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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Finding peace and contemplation… in worn, imperfect and transient things… gnarled tree stump

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… old ship’s chain

I photographed this weathered wrought iron chain near a restored lighthouse in Japan. I think it must have been a ship’s chain once. Though pitted by corrosion, it was very heavy and certainly looked strong. I liked the way each link was reinforced with a cross bar for added stability. Chains can stand as symbols for unbreakable bonds. They can also signify unity and continuity because they appear to have no beginning or end. A darker meaning ascribed to them is that of incarceration. On the other hand, a broken chain can be taken as symbolising freedom. Your haiku inspired by chains and other ties that bind are invited this week.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday October 02, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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… gnarled tree stump:

Another host of fine haiku for me to enjoy this week, thank you all very much. As always, I wish I could comment on many more. The battered eucalypt stump was a heartening symbol of renewal, rebirth and transformation for poets. A ‛nurse tree’ nurtured new growth, spring rains collected in hollows, birds found a convenient perch, and wildflowers bloomed between broken tiles. A barn door took on a new season’s hues, and in an old inn a wooden board sprouted leaves. The stump’s bumps, wrinkles and curves evoked the loved faces of older relatives, and how hardship as well as laughter had molded their character-filled features. Other haiku were reflective, conveying a quiet acquiescence to changes wrought by ageing gracefully. Do join in the discussion and let us know your favorite poems! I look forward to everyone’s contributions on Haiku Dialogue. Thanks again as always to Kathy, Lori and THF.

soap opera actress
studying the lines
on her face

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY, USA

A clever double entendre in this senryu. Lines 1 and 2 show us an actress studying her script for the next episode of a ‛soapie’. We see her in her dressing room seated in front of a big make-up mirror, one of the sort surrounded with harsh and unforgiving lights. The image plays out with a twist in line 3, as she turns her face from one profile to the other, scanning perhaps with dismay the signs of ageing she may be reluctant to acknowledge. There’s an underlying melancholy here. Leading men are rather unfairly allowed to age, while this star may be facing a turning point in her career.

retirement home
on every windowsill
forget-me-nots

Florin C. Ciobica
Romania

As the pandemic has swept through many countries, fear of infection has meant that the frail elderly who live in retirement villages have been shut away for many months from their families and friends, sometimes only being able to see them through window glass. This poignant haiku is set in spring, when forget-me-nots bloom. Someone, perhaps a worker in the nursing home, has taken the trouble to pot up some pretty perennials in window boxes or pots, hoping to brighten up the outlook for the residents. But the choice of flowers in the poem may also evoke a desperately sad reality: sometimes old folk are placed in care homes by relatives who thereafter seem to forget them.

ageing—
something like
a poem refound

Richa Sharma
India

This gentle haiku made me think about what is lost and found throughout our lives. Can a poem be refound? I think it can. If you’re like me, you go to sleep with a haiku circling your brain, only to wake next morning and it’s gone. Sometimes a random word will bring that poem to mind. It’s a satisfying moment of rediscovery. Haiku about ageing often dwell on the beauty and character of old faces and bodies, not conventional ‛pin-up quality’ looks but a deeper and more satisfying loveliness. To me this haiku seeks to convey the pleasure and fulfilment the poet experiences in finding this new beauty. As we get older, life can serve up surprises.

hot tub
grandma jumps in
the sound of laughter

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton UK

What fun! Grandma is obviously enjoying herself, as I imagine it is she who is laughing. This poem could perhaps be better described as a senryu. Haiku or senryu like this which directly relate to an earlier well-known poem may be referred to as honkadori or allusive variation. The poet subverts and parodies a classic haiku in a very enjoyable way. It could be seen as a sort of lèse-majesté, but I think even Bashō would have a quiet chuckle. Sometimes we forget that haiku may capture humorous human moments, as well as sketches from nature.

