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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Literary Devices – allusion

Literary Devices with Guest Editor Alex Fyffe

For this series, I’d like to focus on the use of various literary devices in haiku. We tend to think of these techniques as applicable to longer lyric poetry – haiku is often taught to be a form without literary trappings, a simple breath of a poem, honest and straightforward, without ornament. Of course, this is a misconception, as the best haiku tend to be very carefully crafted, with one good poem often going through several revisions. And just like their longer cousins, haiku are capable of tackling metaphor, simile (despite what you might have heard), personification, symbolism, allusion, and any number of other techniques. Each week, we will take an in-depth look at a different technique and apply it to our haiku.

next week’s themerepetition/parallelism

Another essential device used in poetry throughout the ages is repetition. We already saw one form of repetition show up in these prompts back when we wrote alliterative poems. But now I would like to look at the way poets repeat words or structures to create an effect.

Longer poems, of course, have somewhat of an advantage here. We all know that songs, for instance, tend to have choruses that repeat multiple times. The fool in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night sings a lyric that repeats the lines “With hey, ho, the wind and the rain” and “For the rain it raineth every day.” Similarly, some poems, like ballads, will often employ a refrain at the end of each stanza. In the first part of Federico Garcia Lorca’s “Lament for Ignacio Sanchez,” he repeats over and over again that the man died “at five in the afternoon,” hammering home the cruelty of that unforgettable hour.

Some forms of poetry even mandate repetition. A favorite of mine, the villanelle, I believe to be one of the more difficult forms to pull off effectively. But we have a couple of shining examples, the one everyone knows being Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” although I believe that Theodore Roethke’s “The Waking” gives it a run for its money.

Effective repetition, though, does not have to repeat entire lines of text. Sometimes, just a single word or short phrase repeated two or three times in a row can be equally effective. Edgar Allan Poe uses repetition to dramatic effect in several of his works, including “Dream Within a Dream,” in which he repeatedly cries out “O God!” and “While I weep – while I weep!” A bit too melodramatic for haiku, perhaps, but such is Poe.

One of Shakespeare’s most famous soliloquies uses single-word repetition effectively. Macbeth, mourning his wife’s death, says:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day…

And another line from this soliloquy: “Out, out, brief candle!” Here, the repetition of “Out, out” shows the speaker’s growing frustration. “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow… from day to day…” emphasizes Macbeth’s utter exhaustion with living at this point in the play. He has become a tired despot, having lost all his friends and loved ones, and his bitterness is palpable.

Parallelism is a form of repetition in which the structure of a line is repeated. One of the most well-known examples comes from Alfred Lord Tennyson. His poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” is full of parallel lines:

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them…

Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell…

Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade…

You can see how Tennyson repeats the same type of phrase, changing essential words. “Into the jaws of Death,” for instance, is a prepositional phrase, as is “Into the mouth of hell.” Only the nouns have changed. Like Poe, Tennyson may be a bit too intense in his usage for haiku poets to emulate, but the idea is the same. Repeating the structure can draw emphasis to an idea. Some other examples of parallel structure might be:

from dusk
till dawn

out of the frying pan
into the oven

biding my time
living my life

We do see repetition in haiku. One of my favorite Basho poems uses it (translations the work of the author):

toshi doshi ya / saru ni kisetaru / saru no men

Even without knowing Japanese, you can see the repetition of toshi doshi (lit. “year year,” trans. “year after year”) and of saru (lit. “monkey”), which starts the seven on and the final five on “lines” of the haiku. It might be translated as:

year after year
the monkey wears
a monkey mask

(Note: “mask” could also be translated as “face.”)

Here, Basho has repetition as his theme, with “year after year” emphasizing the ongoing plight that he is about to illustrate. The monkey will always wear the face of a monkey. Perhaps the monkey is essentially empty, as per Buddhist teachings, and yet it will continue to identify as a monkey, as all things seem to continue to identify with the masks they wear.

