and onions
bacon on skewer

Minko Tanev


still lingering
the scent of grandma
on the rusty kettle

Padmini Krishnan


cast iron kettle—
my only souvenir
from childhood

Ana Drobot


fresh coffee beans
in the copper grinder
the smell of yesteryear

Mona Iordan


sentimental purchase
one Bunyip hand mower
rests in peace

Carol Reynolds


mom is ‛gone’
from her cezve still
black coffee smells

mama je ‛otišla’
iz njezine džezve još
crna kava miriši

Mira Jungić
Sisak, Hrvatska


still trimming
the trees he left behind
papa’s bonsai shears

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA


grandpa’s spade
how many changes of handles
none of us remembers

Xiaoou Chen
Kunming, China


the kettle
awakens me
from the past

Jim Niffen
South Dakota USA


crystal vase
how we’re still arranging
for the future

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC


Christmas time . . .
grandma’s nut cracker
again on the table

Meera Rehm


loaded with logs
beside the fireplace—
nana’s washtub

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, CA


mother’s crafts scissors
cutting off the fringes
of bad memories

Vandana Parashar


boiling kettle
at a roadside dhaba—
fragrance of morning fog

Sanjuktaa Asopa
Belgaum, India


my reflection
from all those years
mama’s pots

Kanjini Devi
The Far North, Aotearoa NZ


chamber pot
I avoid the midnight
outhouse bats

JL Huffman
Blue Ridge Mountains of NC, USA


flour shaker—
still wishing for a taste of
great grandma’s cakes

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom


lost in the attic
a rusty old kettle
and memories

Zahra Mughis
Lahore, Pakistan


early dusk
a dim fluorescent
in the anglepoise



dented kettle
traces of the day
she went her way

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA


Mom’s recipe box
all the cards
by heart

Ann K. Schwader
Westminster, CO


used record store
the crackle of a needle
in a groove

Tim Cremin


old coffee grinder
in the new kitchen

Zdenka Mlinar


college canteen
the tea kettle is always
on the boil

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India


grinding spices
in stone mortar pestle
she asks grandma’s name

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India


my sabi poems
on the burma teak table . . .
the patina of age

Milan Rajkumar
Imphal, India


winter’s end—
the remnants of butter
in mom’s butter churn

Hifsa Ashraf
Rawalpindi, Pakistan


room window
in the kettle
a red rose

Slobodan Pupovac
Zagreb, Croatia


grandma’s cake pan
apple and cinnamon pie
every autumn

Elisa Allo
Zug, Switzerland


new safety norms—
I take a rest
with grandma’s recipe

Luisa Santoro
Rome, Italy


antique shop
the old brass cookware
now a shiny artefact

Madhuri Pillai


in his workshop—
grandpa’s tools
right where he left them

Christopher Peys
Los Angeles, CA


grandma’s jar
sourdough starter
all these years

Ronald Degler
United States


the sensei’s old brush
in my hands

Julia Guzmán
Córdoba Argentina


we use mother’s
scratched cutlery

Helga Stania


faded recipes
the touch of a hand
on my shoulder

Helene Guojah


the sigh
of an empty kettle . . .
social anxiety

Agus Maulana Sunjaya
Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia


grandpa’s coffee mug
the fine cracks
gently browned

Barrie Levine
Wenham MA USA


broken crayons
son’s first birthday
card for me

Priti Khullar


against my lip
the crack in the tea cup

Emily Fogle


mom’s sifter
hangs on my pegboard—
kitchen dusted in flour

Susan Lee Roberts
Sacramento, CA, USA


wildflowers . . .
in grandma’s teapot
it’s spring

fiori di campo . . .
nella teiera di nonna
è primavera

Giuliana Ravaglia
Bologna Italia


butter churn . . .
singing the rhythm
of the dasher

Margaret Walker
Lincoln, NE, USA


tracing the pattern
on the oilcloth
her blue veins

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY


her pincushion
always within reach
my mother-in-law

Lorraine A Padden
San Diego, CA USA


double treat . . .
mom’s recipe of halwa
in earthenware bowls

Sushama Kapur
Pune, India


kettle whistles
grandma’s call for tea with
her homemade biscuits

Kathleen Mazurowski
Chicago, IL


familiar smell
of reheated coffee
dad in the house

Susan Farner
United States


petals in the wind . . .
scrubbing the smoke off
the cast-iron kettle

Florin C. Ciobica


mango bonsai
thrives by the south window
ma’s cracked pasta bowl

Melanie Vance


beef stew simmering
in a cast iron pot

Carol Judkins
Carlsbad, CA USA


cornbread bakes
in mom’s cast iron skillet
ham and beans

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio, USA


tarnished brass bell
ringing for help
his fall chill

Claire Vogel Camargo
United States


Grandma’s iron teakettle
given to my stepdaughter
not much time left

Genie Nakano
Gardena, CA


Grandma’s smart idea
each everyday tool tagged
with who should get it

Kath Abela Wilson
United States