& here are the rest of the selections:

a gnarled
tree stump—
my grandpa’s life

Aljoša Vuković
Croatia, Šibenik

 

family reunion . . .
in the old pond
new tadpoles

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany

 

lichens on the lime trunk expecting nothing

Helga Stania
Switzerland

 

shooting star
the space where
my childhood lingers

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, Wa. USA

 

leaves
adam wore ’em
out

(with apologies to Millican’s/Nash’s ‛Fleas’)

Helen Buckingham
United Kingdom

 

single malt—
40 heady years
with you

Jeff Leong
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

old tree stump
the owl and I
share a shrine

Surashree Joshi
Pune, India

 

infertile clinic . . .
by the window
calendulas

Subir Ningthouja
Imphal, India

 

logs
in woodpile stacked
5-7-5

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa, USA

 

squashed toes
leading to knobbly knees
first bonsai

Robert Kingston
Essex, UK

 

rings of a tree
two seniors counting
their smile lines

Richard Matta
San Diego, California

 

frail hands
what seasons did
to my mother

Teji Sethi
India

 

through the wind tunnel
past meets
future

Teiichi Suzuki
Japan

 

tree stump
her laughter remains
deep rooted

Ravi Kiran
India

 

scarecrow
with a Borsalino hat
harvest moon

Tsanka Shishkova
Bulgaria

 

turning a hundred . . .
Gran smiles
through every wrinkle

Akila G
Hyderabad, India

 

wrinkled trunk—
homeless becomes invisible
on the pavement

Shri Desai
Toronto

 

their story written
in the gnarls and burls
an oldtimer

Ron Russell
United States

 

dry leaves
swirling
fall embrace

Barbara Gardino
Virginia

 

new stylish detail
a painted stump
instead of a chair

Slobodan Pupovac
Zagreb, Croatia

 

after thunder
the kitten’s touch on
moon grass

Vibeke Laier
Randers Denmark

 

dying with dignity
new life shelters
in its shadow

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

in her eighties
she forgives it all—
falling leaves

Penny Harter
Mays Landing, NJ

 

full of life
the gnarled tree stump—
butterflies

Mirela Brăilean
Romania

 

rings on our oak’s stump . . .
which of the ancestors
planted the tree?

Natalia Kuznetsova
Russia

 

autumn haze—
the gnarled stump
still ripples life

पतझड़ की धुंध—
पुराने ठूंठ में अभी भी
जीवन लहर

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India

 

contemplation
the gnarled tree limb
points to the sky

Anitha Varma
Kerala, India

 

selfies before and after
the face lift
Vanitas

Caroline Giles Banks
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

 

twilight
the gnarled oak
becomes a ghost tree

Carol Judkins
Carlsbad, CA USA

 

age spots
the marks left by a life
well lived

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

 

crow’s feet . . .
the same smile
as always

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore
Catania Italy

 

roots
my village banyan
pulling me home

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
Kolkata, India

 

love
the long walk
from his room to hers

Maurice Nevile
Australia

 

her gold ring
worn completely down
growing old together

Rehn Kovacic
Mesa, AZ

 

mailbox
back invisible
covered with creepers

Nani Mariani
Australia

 

echoes of night the remains of a sycamore

Tiffany Shaw-Diaz
Centerville, Ohio, USA

 

turning fifty . . .
I share the stories
my laugh lines hide

Vandana Parashar
India

 

almost midnight
still the gnarled tree
stands straight

John Green
Bellingham, WA

 

fifth season—
they imitate Vivaldi
my old violin

Wiesław Karliński
Namysłów, Poland

 

72 years etched
on her beautiful face
why a facelift?

Margaret Mahony
Australia

 

spring rains
the colour rising
on the barn door

simonj
UK

 

banyan tree roots
the sweep of her dupatta
with the swing

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

 

50th anniversary
the lines around her mouth
soften into a blush

Padmini Krishnan
Singapore

 

could this
be my moment . . .
silver-grey hair

Meera Rehm
UK

 

slower now—
her dance moves
on the porch

Dan Campbell
Virginia

 

at sunset
bending toward each other
two grey heads

Nicole Pottier
France

 

ancient steps
confession marks of
penitents

Lyntha Nelson
Colorado, USA

 

cardamom tea
grandma inhales the morning
sip by sip

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

 

hollow-eyed . . .
how the depth of her wisdom
has sunk in

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

ancient wisteria
strangling the wrought iron fence
. . . gracefully

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia

 

ten years younger—
the grace of a mirror
without glasses

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California

 

grandpa’s barn
slumped in the shadows
of ancient light

Pris Campbell
USA

 

bumpy stump
a captured prince
waiting for a kiss

Ljiljana Dobra
Croatia

 

knobbly boughs
she still believes
in fairies and elves

Kanjini Devi
The Far North, Aotearoa NZ

 

a gnarled tree stump—
blossoms and butterflies
drawn by imagination

Tomislav Maretić
Zagreb, Croatia

 

village
the roadside banyan
ageing gracefully . . .

