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

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… gnarled tree stump

The old mountain eucalyptus has weathered many a hard winter. Its stump is split right through the centre, maybe from a lightning strike. From its base grows a new trunk, smoother-stemmed and alive. But the old trunk is not finished yet. It supports a rich growth of lichens, as well as providing a haven for ants, spiders, lizards and other small fauna. It looks as if it has always been there, and always will be. But nothing is permanent. Everything living is in a state of flux. The wood is beginning to decay. One day in a snow-laden gale it may well topple over. For the moment, it has a lonely and austere beauty. This week you are invited to write about the grace which comes with age.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday September 25, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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… rusty hitching iron:

This week I greatly enjoyed your poems about rust and shadows, both dark and light. Shadows can take on a life of their own, resembling other familiar objects, something children often find scary. The Lady of Shalott at her loom was ‟half sick of shadows”. During the pandemic, even one’s shadow seems oddly diminished. The sinuous curve of the old iron reminded some of a treble clef, of song, or dancing in the dark. Others recalled times, places and activities which are long gone, or historical sites with a sad history. Some shadows were cast by unusual objects owned by the poet. Who hasn’t been seduced into buying something at a car boot sale? Thanks again to Kathy, Lori, and The Haiku Foundation. I’m looking forward to your comments and poems next week.

car boot sale—
I buy a second hand
dream catcher

Nikola Đuretić
Zagreb, Croatia

Originating as protective fetishes in the Ojibwe culture and carried to other Native American cultural groups, dream catchers may be crafted of willow hoops webbed with sinew and adorned with feather pendants. Good dreams are said to pass through the web and descend through the feathers to the sleeper below, while bad dreams are captured, hopefully to evaporate by morning. These talismans may cast shadows against a wall or window that convey feelings of peace and harmony. Line 1 of the senryu sets the scene at the boot sale. Line 2 uses the poetic technique of enjambment, where the phrase continues from one line to the next, to keep the reader wondering about exactly what is being bought. Perhaps the poet browses the sale after a night filled with strange dreams or even nightmares. Anecdotally at least, the pandemic has caused people to have more frequent vivid dreams. With last night’s disturbed sleep still in mind, the poet spies a dream catcher hanging on a stall, and it’s a done deal.

autumn evening
watching his shadow
recede

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India

Kigo can be used to convey a mood as well as a season. To me, this haiku uses kigo to underline the brevity of our existence, lending the poem a pensive melancholy. The kigo ‛autumn evening’ has overtones of change and endings. Nights draw in as days become shorter, and the sun sits lower in the sky so shadows begin to lengthen. In some climates, deciduous trees are losing their leaves. The days may still be pleasant enough to be outside, but there is always the knowledge that this time will not last for long before colder weather sets in. The poet may have spent the day with a loved parent, grown child or old friend, and is farewelling them at the gate. As they walk away, their receding shadow is a reminder of times to come. A useful collection of essential season words may be found at https://thehaikufoundation.org/omeka/items/show/821.

dancing together
in a parking lot—
two shadows

Dan Campbell
Virginia

Many three-line haiku use a fragment/phrase structure with the fragment making up the first line. This order, while not the only form possible, can be useful in giving context to a poem, or setting the scene with a kigo which is then opened out in the rest of the haiku. This poem introduces variety by changing the order, placing the phrase first. It also uses what may be called the ‛riddle technique’, where the first two lines form the set-up and the ‛answer’ lies in the final line. The focus here is not on what casts the shadows, but on the shadows themselves. The reader can imagine different scenarios. My first thought is that the parking lot surrounds a club, resort or fancy hotel. Guests are leaving a function, maybe a ball or prom. Still borne away by the magic of the night, a couple waltzes to their car, lit by the moon. Then I remember a warm night in a Cuban street where I watched two locals dancing in an alley to a lively salsa beat, casting long shadows. Are the shadows palm trees seeming to dance in a night breeze? Or the sinuous shapes of two cats, spinning and jumping after moths under a streetlight? If we focus on shadows, the meaning is wide open.

cellar sunlight
the list of names
reborn

Roberta Beary
County Mayo Ireland

Cellars are usually dimly lit, enclosed spaces. Their benign uses can include storage of belongings, firewood or coal. They may also be associated with illicit deeds and cover-ups. At first glance the haiku could be about an innocuous moment when lost family documents resurface. However, the poet’s choice of words suggests otherwise. In line 1, a scene is set of light entering a dark place. In line 2, the juxtaposition of ‛the list of names’ invites the reader to think about what is referred to in connection with the cellar, and why. In line 3 we learn ‛the list’ with its names is ‛reborn’. Or are the names themselves ‛reborn’? This one-word line is the key. My reading is that the haiku may allude to a secretive period in the history of Ireland (and Tasmania) from the 19th to the late-20th century, when young unwed mothers were separated from their babies and set to work in institutional laundries run by a religious order. Many women died shut away in these workhouse ‛homes’ without ever knowing what happened to their infants. Not until this century were the women’s names, as well as the inhumanity of their mistreatment, made known. Only in 2013 was any sort of apology made. This thoughtful poem uses covert metaphor in an understated way to bring a disturbing subject out of the shadows while not downplaying it.

