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.
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.
stupid beer bet
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.
. . . the only time
i failed to show up
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?
just the fading light
in its talons
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?
the old dog
licks my wounds
Connie Pittman Ramsey
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’.
all the books
I never read
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
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
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
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?
on the tree unable
to let go
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
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.
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.)
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
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
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
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?
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.
all the failures that
carved my face
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
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 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?
the unused letter pad
for my foster child
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.
Florin C. Ciobica
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.
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