Bidyut Prabha Gantayat
Bhubaneswar, India

 

old river gum
a lifetime of battle scars

Carol Reynolds
Australia

 

dinosaur ballroom
music silenced in time
the tracks persist

JL Huffman
Blue Ridge Mountains of NC, USA

 

old weathered bench
another season’s
leaves

Ann K. Schwader
Westminster, CO

 

road building
a fallen giant pine
rest halt

Neera Kashyap
India

 

ancient pine
in Cupid’s heart and arrow
red lichen

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand

 

nestled in moss
I search for your wisdom . . .
gnarled roots

Alfred Booth
Colombes, France

 

a castle
of his dreams
gnarled hands

Didimay Dimacali
Norwalk, California

 

birdsong chorus
the softness
of her vocals

Zahra Mughis
Lahore, Pakistan

 

drawn
to the stories
shared by each wrinkle

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India

 

cycle of life
from the pine stump
a pine

Agus Maulana Sunjaya
Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia

 

autumn morning
a broken branch left by
the evening storm

Manoj Sharma
Kathmandu Nepal

 

the mother cat
licks my wrinkled wrist
her forever kitten

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI

 

foggy vision
grandma’s wrinkled fingers
against my face

Priti Khullar
India

 

gnarled hands . . .
Dad writes to decline
his annual membership

Marion Clarke
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland

 

the pauses
in my walk . . .
reconnecting

Madhuri Pillai
Australia

 

autumn sun
the shadow of an oak
in a sumi-e

Mircea Moldovan
Romania

 

riverside bench . . .
the length
of a collapsed tree

Priti Aisola
India

 

sawdust the stump’s hundred rings

Tim Cremin
Massachusetts

 

mum’s wrinkles—
first spring days . . .

las arrugas de mamá—
primeros días
de primavera

Julia Guzmán
Córdoba Argentina

 

scarecrow
still threadbare
as ever

Edna Beers
Rensselaer, NY

 

old inn—
on the knot of a board
some leaves

Jorge Alberto Giallorenzi
Chivilcoy Buenos Aires Argentina

 

last roses—
on every single plate
the lineage

Paola Trevisson
Italy

 

collapsed roof—
unnamed flowers
between the tiles

Maria Teresa Piras
Serrenti – Italy

 

young shoots
on the stump of an old olive tree
a dove

Zdenka Mlinar
Hrvatska

 

age-old rings
on Bristlecone pine
tranquility of karesansui

Melanie Vance
USA

 

winter evening
a new sapling
in withered hands

Devoshruti Mandal
Varanasi, India

 

slow music
the faded silk
still catches the light

Helene Guojah
UK

 

lento abbandono . . .
sul davanzale vuoto
l’eco d’un canto

slow abandonment . . .
on the empty windowsill
the echo of a song

Giuliana Ravaglia
Bologna Italia

 

shining
though stained by time—
rusty moon

Luisa Santoro
Rome, Italy

 

craggy hills
a life story etched
on her weathered face

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA

 

life drawing class—
her ancient body
now a star

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom

 

old farmstead
buildings gone
only the trees

Susan Farner
United States

 

stumped
for an answer—
birch tree

Pippa Phillips
United States

 

a distant phone call . . .
are you sweeter
than my solitude

Maya Daneva
The Netherlands

 

bristlecone
my grandmother’s collection
of hat pins

Lorraine A Padden
San Diego, CA

 

cold ground—
saplings among moss
on a nurse log

Wakako Miya Rollinger
Topanga, CA

 

foglie cadute
sul tronco spoglio
un croco viola

fallen leaves
on the bare trunk
a purple crocus

Angiola Inglese
Italia

 

orion . . .
ma’s age
spots

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada

 

