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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Haiku Prism – Brown

Haiku Prism – A World in Color

During this dark time we could all use something to brighten up our weeks. I believe that each one of us carries an inner light that can be a source of solace for others. So let’s take that light and channel it through the magic and wonder of haiku to express our world in all its glorious colors. Let’s let haiku be our prism.

Each week I will be providing a new color for you to meditate on and write about. You do not need to name it in your haiku, simply let it be an aspect. You can take this in any direction you like from various flora & fauna, fruits & vegetables, clothing items, celestial bodies, household objects, etc…to various associated moods. Even think in related colors such as pink for red or gold for yellow. I am also happy to accept sub-genres including scifaiku and mythku.

next week’s theme: White

Please send up to two unpublished haiku by clicking here: Contact Form, and put Haiku Dialogue in the Subject box. The deadline is midnight Eastern Standard Time, Saturday, May 16, 2020.

Selected haiku will be listed in the order they are received with a few chosen 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 can be added as blog comments.

Below is my commentary for Brown:

This week, my daughter’s preschool class did a session over Zoom exploring primary colors, what happens when you mix them, and the various colors of objects. As I sat there listening, it occurred to me just how primal and foundational the ability to discuss color is in our world. Our perception of color becomes deeply personal as we begin to build associations, and often one of the first questions children learn is, “what is your favorite color?” Brown is not a color I hear often in response to that question, but this week brown has been lifted up, examined, and given its proper place among the brighter, and flashier colors.

I found myself drawn to a set of senryu that are not inherently universal, but are so in their exploration of isolation. What I’ve found, is that what we write about does not have to resonate with other people’s experiences to be intimate and moving, and these three certainly struck a chord in me.

counting empty bottles
of brown ale

Teiichi Suzuki, Japan

One of the unfortunate side effects of separating ourselves from others, and living in isolation, is that our individual difficulties can become harder to face. Over the past several months there has been a reported increase in depression and anxiety, domestic abuse, and substance abuse. Here, who else is there to notice the bottles? Who is there to care? Who is there to help? If you know someone who may be struggling, please check in on them, ask them pointedly how they are doing, and be there to listen.

roadside diner
a shade too brown
for service

Jonathan Roman

I don’t often read senryu that handle this subject in the manner that it needs to be. As someone who is not a person of color, I cannot fully understand what this moment feels like. In my country, I cannot possibly begin to fathom the other side of our racial divide, and that level of isolation. However, this felt like an important senryu to highlight, and what I can comment on is that the “aha” moment of L3 is well set up, and delivers quite a punch. I was quite unprepared for the turn this took.

breaking bread alone
the many ways
I now pray

Kimberly Esser, Los Angeles

As places of communal worship have been shut down, those of faith have to find new ways of interacting with each other and their beliefs. How lonely to “break bread” without another to share it with! And I can only imagine how prayers have changed with the current state of the world. Not everyone can place themselves into the specific acts discussed here, but I think the bigger picture of adaptation and longing is one we can all enter into.

Thank you for your submissions and I hope you all are safe and well. Please enjoy the rest of this week’s selections, and happy reading!

