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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Seeing Beyond Seeing – Photo Three

Seeing beyond Seeing: Mood, Memory and Metaphor

Like haiku, photography is about seeing and experiencing. Haiku, meditation and photography have much in common: all are based in the present moment, all require complete focus, and all are most successful when the mind is free from distracting thoughts. An image and a haiku are both a ‘moment in time’. Both are viewed objectively yet often experienced subjectively through our own experiences and interpretations. Mood, memory, and/or metaphor all play a part in our writing and in our interpretation of other poets’ writings.

To start off the New Year, I’d like to share some of my favorite photographs in hopes the images will inspire a haiku. This is not a haiga exercise. I’d like you to free yourself up and allow the image to speak to you as to mood, memory, metaphor, either one, two or all three. Reflect on the mood evoked by the image, or the mood you are currently in. Does the image spark a memory? Do you sense an interconnectedness to the image or the object within that might offer a subtle metaphor to deepen your experience or interpretation of the image? There is no need to speak directly to the object or image unless you want to. Let your mind ‘link’ to the image through your own unique sense of connection.

For the sake of this exercise let’s keep to a simplistic meaning of metaphor. “A metaphor is a figure of speech in which the qualities of one thing are carried over to another”. A good example would be Nick Virgilio’s famous haiku, ‘lily out of the water out of itself’ which resonates beyond the image of a lily into a state of being we can relate to. Some have said haiku is metaphor. Let the images speak to your world and your associations.

For the month of January, each poet may send one or two haiku/senryu on the week’s image. Please submit your poems by clicking here:  Contact Form. Please put Haiku Dialogue in the Subject box.

There will be a selection process in which I will briefly comment on a few of the selected pieces.

The haiku appear in the order in which we receive them.

next week’s theme: Photo Four

A tulip that seems perfect, yet it was picked by tulip field hands and tossed aside as not good enough. It lay on shredding burlap in a dark wooden crate. How do you relate to this image? Does it spark a memory of something else discarded?

The deadline is midnight Pacific Time, Saturday February 1, 2020.

Below is my commentary for Photo Three:

Thank you all for the fabulous response to this image. As always, it was difficult to choose just four poems to comment on. Again, there were a large number of poems that were similar and referred to the chair itself so I include those I thought were well constructed. Others demonstrated unique responses to this worn wing-backed chair, from Icarus to antimacassars, from secrets to scents, from estate sales to farmer’s markets and so much more. I deliberately looked for poems that went beyond the image of an old chair and utilized mood, memory and metaphor in a way that produced poems that were associative, poems that went beyond what was objectively noted and offered readers the opportunity to make connections on their own. I made an effort to be representative of styles and to include both haiku and senryu, although generally I tend to not categorize poems, and simply weigh them on their merits as poetry. Enjoy choosing your favorites from the long list. Here are my four selections for commentary followed by a longer list of selected poems. Thanks everyone for sharing your creative responses to my image. It’s an honor to read your work.

ghost flower
in full bloom . . .
and yet

Veronika Zora Novak

This poem has yugen, a Japanese term that values the power to evoke, rather than to state directly, to show the subtle profundity of things that are only vaguely suggested by the poem. Yugen is found not only in poetry, but in all the arts. This haiku has a similar tone to Issa’s ‘the world of dew is the world of dew, and yet, and yet…’. The ghost flower derives its name from the ghostly translucency of its flowers. So we have the image of a flower in full bloom, and not just a flower, but a ghost flower with its added connotations. The entire poem strikes me as a metaphor for the transience of life, the blooming, and inevitability of death, the reminder that even as we appreciate a flower in full bloom, we must also recognize its temporality. This poet brought everything to the table, mood, memory and metaphor in seven words. I appreciate how her mind worked and can see and feel how this worn chair, a ghost itself, inspired this poem. Oftentimes, the best poems seem to defy analysis but I did my best to bring my own inner thoughts and feelings to this lovely haiku.

restored armchair
so many memories
we didn’t share

Eva Limbach
Germany

Here is a poem that invites speculation between the two parts of the haiku. The emotion is understated, but clearly there between the lines. Although we know the image that inspired this poem is a worn, tattered old chair Eva’s poem doesn’t rely on this image and in fact goes beyond it. The restored armchair suggests its own story. It may have belonged to a loved one and now has been passed down, or inherited. On a deeper level, the restored armchair could be a subtle metaphor for the regrets we all have when someone dies and we realize there is no longer an opportunity to ask those questions, share those memories. We can restore a chair, but not a life.

