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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Finding peace and contemplation… Photo Two

A note for all those submitting to Haiku Dialogue – if all goes according to plan, we will start using a new submission form as of next week – stay tuned as the improvements continue… thanks, kj

Finding Peace and Contemplation… in small 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: Photo Three – wind bell with monkey

“Fu” is wind and “rin” is bell in Japanese. Furin are hung in Japan in summer to suggest the passage of cool breezes and they can often be seen in public spaces during hot and humid months. The bells may be made of glass, porcelain, bronze, wood or cast iron. Often they will have suspended strips of paper that seem to make visible the breeze’s movements. Softly chiming in gardens or under porch eaves their notes are calming and peaceful, meditative and healing. They can help discharge stress and provide positive energy. This little cast-iron bell held up by a monkey was hung in a garden corner. The day I visited was showery and there was no wind so the bell was silent. I look forward to reading your haiku inspired by wind chimes and the sounds, sensations and memories they may evoke.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Standard Time, Saturday February 20, 2021.

Please submit one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme by clicking here: Contact Form.  Please put Haiku Dialogue in the Subject box, & include your name as you would like it to appear, & your place of residence, with your poem.

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 Photo Two – milkweed pod:

A grateful thank-you to all participating poets for sending in another delightful collection of haiku and senryu to Haiku Dialogue. And thank you, Kathy and Lori, for your hard work to keep everything running smoothly. I was interested to see the different ways each poet approached the image of seeds scattering from a mature milkweed pod. This week’s poems generally take on more sombre tones than those inspired by last week’s eager bee. To me, the pod shedding its fluffy seeds suggests both new starts and end-points in a life cycle, and brief moments between one phase of existence and another. Your poetic responses covered a spectrum of life’s transitions from birth to death and in-between. Some haiku concerned loss or closures, with the seeds’ silken floss signalling old age. Others were launches or take-off moments, from baby steps to aircraft (or spaceships). Some of you thought about escape, so relevant in these difficult times. Many haiku were wabi sabi in spirit, imbued with a wistful melancholy about the passage of time. I liked the wordplay used in senryu, too, as well as cultural references to drama and film. And you taught me that milkweed pods can be human food, as long as they’re cooked properly. A great batch and again, hard to select just a few. Please enjoy the poems, feel free to comment on your own favourites, and please keep yours coming!

planting his plot
earth fills father’s life lines
. . . kintsugi

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia

Intriguingly juxtaposed images here captured my attention. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken items, usually ceramics, using lacquer mixed with powdered precious metals. Accepting that everything is subject to wear and change, a damaged bowl is made whole again, and is even more beautiful than before by virtue of its imperfections being highlighted. The repair is delicate, and the object can still be used but must be handled gently. The juxtaposition in this haiku is between the observation of the life lines on a father’s time-worn hands, which reveal long dedication to the hard work of growing things for his family, and the fine tracery of lines on a painstakingly repaired earthenware dish or pot. Both types of lines are beautiful because of the wear, and care, they reveal. Movingly, and with a sense of melancholy and wabi sabi, the haiku conveys calm acceptance of the passing of time.

burst milkweed pod
talk of my mortality
in the air

Stephen A. Peters

On reading this poem, I am left with many questions. What has given rise to talk of the poet’s mortality? Perhaps a conversation about mortality is occurring within hearing range. Is the poet an eavesdropping bystander to the conversation, or a participant? Are we in a doctor’s surgery, or in a hospital ward, discussing treatments? Making a last will and testament? Or is the talk a philosophical discussion between friends or family around a dinner table, musings about human frailty that drift away on the wind, like milkweed floss? Maybe the milkweed pod, now past its first flush and split open, is symbolic of some part of the poet’s own body or mind which may be changing? A deep verse that provokes thought and lends itself to a range of interpretations.

milk weed
the pod bay doors have
opened wide

Michael Henry Lee

This little ‛time machine’ whirled me back decades into last century and had me happily repeating out loud the memorable lines from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 cinematic magnum opus, 2001: A Space Odyssey. With its doomed crew, recalcitrant computer HAL, and stunning score, it laid the groundwork for many films about spacecraft, interplanetary travel and artificial intelligence. For me this poem is successful in bringing together the image of one small milkweed, seemingly insignificant by comparison with space travel but nevertheless a key part of the web of life, and the aspirations we humans have to sail way beyond what we know on Earth and into other realms. Also, while checking the date of the film I happened on a short video clip of someone asking iOS’s Siri to open the pod bay doors. A bit of fun!