Issa also used repetition to powerful effect in his haiku lamenting the impermanence of life (a topic he was sadly intimate with):

tsuyu no yo wa / tsuyu no yo nagara / sari nagara

Again, the repetition is clear: tsuyu no yo, or “world of dew,” gets repeated in the first two “lines,” and nagara (“although,” or “despite that,” famously translated as “and yet…”) ends both “lines” two and three. It might be translated as:

this world of dew
is a world of dew, but even so,
even so…

Not as melodramatic as Poe, nevertheless this poem achieves a similar effect, dramatizing the pain of losing a loved one. The repetition shows just how hard it is for the speaker to let go, despite his awareness of impermanence.

For this prompt, make effective use of repetition and/or parallelism in a haiku or senryu.

The deadline is midnight Central Daylight Time, Saturday August 20, 2022.

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 & residence 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 Alex’s commentary for allusion:

For the allusion selections, I thought it would be fun (and/or educational) to separate them by type. There were many literary allusions, including references to specific haiku, but also a wealth of allusions to myths/religions, artists and artworks, music and musicians, and historical figures, places, and events. In addition, there were a couple of allusions to film and a few to current events. You will see them listed under these various headings below. But first, I’d like to highlight some that connected with me.

oh, snail, at my age
we should reach the hilltop

Tomislav Maretić

Most of the entries that allude to haiku drew from Basho or, as in this case, Issa. In fact, this poem in particular came up a few times in the submissions. This take on the classic haiku stood out because of the way Maretić becomes a kind of walking companion to the snail, both of them slowly making progress toward their destination side by side. I think Issa would approve of the empathy shown to his snail.

Other literary allusions ranged from Poe to Salinger, Brontë to Woolf, Shakespeare to Dickinson, and Dante to Plath. It’s not surprising, of course, that a group of poets would take inspiration from other writers, but it was wonderful to see the wide range of influences on display.

William, it’s too late
and Summer- nodaffodils
undance in the breeze

Sarah Davies
Bedford, UK

Davies references Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” but there is a lot going on here. First, she directly addresses the author, a literary device known as apostrophe. Then she responds to his springtime poem from her vantage point of late summer, removing us from the airy feeling of his work and setting an anxious tone. Next, I notice the traditional way of capitalizing important nouns, like Summer, in the manner of someone like Dickinson, followed immediately by two E. E. Cummingsesque compounds, “nodaffodils / undance,” blending both the traditional and the modern together very quickly. You can see this, as well, in the fact that the poem is a “traditional” 5-7-5 haiku, even though it feels very modern in its approach. Her poem completely negates the softness of Wordsworth’s; the daffodils are gone, and there is no more dancing to be seen.

when will we work out
it was never

the wheelbarrow
it was

the rain…

Adele Evershed
Wilton, Connecticut

Multiple poets also tackled one of the well-known haiku-like works by William Carlos Williams. Evershed takes the approach of mimicking Williams’s line breaks in her response, which recenters the focus away from the wheelbarrow and onto the rainwater that glazes it. After all, so much depends upon the rain.

Trojan horse
I wait for the signal
to spill my secret

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California

Several different religious/mythic traditions are represented in the entries, but the Greco/Roman stories are the most common. This particular one could have also been classified as a literary allusion to Homer’s The Odyssey, but there were enough literary allusions already, so I labeled references to Homer’s works under mythic allusions. I love the way Anderson sets up the reference to the famous Trojan horse – we know the soldiers are waiting inside until the time is right to come out and slaughter the revelers. But in the final line, we realize she is the Trojan horse, carrying not soldiers but a terrible secret of some kind, one that is just waiting to come out and wreak havoc – upon a friend, a lover, a family member. The allusion helps us to understand that the secret’s unveiling will have devastating results, even if we don’t know the precise details.

There was a lot of love for art and music, too. I saw allusions to Dylan, Bowie, Dali, Hokusai, Picasso, Rothko, The Rolling Stones, and more. Van Gogh might have received the lion’s share of attention, though.