visible even in
his empty chair
his extreme right leanings

Seren Fargo

This senryu, like the other two poems above, also leaves space for speculation. A very clever senryu with a punchy last line that plays off the compressed cushion seen in the image. I decided that if I hadn’t seen the image, I’d still get a laugh from this senryu. I love the political word play of ‘extreme right leanings’. What else could it suggest beyond its political overtones? Definitely, the mark of a man is in some way imbedded in the right side of the chair even when he’s not in it. Perhaps it’s the politics and stresses of the day, but I appreciated the comic relief of this senryu. And it doesn’t escape me that a wingback chair inspired a right-wing senryu. Or, if you prefer, his extreme right leanings.

tattered lace
Mom
forgets my name

Babs McGrory

Another poem with an effective juxtaposition that resonates well. Unlike the many poems that were inspired by the chair, Bab’s poem seems to have been inspired by the antimacassar on the back of the chair. There were a few poems that used that word, ‘antimacassar’, but I enjoyed Bab’s ‘tattered lace’ for its power to evoke more than what it suggests as an image. It’s easy to imagine a piece of tattered lace, but each word evokes something beyond just lace. “Tattered’ suggests aging, something time-worn and the openwork design of ‘lace’ can suggest the tangles and plaques of a brain under attack by Alzheimer’s. The image here works on many levels: an actual piece of tattered lace or a metaphor for the decline of a loved one, the destruction of a brain.

Here are the rest of my selections:

grandma’s chair . . .
the threads of her stories
betwixt its claw feet

Marilyn Ashbaugh
Gulfstream, Florida

 

queen anne’s lace
the memory of her
more than dust

Stephen A. Peters

 

family reunion
we set the table
with empty spaces

john hawkhead

 

sleeping dog
the antimacassar
smells still of mum’s hair

simonj UK

 

migrating birds
the chair imprinted
with his absence

Anitha Varma

 

in his study —
just the lingering scent
of latakia

Mark Meyer

 

grandmother is her own museum

Roberta Beach Jacobson

 

knitting needles –
a rhythm of silence
in the sun room

arvinder kaur
Chandigarh, India

 

shabby armchair –
patient listener
to my haiku

Tsanka Shishkova

 

mamó . . .
focal sa teanga shinseartha
ag sleamhnú tríd

granny . . .
a word in the old language
slips through

[Haiku in Irish & English]

Gabriel Rosenstock

 

dusty cushion
the illusions
I cling to

Olivier Schopfer, Switzerland

 

bedtime stories
ghosts live in the creases
of night

Joanne van Helvoort

 

farmers’ market
the insouciance
of bandy-legged elders

Ingrid Baluchi
Macedonia

 

estate sale
the box of tatted doilies
goes for a dollar

Terri French

 

every world
I ever lived in
on that old sofa chair

Christina Sng
Singapore

 

dancing dust motes…
his indelible imprint
in the cushion’s sag

Michele L. Harvey

 

mama’s stories unable to let go

Pris Campbell

 

legends and myths
the lingering scent
of great gram’s tobacco

Christina Chin

 

threadbare cushion
and his worn pants seat
perfect match

Peggy Hale Bilbro
Alabama

 

on our way to be ashes late autumn

Kat Lehmann

 

empty house
the armchair
has a name

Pere Risteski

 

dump day
the struggle
to let things go

Pat Davis NH

 

spilling his guts
to the silent analyst
exposed brick

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

old age
occupies my grandpa’s chair
deep winter

Vishnu Kapoor

 

high school reunion
a list of names displayed
on the empty chair

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio USA

 

Icarus dims
under the empty chair
his dog

Bisshie
Switzerland

 

sinking deep
into memory
mom’s old chair

Ann K. Schwader
Westminster, CO

 

lumpy cushions
years of shifting
my spare change

Rich Schilling
Webster Groves, MO

 

his life after war
children fight over
who gets what

Marisa Fazio

 

great grandmother’s bowl
upon my table
jealous siblings

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio

 

spring patch up…
my child colours
my scars

Rashmi VeSa

 

turning down
the upholsterer’s offer—
mother’s chair

Madhuri Pillai

 

the mice
under the armchair
know their history

Pratima Balabhadrapathruni

 

his old chair
is empty now
did mother know

Karen Harvey

 

leaden sky
the old bandages
unravel

Barbara Kaufmann NY

 

Mom’s satin wing chair
my childhood beside me
under a throw

Janice Munro

 

old chair
the sound of solitude
in her room

Eufemia Griffo

how the cat mistook my hei loom couc
………………………………………… ..  .r………,,,………h

wendy c. bialek
az, usa

 

granny’s old armchair
a coherent narrative
behind every stain

cezar-florin ciobîcă

 

wanted to fly
never got off the ground
chair force pilot

Charles Harmon
Los Angeles, California, USA

 

outdoor planter
gran’s cracked
chamber pot

Greer Woodward
Waimea, Hawaii

 

second hand shop—
from somewhere the scent
of grandpa’s tobacco

Corine Timmer

Lori Zajkowski is the Post Manager for Haiku Dialogue. A novice haiku poet, she lives in New York City.