ancient weed diggers
used less and less
by ancient weed diggers

Charles Harmon
Los Angeles, California, USA


broken spatula . . .
those years of flipping

Priti Aisola
Hyderabad, India


yard sale silhouettes
hanging in our living room
not our ancestors

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI


reminding us
never forget the tough times
your cracked mirror

Susan Rogers
United States


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 17 Comments

  1. Enjoyed reading all the poems, lovely memories..

    thanks so much for including mine.

  2. Many thanks, Marietta, for including my poem in the column this week. Thank you also to Kj and Lori for all your work keeping this wonderful resource going. Congratulations to all the poets! Another comprehensive and thought-provoking collection. One that stood out for me this week was…

    the family banter
    grandfather’s clock

    Ravi Kiran

    I loved the way this poem evoked the sound of a family gathering accompanied by the comforting noise of a large clock ticking. The choice of the word ‘banter’ suggests that it is a happy occasion. However, for me, there is also a poignancy in the fact that the clock is ‘joining’ the gathering. This might suggest that the clock has been inherited and that the grandfather is no longer there to hear it. Alternatively, the grandfather might have just bought the clock! I like this ambiguity because it makes the reader think.

  3. Thanks for including my senryu in today’s collection. And thank you all for your efforts to organize this page every week. Here are the ones that really spoke to me this week. I seem to have focused in on family recipes.

    Mom’s recipe box
    all the cards
    by heart

    Ann K. Schwader
    Westminster, CO

    I have one of those boxes with many oil-spotted cards and saved pieces of paper with treasured recipes. Nowadays I keep my recipes in laptop files. It seems something is being lost.
    faded recipes
    the touch of a hand
    on my shoulder

    Helene Guojah

    Every family recipe carries years of memory.
    tracing the pattern
    on the oilcloth
    her blue veins

    What a beautiful poem! The oil cloth and the blue veined hands. Just so evocative!
    Sari Grandstaff
    Saugerties, NY

    her pincushion
    always within reach
    my mother-in-law

    Lorraine A Padden
    San Diego, CA USA

    My grandmother and my mother, and now I have that familiar tomato pin cushion. Such memories.

  4. What a pleasure to read so many fine Haiku and Senryu, really makes you think about the relationships with family and vintage items. Thank you Marietta for including one of mine with them. Congrats to all the poets.

  5. Very happy to have my haiku included this week. Thank you Marietta and congratulations to all the poets here. It’s very inspirational to have these prompts and see where they take me.

  6. new teapot
    boiling away
    the past
    Rehn Kovacic
    Mesa, AZ
    Sometimes in order to let go of a painful past, old objects must be replaced with new ones. This haiku expresses this concept nicely in only 6 words.

  7. Hah! This I found amusing, though I feel for the weed digger in question.

    ancient weed diggers
    used less and less
    by ancient weed diggers

    Charles Harmon
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    I expect quite a few of us inherit garden implements, too. In my case, dibbers and a lawn hole-maker — my father’s craze for mini-golf putting. Alas, neither tool has a place now in a courtyard garden.

    Thank you Marietta, and others working back stage, for your work, and for including mine. Always an enjoyable experience, both to write for and to read through each week.

  8. Another fine selection Marietta.
    This one stood out for me this week.

    grandma’s pie dish
    so much love
    and a hairline crack

    Alan Peat
    United Kingdom

    As for my own, I thought a steam train would have fitted in well.
    Perhaps a back story may have assisted.

  9. Lots of memories contained within haiku/senryu, and I find it easy to relate to many of them with my own memories of parents and grandparents. Well done to all, congrats! Loved Valentina’s Red Hat Society, which you commented upon. Thanks for including one of mine along with the others, Marietta.

  10. still trimming
    the trees he left behind
    papa’s bonsai shears

    Bryan Rickert
    Belleville, Illinois USA

    I love this one, being a tropical human it strikes me , we have bonsai which are older than us.

  11. Marietta, what a pleasant surprise to have been chosen for commentary this week. Thank-you for all your efforts on this column. Thank-you also to Kathy and Lori for their efforts. Congrats to fellow Ohio poet Nancy Brady and to all the other poets.

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