Van Gogh portraits…
my husband only
half listens to me

Sangita Kalarickal

Of the Van Gogh poems, this was my favorite. Kalarickal plays with the knowledge we have of Van Gogh’s missing ear, as seen in a famous self-portrait, to half-humorously, half-seriously, convey her husband’s inattentiveness. There is a delightful pleasure in the play of words and a slight sorrow in the realization that she isn’t being fully heard.

drooping camellias
as if Lady Yang
had passed by

(Lady Yang: one of the four great beauties of ancient China who was said to have a face that put all flowers to shame)

Jackie Chou

Chou’s historical allusion to Lady Yang was a favorite of mine. The poem starts with a precise natural image of “drooping camellias,” and then it uses the allusion to personify the flowers; now we see them as not just drooping but hanging their heads in shame, knowing they will never be as beautiful as this great beauty.

children’s games
I reenact the cold war
with my sister

Colette Kern
Southold, New York

Kern’s poem works two ways. It alludes to the Cold War to show how the siblings are not getting along, giving one another the cold shoulder, perhaps. But it also implies that the US and Russia were like children, playing an immature “game” with each other, the cold shoulder on an international level, which also reminds me of Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers.”

stabbed in public …
free speech
still has a pulse

Daipayan Nair
Silchar, India

Finally, this poem alludes to a very recent event in which a famous writer was stabbed because of what he had written. It is a reminder that language is powerful and that the freedom of speech is something worth defending and which must be protected, because there will always be those who try to cut it down out of some misguided, blind rage.

& here are the rest of the selections:

Haiku Allusions


Robin Rich
Islands in the Atlantic Ocean


on top of Mount Fuji
where to go next
little snail

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany


summer dawn –
the crow rattling
an august branch

Herb Tate


spattered by a gull
I hear the raucous cackle
of Issa’s ghost

John Hawkhead


you lazy horsefly
just sitting on the sill —
what would Issa do?