Guest Editor Carole MacRury resides in Point Roberts, Washington, a unique peninsula and border town that inspires her work. Her poems have won awards and been published worldwide, and her photographs have been featured on the covers of numerous poetry journals and anthologies. She is the author of In the Company of Crows: Haiku and Tanka Between the Tides (Black Cat Press, 2008, 2nd Printing, 2018) and The Tang of Nasturtiums, an award-winning e-chapbook (Snapshot Press, 2012).

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 52 Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading this week’s interesting selection. So many various stories from just one image, it would be difficult to pick favourites.

  2. Wow–what an impressive variety of responses!! Too many LIKES to comment further! Missed the deadline myself, but just for fun:
    *
    Arsenic and Old Lace showing her age
    *
    wingback
    vs. casting couch–
    Off Off Broadway
    *
    😀
    *
    ~Autumn
    *
    The play will be 81 this year!

  3. in this poignant poem of bisshie:
    .
    Icarus dims
    under the empty chair
    his dog
    .
    Bisshie
    Switzerland
    .
    i get the image that the previous owner of the chair has gone, maybe to a nursing home or to the heavens …and perhaps his cat has used it’s last-life… as well. that maybe the cat liked being on the chair…while the dog stays close to his master’s scent….under the chair. the dimming of icarus….a star in the constellation of leo (lion) in the feline family….makes me think that the cat was related to this scene/family….and is dimming in sadness and recognition to the loss of his/her master who once sat in this chair….facing the window in the room.

    1. Der Wendy
      I love where this verse has taken you. You are pretty much spot on with what I was thinking.
      Thank you for taking the time to write this.
      hugs
      Bisshie

  4. I appreciated all of those that contributed this week. I struggled with this one as the image made me depressed. Even trying to create something out of those feelings I missed the deadline. Having better luck with the tulip, luckily. A few that I especially had an emotional response to:
    *
    estate sale
    the box of tatted doilies
    goes for a dollar
    .
    Terri French
    .
    All that time and care sold so cheap. The image of a box is poignant. I like to think the buyer was appreciative.
    *
    high school reunion
    a list of names displayed
    on the empty chair
    .
    Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
    .
    The growing list is usually read out loud at my reunions but I love the idea that the empty chair is present the whole event.
    *
    second hand shop –
    from somewhere the scent
    of grandpa’s tobacco
    .
    Corinne Timmer
    .
    Especially in the shops that have been there for years, those scents!
    *
    tattered lace
    Mom
    forgets my name
    .
    Babs McGrory
    .
    So much can be said in the word tattered. After the lace the tattered brain processes in Alzheimer’s that still mystifies the best scientists came to mind. Then the still hanging in there but fraying of the old relationship roles.

  5. Valentine’s,
    Your haiku is so poignant, but then,my graduation class has already lost so many. 20% or more, and each loss feels like one more diminishment. Alas… loved it.

  6. I like Veronica’s poem. Having no idea as to what a ghost flower was, I did google it before I read Carole’s poem and there is this unmistakable need to demystify the poem but I cannot, it makes me restlessly ponder on it, and also want to read it again, search for clues, etc etc

    And I like Wendy’s playful poem. It made me smile.

    Sometimes, I wonder whether poets and other artists or those in the creative line are more attracted to pathos, whether it is a natural tendency. If so, what makes us do that? Does it contain more of a drama element, a certain reach into the emotions…because even Shakespeare who wrote wonderful comedies is more famous for his tgds.

    I like this poem too…

    empty house
    the armchair
    has a name

    Pere Risteski

    and this one

    dusty cushion
    the illusions
    I cling to

    Olivier Schopfer, Switzerland

    and there are translations, which is so heartening to read

    So grateful to read the commentaries by Carole and the responses of the participating haijin

    1. Hi Pat. Could you submit our tulip poem using the contact form please? You’ll see it above in red. Thanks.
      Carole

  7. A few of my favorites:

    queen anne’s lace

    the memory of her

    more than dust

    Stephen A. Peters

    dusty cushion
    
the illusions
    
I cling to

    Olivier Schopfer, Switzerland

    estate sale
    
the box of tatted doilies
    
goes for a dollar

    Terri French
    —-
    Thanks, Carole, for an inspiring image.