milkweed fluff
one wad at a time
into dolly’s pillow

Pat Davis
Pembroke, NH, US

What a lovely nature picture this poem paints! I imagine a parent or grandparent in a garden with an excited and happy small child, gathering milkweed seeds and separating out the silky white hairs. They have a task to do together – stuff dolly’s pillow. How many milkweed pods would it take for the small pillow to feel as puffed and soft as the child would like? The description ‛one wad at a time’ evokes an unhurried and delicate process carried out by little fingers, maybe taking place over a long warm autumn afternoon. And the seeds will be carefully kept in a paper bag to be strewn in the right season to produce the next flush of milkweed and monarchs in the garden.

wild flower
the breastfed baby’s
first step

Keiko Izawa

It’s a big milestone for babies to not only stand on their own two little feet for the first time, but to step away from mother on whom they have been so dependent for their short life so far. Then, so tentatively, to advance one foot ahead of the other, and begin the adventure of forward motion (and up and down, round and round and every other way!). Is it the pretty wild flower which draws baby’s attention and begs to be looked at more closely? Or is baby’s first step itself the precious wild flower, a step into the unknown that will lead to many fields and forests in the future? As a grandmother with a 12-month-old grandgirl, I’ve seen that baby step at first hand. Perhaps the wild flower will be picked and handed to grandma as a loving gift. I felt the juxtaposition worked well in evoking an intimate moment.

below are the rest of the selections:

paper garbage can
the old life
left behind

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany


milkweed pod . . .
how gentle
an offering can be

Aparna Pathak


Cathy’s gone
they still visit
—her butterfly bush

Chuck Farrington


trying on hats
mama remembers
when she was a girl

Mary Vlooswyk


Father’s cell phone
preserved for eternity
my last call

Dejan Ivanovic
Lazarevac, Serbia


the softest blanket
a mother’s womb

Barbara Kaufmann


milkweed pod the little things she does

Marilyn Ashbaugh
Gulf Stream, Florida, US


seeds long gone
the milkweed pod
cradling snow

Bryan Rickert


skating across
the frying pan—
milkweed pods

Dan Campbell


memories . . .
an empty pod holding
both sun and snow

Carole MacRury


early spring . . .
the butterfly wings
of red maple

Hifsa Ashraf


winter sun
where the dog
lay so gladly

Helga Stania


only when damaged
milkweed, etc.

Tom Bierovic
DeLand, FL, US


first date
monarch butterfly clips
in her hair

Tsanka Shishkova


the house so big
after they have flown
empty crysallis

Ben Oliver


milkweed silk
i blow dry
mom’s silvery hair

Meera Rehm


only a week
her scent slowly fades
from her pillow

Rehn Kovacic


hospice bed
on her shrivelled palm
a long lifeline

Vandana Parashar


even after spring
just living

Vishnu Kapoor


measuring the batting
for the butterfly quilt

Laurie Greer
Washington DC, US


out of isolation
the monarch and I
testing our wings

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK


white hair—
the yellowed sheets
of an old diary

Maria Teresa Piras


with anticipation—
my brush with royalty

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY, US


monarch migration—
I visit the same tree
every year

Jorge Alberto Giallorenzi


where I
once grew. . .

Isabel Caves
New Zealand


Under Milkweed
our town goes gentle
into that good night

Charles Harmon
Los Angeles, California, US


after the explosion
milkweed seeds

Deborah P Kolodji
Temple City, California, US


Indian Summer
milkweed pods roasting
in an iron pan

Al Gallia
Lafayette, Louisiana US


milkweed pod
galaxies are exploding
in the butterfly moment

Minko Tanev


seventy today
bent a bit closer
to the wildflowers

Pris Campbell


a slow emergence
from the cocoon . . .

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio US


if only I could
see them flourish—
wisteria seeds

Angiola Inglese


dry pods rattle
the soundtrack
of climate change

Charlotte Hrenchuk

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 26 Comments

  1. Thanks to Marietta for including my haiku in this selection. Thanks to Kathy and Lori for their commitment. Thanks to all the poets for the beautiful poems.

  2. Congratulations to all the fine poets and their haiku! I find writing about plants challenging
    but it’s really just me. I have a purple thumb, probably from bashing it with a handyman hammer
    while attempting to repair something. But I do like to play with words…don’t we all?

  3. A memorable selection of poems – congratulations to all the writers. Another fascinating and helpful commentary from Marietta too! This column is a constant source of inspiration so many thanks to everyone involved.

    There were so many poignant and vivid poems this week that it is challenging to select a favourite. Two that I particularly enjoyed were…

    milkweed silk
    i blow dry
    mom’s silvery hair

    Meera Rehm

    white hair—
    the yellowed sheets
    of an old diary

    Maria Teresa Piras

    I enjoyed Meera’s poem because it poignantly captures both frailty and beauty. Maria’s poem appeals to me because it illustrates the fascination of old objects. I immediately want to know whose white hair has been pressed into or accidentally ended up in a diary. Whose diary is it? Who is looking at it now?
    Both poems also provide great cinematic images – both visual and tactile.