city street
the dead tree becomes
a bird perch

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
USA

 

lakeside—
ripples wrinkling
the willow

Lafcadio Orlovsky
USA

 

vintage record
even swing music
sounds softer

Mona Iordan
Romania

 

family gathering—
a spark of youth
in gran’s smile

Cristina Povero
Italy

 

so many twists
and turns in the road
new beginnings

Karen Harvey
Pwllheli, N Wales

 

back home
spread ashes around
my father’s cedar

Anna Yin
Ontario, Canada

 

her thinning hair . . .
the meager weight
of moonlight

Barrie Levine
Wenham MA USA

 

kintsugi—
welcoming
my golden years

(kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the breakage with lacquer dusted with gold, silver, or platinum)

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove, CA

 

counting the rings
the heart-shaped stump
of all my years

Kathabela Wilson
United States

 

Gran’s meticulous
dress, jewelry, and make-up
ninety-five years

Claire Vogel Camargo
United States

 

an elderly friend
teaches her about accessories
clip on earrings

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio, USA

 

window grill—
a frayed dragonfly rests
on the bright sky

Sushama Kapur
Pune, India

 

still beautiful
even with no flowers
last summer’s orchid

Susan Rogers
United States

 

a reminder
of what I survived
old scars

Christina Sng
Singapore

 

eightieth birthday
granny dances with grace
at the party

Xiaoou Chen
Kunming, China

 

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 47 Comments

  1. A belated thanks to the team and to all the contributors for another great set. Thought I’d give you a bit of background to my poem:
    .
    leaves
    adam wore ’em
    out
    .
    It’s based on, not ‘Millican’s as I stated above (a double apology there!) but Strickland Gillilan’s (though some say Ogden Nash’s):
    .
    Fleas
    Adam had ’em
    .
    which was claimed, at one time, to be the shortest poem ever published….. a record since toppled frequently, as we all know! Still amusing though, and doubtless revolutionary in its time.

  2. Another wonderful week of poetry. Many thanks to kj and Marietta.
    Afew favorites:
    .
    drawn
    to the stories
    shared by each wrinkle

    Padma Rajeswari
    Mumbai, India
    .
    at sunset
    bending toward each other
    two grey heads

    Nicole Pottier
    France
    .
    shooting star
    the space where
    my childhood lingers

    Stephen A. Peters
    Bellingham, Wa. USA
    .

  3. Many thanks Marietta for your amazing prompts and for publishing my haiku, thanks to kj and Lori as well.

  4. Congratulations to all the writers for a really enjoyable and eclectic collection of poems! Many thanks to Marietta, Kj and Lori for all you do to keep the Haiku Dialogue flourishing. As usual, there were many poems that I greatly admired. Here are two that really appealed to me…

    in her eighties
    she forgives it all—
    falling leaves

    Penny Harter
    Mays Landing, NJ

    I loved the emotion and wisdom in this poem. The idea that the act of forgiving is like old leaves falling is a powerful, poignant and beautiful metaphor.

    last roses—
    on every single plate
    the lineage

    Paola Trevisson
    Italy

    This poem immediately made me curious. I could picture the remains of an old family dinner service, reduced through breakages over the years. I immediately wanted to know the stories of how, over generations, the crockery pieces had disappeared. I particularly liked the last line. For me, lineage not only suggested the family connections but also conjured up the crazing in the glaze. Memorable!

  5. Thanks dear Marietta for including mine!! Your prompts, visuals and explanation are simply unique and superb!
    Loved going through the amazing poems.

  6. Another lovely collection of poems. Thanks for including mine. Loved the following haiku:

    winter evening
    a new sapling
    in withered hands
    – Devoshruti

    turning a hundred . . .
    Gran smiles
    through every wrinkle
    – Akila

    gnarled hands . . .
    Dad writes to decline
    his annual membership
    – Marion Clarke

    Regards,
    Padma

  7. So many lovely poems conjured striking images: logs stacked 5-7-5, sumí-e shadow, faded silk catching light, unnamed flowers amongst collapsed roof tiles… always a joy to read new Haiku Dialogue postings. The highlight of my Wednesdays. Thank you!

