Under the March Moon with Guest Editor Carole MacRury
March (Martius) was named for Mars, the god of war, because this was the month when active military campaigns resumed after being interrupted by winter which was referred to as a ‘dead’ season. In fact, March was the first month of the year on the early Roman Calendar until around 450 BCE when January and February moved to the front putting March in third position where it remains in today’s Gregorian Calendar. Imagine how much easier it would be to make ‘resolutions’ in March with its visible signs of new beginnings and renewal, than in cold January. March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb. This reflects the transition from winter to spring and the changeable weather conditions particular to this month in the Northern Hemisphere. We’ll use three moon phases – Full Worm Moon, New Moon and Half Moon – to inspire our haiku. As we all write under our shared moon, feel free to use or not use the name of the moon phase in your haiku.
next week’s theme: New Moon
IMAGE CREDIT: Burst, Nick Chung
A new lunar phase begins with the New Moon which falls on March 21st, the day after the Spring Equinox on March 20th. Although the light of the moon is hidden from us, this is the time to see the stars. Out of darkness comes the light! You will have far better views of fainter objects too, such as galaxies, nebulae and star clusters when using a telescope during the New Moon period. The energy most associated with this phase of the moon is that of starting afresh, seeking balance and new beginnings. It’s a time of introspection. We are well out of hibernation now and anticipating warmer days. Let the stars, the equinox, and the quiet contemplation of a moonless night inspire your haiku.
The deadline is midnight Pacific Daylight Time, Saturday March 18, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 Carole’s commentary for the Full Worm Moon too:
My grateful thanks to all 14 poets for giving me the opportunity to read, enjoy and express why and how your poems worked for me. I tend to rely on my intuitive response first when selecting a poem and only then do I ask myself what was it about a poem that drew me to it. I learn something each time I delve deeply into a poem. I began to appreciate the crafting and word choices that made each one resonate on more than one level. I take full responsibility for my interpretations, and realize I may miss something, or see something in a poem that the poet didn’t intend. That’s the way it works when we turn our poems out into the world. I hope that others add to my comments with interpretations and/or praise of their own.
moonbow the rising arc of new maybes
A moonbow, also known as a lunar rainbow, is a rare optical phenomenon. Observing one would be a truly amazing experience. The phrase, ‘the rising arc’, led to a clear picture in my mind, which I confirmed through checking out images online. What drew me to this haiku was the jolt, surprise, and uncertainty of ‘new maybes’, an adverb turned plural noun at the end of the line. It suggests that life offers possibilities, not promises. Perhaps, instead of yes or no. That nothing is black and white, that there is a gray area where hopes, dreams and maybes reside. Notice how ‘the rising arc’ acts as a pivot to both the lunar rainbow rising, and the rising hope of ‘new maybes’. An exploration of what rainbows symbolize culturally could add even more layers to this lovely haiku.
my mother’s laugh
Daytona Beach FL USA
This was the first haiku to arrive in my inbox, and it remained on my list throughout the selection process. It combines an image of the moon and the sound of a mother’s laughter. The rhythm and music of the phrase rolls off the tongue with the alliteration of ‘sugar/sweet’ and ‘moon/mother’. Haiku need not be complex to be appreciated. Nor do they always require deep analysis. Sometimes they simply speak to the heart more than the intellect. Sure, there could be a backstory to this moment. Are they moon watching together or has the sugar moon brought back a memory? It doesn’t matter. I came away with the simple appreciation of a haiku that showed familial love, which brought a smile and a sense of joy much needed these days.
an inchworm’s journey
around the moon
I was attracted to this haiku because of my own inchworm and moon experiences. What do you see when you read this one? I saw something I have photographed many times – a full moon peeking through the branches of a tree. Also, inchworms emerge from the bark of trees in spring, and it was easy for me to imagine its little body inching around those branches curving around the moon. The image expands even further when we are invited to speculate on more than the inchworm’s journey, and include that of our own journey around the sun and the moon’s journey around us as well. Much would be lost if the poet hadn’t chosen ‘journey’, a word with great resonance. And what other creature, but an inchworm, when we think of our own life journey which we often recall as painfully slow in youth, but increasingly fast as we age. Normally I am turned off by words such as ‘reverie’, but in this haiku I found it a necessary part of my response to the poem. This simple word invited me to pause and enter the state of mind of the poet, allowing me to appreciate and focus upon the extraordinary image of the inchworm and to reflect upon my own journey throughout life.
