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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Simply a Place to Dwell (2) & Introduction to Foreground Focus

Simply & Introduction to Foreground Focus

Thanks to Guest Editor Craig Kittner for the last few weeks of pure simplicity. Now we welcome back returning Guest Editor Alex Fyffe with a new perspective – enjoy! kj

Introduction to Foreground Focus with Guest Editor Alex Fyffe

Between me and the tiger was a thick pane of glass, and despite that, my heart couldn’t help but beat a little faster. My focus was on the tiger beyond the glass, not the glass itself. Often, we find our attention drawn through one thing and toward another, ignoring the foreground entirely to examine what is on the other side. The idea of this series is to think about the things we normally look through – barriers at the zoo, windows, fences, even the glasses (or contacts!) right in front of our very eyes.

next week’s theme: Blur the Background

Write about an experience in which you have found yourself looking through one thing to focus on another – turn your attention instead to the barrier itself. Maybe you blurred out the bars on a cage to follow the monkey’s movements, or you ignored the barbed wire fence to gaze at the grazing cows. Whatever the situation may be, blur out the background instead and focus intently on the foreground.

The deadline is midnight Central Daylight Time, Saturday June 10, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 Craig’s commentary for simply a place to dwell too:

The actions of haiku – by which I mean all the steps of experiencing, writing, reading, and interpreting a haiku moment – could be considered the antithesis of escapism.

Faced with things as they are, the haikuist looks not to a fantasy world for comfort, but to the present moment for what it has to offer.

At home with simplicity.

the banyan swings

Nitu Yumnam

Hyperbolic stories full of manic energy and violent confrontation are the common fare of our escapist culture.

This haiku offers up a delightful alternative.

What is the answer to a world that seems hell-bent on driving us into conflict and isolation?

Let the children play under the widespread limbs of an ancient tree.

Hear them laugh.

Wake your inner child and join them.

green pushpin
a picture of summer
on a winter wall

John Pappas
United States

Our dwellings just seem incomplete without some form of decoration.

Visual communication predates writing and is currently resurging through the impact of the internet.

This visual depiction made more impactful through the specificity of its first line. Not just any pushpin but this one, green pushpin.

This makes the rest more real.

first cell
a wasp
starts her spring

Charles Harper

When one allows oneself to feel at home in one’s surroundings, one’s eyes are open to what else dwells there.

I feel this as a celebration of renewal through the simple reality of the presence of this insect neighbor.

drystone wall
the inside voice
of the wren


And here a gentle acceptance of the gift of song from an avian neighbor.

We can benefit from a less aggressive attitude toward the creatures that want to live alongside us.

An Issa-like embracing.

the wee family
lives on in her dollhouse
. . . and yet . . .

Maxianne Berger
Outremont, Quebec

Speaking of Issa.

Perfect word selection to invoke him.

The reminders that can truly break your heart are the once beloved belongings of one who is gone.

This world of dew.

quaint hotel
checking in
on the bugs

Marianne Sahlin

The haiku spirit is blessed with humor.

Sometimes ribald or irreverent but often, as here, gentle and wry.

I literally chuckled when I read this and that is a great gift.

Thank you, Marianne.

old oak
a boy puts hazelnuts
in the hollow

Tsanka Shishkova

How many dwellings have you made in your mind?

Children do this with such abandon. What a joy!

I still do it. Do you?

Just gaze up into a tree and put your presence there.

split wood—
hauling winter
into the house

Barrie Levine
Massachusetts USA

This one impacted all my senses at once, it seemed.

I could feel the cold, smell the woodsmoke, see the house, and hear the fire spitting in the hearth.

So much richness from simply knowing the house has a fireplace. So well presented.

this new old house
sauerkraut fermenting
in the basement

Allyson Whipple
St. Louis, Missouri


The most powerful trigger of memory.

Years of presence in one place leave traces that linger.

Arriving in a new place we try to make it our own while appreciating its unique charms.

Yes, fermenting cabbage is the perfect subject for this form of nostalgia.

Thank you all for an intriguing 8 weeks of simplicity. Take care and be well.


Join us next week for Alex’s selection of poems on the theme of Blur the Background…


Guest Editor Craig Kittner claims a round-earther identity as an alternative to the ones the world would impose. While their feet feel the earth, their ragpicker mind works the trash heap that’s their brain, pulling out words. Origami Poems Project, Shot Glass Journal, bottle rockets, and Acorn have recently hosted his work.

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 10 Comments

  1. Truly delighted to be featured. My immense gratitude to Craig Kittner for commenting and including my poem, and thank you to KJ and THF team for their efforts and time. Congratulations to other poets!

  2. Thank you Craig for your fascinating month of prompts. I really enjoyed reading your selections and your commentary. Have a great summer!

  3. It was a pure pleasure working with you all.

    I appreciate all the participation from our community.

    1. Thank-you Craig for all your efforts on the column. Thank-you also to Kathy, Lori, and the Haiku Foundation. Welcome Alex.

  4. Thank you, Craig, for selecting my haiku for commentary! And thank you for this edifying and thought-provoking examination of simplicity – I have thoroughly enjoyed it!

  5. Thank-you Craig: It was a delight to read the poems and to read your insightful commentary– a wonderful learning experience!

  6. “Simply”
    your choices, your comments.
    Thank you, dear Craig, I enjoyed reading them all.
    Mimi Ahern

  7. thanks, Craig, for these comments, of the poems of others as well as mine. I’ve found your themes interesting and challenging … and especially appreciate your emphasis on simplicity and on juxtaposition .. happy sunshine ☺ Maxianne

  8. I am surprised to be the first to comment here! Thanks Craig for all your work on this feature! cheers, kj

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