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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Foreground Focus – Blur the Background (1)

Foreground Focus with Guest Editor Alex Fyffe

Between me and the tiger was a thick pane of glass, and despite that, my heart couldn’t help but beat a little faster. My focus was on the tiger beyond the glass, not the glass itself. Often, we find our attention drawn through one thing and toward another, ignoring the foreground entirely to examine what is on the other side. The idea of this series is to think about the things we normally look through – barriers at the zoo, windows, fences, even the glasses (or contacts!) right in front of our very eyes.

Below is Alex’s selection of poems on the theme of Blur the Background:

a single drop
of blue ink
wisps of clouds

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Germany

 

Flanders field
everywhere I look
the spring breeze

Stephen A. Peters
Washington, USA

 

virtual hug…
the red cheeks
of the emoticon

Silvia Bistocchi
Italy

 

Incessant rainfall:
A ruined celebration,
but good for the grass

Evan Spivack
Teaneck, New Jersey

 

Eyes peeled for gossip,
seeing the dirt
on the net curtains

Caroline Ridley-Duff
UK

 

the flashbulb
window reflection
instead of raccoons

Eavonka Ettinger
Long Beach, CA

 

a sycamore
blocks the road
alive with green shoots

Ann Rawson
UK

 

iron fence—
fog hugs
the steel points

Sharon Ferrante
Daytona Beach, Florida

 

window shopping–
my reflection in the glass
saying no to the dress

Lafcadio
USA

 

satellites
through empty spaces
bug in the bokeh

Jerome Berglund
Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

double glazing the unheard of birds

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton, UK

 

lagoon sunset
an egret walks
through stained glass

Richard L. Matta
San Diego, California

 

skylight shaping the sky

Srini S
Rishi Valley, India

 

night train –
on the steamed window
two entwined hearts

Dan C. Iulian
Romania

 

one-way road
the wipers try to erase
my memories

Ivan Georgiev
Germany

 

car window pane
she stops to check
her hair

Ravi Kiran
India

 

Kodachrome
I squint to catch
my father

Kimberly A Horning
St. Augustine, Florida

 

abandoned school –
in the yard
dandelions ready to fly

Daniela Lăcrămioara Capotă
Romania

 

scent of roses–
I touch the rust
of the squiggled fence

Helga Stania
Switzerland

 

through the telescope
unheavenly swirls
of sweaty fingers

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

blurred green …
I try to count the seeds
of a dandelion

Daniela Misso
Italy

 

a mother’s hand
through plexiglass
visiting day

John Pappas
USA

 

aurora aura
barbedwiring my horizon
migraine sky

Ann Smith
Wales, UK

 

savannah grasses
the black & white
of zebra stripes

Rupa Anand
New Delhi, India

 

flower vase
the blurred tracks
of a stalker

Patricia Hawkhead
UK

 

video call
I share my screen
with the fly

Jenn Ryan-Jauregui
Tucson, Arizona

 

the gorget
of a lost peacock
burnt grasses

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

 

night fishing
a bobber drifts
the stars

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois

 

foggy mountain view
the powder down
of a dove’s imprint

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia

 

each day the same
roses and robins…
Nana’s net curtains

Adele Evershed
Wilton, Connecticut

 

beyond the veil
just a blur–
curtain sheers

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California

 

peony bud
in the smell of weeds

pupoljak božura
u mirisu korova

Zdenka Mlinar
Croatia

 

a blurry sky
through her tears
–spring melancholy

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio

 

tiger gone
the iron bars come
into focus again

Chen Xiaoou
Kunming, China

 

moon gazing
a night flight
comes between us

Carol Reynolds
Australia

 

fluttering heart
how do I reach you behind
the (rib) cage

Vandana Parashar
India

 

lattice window
the daily portion
of my freedom

Mirela Brailean
Iasi, Romania

 

walling in
walling out —
jasmine hedges

Luciana Moretto
Treviso, Italy

 

in the window
of their parents’ house—
one last vase of flowers

Tony Williams
Scotland, UK

 