& here are the rest of the selections:

mating wheel of rare dragonflies the frog swallows

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany

 

rusty gate
the footsteps
in and out of it

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, Wa. USA

 

ochre sky—
left after the fire
single hook

Nicole Pottier
France

 

fast clouds
shadows shuffle
between us

Michael S Brock
Fentress Co. Tennessee

 

rusting blade—
moss on the wood
that we cut

Alan Peat
Biddulph, United Kingdom

 

autumn festival
hitching iron on street poles
to hang red lanterns

Teiichi Suzuki
Japan

 

rusty hoop—
my donkey tethered
to the heavens

Aljoša Vuković
Croatia, Šibenik

 

in the wood
shadows hide shadows—
Chinese boxes

Vincenzo Adamo
Sicily Italy

 

all that remains
of the unbridled years
ochre shadow

Ravi Kiran
India

 

a shadow
of our former selves
family album

Karen Harvey
Pwllheli, Wales

 

scattered nuts & bolts
the old cyborg rusting
by its shade

Alan Summers
England

 

timeless sundial missing its gnomon

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia

 

rusting away
I know how it feels
to be redundant

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

faraway forest
moss covers
discarded cars

Helga Stania
Switzerland

 

tattered lotus
the wagtail
drinks from its shadow

Nicole Tilde
Shady Dale, GA

 

secondhand store
buying a cracked vase
for spent coneflowers

Michael Morell
Philadelphia, PA, USA

 

autumn dusk
my shadow and I
in conversation

पतझड़ की शाम
मेरी परछाईं और मैं
बातचीत में

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India

 

broken comb
and a silver pendant—
old drawer

pettine rotto
e un ciondolo d’argento—
vecchio cassetto

Angiola Inglese
Italia

 

school peg
in my head
a treble clef

Helen Buckingham
United Kingdom

 

music
in the hitching post
hee haw

Genie Nakano
Gardena, CA

 

always
one step ahead
of my shadow

Edna Beers
Rensselaer, NY

 

memorial bench
one half free
of shadow

Maurice Nevile
Australia

 

long shadows
mourning doves write
my death poem

Rehn Kovacic
Mesa, AZ

 

one by one
rusted pulley dewdrops
plink in a well

Richard Matta
San Diego, California

 

chiaroscuro
the shadow of her bare body
on the wall

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

 

stooping shadow
dad’s baritone
reduced to a whisper

Padmini Krishnan
Singapore

 

plantation tour
mounted on the white wall
hooks and their shadows

John Zheng
Mississippi

 

turning again
the weathered iron gate . . .
moments inside out

Richa Sharma
India

 

only my black tote
but for just a moment
my lost cat

Susan Rogers
Los Angeles, CA

 

sitting proud
on mother’s old chair
my bald Toni Doll

Pris Campbell
Lake Worth, FL

 

first try—
S-line fracture
on the cake

Amrutha Prabhu
Bengaluru, India

 

cross-questioning
soon my daughter outgrows
my shadow

Vandana Parashar
India

 

rusty chain
through the port hole
rattle of old bones

Robert Kingston
Chelmsford, Essex

 

the sound of iron
the swollen veins
of the old blacksmith

Slobodan Pupovac
Zagreb, Croatia

 

fallen leaves
still enough oxygen
for rust

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton UK

 

wrought-iron chair frames
in each others’ arms . . .
summers on the back porch

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

cold moon—
silverfish shadowing
old dolls’ clothes

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom

 

rusty horseshoe—
the less visible part
of luck

Mirela Brăilean
Romania

 

carpe diem
carpe diem
sings the cuckoo

Ram Chandran
India

 

finally bending
under my jacket’s weight
the rusty nail

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA

 

treble clef notes
hitched in syncopation
Moonshadow moon shadow 

Caroline Giles Banks
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

 

the farmer’s long gone
rusted truck and silo-tree
green-leafed in ivy

Paul Brassard
Old Orchard Beach, Maine (USA)