    I look forward to reading next week’s selection.

    1. Dear Doroty, thank you for enjoying my haiku. A hair on an old school diary. The diary is certainly mine … the hair, gray with time, must have been a black hair … whose? I don’t know … I think mine, but it could have accidentally ended up in the pages. mystery … I inevitably thought about my hair now, but even more about mom’s, moon strands. Thanks again. I have read many and many very beautiful haiku. Congratulations to all.

  4. Thanks Marietta for your inspiring photos. Love your selections and comments, and happy that one of mine found favor too.

    This one stood out for me for the subtle way it speaks to the delicacy of this milkweed pod and the subtle gifts nature offers us if we keep our eyes and hearts open.

    milkweed pod . . .
    how gentle
    an offering can be

    Aparna Pathak

  5. So many lovely ones this week. I must say, I hadn’t seen the aging angle of the milkweed, but the poems made it so clear. I loved Ingrid’s masterful, beautiful piece; in addition, these resonated deeply for different reasons:
    milkweed pod
    galaxies are exploding
    in the butterfly moment

    Minko Tanev
    a wonderfully dynamic sense of simultaneity among far-flung phenomena
    seventy today
    bent a bit closer
    to the wildflowers

    Pris Campbell
    I love how this finds an advantage to aging–the shrinking isn’t a loss but a change that makes nature more accessible
    thanks Marietta and all the poets who showed me these things!

  6. So many lovely poems! I loved the prompt and the wonderful responses to it. Two stand out for me:
    Michael Henry Lee’s

    milk weed
    the pod bay doors have
    opened wide

    And this one from Meera Rehm

    milkweed silk
    i blow dry
    mom’s silvery hair

    They are so different but each arresting in their own way.

  7. Thanks, Marietta, for your comments on my “milkweed fluff”. It was a fun poem to write. There are so many interpretations this week, the one I keep remembering is Pris Campbell’s.

    1. Glad you had fun, Pat! I agree with your feelings about how you return to Pris’s haiku. As we experience changes in life her poem expresses that new reality so well.

  8. seventy today
    bent a bit closer
    to the wildflowers
    Pris Campbell
    This well-written haiku captures what aging does to relatives, friends, and strangers.

  9. After my gush of excitement, time spent savo(u)ring the variety of submissions this week. Unfamiliar with milkweed, and monarch butterflies being, I think, uncommon in Europe, I had to look up the connection. Lovely poems about these spectacular insects, and sad ones too:

    Cathy’s gone
    they still visit
    —her butterfly bush

    Chuck Farrington.

    On a different note, this one brought back fond memories…

    milkweed silk
    i blow dry
    mom’s silvery hair

    Meera Rehm
    Many thanks to all who make Wednesdays so special.

  10. Marietta i’m so glad you enjoyed my poem just as i envisioned someone might!
    Looking forward to the weeks ahead. Peace and Love

  11. Thanks to Marietta for selecting my haiku. Thanks also to Kathy and Lori for their continuing efforts. Congrats to all the poets.

  12. Congratulations to all the poets. I was particularly drawn to the haiku that is an homage to Dylan Thomas by Charles Harmon. My husband acted in the play, Under Millwood, several years ago.

    So many other haiku were just as poignant including Valentina Ranaldi -Adams and Tracy Davidson references to the coronary and lockdown.

    1. Hi Nancy! The haiku by Charles Harmon drew me in too! Our high school class studied ‘Under Milkwood’ many years ago, and I have always been drawn to ‘do not go gentle into that good night’. So moving.

  13. Thank you so much, Marietta, for including my haiku among this wonderfully varied selection of haiku. These two haiku particularly struck me and are different takes on the photo theme – one gentle and one explosive:

    milkweed pod . . .
    how gentle
    an offering can be
    —– Aparna Pathaka

    after the explosion
    milkweed seeds
    —– Deborah P Kolodji
    Temple City, California, US

    And thanks for your continuing work on this feature Haiku Dialogue Lori and Kathy. It is a highlight of my week and even more so during the pandemic.

    1. Thank you so much Marietta for including my verse. I am loving your photo prompts. Just a small request, my name has wrong spelling here. It will be very kind of you if it can be corrected. There is an extra ‘a ‘ in the end .

      Aparna ☺️☺️

  14. It feels so good to have work understood and appreciated. Thank you so much, Marietta, for this hono(u)r and your comments.
    I remember Dad once looking with astonishment at his hands not long after he retired, and remarking, with not a little sadness, on their smoothness.

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