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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Resolutions – Failure (2) & Introduction to Avian Adventures

Resolutions & Introduction to Avian Adventures

Thanks to Guest Editor John S Green for stepping up to be the first to experience our new system – & thanks to all the poets who took the time to read, reflect, & comment on all the wonderful poems this month. Now we welcome Nancy Brady with her bird photos for Avian Adventures – enjoy! kj

Introduction to Avian Adventures with Guest Editor Nancy Brady

Birds have been around since the days of the dinosaurs in the form of pteradons and archaeopteryx. Whenever I hear the distinctive squawk of a Great Blue heron, I imagine that pteradons sounded like them, filling the skies with their raucous calls. What these prehistoric birds really sounded like no one knows; however, I can state that birds have found places throughout the earth.

As a child, I was fascinated with birds, even trying to catch one by putting salt on its tail. Of course, I was unsuccessful. Along the way, I learned to identify the birds visiting our yard: cardinals, blue jays, robins, red-winged blackbirds, and even an occasional ruby-throated hummingbird.

Over the years, though, I have expanded my knowledge (and sightings) of various species of birds through travel, here in the US and abroad, and through moves – the latest to the coast of Lake Erie where birds live, gather, and migrate through the region. Having the opportunity to observe our avian friends has given me a greater appreciation of them.

In lieu of binoculars, my digital camera (DSLR) with a zoom lens has further allowed me to see individual feathers, tarsus (feet), or other parts of a bird’s external anatomy. I am not a classic birder per se, spending every free moment in pursuit of the “one that got away,” nor am I an expert (far from it), but I am an enthusiastic fan of our feathered friends, enjoying the discovery of something new. This opportunity to observe them up close and personal helps me write a fair number of haiku about birds. I hope you’ll join me in these avian adventures.

next week’s theme: Diversity

I volunteer at Old Woman Creek Estuarine Research Center, which is one of only two national estuarine research centers in fresh water in the United States (most of them are salt water estuarine research reserves). During my tenure here, I’ve observed various birds eating at the many feeders right outside the visitor’s center. From nuthatches to woodpeckers to finches to the ubiquitous sparrows, l have had a bird’s eye view on these birds, especially the sparrows.

Something I’ve noticed is the similarities between the different types of sparrows (and there are many). For example, they may have different colored markings over the brows, but to me, with my untrained eye, they are simply sparrows. Yet, there is diversity between them, and obviously an ornithologist would recognize the difference between the white-crowned sparrow and the chipping sparrow at first glance. I am not sure I would except for being able to photograph them and really study the digital image.

The two photographs associated with this prompt are the superb starling (left) and the common grackle (right). The iridescence of their feathers and their eyes look surprising similar, even though they are not the same species.

Birds are quite diverse throughout the globe. This leads to a jumping off place for this prompt: to explore diversity among birds with which you are familiar or diversity in general.

(The photo of the superb starling was taken in Nakuru, Kenya, 2012 by my husband, Rob Smith; the photo of the grackle was taken in Huron, Ohio, 2021 by me.)

The deadline is midnight Eastern Standard Time, Saturday February 4, 2023.

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 John’s commentary for failure too:

This has been a fun month on Haiku Dialogue. Thanks to you – my fellow haiku friends from all around the world. With our community the world is smaller and more peaceful. And appreciation to Kathy and Lori for their steadfast and friendly assistance.

Here are twenty-one superb haiku. Having commented on them, I would like your take on them. Some drew me in like a vortex, and it was hard to escape. Some were elusive and got away. They were all rewarding. Enjoy.

this side
of mountains
shadows

Jeff Leong
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A enigmatic five-word poem. Intriguing. I remember visiting my father who was living on Madeira, a volcanic Portuguese island, with a dry side and a rainy side where I slipped over all the mossy rocks. Trying to climb and reach your goals can be rewarding but also hazardous. The use of ‘this’ indicates that the author spends a bit too much time on the dark side, perhaps.