 

still hanging
. . . her husband’s
handsome suits

Kanjini Devi
The Far North, Aotearoa NZ

 

squeaking gate hinge
the postman with another
bagful of catalogs

Peggy Hale Bilbro
Huntsville, Alabama

 

modern horsepower
no rails nor troughs
just bells and whistles

Carol Reynolds
Australia

 

childhood home
only the street name
still there

Meera Rehm
UK

 

demolition site
rusted lamppost
survives

Margaret Mahony
Australia

 

a rusty doorknob
grandmother’s warm hand
on my palm

Gordana Kurtović
Croatia

 

vesper star—
a mayfly’s
last dance

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand

 

deep shadows
slaves bound
in iron shackles

Carol Judkins
Carlsbad, CA USA

 

abandoned house
the family emblem
gathers rust

Mohammad Azim Khan
Peshawar, Pakistan

 

churchyard sunset,
our forefathers
as long shadows

Christopher Peys
Los Angeles, CA

 

a time to leave . . .
the shadow of one building
falling on another

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

 

derelict cottage
the chimney shadow
points west

Louise Hopewell
Australia

 

casting shadows . . .
church steeple on
the fallen soldiers

Joe Sebastian
Bangalore, India

 

early evening
the old oak
grows shorter

Zahra Mughis
Lahore, Pakistan

 

an oil bath
for the antique iron—
what if we tried again?

Paola Trevisson
Milano, Italia

 

lurking shadows . . .
learning to live
with my regrets

Madhuri Pillai
Australia

 

old monsoon days . . .
pattering with vividh bharati
in tin shaded room

(vividh bharati is an old and popular name of a Radio Channel in India)

Devoshruti Mandal
Varanasi, India

 

fiftieth birthday
my son’s shadow
outgrows mine

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

 

autumn afterglow
how swiftly my roses
are fading away

Mona Iordan
Romania

 

a sidewalk cracked
and shadowed by old elms
mourning dove

Tim Cremin
Massachusetts

 

rusty hinge
portals open
in other worlds

Stoianka Boianova
Bulgaria

 

wooden swans
on their curved necks
“love” fading

Anna Yin
Ontario, Canada

 

2020-21
my shadow looks
leaner . . .

Priti Khullar
India

 

peeling paint
telling its stories
from the past

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove, CA

 

mountain drive—
the shadows of the clouds
moving . . .

Viaje en la montaña
Las sombras de las nubes
moviéndose

Julia Guzmán
Córdoba. Argentina

 

colonial village—
the shadow of a hook
without its lamp

Jorge Alberto Giallorenzi
Chivilcoy Buenos Aires Argentina

 

cool breeze
palm frond shadows
dance under the moonlight

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA

 

dragonfly . . .
a red flash
along the river

libellula…
un lampo rosso
lungo il fiume

Giuliana Ravaglia
Bologna, Italia

 

another year
I appear to cast
a smaller shadow

Mark Meyer
Mercer Island WA USA

 

barn auction
a lucky bid
on rusted horseshoes

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley California

 

moving day
the ghostly furnishings
still at their place

Cristina Povero
Italy

 

rusty old flagpole
splitting in sunset sky
pair of sundogs

Melanie Vance
USA

 

weathered wood
the memorial bench
still holds her poem

Xenia Tran
Nairn, Scotland

 

snow canvas
my footsteps being
erased

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
USA

 

autumn evening . . .
on a cracked adobe wall
a leaf’s shadow

Milan Rajkumar
Imphal, India

 

frayed reins
my memories
of him

Deborah P Kolodji
Temple City, California

 

the space
between my shadow and me
vacant room

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
Kolkata, India

 

disused byre
the desolate emptiness
of tethering rings

Mike Gallagher
Lyreacrompane, Ireland

 

forge in ruins
between now and then
a hitching iron

Florin C. Ciobica
Romania

 

equinox
leaf shadows fade
to sky

Ann K. Schwader
Westminster, CO

 

my shadow shading my footsteps

Margaret Walker
Lincoln, NE, USA

 

fifty years
since they got hitched
and yet, shadows

Charles Harmon
Los Angeles, California, USA

 

leaping shadow . . .
the cat scales
a fence wall

Priti Aisola
India

 

shadows still
seem to dance
old amphitheater

C.A. Harper
USA

 

summer afternoon
cloud shadows cross
our sails

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio, USA

 

grandpa’s corn broom . . .
pushing shadows
across the barn floor

Barrie Levine
Wenham MA USA

 

at least our shadows touch

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada

 

angle of the sun
the intricate shadow
of a driftwood stick

Kathabela Wilson
United States

 

Sonnet 18
words
over a pet’s grave

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI

 

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 24 Comments

  1. Many thanks Marietta for an inspirational prompt and for including my poem. Thanks also to Kj and Lori. There are so many wonderful poems here, it’s impossible to choose a favourite. One that appealed to me because of its cinematic quality was…

    snow canvas
    my footsteps being
    erased

    Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
    USA

    I love the poem’s brevity. For me, it evokes the silence in a landscape as snow falls. There is also a quiet melancholy in the choice of ‘erased’. It also hints at the transitory nature of life. Fab!