  8. Thanks Marietta for including my haiku, and congratulations to all the authors: I have read many beautiful verses about aging and elderly couples, they made me very tender, because I recently lost the partner of my life for 51 years.

    1. My dear Angiola, please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of your dear one. So many beautiful years of companionship and memories. Marietta

  9. Thanks so much for including my haiku in this weeks wonderful selection. Marion Clarke’s poignant words below really struck a chord with me as I have just written such a letter on behalf of my mother. So much to think about, put so simply.

    gnarled hands . . .
    Dad writes to decline
    his annual membership

    Marion Clarke

  10. Dear Marietta,

    I’m finding this page so educational and I love all the different takes on each week’s theme.

    This week I giggled at Roberta Beach Jacobson’s
    logs
    in woodpile stacked
    5-7-5

    and felt a lump in my throat with Maurice Nevile’s
    love
    the long walk
    from his room to hers

    and I resonate with your commentary on Richa Sharma’s
    ageing—
    something like
    a poem refound

    Thanks to all the team for this midweek highlight and of course, thanks for including mine.

  11. Thank you so much for your comments on my senryu Marietta! Your prompts have been so inspiring. I appreciate sharing our haiku each week and all the work that goes into keeping this feature vibrant and enjoyable.

  12. Thank you Marietta for including my haiku, a highlight in my week. I enjoyed every one and ‘retirement home’ by Florin holds a special place.

  13. Hearty Thanks Marietta for including my poem alongside all revered poets ,and thanks for the beautiful prompt that really intriguing and unfolds many aspects of life and living .
    Thanks KJMunro et al last but not least!😊 🙏

  14. Thank you so much dear Marietta and team for the beautiful commentary on my work. As i thought about this theme, nothing could strike me closer than a poem always close to a poet’s heart no matter time and circumstances. Congratulations all poets ❤️ Loved the wide variety of beautiful haiku on the theme!

  15. I seldom make a comment but I will be amiss if I do not mention that Marietta’s fascinating photos, excellent commentaries and the contributions of all the inspiring poets here always strike a chord in my heart, spark beautiful insights in my little grey cells, , add a glimmer of hope in this pandemic world, and make me look at each day with a brand new pair of eyes.

    I am truly grateful for THF and everyone who make all this possible! You all bring out the best in any day! Stay safe and well😘

  16. an elderly friend
    teaches her about accessories
    clip on earrings
    /
    Nancy Brady
    Huron, Ohio, USA
    /
    This brought back memories of trying on my mother’s clip-on earrings when I was growing up.

    1. A special woman in our church was so well put together and she taught me to accessorize. She said that earrings were a must. She gave me a few clip on earrings, and I tried wearing them, but man, did they hurt! That’s when I had my ears pierced at age 42. She was pleased as was my husband. I figured the one time piercing couldn’t hurt as much. Personally I could do without but I will keep them for now. Thanks Valentine for your comment. Thanks Marietta and crew for the inclusion of this haiku. And thanks Edna for all your advice. I miss you still, but your watercolors hang on our walls. We still try to follow your rules for aging well.
      .
      There are advantages to dying and dead trees as you so succinctly said in your haiku, Valentina. Birds need perches. Congratulations to you and all the other poets.

  17. A delightful collection and commentary. Thank you, Marietta.
    Grandmas are a part of nature….. (a wink from a fellow biologist)

    1. Those who study various bits of the natural world often seem to come to love haiku, don’t they, Keith? Something about living things being endlessly fascinating! Cheers, Marietta

  18. Thank you so much for mentioning my haiku!
    Great collection! I love this series of prompts. I have enjoyed reading all of them. As a novice haiku/senryu poet, I learn so much that is valuable from the commentary. The themes you have chosen bring out such beautiful, evocative poems, they simply transport me.
    Congratulations to all the poets in this selection and to Guest editor Marietta McGregor, for her great commentaries!

  19. Thanks dear Marietta for giving us such unique prompts that motivate us to write and submit.

    Grateful to you for including mine with such wonderful haiku shared by friends. Loved your commentary!

  20. Dear Marietta, Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity of sharing my poem with all the friends here and to enjoy the fine haiku by other poets! Many many thanks! -Chen Xiaoou

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