I wriggle my way free
from winter blankets
This was one of my favorite responses to the worm moon. First, the haiku holds together well with the alliteration of ‘worm/wriggle/way/winter’. I also learned something, because I kept wanting to say ‘wiggle’, but ‘wriggle’ more closely resembles the movement of freeing oneself from blankets. More twists and turns. Along with the pleasure of reading this haiku aloud, I found myself relating to the desire to cast off the weight of winter and welcome the birth of spring. There is a sense of hibernation when we think of winter blankets – a den, a cave, our beds, our homes, our state of mind. Each word in this haiku resonates in a way that takes this haiku from an action to a moment that asks us to reflect on how the seasons affect us as we transition from one season to another.
a few snowflakes
in my tea
A reminder that casting off winter isn’t always so easy. Seasons come in their own time and March, especially, can be full of surprises when it comes to weather. Again, ‘sugar/snowflakes’ work magic together when it comes to a warm beverage meant to comfort us on an evening of moon watching. I can easily envision the poet standing on a balcony, or a patio, moon watching with a cup of warm tea held in their palms. I appreciated the bittersweetness of this haiku. Sugar moon brings in the sweetness of the tea, yet snowflakes remind us that March can be fickle and that it could snow again. If one chooses, as I often do, I enjoy the subtle metaphor in this entire haiku.
my old selves away
I was delighted to see a haiku celebrating International Women’s Day which takes place March 8th. I did ask for poems reflecting your lives within the first few weeks of spring, so appreciated this poet for reflecting on an observance meant to celebrate women’s achievements and recognize the need for continued efforts towards gender equality. In Italy it is referred to as Festa della Donna. Zephyr was the Greek god of the west wind, supposed to be the gentlest of the winds and the messenger of spring. Indeed, there is a sense of renewal in this lovely poem when we think of starting anew, clearing the air, or blowing one’s ‘old selves away’. A rebirth of self perhaps, of new purpose, new beginnings, new resolve, all emotions that spring inspires in all of us with its blossoming. I also appreciate the assonance of ‘blows/old/women’, and don’t mind at all the rhyme of ‘away/day’. Like the zephyr wind that is common in March, this is a gentle poem that speaks to self within the framework of an event that embraces and commemorates all women.
the call of dark matter crow moon
Peggy Hale Bilbro
According to Native American tribes, the Crow Moon, the first full moon in March, signifies the end of winter through the cawing of crows. I appreciated this unique phrase, ‘the call of dark matter’ as it might relate to the meaning of Crow Moon and the dark bodies of the birds themselves as they call out or even to the dark spaces in the sky. I could stop there and simply appreciate this monoku as it is. However, ‘dark matter’ resonates in quite another way when we think of the universe. It speaks of mystery in that little is understood of dark matter, only that it exists. It can’t be seen, only measured by gravitational force. So this haiku has me questioning the nature of the universe, its origins, formation, and above all the sense of mystery I always feel when looking up at the night sky. To me, ‘the call of dark matter’ represents not only the cawing of a crow but the call of the universe to our questioning minds.
a pail of moon
This is a beautifully understated poem that uses figurative language to empower the simple act of fetching a pail of water. We know the moon won’t come home in that pail of water. However, we understand that the poet is dipping a bucket into the moon’s reflection. The ‘placid lake’ suggests a calm, peaceful body of water with barely a ripple on it. But it can also describe a placid nature as it relates to human or animal, or perhaps even the poet! The word ‘fetch’ suggests this to me because fetch means the water is being gathered for someone else at their request. How even-tempered is that? A poem that invites calm through a beautiful image and a reflection on the very nature of the person fetching the water. And upon further reflection, maybe you can fetch a pail of moon along with the water. In the mind’s eye one can. Here’s the poem to prove it.