the unforgettable taste
of that brown loaf

Brăilean Mirela


the color of soil
some of it in
my hand’s lifeline

Stephen A. Peters


scented coffee
her only constant

Kanjini Devi


like autumn leaves
fall to

come foglie autunnali

Kyoko Bengala


lockdown fashion
a dash of coffee
for eye shadow

Jackie Chou, Pico Rivera, CA, USA


whoever clipped
myna’s wings

Vandana Parashar


coffee break
that aroma
of friendly gossip

Rajeshwari Srinivasan


a pile
of the withered leaves
father’s last breath

Agus Maulana Sunjaya, Tangerang, Indonesia


freshly turned earth …
the worm and I
of one mind

Judt Shrode


cocoa pickers
don’t know its taste

Stoianka Boianova


spring sorrow
her wrinkles
now turning brown

Lakshmi Iyer


coffee stains
on the manuscript …
soft dawn

Tsanka Shishkova


old chair
deep in the fabric…
stories untold

Margaret Mahony


till it sings
the little brown bird
goes unnoticed

Bryan Rickert


desert storm
the west loans dust
to the east

Steve Tabb


I inhale the earthy smell
after midnight storm

Nisha Raviprasad


newly plowed field
the way the farmer sings
to earth

Pat Davis, NH


the smell of the earth
it leads me far

ritorno a casa-
l’odore della terra
mi conduce lontano

Angela Giordano, Italy


winter prairie
a lexicon
of browns

Christopher Seep


COVID 19 hair
three shades browner
than the box

Rehn Kovacic


spring affair
we take our espressos
short and sweet

Clifford Rames, Freehold, NJ


mud season
the walk turns into
a dance

Tim Cremin


old chopping board some scars deeper

Madhuri Pillai


brown tea leaves
her destiny hidden
in a tea cup

Minal Sarosh


sepia photo-
always this longing
for my petite self

Arvinder Kaur


dark coffee
the bitterness
in your last text

Pamela A. Babusci


tree rings the concentric growth of vanity

Rashmi VeSa


brown study
giving each seed
its proper depth

Laurie Greer


Corona season —
the earth becoming

Manoj Sharma, Kathmandu, Nepal


sea otters lounging
on a bed of kelp forest –
shelter in place

Bona M. Santos, Los Angeles, CA


fallen leaves
the many ways
to begin again

Kat Lehmann


we learn to shelter
in place

Debbie Strange


spinning earth
into her favourite cup
Mother’s Day

Marisa Fazio


her resignation
magnolia blossoms stain
the campus sidewalk

Randy Brooks


as if to make up
for his drab attire
morning wren song

Michele L. Harvey


mudpie summer’s last treat

Pris Campbell


coffee shop art
the lingering scent
of espresso

Margaret Walker


autumn sunrise –
earthy henna swirls
my greys to orange

Dorothy Burrows


attic trunk
the teddybear
he never held

Edna Beers


brown bananas
growing in size
her age spots

cezar-florin ciobîcă


last call
one man at the bar

Rich Schilling, Webster Groves, MO


a longer walk
my arms
catch the sun

Mark Powderhill


sunday afternoon
the aroma of coffee
from the mulch

Astrid Egger


the bark of a bare maple—
moon cat

Devin Harrison, Canada


strong tea
I blink against

Ann K. Schwader, Westminster, CO


decoration day
she plants geraniums
on parents’ graves

Nancy Brady, Huron, Ohio


I tell myself
it’s a giant freckle…
first liver spot

Julie Bloss Kelsey


gnarled hands
pluck long-forgotten tunes –
thrift store guitar

Wendy Notarnicola


raking leaves
the brown spots on my hands
like mom’s

Claire Vogel Camargo


dried dirt
on her garden gloves
the rosemary long gone

Greer Woodward

Guest Editor Tia Haynes resides in Lakewood, Ohio, near her beloved Lake Erie. She was featured in New Resonance 11: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku and has appeared in journals and anthologies worldwide. Much of her inspiration comes from the landscape and people of the American Midwest as well as life with her two small children. Her chapbook, leftover ribbon, (Velvet Dusk Publishing) is available on Amazon. Follow her on Twitter: @adalia_haiku

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).

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Thanks to all the poets for sharing their inspirational work and to Tia for her thoughtful and comprehensive commentary. I have really enjoyed the wide variety of style and subjects covered in this selection.

    I agree that Jonathan Roman’s senryu is particularly powerful. I think it works brilliantly because he simply states facts. The emotion is implied rather than underlined. This understatement results in the reader having a strong emotional response to the last line: a moving and thought-provoking poem.

    I admired so many of this week’s pick that it is difficult to select any favourites. I loved the image in cezar-florin ciobîcă’s

    brown bananas
    growing in size
    her age spots

    It’s so visual, I can see those growing age spots!

    I admired the storytelling and cinematic elements in Randy Brooks’s

    her resignation
    magnolia blossoms stain
    the campus sidewalk

    And finally, as I’m missing cafe society at present, I was drawn to the ‘lingering scent’ in Margaret Walker’s

    coffee shop art
    the lingering scent
    of espresso


    1. Dorothy, thank you for your comment on my “coffee shop” art. I wrote it with one “mindset” then realized there could be others. My original thought – one day I saw someone dip their coffee “stir” stick into their cup and began to use the stick and coffee to draw a scene on a napkin. He then used in finger dipped in the coffee to add some watercolor effects. I was enchanted by this so began to “play’ with it myself. I found that espresso works best for sketching because it it darker and heavier.

      Then, after writing this, I realized that “art” might mean the written word – or the art having on the walls of the coffee shop.

  2. Of course, I must include Jonathan Roman’s outstanding haiku:
    Roadside diner
    a shade too brown
    for service
    The simple starkness of this poem serves as a reminder that there are many ways we experience America, and some ways are a rejection of the individual. Jonathan doesn’t rage about it or bemoan it, he just makes a simple statement for the reader to, for a moment, see the world through another’s eyes.

  3. So many subtle poems here honoring the humble color of brown. Here are a few of my favorites:

    desert storm
    the west loans dust
    to the east
    ———Steve Tabb
    As a west Texas native who has moved East, I understand this poem at a visceral level. Well out Steve!
    fallen leaves
    the many ways
    to begin again

    ——Kat Lehmann
    The color brown is so deeply associated with earth and the origins of life. Thanks for reminding us of that, Kat.
    we learn to shelter
    in place
    ——Debbie Strange
    I love this word play Debbie. Indeed, mother earth is our only hearth in this universe.
    There are so many more beautiful brown poems, but these jumped out to me.