  8. his life after war
    children fight over
    who gets what
    .
    Marisa Fazio
    .
    Children sometimes do not get along when the parents are alive. Sometimes they don’t get along after the parents pass away. War can be on a grand scale or it can be on a small scale.

  9. tattered lace
    .
    Mom
    .
    forgets my name
    .

    Babs McGrory

    Beautifully realised haiku with a light touch reminiscent of the lace itself. Great stuff.

  10. Thanks to arvinder kaur and Carol Jones for finding something special in my poem, and thanks to Carole MacRury for selecting it for this week’s column. I learn so much from everyone’s insights.

  11. tattered lace
    Mom
    forgets my name

    Babs McGrory

    This left me stunned. I have gone through this and have also struggled to express the feeling but how simply and how poignantly Babs has written it. Loved the poem.

    dump day
    the struggle
    to let things go

    Very deep but practical too !

    turning down
    the upholsterer’s offer
    mother’s chair

    Madhuri Pillai

    Resonated with me. How we cherish our memories

    1. Thank you Arvinder for your kind comments. Deeply appreciated and I am so glad my poem resonated with you.

  12. A great selection, Carole. Thanks for including one of mine

    Wendy’s .made me laugh. I can just see the cat’s claws grabbing those letters/ chair

    Tatting reminded me of my grandmother who started.

    1. Thanks Nancy. Yes, I felt the same with Wendy’s monoku. As I cat lover myself, those missing letters that appear below the line took me somewhere else as well….the line seemed unfinished, mentally filled in ‘litter box’, as I immediately saw a cat digging iin one…the cat mistaking a lovely couch for a place to dig and…lol

      1. that’s one of the ways i have fun…(whether writing or reading) the reader finishes the ku. and it is a collaborative effort.

        those it is an aside…to anyone’s filling in the blanks….here is the story behind it: it was in the late seventies/early eighties…
        *
        the only “gift” i was given…that i didn’t ask for (excluding my mother and any related genes) that had belonged to my grandfather was this antique coach. it always had plastic covers…so it was in impeccable condition. i had to rent a uhaul truck and drive from long island to bronx with heavy rush hour traffic to pick it up from his last wife….and then to bring it back home. i removed the plastic when i moved into a new home….that came with a cat…and a future husband.
        the couch had italian hand-carved, i think- walnut-wood flowers in its frame and hand-embroidered flowers with a satin background. when i woke up…the whole side of the couch….which was really a “love seat” had become a scratching tree-post for the cat….the threads of the flowers were hanging miserably down….like an abstract shaggy wall hanging.
        though…i am an animal lover…i never experienced a cat in my history that unknowingly destroyed household items…but this cat opened my eyes to the need they have to scratch with their nails and how i needed to supply special toy items for this activity…..my bad!
        i don’t know the late fate of the board, toyless cat i never really got to know, the sold house i renovated, and short-term husband. the couch was “given away” at a quick garage sale for 75.00 usd to a lady that promised me she would restore it.

        1. correction “though” it is an aside….. not those…..

          glad you enjoyed writting the cat/couch ‘ku with me…
          nancy, carole and pratima, carol and ingrid…..

  13. old chair
    the sound of solitude
    in her room
    .
    Eufemia Griffo
    .
    When I read this one, I immediately had an image of an elderly person who is isolated and no longer able to go places or do things. This is a strong image.

  14. Thank-you Carole for selecting my haiku. Thank-you also to the Post Manager Lori. Congrats to all the poets.

  15. Thank you so much for the commentary and insight on my poem! I feel truly honored to have been selected and included among so many inspiring poets and their wonderful work. The prompt photo is do evocative. I aldo found these poems to be great haiku:

    .
    second hand shop—
    from somewhere the scent
    of grandpa’s tobacco

    Corine Timmer

    .

    old age
    occupies my grandpa’s chair
    deep winter

    Vishnu Kapoor

    .

    migrating birds
    the chair imprinted
    with his absence

    Anitha Varma

    .

    knitting needles –
    a rhythm of silence
    in the sun room

    arvinder kaur
    Chandigarh, India

    .

    shabby armchair –
    patient listener
    to my haiku

    Tsanka Shishkova

    .

    granny . . .
    a word in the old language
    slips through

    [Haiku in Irish & English]

    Gabriel Rosenstock

    dusty cushion
    the illusions
    I cling to

    Olivier Schopfer, Switzerland

    .

    estate sale
    the box of tatted doilies
    goes for a dollar

    Terri French

    .

    dancing dust motes…
    his indelible imprint
    in the cushion’s sag

    Michele L. Harvey

    .

