Under the March Moon & Introduction to Simply
Thanks to Guest Editor Carole MacRury for this lunar adventure. Now we will examine simplicity with returning Guest Editor Craig Kittner – enjoy! kj
Introduction to Simply with Guest Editor Craig Kittner
Simplicity is one gateway to a balanced mind.
The world sorely needs balanced minds to mitigate all this conflict.
Haiku is uniquely suited for the cultivation and dissemination of simplicity.
In this round of Haiku Dialogue I’m seeking works that invoke the simple perfection of a moment in time.
The successful haiku will be formed out of love for what is not everlasting, but impermanent.
next week’s theme: Simply Precipitation
Choose a form of precipitation and portray it simply. Present any juxtaposing element, be it physical or mental, with the same level of simplicity.
The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday April 15, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 half moon too:
It’s never easy to choose which poems to comment on from the wonderful selection of poems I receive each prompt. I won’t complain. It’s been an honor to spend so much time with your poems. Deep thanks to everyone for your participation.
In my selections I am open to diversity in style, tone and topic and as always keep an eye open for the haiku aesthetics that matter most to me. One such is figurative language, which suggests the first word into our heads isn’t necessarily the best word. Words are magic and can connote different layers, or not. I appreciate subtlety because that’s where I find the most space for me to bring my own experiences to a poem. I appreciate strong imagery that evokes the senses. Most of all I appreciate the connection to another human through shared experiences. I look for rhythm and test it out by reading your haiku aloud – a trick I learned for my own haiku long ago. I’ve learned that brevity is a choice, and where six words work well for one haiku, another may demand more. Along with monoku and three-line poems, you’ll find a two-line poem. You’ll find a bit of everything here.
Regarding pronouns, many of my choices don’t have any, and some do, and they are used to good effect. I’ve noticed an upswing in the use of pronouns in haiku and feel that the use of you or your, in particular, can distance me from a poem because they seem to be addressed directly to a specific someone. Of course, there are always exceptions – I know this. But I find pronouns creeping into haiku in such a way that they are more reminiscent of the tanka form to me. I speak for myself – feel free to disagree.
All the poems I’ve chosen don’t need my commentary at all. It’s an indulgence I enjoy as it reminds me of what I appreciate most about a haiku, and that is connection. I am reminded of the movie Avatar, and the Na’vi phrase “I see you”. The best of haiku always makes me feel as if I am looking through the eyes, senses and heart of the poet. My grateful thanks to kjmunro and Lori Zajkowski for their guidance and a big welcome to our next editor Craig Kittner.
weaving between sun and half-moon first swallow
Sometimes a strong evocative image and a reminder of the season is enough. We all have our “firsts” when we look for signs of spring, especially if one has endured a long winter. Whether it be first bud or first bird there is a sense of excitement that spring has truly arrived. Seeing the ‘first swallow’ means the flock is not far behind as they fly home to their nesting grounds. I saw my first hummingbird a day ago. There is comfort and constancy in witnessing the return of spring in all its many forms. The image is enhanced by the verb ‘weaving’ as if the swallow were stitching the sky between sun and day moon.
half moon –
a worm crawls into
I love the sense of connection I feel with this poem. For some reason it brought to mind Basho’s moment of stillness with his cicada’s cry that “sinks into rocks”. While we often love to step outside into the dark to moon gaze, how often do we look down at our feet to notice a little worm? The silence of the night is enhanced by the fact this little nocturnal creature has emerged from its earthy home to share in the silence of a half-moon night. Unlike Basho’s poem, there is no sound at all. The worm becomes part of the stillness, just as the poet does. I also feel a sense of grounding, as we so often lose ourselves in the sky. The little nightcrawler brings us right down to earth, letting us know we are not alone.