asterisk
in the porch screen…
the old cat’s footnote

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

rogue morning glory
peaks through
the pickets

Susan Farner
USA

 

breathing
the scent of mango blossoms
outside the temple

Neena Singh
India

 

chapel window
the shape of my sins
in specks of dust

Lori Kiefer
UK

 

measured
raindrops down the window
IV drip

Ronald Scully
Burien, Washington

 

barbed wire –
all the things
he didn’t see

Katherine E Winnick
Brighton, UK

 

with one eye
on the computer screen
she pretends to listen

Linda Schwab
USA

 

highland stream
my shadow between me
and the goldfish

Meera Rehm
UK

 

sun behind a cloud
in the just-cracked eggs
a bit of shell

Marcie Wessels
San Diego, California

 

garden in full bloom
outside the kitchen window
streaks in the glass

Bonnie J Scherer
Palmer, Alaska

 

focusing on
the good memories
beach grass

Kerry J Heckman
Seattle, Washington

 

the closet door
that shame not of my own
construction

Curt Linderman
Seattle, Washington

 

small spaces
on the job application
chain link

Lorraine A Padden
San Diego, California

 

weekend zoo
tracing a deadly snake
a 5-y/o’s finger

A.J. Anwar
Jakarta, Indonesia

 

over the bridge…
the fisherman’s rod
disturbs the moon

Steliana Cristina Voicu
Romania

 

family reunion —
the broken camera lens
creates a divide

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

 

noticing the pattern
in the lace curtain
clouds or chrysanthemums

Mark Gilbert
UK

 

attention
on books or tv
sciatica

Stephen J. DeGuire
Los Angeles, California

 

front row seats
the long eyelashes
of circus elephants

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio

 

my boat past
the misty mountain
father’s cataracts

Richa Sharma
India

 

self-portrait at sixty-three
looking himself
and myself in the eye

Herb Tate
Jersey, UK

 

watching the clock
at work
cubicle post-it notes

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, New York

 

peeling paint
around a door frame
the texture of loss

C.X. Turner
UK

 

bay window smudges on my birds

Susan Burch
Hagerstown, Maryland

 

young bride
the blusher full to the brim
with strings of pearls

Mona Iordan
Bucharest, Romania

 

shattered
the sin of my youth
still framed

Peg Cherrin-Myers
Franklin, Michigan

 

something old
the lace details
on my mother’s veil

Kimberly Kuchar
Austin, Texas

 

Join us next week for Alex’s commentary on additional poems, & our next prompt…

 

Guest Editor Alex Fyffe teaches high school English in the Houston area. His haiku and senryu have been published in various journals, including Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Failed Haiku, Akitsu Quarterly, and the Asahi Haikuist Network. Some of his favorite short form poets include Issa, whose work he discovered in the intermediate Japanese textbook he used while studying in Hikone, Japan, and Santoka, whose writing introduced him to the liberating concept of “freeform haiku.” Currently, Alex uses haiku in the classroom to ease students into poetry and build their confidence as readers and writers. Alex also posts haiku, including translations of contemporary Japanese haiku, on Twitter @AsurasHaiku.

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 21 Comments

  1. Thank you, Alex and team. A good read.

    I liked especially these closely observed and well-finished ones with a ring of authenticity, that also read well:

    the flashbulb
    window reflection
    instead of raccoons
    —Eavonka Ettinger
    …. life’s like that.
    —–

    bay window smudges on my birds
    Susan Burch
    …there are many cases where an ‘I’ or ‘my’ detracts from a verse but here the ‘my’ makes it — for the humorous notion that Susan possesses the birds, and is also the presumed owner of the unclean windows! Haikai lives…
    —–

    and the irresistible:

    front row seats
    the long eyelashes
    of circus elephants
    —Valentina Ranaldi-Adams

      1. Valentina: I love it for the close-up observation of the huge animals’ eyelashes (the great/small approach of the haiku/senryu genre); and for the gentle giants, the magnificent, powerful elephants, subordinated to the will of the frivolous circus; how typical of humankind to make undignified entertainment of them; how accepting of the elephants to go along with it…

        A lovely verse and clipped to my little file of favourites. I hope someone puts it forward for re:Virals (hint!)

