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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Under the March Moon – New Moon (2)

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: Half Moon

The First Quarter phase, otherwise known as the Half Moon, falls on March 29th. In this phase, exactly half of the moon is illuminated, and half is in darkness. This is a period of growth as the half moon moves towards its full moon phase. Lore has it that this is a period of increased hunger and thirst and that it’s a perfect time for learning new skills and connecting with the universe and the world around us. Dreams tend to be more realistic, and we feel emotionally balanced.

My photo was taken at moonrise, a time when the moon is close to the horizon and appears orange for a period of time. The half moon is a perfect time to notice details along the edge separating light from shadow. The dark dry plains of ancient lava on the upper left, known as the Sea of Serenity, Sea of Tranquility and Sea of Nectar become visible. It’s a time when the moon shows its pockmarks to the naked eye with its many small craters and long ridges. I find this an inspiring moon phase and I hope you do too. Let the details on the bright side of the moon and the mystery of the dark side of the moon inspire your haiku as it may relate to your life.

The deadline is midnight Pacific Daylight Time, Saturday April 01, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 New Moon too:

IMAGE CREDIT: Burst, Nick Chung

There were so many fine haiku this month that it was nearly impossible for me to select 14 poems for commentary. Between the long list and this shorter list, I was astounded by the sheer number of excellent poems. You’ll find another tea poem among my selections. Both haiku are quite different and deserve their own space and notice. A cup of tea and moon viewing seem to go hand in hand much like reflections in a puddle. I think you will be pleased with the variety of haiku topics covered in this selection, from the sensory to the sublime, from the psychological to the political and in the end all well-crafted. While each haiku opened itself up to me intuitively, further research broadened the range of my interpretations. I learned something new from a few of these poems, and I hope you do too. Please do share any interpretation or comment of your own, as some of these haiku offer exquisite layers that I might have missed. Please keep trying if you didn’t make this list and I hope the examples from both lists I’ve chosen might help you in your haiku journey. Deep thanks to everyone for your participation and special thanks to kj and Lori for their behind-the-scenes assistance in posting and proofing.

evening tea
a sprinkle
of stars

Marianne Sahlin
Sweden

This deceptively simple haiku is rich in atmosphere beginning with the end-of-day cup of tea to the sprinkle of stars beyond the earth’s atmosphere. The first line offers taste, warmth, and a sense of comfort. The two-line phrase nicely balances this peaceful mood with its sprinkle of stars. Nothing is too much, or too little, but seems just right. Perhaps the perfect ending to a long day. Along with the pleasing sibilance and alliteration of ‘sprinkle/stars’, there is the connotation of the word sprinkle used as a noun. As we bring our own experiences to our reading of haiku, I also felt the sweetness of the word ‘sprinkle’ as it relates to sugar, but then I’d pass on the sugar to have a cup of tea that reflects a sprinkle of stars as this haiku so delicately offers.

new moon
another galaxy
in the marble game

marilyn ashbaugh
edwardsburg, michigan

The word ‘marble’ caught my eye right away with this haiku and I was delighted to see the prompt taken straight out into the universe. We have an infinite number of galaxies, and I enjoyed the subtle repetition and idea of another new galaxy next to the new moon phase of earth’s moon. Of course, the connotations of ‘marble game’ intrigued me too. When I see images and illustrations of planets, they do resemble colorful marbles. I recalled my own bag of marbles and the games we played as kids. Nothing like the solar system marbles we can buy today and the more advanced galaxy board games. I’m not a gamer but wouldn’t be surprised if galaxy marble games exist as well. But over and beyond all that there exists for me a subtle metaphor. Certainly, we too are a part of the ‘marble game’ as we take for granted our own tiny blue planet within a rapidly expanding universe and its continuous formation of new galaxies.

star gazing . . .
I learn the word
septillion

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand

The words we choose can make such a difference to the success of a haiku. The word ‘septillion’ immediately brought back a memory of the way we often used the made-up word ‘zillion’ to express an undetermined vast number. As in, “there must be a zillion mosquitoes out tonight”. Yet here we have a word with an actual mathematical value. My mind can barely grasp trillion, yet septillion is 4 steps beyond, and it continues even further. And this interesting numerical word works because of the carefully chosen ‘star gazing’ instead of just showing a starlit night starry sky. The phrase ‘star gazing’ invites a sense of wonder, a sense of contemplation and focus.