salto mortale—
stupid beer bet

Gordana Vlašić
Croatia

After looking up salto mortale I had a big smile. A dangerous and daring jump with possibly lethal outcome is certainly not worth earning your pride, or anything else. This two-line haiku could probably be a monoku:

salto mortale stupid beer bet

But, either way, I like the originality of this poem very much. Well done.

dried wreath
. . . the only time
i failed to show up

Firdaus Parvez
India

It’s not entirely clear what has happened, but it’s not good. However, I also get the sense that ‘i’ may be better off in the long run, if ‘i’s’ partner is not willing to forgive one mistake. This poem may be indicating a death, that the ‘i’ will never be able to forgive themselves for. Thoughts?

kestrel
just the fading light
in its talons

Nick T
Frome, Somerset, England

This week, I seem to be drawn to haiku that elude me. Haha! This image is so strong that it conjures up an eerie type of failure. Maybe the kestrel has simply missed a meal – letting the rodent escape, and the poem is a metaphor for having a successful goal slip away. What do others think?

in silence
the old dog
licks my wounds

Connie Pittman Ramsey
United States

A gentle, empathetic poem of recovery. A service dog, most any dog really, will remain by their human friend until the very end. No need for words often is the best way to say ‘I love you’.

redwood tree
all the books
I never read

Adele Evershed
Wilton, Connecticut

I enjoy the double meaning here. I interpret the poem as remorse for not reading enough, but also as having saved trees in the process. Kind of a sly way of saving face perhaps, or at least not feeling as guilty. A crafty poem. It could also mean their pile of unread books has grown as tall as a redwood!

a road back
into myself
snowdrifts

Luciana Moretto
Treviso, Italy

As a child I used to dig out little caves in the snowdrifts in our front yard. There would eventually be a worn path from the house to the entrance of the snow cave. I loved sitting in there and just having quiet time to think about things that are important to 9-year-olds. This haiku brought me back to that memory. It also conjures up daydreaming which slow quiet winter days can do. An enchanting haiku.

still slipping my mindfulness

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

Don’t we all have this issue? I know I try to be mindful, but some days it is so hard! I even have an app on my phone to help me. An app that I haven’t opened in months. The play on words also reminds us that as we age, our minds slip more and more. Love this four-word monoku with its sassy ‘s’ alliteration at the beginning and end.

I kick the habit
yet a hint of tobacco
in my son’s hug

Helene Guojah
UK

Oh my, such angst. Bad habits linger both in our minds and in the physical world. Smoke has a way of finding every surface to attach to and it won’t let go. We fear that just like the smoke, we might pass our bad habits on to the next generation, even if we have finally recovered from the addiction ourselves. What will the next generation have to deal with because of us? What about climate change? We have tried to be better, but what ‘smoke’ will linger on, causing the next generation to suffer?

winter leaf
on the tree unable
to let go

Richard Straw
Cary, North Carolina

This poem has a lot of strength. It is also deeply sad, to me. We all can relate to the mixed feelings of wanting to let go, but also fiercely determined to hang on. Most celebrities are known to stay too long. They reach their prime, then begin to decline only to fight for a revival that never comes. It’s hard to admit it’s time. This haiku is a masterpiece.

recent memories fading with the hydrangeas

wanda amos
Old Bar, Australia

Recent memory fades for patients with Alzheimer’s but long-term memory can remain intact. Hydrangeas are perennials, flowering in the spring without the need to prune. This seems to me to be somewhat optimistic although I may not understand the writer’s intention. Simply read, the flower of short-term memory fades but long-term memory stays. Sweetly stated.

spider…
striving, striving again
to learn Urdu

(Urdu is the official language of Pakistan and used by poets in India. It is derived from the older Hindustani language, and the written form uses Persian-Arabic letters.)