  4. Before reading this selection, I had never thought that brown may come in so many nuances, from the infinite shades of the hair and eyes to the tones of everyday bread and coffee. Or that mud(pie) can bring such joy.. . Congratulations to all participants!

  5. The color brown. Simple, homey, down to earth you might say. Like a good haiku.

    Well done everyone.

    Claire Vogel Camargo’s was a stand out for me. A skillful tying in of autumn’s seasonality with aging and memory. A trifle sad but comforting in its way. Nice.

    1. Thank you so much, Craig, for your lovely comments on my haiku. They are spot on in every way. And especially since losing my mom three months ago.
      Warm thanks, Claire
      raking leaves
      the brown spots on my hands
      like mom’s
      Claire Vogel Camargo

  6. Thank you, Tia, for including my haiku. Your comments are all wonderful.

  7. Thank you, Tia, for including my poem! Some memorable ones for me are Jonathan’s roadside diner and Bryan’s brown bird.

    till it sings
    the little brown bird
    goes unnoticed

    Bryan Rickert

    roadside diner
    a shade too brown
    for service

    Jonathan Roman

  8. Thank you Tia for including my haiku in this beautiful collection. Thank you Margaret for your comment. Even though I am not a coffee drinker I love the aroma. I’m continually fascinated by what colours can bring to mind.

  9. Tia, thank you very much for choosing my haiku with your meaningful comment.
    Every time, I am impressed with your comments which give me a poetical imagination.
    It is delightful and challenging to make a haiku extemporarily by given theme.
    After I could make a convincible haiku, needless to say, a taste of brown ale is the best flavor.

  10. Thank you, Tia, for including my haiku and your comments as well. ‘Brown’ was certainly a more challenging color to write about but I’m inspired by all of the submissions!

  11. I enjoyed every one – a little surprised that no one wrote about chocolate! Among the many that spoke to me:
    till it sings
    the little brown bird
    goes unnoticed by Bryan Rickert I found myself in the moment of following a sound to find its source.
    mud season
    a walk turns into
    a dance by Tim Cremin This one made me laugh – visualizing a not-so-elegant dance on the way out of a mud puddle.
    attic trunk
    the teddy bear
    he never held by Edna Beers This one tugged at my heartstrings.

    Thanks for including my poem in the mix.

    1. Pat,
      I actually did write about chocolate, but Tia chose the other for which I am grateful.

      There are such excellent ‘ku this week. I really liked Ann’s poem about blinking at the sunrise…maybe just because I identify. Congrats to all of you…well done.

  12. A lovely collection, Jonathan’s especially brilliant! I’ve yet to be refused service, though have certainly experienced ‘different’ treatment on varying scales.

    Being an avid gardener, Judt’s one mind with the worm and Laurie’s study of proper depth spoke to me and made me smile.

    Thank you, everyone, for your offerings 🙂

  13. What a wonderful group of haiku. Who would have thought the color browns could be so beautiful and thought provoking? I would like to pick out a favorite, but I am not able to this week. I find them all wonderful. kudos to all.

  14. I have not yet read every haiku – but two immediately caught my attention:

    old chair
    deep in the fabric…
    stories unfold
    Margaret Mahony

    As I look at a chair in my own home, I begin to wonder – and remember – about the stories told (and untold) in this old piece of furniture.

    The second that caught my eye was Pris Campbell’s “mudpie summer’s last treat”. Making mudpies was a childhood delight – I can still feel the wet brown earth in my hands. I tried to write about mudpies for this prompt but couldn’t get it right – Pris nailed it!

    1. Thank you, Margaret. Yours was outstanding, too. It and ‘roadside diner’ spoke to me so strongly.

  15. roadside diner
    a shade too brown
    for service

    -Jonathan Roman

    This is the kind of honesty and reality we don’t see nearly enough of in the haiku community. Stellar work, Jonathan!

    1. This states in so few words the experience of far too many. I am old enough to remember going into a cafe with a friend who was a “person of color”. A small cafe I frequented regularly. It never occurred to me that we would be refused service and asked to leave. I was horrified, surprised, furious – and so very sad. I can only imagine how my friend must have felt. That cafe lost my business.

    2. Thanks, Robin! It’s not something I deal with often, but some places far from home are like that, unfortunately.

  16. Jonathan Roman’s haiku is a clear standout for me, both is its unexpectedness and its biting honesty. It also puts a clear point on the best of writing is unashamedly authentic, which teaches just by being. Great poem Jonathan! Thanks!

    roadside diner
    a shade too brown
    for service

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