spring quickening
I spill my secrets
to the new moon

Margie Gustafson
Lombard, IL USA

There is more than one level to explore with this beautiful spring haiku. The phrase ‘spring quickening’ suggests the flutter of our hearts at the first signs of spring, but it also suggests the first flutter of life in the uterus. There is a wonderful sense of excitement bubbling up in the presence of the new moon that makes me understand the need to ‘spill my secrets’. It could be any number of secrets depending on the reader’s interpretation, but for me the emphasis suggests new life and procreation on all levels from human to fawns to mayflies. I feel a real sense of spring fever. The sounds and rhythm of this haiku are excellent with the ‘s’ alliteration and assonance of ‘new moon’.

new moon
old feelings-
moth porch party

Ruth Happel
United States

I enjoyed the play on ‘new/old’. We know the moon is old too, but at this moment there is a play on what we label the ‘new moon’ and ‘old feelings’. I like the fact ‘old feelings’ are left for the reader to interpret. I smiled at ‘moth porch party’ having seen this many times myself. However, there are two ways to see this party – are the moths enjoying their nocturnal feeding on a moonless night or have they been drawn to a deadly party around a porch light? I prefer the space the poet has left for the reader to determine what the last line suggests. Moths are nocturnal creatures who fly easily in the dark of a moonless night. Too much light interrupts their navigational abilities and ultimately results in them being burned. Moth to the flame, so to speak, perhaps similar to the way ‘old feelings’ might surface on a moonless night. The choice of ‘party’ also suggests the inevitable, that of ‘old feelings’ surfacing just as surely as moths will be drawn to something that will burn them. There is just so much sound and emotion in this lovely haiku.

new moon
the familiar meow
of a stray

Neha Talreja
India

Another lovely contrast of ‘new’ to ‘familiar’. There is a feeling of intimacy when we think of a ‘meow’ coming through the darkness of a moonless night. The phrase ‘familiar meow’ suggests the cat is a frequent visitor on its nocturnal wanderings. Perhaps the moonless night is better for hunting, or perhaps the familiar cat is being given food by a caring person. The word ‘stray’ offers a feeling of empathy as we imagine a cat having to fend for itself. I feel a sense of connection between the listener and animal. A lovely haiku with sound and emotion.

moonless night
freshly turned earth
through the screen

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois

A perfect spring moment in my opinion, rich with the scent of ‘freshly turned earth’ with its suggestion of plantings to come. Senses heighten in the dark, so I can imagine this earthy scent flowing ‘through the screen’, perhaps on a light breeze. The open screened window or door suggests the poet too is welcoming this earthy smell and all its possibilities into their space. For me a sensory moment like this is everything a haiku does at its best. It invites the reader into the experience that feels both familiar and new at the same time and fills us with a sense of expectation.

the first hedgehog unfolding a blanket of stars

simonj
UK

I’m not familiar with hedgehogs where I live, but I can easily imagine creatures familiar to my area that also emerge from hibernation in early spring. However, nothing unfolds like the hedgehog that sleeps wrapped up into a tight ball. I enjoy the vision of this bristly ball emerging from hibernation and unfolding itself for its nocturnal forays. The phrase ‘unfolding a blanket of stars’ is a beautiful figurative phrase that works so well when we think of this little creature’s emergence on a starry night. Star by star, bristle by bristle, this hedgehog unfolds itself for the first time after a long sleep. A wonderful monoku with a sense of expectancy with this ‘first’ sighting, and an amazing visual image. Note how ‘blanket’ works in a figurative way for both hedgehog and night sky as they both unfold and reveal themselves.

new moon night
owl steals
my dream

Christopher Seep
Ballwin, MO

I like the rhythm of ‘new moon night’. Some might say night isn’t necessary, but it works well here with its emphasis on darkness. This emphasis pervades the dream state too and reminds us of how owls hunt at night using their incredible night vision. While not stated in the haiku, the sound of the owl comes through with my reading. Upon waking up, the lingering call of an owl is all that is remembered of what might have been a good dream. We all know how easily we can forget our dreams. Love the notion of the very real owl flying away metaphorically with the poet’s dream.

invisible phase
me too, moon,
me too

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

I enjoyed mining the depths of this simple haiku. The choice of ‘invisible phase’ for the new moon echoes the sense of invisibility we all feel at times. On the surface, it could be just that, an empathy with the moon’s moon as we reflect on our own sense of feeling invisible. Perhaps not being heard, not being seen, or, what we know as the invisibility of the aged. The ‘me too’ reference of course brings up the #MeToo movement with its focus on sexual violence. I appreciate that this reader feels free to contemplate the different ways we all feel invisible with the hopes that the future, like the moon’s phases, will bring light on our sense of invisibility. The repetition of ‘me too, me too’ draws out a sense of empathy and connection not only to the moon, but to the one feeling invisible.