Neena Singh
India

A spider is relentless in its persistent building of a web, so is this person determined to learn Urdu. But high winds or such always seem to block progress. Good luck!

blowing out candles
shouldn’t I be younger
by now

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa, USA

Somebody please tell me what Roberta is saying in this one. Ha! Sometimes I am drawn in to something and I can’t explain why. It has been studied that the most successful haiku are the ones with a sense of yugen or mystery. This is one. Maybe it speaks to the Dylan line, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”. Something to do with maturity, perhaps. I light and blow out a candle almost every night!

watching snow fall …
a passing shiver
of regret

Annie Wilson
Shropshire, UK

Melancholy feeds itself during the long, dark days of winter. Looking out the window at frigid conditions can bring back haunting memories that cannot ever be quite put to rest. “passing shiver” is absolutely stunning.

Searching for the
unwritten poems
Almost midnight

Lanka Siriwardana
Sri Lanka

A lovely way to describe writer’s block. Perhaps there is a deadline due at the strike of twelve. A failure we have all experienced, eh?

winter loneliness
I over-water
the houseplant

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton UK

To me this is both sad and funny. It’s common knowledge that overwatering will cause root rot. Like overfeeding fish in a tank, it’s better to underdo it with plants. Not only is this person lonely, but they are also bored, I think.

worry lines—
all the failures that
carved my face

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

Although lines 2 and 3 restate line 1, there is a deep sense of maturity that seems to rise above the physical appearance – the visage. It’s almost as if the past problems have brought understanding. But I could be wrong. What do others think?

no moon night
the emptiness inside
screams louder

Nisha Raviprasad
India

When we are lonely or needing solace often the sun or moon or any natural beauty can lend a hand. On this night there is nothing to help. The 2nd and 3rd lines express desolation acutely well. Wow.

dust rolling down
on blue barbells
Sisyphus

Jonathan Epstein
USA

Sisyphus was forced to roll the rock up the hill each day, only to watch his work roll back down the hill. His task was both laborious and futile. Exercise can seem that way, too, if we don’t see an immediate effect. Perhaps the author tried working out for a while, but eventually gave up, so now the equipment is gathering dust as it makes him feel guilty. I wonder if Sisyphus felt like giving up?

migratory bird−
the unused letter pad
for my foster child

Keiko Izawa
Japan

I’m not even sure I understand what Keiko is saying with this mysterious haiku. It feels vulnerable and I am drawn in instantly. Perhaps the child wants to write a letter to his or her biological parents but there is no address – no trace of them. Migratory implies a traveler but migratory bird is more of a seasonal trek – back and forth. It is not happening with this child and it hurts.

so many
abandoned dreams…
warfare

Florin C. Ciobica
Romania

I chose this ‘war-ku’ to end with because it summarizes the frustration we feel with the current war in Ukraine. But it goes further. It calls into question all the wars of humanity. So many… so many abandoned dreams – so many lives ruined. It’s a sad way to end this week, but Florin gets kudos for this sensitively stated, perhaps, biggest failure of all.

 

Join us next week for Nancy’s selection of poems on the theme of diversity…

 

Guest Editor John S Green, author of Whimsy Park: Children’s Poems for the Whole Family, is widely published in all styles of poetry – especially haiku. John lived in Europe before moving to the United States at age thirteen. His daughter cooks with spice, and his wife still laughs at his jokes.

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. One final group hug to the Haiku Dialogue community. Your kind and interesting comments have brought great joy to my heart.

    For the remainder of the year I will be responding to prompts just like you all, scrolling through on Wednesday to see if the editors chose my poem—sometimes overjoyed, sometimes disappointed. Either way, I will always enjoy the wide range of creativity expressed from you, my global friends.

    Namaste,
    John

  2. I was only able to read today this beautiful selection with John’s valuable comments and I congratulate everyone. One haiku particularly involved me:

    recent memories fading with the hydrangeas
    Wanda Amos
    Old Bar, Australia

    I have experience of a loved one with memory problems and when I saw her recent memories of her fade away like snow in the sun, I soon realized that I, although already elderly, am a recent memory for her. And … it hurts. Thank you Wanda Amos: your haiku is for me an aid in the path of awareness.