    1. Thank you! I am feeling happy to be part of your selection.
      Thank you so much and congrats for your sentimental poem!

  16. Another marvellous read, Carole. Well done to all poets.
    .
    farmer’ market
    the insouciance
    of bandy-legged elders
    .
    Ingrid Baluchi
    Love this for its carefree resonance to the shape of the old chair legs and the elders. Both have at one time been in their prime.
    .
    threadbare cushion
    and his worn pants seat
    perfect match
    .
    Peggy Hale Bilbro
    Such an image I’m sure we have all seen and smile at, even with our own favourite chair.
    Seems the sitter has grown into his beloved chair.
    .
    dump day
    the struggle
    to let things go
    .
    Pat Davis
    Some items we have been given, other are treasured items of loved ones, there comes a time when a clear-out is sorely needed. How hard this ‘letting go’ is when clearing the home of a parent or loved one, for one reason or another, a struggle indeed.
    .
    spilling his guts
    to the silent analyst
    exposed brick
    .
    Laurie Greer
    Some people are housebound and see nobody for days, weeks, on times longer, how difficult this must be for a person left on their own, no one to talk in times of need or even for a chat to while away a few hours, except the four corners of a room.
    .
    second hand shop—
    from somewhere the scent
    of grandpa’s tobacco
    .
    Corine Timmer
    I love wandering around these shops, and even though each item has a good cleaning there’s still that undertone of the home it has come from. Tobacco is something that lingers and its aroma brings back such memories.
    .

    1. Thanks, Carol, for picking up on the connection.
      Monday market here in Ohrid, Macedonia, is always a colourful event in my weekly veggie shopping spree, featuring characters from outlying villages, their jovial exchanges belying hidden hardships of their day-to-day existence.
      And thank you, Carole, for another thoughtful selection of poems, along with your illuminating comments to make this experience all the more revealing and enjoyable.

  17. Some of my favorites this week:
    family reunion
    we set the table
    with empty chairs By John Hawkhead
    I like the way this one gives physical space to family members who have passed on, as if to hang on to them as long as possible. I also like the way L3 is a surprise.

    knitting needles
    the rhythm of silence
    in the sun room By arvinder kaur
    A beautiful memory of sounds on a sunny day.

    granny…
    a word in the old language
    slips through By Gabriel Rosenstock
    I’m always happy when I hear reference to one’s native tongue. So many languages are lost or forgotten.

    lumpy cushions
    years of shifting
    my spare change By Rich Schilling
    I picture the surprise of finding old coins. I like how a long term action – “years of shifting” – is brought into the present moment of finding one’s spare change.

  18. AGAIN! Another great, outstanding selection of poetry from around the world….and perfect, sensitive commentary from Carole.
    Will comment further on my fav”s.

    I just have to mention the laugh i had from:

    wanted to fly
    never got off the ground
    chair force pilot

    Charles Harmon
    Los Angeles, California, USA

        1. that it did! ingrid….why do i sense a senryu behind that line…?
          please read the the long story behind the cat/couch ku.above.
          ….

      1. thanks for seeing this and playing with the image….carol….please see above…my long story behind the cat/couch ku

    1. Dear Wendy,

      Thank you for kind words. I guess I write mostly senryu and kyoka, but I try to be funny to keep myself and my students awake. My daughter was recently accepted to the Air Force Academy so I kid her that it should be called the “chair force” or the “hair force” because even the pilots sit much of the time, and ladies in the modern military are allowed to keep their hair, but tucked up under their covers or in a tight bun. She works really hard and will be 18 later this month.

      Love your cat monoku. Reminds me of college days when I rented a furnished apartment in a fourplex from an elderly couple who stored antique furniture in the rooms. Then someone gave me a cat. Madame Curie was sharpening her claws on the upholstery and I was afraid of getting charged if it were to be damaged so I had to give the cat back. I like cats and they like me–always jumping in my lap. But I also discovered I am allergic to them!

      cat and dog people
      opposite personalities
      how do they differ?
      dog lovers have a ruff life
      cat lovers lives are purrfect…

      ~ch, Atlas Poetica volume 32, 2018

      1. wonderful stories you have shared here….thank you for opening up charles…i enjoyed every detail.

        .
        haven’t showed your tanka to my two dogs
        who live in the lap of luxury….lol!!!!

    1. Thanks, Terri, for the “support”.

      And thanks to Carole for selecting it.

      I thought that chair had a lot to say.

      Seren

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