moon-faced
the barn owl
sweeps past the stars

Ann Rawson
UK

This haiku offers a moment in time that is sudden and fleeting. And such a vision with ‘moon-faced’ barn owl. I can almost imagine the sound of the wings as it swoops out of a barn and into the night sky. The fleetingness of this haiku is what caught my eye, not to mention the visual image. I usually associate my owl experiences with owls hooting in the night, but this image ‘sweeps’ out of the darkness of a new moon and disappears into a starlit sky, taking me, the reader, right along with it.

new moon
in a new season
old snow piles

Susan Farner
USA

The repetition of ‘new’ with ‘old’ works well and offers a moment of truth many of us can relate to. Despite our longing for spring, remnants of winter remain. Dates on a calendar, especially these days, are no indication of weather conditions. March offers surprises when it comes to weather – snowmelt, spring snow, anything can happen. On a metaphorical level, I enjoyed the idea of a new beginning against the reality of ‘old snow piles’, reminding us that whatever transitions we are experiencing, seasonal or otherwise, a bit of the past comes with us into the new season.

syzygy
a falling tide
reveals the stars

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove, CA

As I live on the ocean, this haiku drew me in with the first word ‘syzygy’ – indicating the effects the gravitational force of the moon and the sun have on earth’s oceans. During a new moon there is a straight-line configuration (syzygy) of the sun, moon and earth, which can result in extreme highs and lows, called King tides or Neap tides, both of which affect my life by the shore. The phrase ‘a falling tide reveals the stars’ is a literal truth where I live. Our starfish numbers are lower than they have ever been due to a virus. They can be seen at low tide clinging to rocks, stranded on sand, idling in tide pools, all waiting for an incoming tide. On another level, the coast is a wonderful place to view the stars with its open sky and uninterrupted view to the horizon, especially during a moonless night. Of course, last but not least, is the phenomenon of a bioluminescent beach best seen around the new moon, when there is no moonlight and you get a better view of the brilliant blue glow dancing in the waves like stars. There is much for the reader to unpack in this delightful 7-word haiku.

apogee moon the situations that never change

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

The ‘apogee’ is the point when the moon is farthest from Earth during a particular orbit. Whether perigee (closest to earth) or apogee (farthest from earth) this phase happens every 27 days, or once a month. I can feel a psychological resonance between the changing phases of the moon and the unchanging situations one might be experiencing. Also, the suggested distance of an ‘apogee moon’ makes it seem as if situational change was desired, but felt unreachable. This is where interpretations could differ depending on one’s own experiences. One could also look at the distant moon and find comfort in the fact some situations never change. But as I believe more in change than fixed situations, I tend to enjoy the slightly darker connotations. Especially having read the moon is moving away from us by about an inch per year.

 

Join us next week for Carole’s selection of poems on the theme of the Half 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.

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 25 Comments

  1. Carole,

    Thank you for another thought-provoking prompt!

    Thank you for selecting and commenting on my ku.

    1. You’re very welcome Marilyn. I hope I did your poem justice with my commentary. I had such a vision when I first read it of our galaxy and all those as yet undiscovered galaxies.

  2. evening tea
    a sprinkle
    of stars

    Marianne Sahlin
    Sweden

    In addition to Carole’s fine commentary, I must mention the wonderful Swedish tradition of “fika,” which is what came to my mind upon reading Marianne’s wonderful poem.

    As defined in Swedishfood.com, Fika is a concept, a state of mind, an attitude and an important part of Swedish culture. Many Swedes consider that it is almost essential to make time for fika every day. It means making time for friends and colleagues to share a cup of coffee (or tea) and a little something to eat. Fika cannot be experienced at your desk by yourself. That would just be taking coffee and cake. Fika is a ritual.

    My wife has been to Sweden many times, I just twice, but the rich fika attitude surely is in my blood just like the haiku life style we all live. A sprinkle of stars along with a sprinkle of haiku along with a tea or coffee and a freshly baked cardamom bun is really what it’s all about. Skål!

    1. Thank you for commenting on my haiku, John – yes, as a Swede, I’m kind of marinated in the fika tradition, which is probably why I came up with the idea to this tea poem. Fika is a fantastic way to relax and clear the mind from all the stress going on in a workplace or in life in general. And it is, of course, possible to have the stars or the moon as company at a fika, I’ve had a fika with them many times. I’m happy that my poem resonated with you!