Mark Meyer
Mercer Island, Washington


water there may or may not have been a frog

Louise Hopewell


scorched riverbed
I hear the white cry
of a wild duck

Meera Rehm


planting spring bulbs
I might be Buddha

Matt Cariello
Bexley, Ohio


a gun is fired
the echoes and re-echoes
in city streets

Richard Straw
Cary, North Carolina


the sound
of his ashes

Florin C. Ciobica


Literary Allusions

dharma bums a cigarette

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois


the brick wall of the shelter
scrapes our backs

Morley Cacoethes
Cleveland, Ohio


in the grass
my solitude grows

Alvin Cruz


a still raven
above the Pallas bust
noisy courtroom

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India


marriage breakup
the parting sorrow
not so sweet

Carol Reynolds


Kafka’s insect…
to my dark side

Bakhtiyar Amini


on the border fence-
one for sorrow

andrew shimield


waiting for
(what’s-his-name ah yes Godot) . . .
the moon to fill in

Alfred Booth


summer break
it begins with a hobbit
living in a hole

Sushama Kapur
Pune, India


alone on the beach
me and a seagull
I name it Jonathan

Ram Chandran


Gollum I love your precious heart

Susan Burch
Hagerstown, Maryland


Monday morning–
abandoning all hope
at the badge machine

Ruth Holzer
Herndon, Virginia


I still believe
in my Godot

Tsanka Shishkova


painting the roses black her goth phase

Kimberly Kuchar
Austin, Texas


Morning Song
the first stay
of a name

Richa Sharma


school desk
finding between pages
the road not taken

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India


I follow
the trail of wildflowers
the road less traveled

Pravat Kumar Padhy


Broken sat nav:
the road less travelled by
leads to a dead end

Jenny Shepherd
London, UK


pleated ink cap…
writing a page in the ashes
of her ballgown

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC


girls who wear glasses
can see right through
the boys who make passes

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, New York


the jogger
bumped into me
reader, I married him

Ann Rawson
Scotland, UK


cancer on remission the road from La Mancha

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, California


returning home
the age
of anxiety

John Pappas


big poem book
tasting Joy’s grape
at five years old

Kath Abela Wilson
Pasadena, California


so little rides
on the rusted wheelbarrow
wet with rain

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove, California


when no one’s near –
Cinderella’s prince

Dan Campbell
Virginia, USA


it’s midnight—
eight prawns under,
that Cheshire smirk

Rupa Anand
New Delhi, India


my first taste
of scones and clotted cream
…Enid’s girls

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
Kolkata, India


inside the ants’ nest
nothing but sand

James Gaskin
Fukushima, Japan


i heard a fly buzz —
the bedside vigil
of best loved poems

Roberta Beary


season of mists . . .
the sharp sting of
a dying wasp

Lori Kiefer
London, UK


clouds of dust
wheel above
nine-and-fifty swans

Bittor Duce Zubillaga
Basque Country


croaking frog–
it really is dismal
to be Somebody



staring at cellphones
light and shadows
in Plato’s cave

Herbert Shippey
Tifton, Georgia


of hungry faces
& all the trains have gone

Ash Evan Lippert


good night, sun
the sky and clouds blush
at his moon pajamas

Anette Chaney
Harrison, Arkansas


Religious/Mythic Allusions

in her eyes and mine
Minoan splendor

Lynda Zwinger
Tucson, Arizona


half buried in the sand
my Achilles’ heel

Hifsa Ashraf
Rawalpindi, Pakistan


narcissi clogging the arteries of her echocardiogram

Pippa Phillips
Kansas City, Missouri


Crocodile River
I am caught between
Scylla and Charybdis

Chen Xiaoou
Kunming, China


waiting for the sea
to part

Ravi Kiran


Perseids night –
all people have it
that hopeful look

Danijela Grbelja
Sibenik, Croatia


the boy child
my house fills with
Krishna’s mischief

Nitu Yumnam


bundled letters
on a closet shelf
Pandora’s curse

Jonathan Epstein
Los Angeles, California


a tern flies too close
to the sun

Mariel Herbert
California, USA


Garden of Eden –
the scent of jasmines
fills the air

Daniela Misso


headless kali
all her carcasses
on auction

Kashiana Singh


rain shadow
coyote and raven
playing tag

C.R. Harper


continuing a life
of murk and dirt
turned to swine

C.X. Turner


Odysseus struggles
to go home

Nancy Brady
Ohio, USA


once again
Pandora opens her box . . .
climate change

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio


our words not wasted
at each other’s feet

Geoff Pope
Paducah, Kentucky


flooding town
two by two
into a tinny

Maurice Nevile
Canberra, Australia


seeking redemption
after the storm has cleared
ark of a rainbow

Marcia Burton
Salt Spring Island, Canada


a sea of sunflowers

Barrie Levine
Massachusetts, USA


stone boat
in the overgrown field
Theseus’ dandelions

ron scully
Burien, Washington


Art Allusions

shaved ice’s
syrup slathered slopes—
red Fuji

Stephen J. DeGuire
Los Angeles, California


starry night…
a flock of crows rises
from the wheat field

Minerva Pendleton
Ohio, USA


waiting room
health reports yet to come
Guernica on the wall

Chittaluri Satyanarayana
Hyderabad, India


hot summer . . .
Van Gogh’s sunflowers
on the wall

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore
Catania, Italy


the weeping woman
how we continue
to water the war!?

Daya Bhat


Guernica . . .
and yet
Ukraine this spring

Sonam Chhoki


starry night—
two teaspoons of sugar
in my coffee

Andrew Markowski
San Antonio, Texas


first visit to
Musée de L’Orangerie
i float with the lilies

Susan Farner


Segantini’s light—
looking over the lake
we fall silent

Helga Stania


my husband
drifts into a daydream
Aphrodite’s statue

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India


almost ghostly
as Namatjira’s gums…
backyard bleached birch

(Albert Namatjira is a well-known Australian artist who lived in Central Australia. His paintings often featured Ghost Gums, so called because of the white bark.)