    1. Sorry to have seen this so late, but so happy you mentioned my poem, Keith.

  2. bay window smudges on my birds

    Susan Burch
    Hagerstown, Maryland

    I love this wonderfull haiku by Susan! The personal “my birds” gives it presence, immediacy, and subtle emotional content.

    1. Thank you for commenting Burch’s poem. I agree entirely–there’s something very special about the wording–the way the poet sees the smudges on the glass as being on the birds behind it–that brings the background and foreground together perfectly.

  3. skylight shaping the sky
    /
    Srini S
    Rishi Valley, India
    /
    In only four words, this haiku captures the concept that looking at the sky through a skylight is different than looking at the sky while standing outside.

    1. Yes, another one of my favorites! I’ve always enjoyed minimalist haiku, and this one hits just right. There are also implications, which you hint at, about how our perceptions can be altered by our reality. Depending on which lens we use to view the world, we might see it and actively “shape” it in different ways.

  4. So thankful to Alex for including me in this wonderful stew of ku and ryu. A big thanks to KJ and Lori and everyone on the HD team. Also, thanks to Ms. Ettinger for the kind comment…I only wish you had gotten proof of those masked intruders. Great work everyone!

    1. As someone who has also suffered from sciatica, I understand the need for distractions. Thank you for the poem!

  5. It’s so wonderful to have you back, Alex! Your theme and choices were fascinating and truly, a new way to interact with the world. Thank you so much for including mine.

    I wanted to highlight:

    attention
    on books or tv
    sciatica

    Stephen J. DeGuire
    Los Angeles, California

    I love how this utilizes pain as what needs to be distracted from as that sensation is both familiar and unlike any of the other poems.

    something old
    the lace details
    on my mother’s veil

    Kimberly Kuchar
    Austin, Texas

    I love how deeply this poem tells its story! Fantastic first line.

  6. Just… charming:

    front row seats
    the long eyelashes
    of circus elephants

    Valentina Ranaldi-Adams

  7. Welcome back, Alex. Congratulations to all the poets! The haiku theme of background coming into the foreground (or is that backwards?) made for interesting reading. I enjoyed reading them all and could comment on most of them, but will mention a few that stood out for me (and haven’t been mentioned yet).

    weekend zoo
    tracing a deadly snake
    a 5-y/o’s finger
    –A.J. Anwar
    This one gave me the shivers, thinking about the consequences if the window wasn’t there.

    family reunion —
    the broken camera lens
    creates a divide
    –Mona Bedi
    Being a photographer, I can see the effect on a broken lens causing this to happen even during the most happy of family reunions.

    satellites
    through empty spaces
    bug in the bokeh
    –Jerome Berglund
    Being a photographer, I wanted to use bokeh in a haiku, but couldn’t work it out; well done to Jerome for succeeding where I failed.

    Congrats again to all the poets. I’ll be reading them again. Thanks, Alex, for including one of mine is this mix.

    1. Bokeh was a new term for me and one perfectly suited to the prompt. I love it when experts can use jargon in haiku to expand our knowledge of the world.

  8. Welcome Alex. Thank-you for publishing my haiku. Thank-you also to Kathy, Lori, and the Haiku Foundation. Congrats to all the poets.

  9. Congratulations to all the poets! Much thanks to Alex for including my haiku. Background/foreground – fascinating. So many favorites, but these three really stood out for me:
    tiger gone
    the iron bars come
    into focus again

    Chen Xiaoou
    Kunming, China

    a mother’s hand
    through plexiglass
    visiting day

    John Pappas
    USA

    window shopping–
    my reflection in the glass
    saying no to the dress

    Lafcadio
    USA

    1. In Lafcadio’s poem, I like how it can be interpreted in different ways: her reflection could be telling her no as a kind of superego outside the self turning her away from something she doesn’t need; or it could be that the speaker has a negative reaction to seeing her own reflection overlaid on the dress, as if she has convinced herself that it is not a dress she could pull off. The room for positive or negative interpretation is fascinating, and either way, the image is effective.

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