  2. another awesome collection. Thanks so much for including mine in this collection.

    So connected with these two haiku

    another year
    I appear to cast
    a smaller shadow
    by Mark Meyer

    old monsoon days . . .
    pattering with vividh bharati
    in tin shaded room

    by Devoshruti Mandal
    This haiku brought back so many childhood memories.

    Regards,
    Padma

  3. Thanks for commenting on my haiku, Marietta. Your haiku intuition is spot on. .

    There were many excellent poems this week.

    For its evocative yet gritty beauty:

    scattered nuts & bolts
    the old cyborg rusting
    by its shade

    Alan Summers
    England

    For its haunting simplicity:

    lurking shadows . . .
    learning to live
    with my regrets

    Madhuri Pillai
    Australia

    1. Many thanks Roberta for selecting both mine, and also Madhuri with her emotive haiku.

      I feel you know that with my own work there are underlying levels, that readers might overlook or feel to tread!

      warmest regards,
      Alan

  4. Thanks Marietta, kj and Lori for again publishing me and for all your hard work.
    Too many fantastic ku here to highlight any in particular (I’d be here all week!). To my mind, one of the best sets (and prompts, wonderfully gothic) yet. Thanks, everyone, for a real treat.

  5. Congratulations to one and all!
    Thank you .Marietta and everyone else at thf. Great to see your efforts are being recognised.

  6. So many to enjoy.

    wrought-iron chair frames
    in each others’ arms . . .
    summers on the back porch

    Laurie Greer
    Washington, DC

    A lovely way to describe stacked chairs – in each others’ arms – and also, especially without the ellipsis, a second interpretation. I liked this one very much.
    Thank you, Marietta, Kathy and Lori, for including mine.

    1. Ingrid–Thank you so much!
      And I was especially impressed with your deft monoku:
      *
      timeless sundial missing its gnomon

      Ingrid Baluchi
      North Macedonia
      I pass a couple of sundials regularly, and they have figured in many a haiku, but you have said it all in these 5 words.
      Thanks! And thanks to all who participated in this selection, both up front and behind the scenes. Some wonderful work, as always.

  7. Thank you Marietta, Kj, Lori for choosing mine. Really humbled!
    Congratulations to all the amazing poets for the wonderful poems.

  8. Enjoyed reading each haiku. The one by Teiichi Suzuki is evocative, and the one by Karen Harvey shimmers a shadow of the past.
    Many thanks to the editors.

  9. Thank you Marietta for including my haiku. One of the most enjoyable days of my week. Congratulations you all poets.

  10. Thank you Marietta, kj, and Lori and to all of the participating poets. This session made me more aware and observant of shadows which helps me to improve as an artist.

  11. Another really enjoyable selection and commentary. Many thanks to Marietta, kj, and Lori. I enjoyed the entire collection so thank you to all the poets for brightening my day. I am delighted to have a poem included here! There is always so much to enjoy and to learn by reading this column. I look forward to reading next week’s dialogue!

  12. Thank-you Marietta for choosing one of mine. Thank-you to Lori and Kathy for the efforts on this column. Congrats to all the poets and especially fellow Ohio poet Nancy Brady.

  13. Shadows are so evocative of what is and was, and this collection is outstanding for that. Some are melancholy, some are humorous, and most are reflective, kind of like shadows themselves. Congratulations to all.
    .
    With just a quick skim through, several jumped out. Tracy Davidson’s redundancy as having retired, I sometimes feel that way. I doubt I am the only one who found myself singing Caroline Giles Banks’s last line of her haiku. Prior Khullar’s Covid inspired haiku and Valentina’s snow both had me nodding my head in agreement. Now, to do a more thorough exploration of the others. Thanks, Marietta and the rest of the crew, for including one of mine in this week’s list.

      1. Thank you so much for the kind mention, Nancy!! Loved the use of imagery in your- cloud shadows.
        Don’t bother about the spellings, typos happen with all of us…all the time:))

        1. Still, I hate typos especially those created when the computer thinks it knows better, Priti. And names with typos, names are too important to misspell. Thanks for the compliment on mine, too. Lying on the bow watching shadows caused by clouds going across the jib are favorite memories of mine. Alas, we don’t sail any more.

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