Madhuri Pillai


stop writing Rothko

Adrian Bouter
The Netherlands


sea of fog
dad’s mind wanders back
to himself

Mona Iordan


post op fog
the clock on the wall becomes
a Dali timepiece

Sharon Martina
Warrenville, Illinois


Music Allusions

autumn rain
Billie Holiday’s swing
still swinging…

Tony Williams
Scotland, UK


croissant moon
Cohen and coffee
at the kitchen table

Alan Peat
Biddulph, United Kingdom



Helen Buckingham


Mt Fuji
our old album
blowing in the wind

Anna Yin
Ontario, Canada


bees keep buzzing good vibrations

Eavonka Ettinger
Long Beach, California


his grief
you want it darker

marilyn ashbaugh
Edwardsburg, Michigan


Four Seasons
the time it takes
to answer the call

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton, UK


Bach’s Requiem
the widow’s
unshed tears

Margaret Mahony


Small sparrow sings
in the Paris dust,
no regrets

Caroline Ridley-Duff


gathering no moss
the black door
that was once painted red

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand


wearing her outside face…
jar of colours

Carole Harrison
Jamberoo, Australia


outside of Cage

petro c. k.
Seattle, Washington


low-key coffee shop
the Dead doing a live version
of “Not Fade Away”

Tim Cremin
Massachusetts, USA


back from the barber’s
smelling of
just a gigolo

Ella Aboutboul
West Sussex, England


Historical Allusions

Hiroshima Day –
a thousand paper lanterns
glowing on the lake

Deborah A. Bennett
Carbondale, Illinois


an ant
on the edge of the bouquet …
Moebius strip

una formica
sull’orlo del bouquet…
nastro di Moebius

Angiola Inglese


for the big crash

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa


a woman alone
with a glass of Veuve Clicquot –
bliss of solitude

Natalia Kuznetsova


Sanchi Stupas
relics of an incense float
in the air

साँची स्तूप
हवा में बहती
अगरबत्ती की राख

Teji Sethi


Trail of Tears
drowning myself
in winter rain

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India


great wall –
the pier

Amoolya Kamalnath


the address
of he who perished

Margaret Tau
New Bern, North Carolina


stroke of midnight
sleepwalking to find
stained khadi cap

Krishna Palle
Chennai, India


the old man’s love
for the family oak

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia


the smell of terror
wrapped in bullet marks
Leo Pol Cafe

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India


Sun Studio…
thumbing the guitar pick
in my pocket

Joshua Gage
Cleveland, Ohio


¡Sí se puede! … the colors of hope

Peggy Bilbro
Alabama, USA


Modern Events Allusions

trigger laws
the barrel always aimed
at women

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK


a reptilian rogue petrified in primeval mire Putin

John S Green
Bellingham, Washington


Movie Allusions

the dark side
just as strong
my dream self

Kanjini Devi
The Far North, Aotearoa


10 print “all work and no play . . . ”
20 goto 10

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada


Guest Editor Alex Fyffe teaches high school English in the Houston area. Although he has been writing haiku off and on for a decade, he only started submitting his work during the Global Event known as 2020. Since then his haiku and senryu have been published in various journals, including Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Failed Haiku, Akitsu Quarterly, and the Asahi Haikuist Network. Alex’s first glimpse of haiku was in a collection of writings by Jack Kerouac, and he found the work of Issa while studying abroad in Japan, but he didn’t fall in love with the haiku until he discovered the free-form work of Santoka Taneda. Currently, Alex uses haiku in the classroom to ease students into poetry and build their confidence as readers and writers. Alex also posts 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:

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 48 Comments

  1. Thank you, Alex Fyffe, for including my senryu:

    our words not wasted
    at each other’s feet

    Geoff Pope
    Paducah, Kentucky

    I thought you’d be interested to know that (in addition to the allusion to Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus’ feet with spikenard and then Judas complaining the perfume had been wasted) the word “spike” in “spikenard” stood out to me as the spike/nail driven into the feet of Jesus during his crucifixion — but I didn’t see it until after I saw that you selected my poem! Far-fetched?

    In any case, I’m extremely grateful to be here among writers and readers of haiku and senryu who know that none of our words are wasted on each other when given and received with honor, humility, and generosity.

    1. Thank you for the comment. I have found that we often put things in poems that we aren’t even conscious of until we look at them again or until someone else points them out to us. Spikenard is such a striking word; it just took a fresh glance at it to see the spike.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to catagorize the poems; it adds to the experience and instructional value!