leaving the sparrow bones
behind on the ground
Stephen A. Peters
I like the opening line, ‘winter thaw’. It speaks to so much more than just melting snow or ice, it speaks to our own sense of thawing out, softening, warming up both emotionally and physically after a long winter. Snowmelt, we know, often reveals things, and in this poem it seems to be the bones of a bird that did not make it through winter. Whether it died of cold, or was eaten, we don’t know. What I appreciated about this one is the sense of acceptance of this small death, whatever the reason, by leaving the bones to add their minerals to the earth where they might be used by foraging insects. I once saw a small hawk with a tiny songbird in its beak. Snow was on the ground and the hawk was hungry. Birds of prey eat other birds, it’s that simple. Winter can be hard on all of us. On a metaphoric level I feel the fleetingness of life for all living beings who didn’t make it through the winter, yet with the word ‘thaw’, there is hope.
an early mayfly
lands on the moon
Washington, DC USA
I was partial to this haiku because of my own experiences with mayflies. I’ve stood in a river with waders on while the hatch swarmed around me. Fish were biting, swallows were snapping them out of the air. I’ve also had one mayfly end its short life on my finger. Hopefully after finding a mate. And I’ve taken a macro photo of a single mayfly on a lilac bush. They are beautiful little creatures with so little time to live and with so many obstacles lying in wait for them – fish, frogs, birds and more. They are vital to our ecosystem. Its light landing on the moon suggests it’s completed its mission and fallen back to the water. It’s a beautiful image I could relate to and really doesn’t require any explanation. It reminds me of how fleeting life is not only for the mayfly but for all of us.
the furrows in
the farmer’s brow
The double meaning of ‘furrows’ works well in this haiku. It’s spring and time to plough the fields so that crops can be planted. I’m left to wonder what caused the furrows in the farmer’s brow. Are those deep lines caused by worry, or perhaps simply hard work outside, or perhaps age has played a part in the creation of those furrows. It could be any or all those things, but I tend to see a farmer deep in thought on the night of the plough moon, worrying, speculating, hoping, perhaps that this will be a good year for the crops. As always, I appreciate the alliteration of ‘furrows/farmer’s’ and the way the middle line suggests furrows in a field as well as in the farmer’s brow.
March rushing in
the roar of
the wall calendar
Great energy in this haiku! I like the play on “March comes in like a lion” with a roar, only it’s the wall calendar that’s roaring. Unique and surprising use of ‘roar’ which is why I chose this one. I get the sense it’s been a long winter, and suddenly with the onset of spring that wall calendar is filling up quickly with things to do. Or maybe it’s empty and roaring to be filled! I don’t know, but I found myself coming right to attention when I read this one. The alliteration of ‘rushing/roar’ just swept me right along. I felt a sense of spring fever and a call to action.
the gentle hold of a strand
of half-melted moonlight
Iris are one of my favorite flowers, but ‘netted iris’ is new to me. It was interesting to find out they are dwarf iris, not the tall iris I’m familiar with. Fibrous strands surround the bulb giving a netted appearance, thus the name. I enjoyed pondering the image in the last two lines and especially appreciated how ‘the gentle hold’ alluded back to the word ‘netted’. The phrase is so beautifully descriptive, yet what exactly are we looking at? One of the first things that came to my mind was spider silk in the moonlight with ‘half-melted’ suggesting perhaps the dew that has formed on the web as well. Or, perhaps it’s just as it suggests, a thin beam of moonlight is lighting up the dew-laden iris! Either way, I enjoyed the figurative language and the speculation this beautiful image provided.
into my change of life
Orewa, New Zealand
This was one of my favorites of the ‘sap moon’ poems. Sap moon is a connotative word. It speaks to the time of tapping the maple trees for sap to make maple syrup. But sap also means one can be sapped of energy. This haiku suggests to me that at the same time fluids are being released from the vascular system of maple trees, so too at the change of life, fluids are ceasing with the onset of menopause. And perhaps with the change of life, one’s energy is being sapped a bit too. I appreciated the resonance between the fragment and the phrase.
Join us next week for Carole’s selection of poems on the theme of the New Moon…
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. Her practice of contemplative photography along with an appreciation of haiku aesthetics helps deepen her awareness of the world around her. Both image and written word open her to the interconnectedness of all things, to surprise, mystery and a sense of wonder. 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).
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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