an owl wooing the moon’s shadow
a field mouse flees
Old Bar, Australia
We all know owls hunt at night, but I was drawn in by the word ‘wooing’. I could immediately see wings flying between the moon’s shadow and its light, perhaps flirting with the moon, but with eyes on the ground scanning for food. Another poem that takes our eyes to the sky and then drops them right down to earth with ‘a field mouse flees’. I used to go out to a special field in my neighborhood in hopes of witnessing the hunt, but instead I always found a still and silent field. Nothing seemed to move. Not a rustle. But then again, I’m not an owl and certainly don’t have an owl’s eyesight or an owl’s viewpoint from the sky. Kudos to a most vivid and connotative phrase, ‘an owl wooing the moon’s shadow’.
half moon pose . . .
finding middle ground
late in life
This is a half-moon poem that takes us in another direction entirely – a yoga pose. Having only tried yoga a very few times myself, I researched this pose to get a visual and in doing so learned of the benefits not only of this pose, but of yoga in general. The last two lines suggested both the physical half-moon pose but also suggested the demarcation between the light and dark sides of the moon. The yin-yang symbol of finding harmony and balance in opposing but complementary forces comes to mind. This haiku offers a sense of balance, in the position of the pose, the two sides of the half moon and one’s life too. The reader can interpret ‘middle ground’ in many ways – that of coming to agreement, to compromise or adopting a more give-and-take attitude toward life. I can only speak for myself, but at my age the strong stances of my youth have faded for the sake of a more peaceful life. I enjoyed this original take on the prompt.
half moon night the chiaroscuro of my dreams
Princeton, NJ, USA
The use of strong contrasts between light and dark, called ‘chiaroscuro’, is found in many mediums – painting, photography, cinema, and why not dreams? An old and lovely word to pair with an old half moon, with its extreme contrasts of light and dark. How often do we wake up and try to remember our dreams, hoping the morning might shed some light and give meaning to the more obscure parts of our dreams. Or it could be strong contrasts between our daydreams too. These are awake dreams that hold our hopes and wishes. The half moon with its sharp contrasts is a perfect juxtaposition for this monoku.
dark of the moon —
I open the new
Victoria BC Canada
I enjoyed the freshness and originality of the first line. The ‘dark of the moon’ suggests there must certainly be a bright side too. One doesn’t exist without the other. And there is a brighter side, not just of the moon, but of the colorful images we find in a seed catalogue. I enjoyed the sense of a ‘new’ catalogue when thinking of our old moon. And with the word ‘new’ comes all the hopes and anticipation of spring.
yin-yang moon our bare feet in the sand
Of the few yin-yang poems I received, this one caught my eye immediately. The poet takes us first to the half moon with its ‘yin-yang’ appearance of darkness and light, then brings us back to earth with our ‘feet in the sand’. An ancient symbol of harmony and balance, yin-yang is a circle showing two parts, each part accepted as necessary to the whole. Similarly, the half moon is seen as two parts, knowing it is in fact one round ball. I like to think that the earthbound ‘our’ in this poem is also in harmony and balance, recognizing that light and dark can’t exist without the other. An understanding of yin-yang offers deeper connotations and meaning than I can express in this short commentary, but this poem connects me to the universe.
the shy man’s
I absolutely love the space left in this poem between the fragment and the phrase. It invites the reader to come to their own conclusions about how that joke might have been received. One can feel the agony and uncertainty of the shy person as they begin to tell their joke. How do you think it went? The half moon suggests it could have gone either way! A flop or a success? Was he dashed into darkness or was he propelled into the light of success? I like not knowing. Today, I’m going to think he succeeded. Tomorrow, depending on my mood, I might feel the joke fell flat. All of us can see ourselves in this brave but shy man. A lovely take on the prompt.
where the aspen stream flows
through the teeth of the beaver
Who could forget this amazing, magnified moment of a stream flowing through the teeth of a beaver. Thanks to nature shows, I have been able to watch beavers build dams, and I have this vision of the beaver with a mouth full of aspen, swimming to its den, its toothy mouth creating a wake of water behind it. Like the half moon, I can also see the half mound of a beaver dam rising from the stream, knowing its other half is submerged below the water. Knowing, too, that the beaver must swim against the water in its tunnel to reach the dry part of its home. A lovely juxtaposition and a unique response to the prompt.