    1. You’re welcome! Once I struck upon the idea of arranging them by type, I decided I couldn’t have it any other way.

  3. Thank you Alex for your kind comments on my Van Gogh ‘ku. Phenomenal poems this week! Haiku takes so well to allusions.
    Thank you also for the fun prompts!

  4. Odysseus struggles
    to go home

    Nancy Brady
    Ohio, USA

    Exciting to see this in ‘print’ as it got more and more powerful when I viewed it in a kukai a little while ago.

    Scaringly, since covid-19 other frontliners such as NHS workers, and medical venue workers around the world often suffer from PTSD. We owe so many a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifices. Humbling.

    I will enjoy and appreciate reading all the poems that were selected, time and time again.


    1. Thank you for your comment, Alan. I like the way this poem efficiently analyzes The Odyssey from a modern perspective, reading the epic through a psychological lens. Your connection to healthcare workers is also a powerful reminder of the importance of mental health, especially for those surrounded by trauma on a daily basis.

      1. Thanks Alan and Alex for your positive comments on my haiku. So many people have been affected with PTSD especially since Covid has created its ugly spikes and variants. Not only health care workers and returning military persons, but wait staff, kids, just about anyone has been affected.

  5. Thank you, Alex, it is such an thrill for me to find my haiku included in literary allusions this week. Especially alluding to one of my favorite poets/authors. I love all these many interpretations of the theme and congratulations to all the poets here! I too loved this one. Perhaps because my husband and I attended the Beyond Van Gogh immersive experience last month. The half-listening reference is wonderful too:

    Van Gogh portraits…
    my husband only
    half listens to me

    Sangita Kalarickal

    And this one too. Plus how it includes the sunflower kigo. I just went to sunflower farm on Saturday to pick sunflowers for bouquets. This one is a real gem for me:
    hot summer . . .
    Van Gogh’s sunflowers
    on the wall

    Rosa Maria Di Salvatore

    Thank you to Kathy and Lori for their work on this feature. Thanks to Alex for the prompts and the instructive comments.

    1. I wanted to go to that Van Gogh experience, as well, but I never made the time for it, unfortunately. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    2. Thank you, Sari! We are planning on the Van Gogh immersion in a couple days, hopefully I will not get vertigo!

  6. The incredible quality of these selections really reflects on the inspiration your weekly descriptions are providing, Alex. I truly wish you’d been my teacher, and I say this as a 12 year 7th grade English teacher.

    Thanks to you, Kathy, and Lori for all of your work. I’m honored to be amongst these words.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I’m happy to hear that so many people are having fun with the prompts. Seeing so many excellent submissions is encouraging.

      7th grade sounds hard. My wife’s first year teaching was 7th grade ELA, and she came home crying almost every day for a long time. She moved up to high school after that, then went back to school for library sciences, and now she is happy as an elementary school librarian. But middle school has always sounded particularly tough to me.

  7. Congrats to all the poets, well done. I am proud to be among you. I agree, it’s great to see the various types of allusions, thanks Alex. Tracy Davidson ‘s really resonated for me.
    trigger laws
    the barrel always aimed
    at women
    Unfortunately, I live in a state with one of them and I fear it becoming even more restrictive.

    1. I’m in a state that practically banned it even before the Court reversed it, so I know what you mean. It’s a shame that so many people in power put their own personal beliefs over other people’s personal autonomy.

      1. Indeed, Alex. I agree wholeheartedly with you. Some of those in power seem to forget that they should be more accountable to constituents. Power brokers are entitled to their beliefs, but they shouldn’t have the power to demand everyone else adhere to them.

  8. What an excellent read this was! So many outstanding verses, it’s really hard to pick favorites, but the Shining reference written in Basic code was particularly unique. Great job everybody!
    And thanks Alex for choosing my John Cage allusion; I decided to tie in a previous literary device as well just to practice what else I’ve learned these past few weeks, it’s been a joy playing with all of them.

  9. Sun Studio…
    thumbing the guitar pick
    in my pocket
    Joshua Gage
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Joshua, a poet, honors Elvis, a singer. Elvis recorded at Sun Studio and yesterday, August 16, was the 45th anniversary of his passing.

