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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Finding peace and contemplation… in worn, imperfect and transient things… old ship’s chain

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 theme… at a tea party

Many countries and cultures around the world celebrate with a tea party. It’s an opportunity to gather with friends and family to enjoy delicious treats and engage in gentle conversation. A tea party may include savoury or sweet fare such as sandwiches and cakes. Whether samosas or shortbread are on offer, the usual beverage is a nice cup of tea. I took this photograph in a country garden on the fringes of suburbia. It felt like a different world. This week we invite you to write about the tea time moments you’ve enjoyed, whether it’s high tea, a special garden party, or a family get-together.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday October 09, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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… old ship’s chain:

Chains that break and chains that bind, all appeared in your poems this week. Some poems celebrated friendships, others long marriages and family ties. Others were more about separation, or estrangement. Some haiku reminisced about the past, as if the old chain could tell some stories. Several poets wrote about family heirlooms, treasured items handed down and still worn. Daisy chains popped up as symbols of summer, or even after release from lockdown. This week marks the close of our wabi-sabi month of writing about worn, imperfect and transient things. I have greatly enjoyed all of your poems. I’ll be providing some new prompts for October and I look forward to another month of finding peace and contemplation in the small moments we experience together. Thanks again to Kathy, Lori and The Haiku Foundation for the Haiku Dialogue feature.

harvest moon
a hole in the chain link fence
just big enough

Susan Rogers
Los Angeles

More is suggested than said in this haiku. For those who dwell in the northern hemisphere, the full moon rising in September is by tradition the harvest moon, coinciding with the autumnal equinox on farmers’ almanacs. When it rises shortly after sunset at this time, the moon hanging above the eastern horizon appears large and honey-gold. Over several nights, as the moon rises only minutes later each night, its brilliance when the sun sets provided a boon to farmers who gained precious light to bring in their late-summer corn crops. The haiku sets the scene with its first line autumn kigo, which shows us the sun has set and the moon is up. The ‛chain link fence’ implies we’re somewhere rural, perhaps on a farm, not the city. We imagine a moment when, beckoned by the bright moon, youngsters on a dare or lovers on a tryst sneak out while the nights are still mild and balmy, not yet hinting of winter.

the runway
connecting a chain of lights
to the milky way

Teiichi Suzuki

Classic haijin, including artist and poet Yosa Buson, used the pictorial device of change of focus in their haiku. Jane Reichhold, writing on haiku techniques, likened this to beginning a poem by turning a wide-angle lens on the world, for example a field of flowers, then using closer-focus lenses in the next lines to zoom in on a subject, ultimately focussing upon a single bloom. This haiku could be said to employ the same cinematic technique of ‛zooming’, as it uses a montage of images. However, in this case we zoom out. Each image links to the next to create an effect of broadening the poem to a much bigger canvas. We imagine an airplane stationary on a runway, ready to take off. Beyond the illuminated delineations of the runway, lights lead the eye into the far distance, then high into the sky. As if following links in a chain, our eyes move from the grounded sphere into the cosmos, and our human perceptions change from the small and finite ‛known’ to the infinite ‛unknown’.

days rust into night monsoon

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa, USA

Those of us from temperate climates can only experience life in the tropics secondhand, from the stories of friends or family who live there. The months leading to monsoon season in Darwin, at the Top End of Australia, are called the ‛build-up’. Inexorable heat belts down. Getting a restful sleep is hard. People may become stressed and irritable, and lack energy. Australians call it ‛going troppo’. When the monsoon arrives, with its high humidity, thunder, lightning and torrential rain, there’s not much relief. This deft monoku captures in five words the ennui of monsoon. Day after day, the sky darkens, and it teems with rain. Instead of telling the reader the days and nights are monotonously similar, by using ‛rust’ as an active verb the poet shows us how slowly each day passes. Also, metal objects left outside for long do indeed rust, so the verb is an apt choice.