    2. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts John! It has added so much more to an already lovely poem. I love the concept of fika, and sharing time with friends and/or family. Such a beautiful ritual! I’m trying to decide whether it is the same as afternoon tea in UK, where I know a lot of importance is put upon that too, but unsure if it has the connotations of fika, as to sharing tea with others. Or simply being a restorative for oneself. Wonderful post!

      1. Carole,

        Yes, John’s post is excellent, and greatly captures the soul of fika. Regarding the similarities with the British afternoon tea, fika is somewhat simpler and more spontaneous, and I think one could say it’s really a way to restore yourself together with others.

        I’m so grateful for both your and John’s thoughtful commentary, they accentuated aspects of my poem that I didn’t notice myself!

        1. Also, fika happens at any time of the day, and more than once per day.

          When Jen and her students returned from Sweden, we all wanted to institute a fika room at the university. The fika rooms at the Swedish university were plush. comfortable lounges, a full kitchen area, bright windows, and spacious. Fika is a serious benefit that does restore the individual, as you say Marianne. Viva fika!

  3. Thank you Carole for selecting my poem for commentary. I too live by the sea and you perfectly captured what I had in mind when writing it.

    1. Thanks for letting me know I caught all the nuances of your lovely haiku!
      Carole

  4. Carole,
    These were very impressive haiku and your thoughtful commentary on each of them really enhanced each of them. I enjoyed them all. Simon’s use of “a blanket of stars” really resonated with me. Dark skies created by the new moon blanketing (filling) with septillion stars. Thank you for presenting these haiku and congratulations to the poets.

  5. Dear Carole, thank you so much for selecting my haiku for commentary, it really made my day!

  6. Thanks for all the work, Carole (and hosting team).

    Among many good reads this fortnight I particularly appreciated the classic detachment of:

    moonless night
    freshly turned earth
    through the screen

    Bryan Rickert
    (…for all the reasons you give; and the quiet effectiveness of imagery here without other devices of English poetics)

    and:

    new moon
    old feelings-
    moth porch party

    Ruth Happel
    (Again, a full commentary; and I love the note of ironic haikai humour in this artfully suggestive verse)

  7. Carole,

    Thanks so much for selecting my haiku and providing such thoughtful comments. On spring and summer nights my porch hosts many moth parties, and it seems they are more attracted when there is a new moon, and lights on earth are more tempting for them. My office/living room has windows on two sides and seems irresistible. I’m always sure to turn off the light when I’m done working, to be sure they fly off on their secret nocturnal journeys. But I enjoy walking out to say goodnight, briefly joining them to admire their amazing wing patterns. I’m glad you explored the multiple meanings I left open to the reader.

    1. You are welcome Ruth Your poem spoke to me because of my own experiences with moths on doors…..I’m still trying to find the words for my haiku… it’s slow it coming. But as it was a door ‘away from home’, and there was a bit of loneliness and welcome company that I still haven’t found the words for.

    1. Your welcome Margie. I love the fact your haiku is open to interpretation while at the same time celebrating spring!

  8. new moon
    the familiar meow
    of a stray

    Neha Talreja

    The both familiar and itinerant nicely juxtaposed.

  9. Thanks for the comment on ‘the first hedgehog’.
    It also occured to me, shortly after writing, some revelation of a creation myth where ‘the (very) first hedgehog’ perforates the firmament with his spines.

    1. Yes. ‘the first hedgehog’ could lead to thoughts of ‘creation myth’ Simon even to the first that ever walked the earth. It’s a stellar haiku on so many levels.

    2. Simon I really love this poem. In one simple phrase you wrapped the hedgehog and the stars up in the same blanket. I also like your idea here in the comments of a creation myth, where the hedgehog punctures the sky to create the constellations.

  10. Your haiku brought back childhood memories……and the way we all exaggerated our awe with a made-up number! I enjoyed learning a new word too expressing the same awe but with an attempt at a real number! LOL

    Helen’s haiku hit home for me on several levels because of my life on the ocean. Thanks for your comments Sue!

  11. Dear Carole,
    Thank you for including my haiku this week, especially as star gazing on a moonless night is one of my favourite things to do. I appreciate you taking the time to look up words while your wonderful commentary on these 14 diverse haiku has opened my eyes to the subtle nuances within each. I learn so much from reading commentaries like yours.

    And because I also live beside the ocean (the same ocean but a long way away), this haiku by Helen Ogden, and your commentary particularly appealed.

    syzygy
    a falling tide
    reveals the stars

    And we get bioluminescence here too!

    Thank you,
    Sue

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