  3. Such a fun, eclectic bunch of haiku and senryu here! Thank you, John S Green, for the delightful commentary on my senryu. The comments here have been most enjoyable. You imaginative poets have uncovered (or made up, I don’t know) new facets to what I viewed as a simple senryu!

    (I’ve tried three times to post this comment, but I was informed I seem to be a bot. Attempting again. My apologies if it shows up more than once.)

  4. Many thanks John S Green, I’m delighted to be included in this great selection.
    Really helpful your commentaries, so precise and, at the same time, inspiring other possibilities, open to different interpretations.
    Among the poems I was particularly engaged by

    worry lines –
    all the failure that
    carved my face

    Mona Bedi
    Delhi, India

    I think that a lot about us is written on our face

  5. Thanks John for the set of praiseworthy haiku and your interesting comments on those.
    I would like to comment on Roberta’s poem.

    blowing out candles
    shouldn’t I be younger
    by now

    Roberta Beach Jacobson
    I think Roberta tries to draw our attention to the superstitious beliefs behind our practices. Her wish when blowing out birthday candles in the past years would have been ‘to become younger’ and she very cleverly questions the value of these traditions.

  6. A wonderful collection indeed. Returning here after a longish break and trying to find my feet with haiku, I am both touched and charmed by John Green’s admission of not having understood some. Yet, something about such haiku is evocative and makes us want to return to them. This is so relatable. Congratulations, poets! And thank you for your commentary, John.

  7. Haven’t commented here before but want to pick out Keith Evetts’ gentle, wistful haiku. Yes, sad and funny haikai:

    winter loneliness
    I over-water
    the houseplant

    With only the company of a houseplant in bleak winter, the poet finds an outlet by looking after it, slowly killing it by solicitously over-watering. Well-intentioned but uninformed — many of us can relate to this. Can be generalised to any situation where we kill with kindness, or smother with excessive love. Very good!

      1. Thanks for that, Andrew. Inspiring….

        I had a little orchid
        on the kitchen window sill
        that I watered with an extract of manure.
        I caressed it with a chamois cloth
        and cooed in loving tones
        albeit, I assure you, chaste and pure.
        But of course there was no chance
        that this burgeoning romance
        would ever end in anything but grief
        for an orchid in one’s life
        tends to irritate one’s wife
        so I had to throw it out
        Yours truly,
        Keith

  8. I love this haiku (after I looked up “salto mortale” ) because it’s so true to life and succinctly put. (well, I was the publlcan’s daughter in a small, far away timber town that had one pub, one general store, one bakery, one garage, a post office, a motel with a cafe attached and one Bush Nurse, Sister Gwynne.. A travelling circus came through once. I have an elephant story but that’sfor another time.)

    salto mortale—

    Sounds so exotic to me, and elegant. ” The meaning of SALTO MORTALE is deadly jump : full somersault ” (google search) Ah yes, the brave, daring, breathtaking circus acts. Drum rolls and silence, anticipation. The athletic success, admired and applauded by all.

    Afterwards, back at the pub (which is illegally open, after hours) a crowd of locals forms in the beer garden.

    The baker’s apprentice tries it (full somersault), dislocates some bones, is in great pain and can’t get up. The bush nurse is called for. She turns her kerosene lamp down to low, leaves her front door open and walks a down to the pub with her leather bag of medical and surgical things. Sister Gwynne is a teetotaler, a devoted Baptist. Somehow, she puts the dislocated bones back in place while our hero lies sprawled on the beer garden lawn, vocalizing some very strange sounds. He now owes ten pounds (pound notes, this was before decimal currency) to about twenty men. That was a lot of money back then. ) Yeah. We know how stupid beer bets usually are. Some things never change.

    salto mortale—
    stupid beer bet — Gordana Vlašić, Croatia

    Superb! The grand and elegant (even in the language) and then the down to earth reality in plain English.

    What a brilliant juxtaposition. Between the two lines, a whole story is implied. I’m sure most of us will have variations of this story in our memories.