    1. Thank you for pointing this out. I didn’t make the connection to the date of Elvis’s passing. I almost placed this one under Music Allusions, but Sun Studios has become a historic name, so I thought it would fit better there. After all, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other greats recorded at Sun Studios, too. So I chose to place it under Historical Allusions.

      1. Alex, I read that the recent Elvis movie has made new fans of his music in a younger generation.

        1. This was based on a Poetry Pea prompt about place names in haiku, but Sun Studios is both musically important and historically important, so that’s cool. I saw the new Baz Luhrman film. I wasn’t a fan, but I understand why he made the decisions he did. I hope more folks come to classic R&B and rockabilly through it, though. That’s great music and now, with digital versions and whatnot, it’s more accessible to folks, and we need to take advantage of that.

          But yeah, not just Elvis, but Ike Turner, Roscoe Gordon, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Milton, Harold Jenkins (later Conway Twitty), Rufus Thomas, Carl Perkins, and the list goes on and on and on…

          :::pulls out a switchblade comb and runs it through his slicked back hair:::

  10. I appreciate your work Alex. I saw in your comments a reference to J.D. Salinger. I went through all the Haikus very carefully, but I did not find any that refer to this great writer. Can you explain to me, which of the haiku- uri refers to Salinger? (I am a big admirer of his!)
    Mircea Moldovan

    1. Apologies for interloping, but I believe the haiku actually alluded to Salinger’s dedication to his son for the book Franny and Zooey in which he offered up a lima bean.

      1. Welp, now I can’t find it either! Did I just dream up the haiku that referred to this?

        My apologies.

    2. When I wrote the commentary, I was remembering a submission that refers to Caulfield, but I’m realizing now that the poem, which I wanted to select, was not chosen simply because the author had another haiku that I selected instead (and which, in fact, is in the commentary section). So there aren’t actually any Salinger allusions in the postings here, but there is a good one out there somewhere that is unpublished only because I had to choose between two excellent submissions.

      1. Forgive me for insisting, I don’t want to be rude, but I would still like to know your opinion about this haiku: if possible, of course!

        I met Holden
        in a third – class hotel…
        I believe him

        1. This poem (with “third-rate hotel,” which is a good choice) is one that I spent some time rereading, and I did almost choose it, but something about the last line didn’t work for me. I really like the first two lines, but the third just didn’t hit. I was very close to choosing it, though, and maybe the third line works for other readers. Perhaps other commenters could chime in about their thoughts, if you’re open to critique. I cannot fully explain why the last line kept me from taking it, other than to say that it didn’t match the first two in my own mind.

          1. Hi Mircea and Alex,

            Firstly, thanks so much Alex for your challenging prompts and thoughtful and educational commentaries each week on selected haiku. I am finding it is really helping me on my haiku journey 🤗

            Seeing that Alex has suggested that other commenters chime in, I think the problem is, Mircea, that in your third line ‘I believe him’, you are stating the outcome rather than let the reader deduce this in some way. It’s also like long phrase (L1 & L2) and short phrase/sentence (L3), without juxtaposition. I’m no expert by the way, so would be interested to hear others’ comments.


          2. Hy Sue and Alex,
            “I believe him”, because I am like him; “I believe him”, because in this world, as in the one since then, there are few of us like him. “I believe him” because he spoke a lot for himself and often to the walls .And whoever doesn’t want to see the juxtaposition, simply doesn’t want to see it.Wil we hear only good!

        2. Mircea,

          When I was in tenth grade, a friend of mine “stole” a copy of Catcher in the Rye from a classroom library and gave it to me. I read it and loved it, and after that I read through Salinger’s other works–Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories, and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction. I loved Caulfield and the Glass family–their stories had a tremendous impact on me as a young person. I especially loved Franny and Zooey, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” and “The Laughing Man.”

          So I believe Holden, too. Why wouldn’t I?

          The thing is, there are many submissions to Haiku Dialogue every single week, and there are many poems that go unselected, even some pretty good ones. Sometimes it’s because they have spelling or grammatical errors. Other times it’s because they just aren’t quite there, at least for the current editor. I try to select a wide variety of poems, but I can’t choose everything. There are times when I would love to accept two poems from the same poet, but the guidelines ask me only to choose one of the two, and so there are great poems that don’t get published here simply because of that.