half moon burning my work again
Thames Ditton UK
This is a good example of showing or suggesting an emotion without spelling it out. There is much to contemplate in these six words, especially as it relates to the juxtaposition of a half moon and the act of burning one’s work. When I first read it, I could identify with my own night writings, some of which end up in the wastepaper basket. But the poet is burning his own work ‘again’, which suggests this happens from time to time. When I think of this happening under the half moon, I can’t help but feel a sense of incompleteness, of work not quite meeting one’s expectations, much as the moon is showing only half of itself. It feels a bit dark, but on the positive side, just as the moon itself waxes and wanes on its way to wholeness, so does our work, or most things in life.
under the half moon
a scatter of peanut shells
on my writing desk
We like to think a haiku is a moment in time, as this haiku offers with its image of a writing desk and empty peanut shells under a half-moon night. It’s only when I read into the image that I feel the passing of time. It’s not an ordinary desk, it’s a ‘writing desk’. How long did one sit at this desk writing, eating peanuts, leaving empty shells behind? This is enough for me, right there. Except I look for relationships. What might the empty shells signify or connote? Kernels of inspiration, or a feeling of emptiness? What does it have to do with the half moon? I like to think that the writer’s life is like the half moon moving towards wholeness, and empty shells are as much a part of one’s writing life as are the peanuts eaten while waiting for inspiration. That’s just my interpretation. I appreciate the fact that it could be interpreted in different ways, depending on the mood and experiences of the reader. The image of empty shells runs deep into the psyche on a half-moon night.
the rise and fall
of our old dog’s belly
Kerry J Heckman
Dog lover that I am, this was a familiar sight to me, but never have I seen it expressed so well. What’s not said is as important as what’s shown. Of course, we know the dog is breathing because the poet shows us through the ‘rise and fall’ of the belly. I can almost hear a little snuffle and snore too. Not only does the poet subtly suggest the dog’s belly looks like a rounded half moon, but also, in dog years, like the half moon, this dog’s life is probably more than half over. As this moon waxes, the dog’s life is waning. The phrase ‘our old dog’ reflects a sense of affection in being part of the family. This is a sweet moment of enjoying the now, knowing how brief a dog’s life is.
baring its scars
to curious bystanders
I find the phrase ‘kintsugi moon’ so evocative when it comes to all the various ways that we view the moon. I am reminded also, with ‘curious bystanders’, of how we give names to the markings on the moon, depending upon our various cultural myths. The rabbit, the man in the moon, the moon maiden, the frog, and more. There is actually a name for this phenomenon. It’s called pareidolia – an attempt to create meaning out of the shapes we see on the moon when there is none. The moon is what it is. It’s rocky and dusty, with extreme temperature ranges. We know the scars we see on the moon are craters created by moonquakes, meteors, and comets. We’ve even named the largest ones, such as the Sea of Tranquility. But as Issa might say, “and yet, and yet…”. We are drawn to its silvery or orange brightness – times when the markings are more visible. The main philosophy behind the Japanese art of kintsugi is that of treating breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. The phrase ‘kintsugi moon’ metaphorically beautifies and honors the moon’s past. It’s a name I won’t soon forget.
the lost bonds
The stars play such a role in our lives. We search them not only for constellations, but for answers to the meaning of life. We search for our loved ones among the stars on lonely nights. We find comfort in our common heritage, in recognizing we have stardust in our DNA, in our bones. We wish upon stars. The opening line ‘twinkling stars’ invites us into this haiku just as we are drawn to the stars on a dark night. When star gazing, we can trace constellations or ponder lost connections as we think of those we’ve lost. I have to say when I first read this lovely haiku, the word ‘tracing’ brought up an image of “connect the dots”, a game that at first glance looks like stars scattered on a page. There is a deep feeling of connection between the poet and the stars, one we can feel ourselves when we ponder the mysteries of the universe and the DNA we carry that makes us part of it. The phrase ‘the lost bonds’ can be read on many levels – the loss of loved ones, or our connection to the stars through the stardust we carry within ourselves.
Join us next week for Craig’s selection of poems on the theme of simply precipitation…
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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