    Gordana Vlašić
    Croatia

  9. Thank you John for your commentary on my haiku
    recent memories fading with the hydrangeas
    A half dead flower inspired the haiku – hydrangeas flowers are a similar shape to the brain

    Particularly like this haiku so poignant and on topic.
    I kick the habit
    yet a hint of tobacco
    in my son’s hug

    Helene Guojah
    UK

    1. Thank you so much Wanda. Your haiku was very poignant – I have two hydrangeas one from my mothers garden and one from my late aunt, both of them now struggling to survive despite being perfectly healthy before they came to me… I am feeling a huge weight of responsibility trying to keep them alive. I am sure there is another haiku there waiting in the wings.

  10. Many thanks for the inclusion John, like you I was fascinated but slightly baffled by this tricky one..

    blowing out candles
    shouldn’t I be younger
    by now

    Roberta Beach Jacobson
    Indianola, Iowa, USA

    I think the fun of blowing out candles on a birthday cake never goes away – as a child there is a pride and excitement at becoming a year older, as we age we still remember the childish feelings but perhaps we are less than thrilled at getting older – if we are still encouraged to make a wish how different it would be.

  11. blowing out candles
    shouldn’t I be younger
    by now

    Roberta Beach Jacobson
    Indianola, Iowa, USA

    From John S Green: “Somebody please tell me what Roberta is saying in this one.”

    My take on the poem…The poet’s wish is to be younger each time she blows out the candles on her birthday cake. Unfortunately, it isn’t working out! A fun piece!

  12. Good-bye and thank-you to John. Welcome to Nancy. Thank-you to
    Kathy, Lori, and the Haiku Foundation.

  13. Thank you, John, for your insightful commentary and helping us recognize both sides of our resolutions.

    I wanted to give my take on:

    blowing out candles
    shouldn’t I be younger
    by now

    Roberta Beach

    I saw her blowing out the candles on her birthday cake and wistfully feeling the misspent time (i.e. the resolution failures) and wishing for a redo of younger years. Or making a sly joke at her own expense.

  14. Thank you John, for all the work of hosting, and for the selections among which I am glad to be. I particularly liked:

    kestrel
    just the fading light
    in its talons

    Nick T
    Frome, Somerset, England

    The kestrel has failed to catch anything by evening, and if it remains unsuccessful will fade away through starvation. Clean, unsentimental and neat.

    ——

    so many
    abandoned dreams…
    warfare

    Florin C. Ciobica
    Romania

    Reminiscent of Basho’s “summer grasses/all that remains/of soldiers’ dreams

    natsukusa ya / tsnwamono dottio ga / yutne no ato
    summer grass / soldier common of / dream of trace (tr. Reichold)

    But Basho wins (again!)

      1. Nick: I see them quite often in Home Park (back of Hampton Court) where I cycle. The past few years there have been several chicks that have fledged (they perch on the benches between flight trials) and they are gorgeous close to, immaculate with their first adult plumage. The survivors grow shy of mankind. I’m sure you remember the haunting film “Kes” and also know one of my favourite poems, G M Hopkins’ The Windhover.

        1. Keith – It must be a real treat to watch the chicks fledge. I am very fortunate in being able to spend time with an adult female kestrel at a local bird of prey charity where I volunteer.

  15. All of the above haiku are worthy of being commented upon, but John’s choice of the last haiku,
    so many
    abandoned dreams…
    warfare

    Florin C. Ciobica

    was a real gut punch.

    All of the time my son was in the service, I was on edge especially during his four deployments. A few times I talked to him, post-deployment, he seemed aloof from it all, but I recently returned from a visit to him, his wife, and their first child, who is three months old. During the visit, he talked of the effects of being in those deployments. What they did to him both physically and mentally haunts him. To look at him, it might not be obvious, but I see the toll it took upon him. I suspect the same is for anyone who has seen war up close and personal. PTSD is real; burnt out lungs is real, and for young minds and bodies, there is no retreat.

    I feel for all the people of Ukraine who are living a nightmare now, and for those whose lives will be forever altered by any war that only their leaders want.

    Thanks John for sharing all of these haiku with such thoughtful comments.

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