          I hope you are not discouraged by this poem not making the article. As I said previously, I did consider it very seriously, and it was very nearly chosen. Another editor may have taken it on the spot; and yet another might have rejected it altogether. Everyone is different, and just because the poem doesn’t appear here does not mean that it is not good or valuable. I do really love those first two lines, and I understand the final line, too–but it didn’t land with me like the first two did.

          Breaking it down further, I think it has something to do with both parts being sentences, as Sue stated, and with both sentences starting with “I.” It might even be improved with a slight adjustment:

          meeting Holden
          in a third-rate hotel…
          I believe him

          Now we have a phrase and a sentence that are both in present tense, and we drop the repetition of “I.” It seems almost insignificant, and yet, to me, this is a stronger poem.

          Holden Caulfield
          in a third-rate hotel…

          I also think something like the above with a different final line could be highly effective. I don’t know what that third line would be–it’s probably different for everyone–but I could see something powerful coming out of this phrase, too.

          Keep writing, keep submitting. You have a good sense.

          1. Thank you Alex. I do it every week. That is, maybe we see things differently, which is very good for haiku. Regarding spelling mistakes, language in general, I think you should be more understanding. Those of us who do not belong to communities of the English language or that we are self-taught and learn the language now we’re old, maybe it is more difficult for us.

            All the best!

  11. SOme really interesting work this week – it show what a good prompt/theme can do. I love this senryu – well done Sangita – I’m listening!!

    Van Gogh portraits…
    my husband only
    half listens to me

    Sangita Kalarickal

    1. Thank you, John! So glad you liked it! Many of my friends related to it, so we all had a good chuckle.

  12. Such great haiku here! Thanks so much for including my poem. For further context, I was playing off a poem by Issa, and there’s a “second verse” to the sequence.

    grafting a branch–
    I might be dead

    planting spring bulbs
    I might be Buddha

    planting spring bulbs
    I might be dead

  13. glad my haiku was selected again (I will use it with another one for Aug 20 in-person event haiku/photos matching games:

    Mt Fuji
    my fingers climb
    its high resolutions

    We have others for Mt Fuji as well…cheers!

    Thanks Alex and Team!

  14. Alex, your instructional series on literary devices has been very enlightening for me. I’m about 10 months into my haiku journey. I can’t thank you enough for opening my eyes to so many haiku avenues.
    What an inspiring and often clever collection of haiku illustrating allusion. Kudos to all my fellow poets! Separating the haiku into different allusion types was really helpful.
    Some of my favorites included Anderson’s “Trojan horse,” Kalarickal’s “Van Gogh portraits,” Hopewell’s monoku, Chandran’s “Jonathan seagull,” and Levine’s “Exodus.”

    1. Thank you! I hope the journey is long and fruitful. And I’m happy to hear this series is being embraced by so many, despite being a slightly unusual one for haiku prompts.

  15. Alex, thank-you for including my haiku this week too… congratulations to everyone!

  16. Thanks to Guest Editor Alex Fyffe for mentioning my haiku.
    Congratulations to all the authors!

  17. amontillado–
    the brick wall of the shelter
    scrapes our backs
    Morley Cacoethes
    Cleveland, Ohio
    This post is for Morley Cacoethes. I noticed that you are from Ohio. I would like to inform you that Ohio Haiku is a Facebook group just for haiku poets in Ohio. We would be happy to have you join our group. Valentina Ranaldi-Adams

  18. Alex, thank-you for including my haiku this week. Thank-you also to Kathy, Lori, and the Haiku Foundation. I was pleased to see so many fellow poets from Ohio in today’s column.

  19. Funny, Rosa Maria Di Salvatore and I had a similar idea, I’ve sent this one:

    summer –
    hung without nail
    Van Gogh’s painting

    Congratulations to her and to all the others selected <3

  20. Thank you, Alex Fyffe, for selecting beautiful haiku. The classification of a wide range of poems will add a new feather to the richness of haiku on ‘allusion’. Congratulations on your endeavour.

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