barks in the night—
black sound of iron chain
behind the fence

Tomislav Maretić

We can only guess at the setting of this dark poem. Sadly, it could be a moment experienced in many places around the world which have been, or still are, caught up in wars and unrest. It evokes a prison or refugee camp, somewhere people are locked in. Or the setting could be a wealthy residential enclave, where guard dogs patrol property boundaries. Either way, it conveys a sense of enforcement. One comment I’d like to make about style: omitting all definite or indefinite articles in English-language haiku can risk the haiku reading as ‛telegraphese’, an abbreviated form of English used in telegrams. Here Line 2 heads in the direction of excessive brevity. This could be overcome to some degree by making either ‛sound’ or ‛chain’ a plural noun. That aside, the line is interesting because this particular phrase uses the technique of synesthesia. Synesthesia may be described as transposing an expected sensory reaction from an activity or object to something quite different. Bashō’s famous haiku uses the technique, when he perceives a duck’s cries as being white. Some people experience synesthesia on a regular basis, for example seeing a sound or a touch as a specific colour. In Line 2, the sound of the iron chain is not the expected ‛clank’ or ‛rattle’, but is ‛black’, further reinforcing the ominous feeling established in Line 1. Synesthesia can be very effective in shaking up a haiku to convey a novel effect or feeling – the haiku reading can gain added depth from techniques like these switches. An interesting essay on synesthesia by Paul Miller can be accessed in The Haiku Foundation’s Digital Library:

& here are the rest of the selections:

rusty chain
another day
being his wife

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany


rusty chain
I too
feel the rain

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, Wa. USA


the missing link . . .
I hold your little hand
more tightly

Anitha Varma
Kerala, India


for better or worse . . .
our anchor chain holds
through the storm

Pris Campbell


climbing up
the rusty chain fence
morning glories and my shadow

Anna Yin
Ontario, Canada


the couple free
from till death do us part
high lawyer fees

Hla Yin Mon
Yangon, Myanmar


chain reaction
that little spark
at the start

Sherry Grant
Auckland, New Zealand


chain links—
a mother suckles
her just born

Subir Ningthouja
Imphal, India


mom’s old apron
still tied loosely
around her waist

Edna Beers
Renssealaer, NY


with my son and daughter
crossbars on a chain link

Christina Sng


link by link
the stolen gift chain

Robert Kingston
United Kingdom


chain tattoo—
remembering her love
across the seas

Nicole Pottier


in the garden
of the divorce courts

Ravi Kiran


hospice waiting room
one day even acrobats
will have to let go

John Hawkhead


broken links
we begin to repair
old wounds

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK


missing my dog—
his footsteps sound
chained at my heart

Maria Teresa Sisti
Massa Carrara, Italy


rust on a chain
linking us all
to one another

Ronald Degler
Harbor City, California, USA


snapped string
a kite becomes one
with the wind

Vandana Parashar


anchored to its fate
a ship rests at the sea bed

हिम खंड
भाग्य की बेड़ी से बंधा जहाज
समुद्र तल में

Teji Sethi


unchained . . .
after forced isolation
re-entry syndrome

Natalia Kuznetsova


gramp’s cross mood—
the rusted saw teeth
sharp as ever

Richard Matta
San Diego, California


morning walk
the shadows hold hands

Donal O’Farrell


beyond the grave . . .
a lifelong friendship
remains unbroken

Mark Meyer
Mercer Island WA USA


wedding ring
on the altar
his ashes

Kanjini Devi
The Far North, Aotearoa NZ


her wedding ring
on my finger

Maurice Nevile


my father’s sextant
in his attic

Gary Evans
Stanwood, Washington


my convict roots
now a source of pride
wattle blossoms

Louise Hopewell


summer garden
making daisy chains
childhood memories

Margaret Mahony


chain stitch
the picture completes

Neera Kashyap


daisy chains
a link between

Carol Reynolds


heirloom . . .
the fallen bells
from her anklets

Akila G
Hyderabad, India


anchor chain
enough links
not to shift

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton UK


silver wedding—
my son ties
the first tie knot

Dan Iulian
Bucharest, Romania


swing set
the height of freedom
chained to the sky

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC


a rose-bed
inside the iron fence
arranged marriage

Meera Rehm


from her life
wishing on a star

Rehn Kovacic
Mesa, AZ


rusted links—
I bump into
my ex

Shri Desai
Toronto, Canada


the long goodbye
from deck to quay
streamers intertwining

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia


autumn twilight
a rescued child
completes the human chain

Richa Sharma


the man in her heart
on a gold neck chain
all these years

Gloria Whitney
Findley Lake, NY USA


fall evening
she spots a break
in the family tree

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India


local chain store closed
we click on the link
to order online

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY


coming ashore
the russet hues
of sailor beards

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois


café after hours
tables and chairs
chained to moonlight

Barrie Levine
Wenham MA USA


a chain of daisies
as a necklace . . .
childhood memories

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore
Catania Italy


the dog
lying at master’s feet
senior home

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India


undoing each link
how long before
I forget you

Peter Jastermsky
Morongo Valley, California


coffee chat with son
scrubbing the rust
off the chain link

Priti Khullar
Noida, India


circus elephant
the limp in her gait
as she exits the stage

Madhuri Pillai


childhood memories . . .
I open and close
the wrought iron gate

बचपन की यादें…
मैं खोलती और बंद करती हूँ
गढ़ा लोहे का गेट

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India


the necklace
of melon pips
she still wears

Helene Guojah


moebius strip
I tie my son’s shoelaces
with my mother’s words

Orense Nicod
Paris France


Sea view—
the only change
ships turning with the tide

David Gale
United Kingdom


thistle flower
the persistence
of weeds

Jenn Ryan-Jauregui
Tucson, Arizona USA


rice fields—
the farmers united by a cloud

Jorge Alberto Giallorenzi
Chivilcoy Buenos Aires Argentina


broken chains—
the refugees´s smiles
when boarding the barge

Julia Guzmán
Córdoba, Argentina


rust flakes
from an anchor chain

Helga Stania


broken chain
the boy I linked pinkies with
now a monk

Jackie Chou
Pico Rivera CA USA


anchor on a field
two seagulls
watching over the sea

Mircea Moldovan


chain stitch—
with each loop I bring back
mother’s voice

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom


linked to us
by an invisible chain
the moon

Xiaoou Chen
Kunming, China


her black eyes under layers of concealer corroded connection

Devoshruti Mandal
Varanasi, India


gentle waterfall
outside my window
rain chain

Susan Farner


family name
still intact on dinner napkins
grandma’s chain stitch

Melanie Vance


daughter’s engagement
passing on to her
grandma’s golden chain

Maya Daneva
The Netherlands


sciarpa rossa . . .
il calore di mamma
ancora vicino

red scarf . . .
the warmth of mom
still close

Giuliana Ravaglia
Bologna Italia


broken chain
this year rain without
the memories

Yasir Farooq


what sets us apart

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA


paper and pencil
I leave a trail of breadcrumbs
for the afterlife

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California


rusty sea chain
the ones that never
get away

John S Green
Bellingham, WA


still a harbour

Marion Clarke
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland


mom and dad gone
my brother’s
regular phone calls

Claire Vogel Camargo


rusty anchor
the sails still

Mona Iordan


my son draws again
swing chains

Florin C. Ciobica


piccola catena
in filigrana . . .
la nostra vita insieme

small chain
in filigree . . .
our life together

Angiola Inglese
Rapallo Italy


lockdown ends the stamping on her daisy chains

Helen Buckingham
United Kingdom


last line
first line . . .
haiku chain

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand


history lesson
a box of tire chains
at the garage sale

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio USA


the rusty chain
at the gate
still keeps the house together

Cristina Povero


a gnarled stump
on the mountain peak
dry lightning

Bruce Feingold
Berkeley, CA USA


chained to a memory
at the wharf—
quiet storm

Wakako Miya Rollinger
Topanga, CA


the free balloon
flies through the unknown
with a Sharpie smile

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI


strands of memories
I question if they are real
my grandmother’s pearls

Dana Clark-Millar
Oregon – USA


water dancing
on rain chains

Jeff Leong
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


unspoken words
no beginning
or end

Didimay D. Dimacali
Norwalk, California


to a tree stump . . .
burnt grass

Priti Aisola


by the moon
red tide

Pippa Phillips
Kansas City, MO, USA


custom order chain
my handmade little people
10 grandkids 10 cats

Kath Abela Wilson


daisy chain
one for him one for her
summer’s last hurrah

Charles Harmon
Los Angeles, California, USA


chain broken . . .
too many nights
of unfaithfulness

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio, USA


family tree—
this branch
faintly inked

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada


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 28 Comments

  1. Thanks as always to kj et al. Some lovely work here, I especially enjoyed Christina Sng’s vivid and poignant observation:
    with my son and daughter
    crossbars on a chain link

  2. I am very honored and thrilled to have my haiku commented on this week! Marietta your selection of my haiku and your commentary made my day (and my moon risen night as well)! I very much enjoyed reading your insights into the harvest moon and they added a layer of meaning for me for my haiku. Just as you surmised I was thinking about the hole as a means of escape or free passage but i also imagined it as an open frame to the sky to see the giant harvest moon. Thank you too for all your prompts for the peace and contemplation series.
    My gratitude to kj and Lori as well for all their support for this wonderful dialogue.

    I enjoyed all the haiku this week but was especially dazzled by Teiichi Suzuki’s phenomenal haiku:
    the runway
    connecting a chain of lights
    to the milky way
    The leap and scope of this haiku take my breath and send me into flight. It is a string of jewels.

    I also loved Orense Nicod’s
    moebius strip
    I tie my son’s shoelaces
    with my mother’s words
    The motion of curve and return caught in the looping of laces and the repeating of the mother’s words carries a beautiful symmetry.

    I look forward to the next series of prompts! Many smiles to all.

  3. Fabulous commentary on the selected haiku, Marietta, and always a thrill to find my name amongst the other selections, many calling me to return to them to reread and reread and get their deeper meaning. However, on first scrolling, these stood out for me:

    her wedding ring
    on my finger

    Maurice Nevile, Australia

    My heart stopped when I read this. It’s similar to something I have written from a widow’s point of view, but different. So achingly sad.


    the long goodbye
    from deck to quay
    streamers intertwining

    Ingrid Baluchi, North Macedonia

    Being from an island nation this triggered so many memories of childhood / teenage years, the days before cheap air travel, going to the wharf and waving people off on their big OE and adventures, running down the wharf with the streamers until they broke or were let go.


    and I just love the image this evoked. It took me back to a place where I would have been travelling to again this year had it not been for COVID.

    café after hours
    tables and chairs
    chained to moonlight

    Barrie Levine, Wenham MA USA

  4. A really thought-provoking set of poems this week. I’m delighted to have my work included. Congratulations to all the poets!
    Marietta, thank you for a great challenge and a really helpful commentary. Thanks also to Kj and Lori for all your work to create this inspirational column. I loved so many of this week’s selection. Here are two that have lingered in my mind…

    strands of memories
    I question if they are real
    my grandmother’s pearls

    Dana Clark-Millar
    Oregon – USA

    I thought this was a lovely metaphor for the unreliability of memories. It’s both visual and tactile. The choice of words demands a slow, thoughtful reading which fits the topic beautifully. Fab!

    childhood memories . . .
    I open and close
    the wrought iron gate

    बचपन की यादें…
    मैं खोलती और बंद करती हूँ
    गढ़ा लोहे का गेट

    Neena Singh
    Chandigarh, India

    I loved the image this poem creates. Thinking back to childhood is indeed like opening a gate. I liked the ambiguity of a wrought iron gate. It might suggest something beautiful, or it could mean something heavy and difficult to open and close. Memorable.

    1. Oh, Dorothy, thank you so much! I love that my haiku lingered in your mind. That is the goal but it is a tough one to reach most of the time.

  5. Another fine selection Marietta.
    Thank you for including mine.
    Congratulations to all poets.

  6. Some great poems again this week. Sometimes it is very difficult to come up with an unusual visual image that will stand out and this is the poem to that captured my attention.

    moebius strip
    I tie my son’s shoelaces
    with my mother’s words

    Orense Nicod
    Paris Fran

    L1… The moebius strip, a strong visual image, a thing of intrigue.
    L2 ‘I tie my son’s shoe laces’ … I saw the hands tie a figure eight which crosses over and twisting in the middle mirror L1, then …
    L3 ‘with my mother’s words’ …

    This expands the poem so much more, those family sayings which get repeated generation after generation. Suddenly we realise we sound just like our own parents.

    I really enjoyed this Orense.

    1. It is a wonderful haiku Orense penned. Mobius strip, endless, knots (the connections), and mothers words (and her mother’s and her mother’s before) creating a chain of events linked through time, an unbroken chain.

  7. last line
    first line . . .
    haiku chain
    Sue Courtney
    Orewa, New Zealand
    When writing a haiku sequence, there needs to be a flow between one haiku to the next. That concept is nicely expressed in this haiku.

  8. Always a joy to read. Many powerful haiku. Thank you Marietta for including mine.

  9. Among the several broken ties in this week’s submissions, I appreciated this poem:

    snapped string
    a kite becomes one
    with the wind

    Vandana Parashar

    I suspect it speaks more of freedom than mere unintentional release.

    Thank you, Marietta et al. for including one of mine. This weekly nudge forms a chain-link of international togetherness.

  10. Thank you Marietta for including my haiku this week! Congratulations to all the poets! And much gratitude to Kathy and Lori for all the work keeping this Haiku Dialogue going. It is such a highlight of my week. I very much appreciated these two haiku this week:
    chain stitch—
    with each loop I bring back
    mother’s voice

    Dorothy Burrows
    United Kingdom
    Crocheting and embroidery and other needlework are shared among the generations of women in my family and this one really touched me.
    swing set
    the height of freedom
    chained to the sky

    Laurie Greer
    Washington, DC
    This one brings me back to the feel of the chains of the swing set in my hands. As well as pushing my own children in the swing. A very moving and evocative haiku. The idea of being chained to the sky is unique and wonderful.

    1. Wow— thank you, Sari. My sisters and I were forever trying to launch ourselves into flight from the swing . Alas never quite made it. Still trying in other ways, perhaps. Thanks everyone for an amazing bunch of poems. I was moved by too many to single out.

    2. These are the two that held my attention! Thanks for bring them to the fore Sari!

    3. Sari, thank you so much for your thoughts on my poem. Crocheting and embroidery was shared in my family too. My stitching has never been neat, though, despite my mother’s efforts!

      I agree with you about Laurie’s haiku. It brought back childhood’s blue skies. Fab!

  11. Powerful haiku this week that could be linked together if arranged differently from personal chains to the links that chain humanity together in other ways, both positively and not.
    Tomislav’s barks in the night reminded me of our brief stay in Kenya. Our compound had guards, dogs, clanging gates, and electrified chain link fence to keep out others (or was it to keep others in?).
    Valentina Ranaldi-Adams’ history lesson also resonated since there are all kinds of history that could be considered in this haiku.
    Congratulations to all the poets, and thanks to Marietta, KJ, and Lori for all the work you do to keep this going each week. Thanks for including one of mine this week, too, Marietta.
    Now to read them more closely to experience other moments of haiku clarity.

  12. Congratulations to all the participants and thanks to the editor for including my haiku.

  13. Marietta, thank-you for publishing mine. Thank-you also to Kathy and Lori for all your efforts. Congrats to all the poets.

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