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Haiku on an Indian Theme

Kala Ramesh is our editor for this month’s Per Diem. She offers a selection filtered through the concept of The Five Elements. Here’s what she writes:

“The Hindus and the Buddhists believe that all Creation— including human beings— is composed of five essential elements. When death occurs, everything is transposed into these elements of nature, thus balancing the cycle of evolution. 
 
The elements and their associated sense perceptions are:

Ether — Akasha — space / sound 
Wind — Vayu — sound & touch
Fire — Agni — sound, touch & form
Water — Jalam — sound, touch, form & flavour
Earth — Prithvi — sound, touch, form, flavour & smell

This classification is woven into the fabric of our day-to-day activities, and widely used in all our art forms, including poetry, literature, dance, music and painting. The haiku poems showcased here might not appear in the order I had originally arranged them, but you could use your ingenuity and guesswork to ‘sense’ how many of these elements are present in the haiku, when you read them.”

Enjoy, and as always we welcome your feedback.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Hi Kala, I just discovered your Per Diem selection as I read a few on AHA, so it is wonderful to see them all here together – thank you!

    The following poem by Fay Aoyagi, really struck me…

    icy rain
    at the bottom of the lake
    a door to yesterday

    This poem brought so many thoughts and memories flooding back…I instantly recalled a day when I was about nine and my father took my brothers and sisters and I on a drive to Slieve Gullion in County Armagh, a mountain in an area formed by volcanic activity. He recounted various legends of the lake and showed us a cave where the Cailleach Beara (a witch who transforms into a hare) was said to have lived. Fay’s poem instantly transported me to that particular lakeside again as it was also a cold, rainy day when we climbed the mountain to arrive at the lake.

    The idea of a portal to the past is enchanting, but to find it at the bottom of a lake is haunting, suggesting you have to die first to get there. Geologically speaking, of course the bottom is made from rock that was formed many years ago.

    The ‘icy rain’ in L1 sets the scene well, providing a cold, wet backdrop to the lake scene. Wonderfully chilling!

    Thanks again, Kala. :]
    marion

  2. Thank you Kala,

    It’s gratifying to see the whole series. I missed only a few, but as there isn’t an archive, it’s a real pleasure to revisted the daily haiku.

    Alan

  3. Just thought I could paste my entire selection here according to the 5 elements:

    The Five Elements

    The Hindus and the Buddhists believe that all Creation— including human beings— is composed of five essential elements. When death occurs, everything is transposed into these elements of nature, thus balancing the cycle of evolution.

    The elements and their associated sense perceptions are:
    Ether – Akasha – space / sound
    Wind – Vayu – sound & touch
    Fire – Agni – sound, touch & form
    Water – Jalam – sound, touch, form & flavour
    Earth – Prithvi – sound, touch, form, flavour & smell

    This classification is woven into the fabric of our day-to-day activities, and widely used in all our art forms, including poetry, literature, dance, music and painting. The haiku poems showcased here might not appear in the order I had originally arranged them, but you could use your ingenuity and guesswork to ‘sense’ how many of these elements are present in the haiku, when you read them.

    Have fun!
    *

    Ether – Akasha

    left to itself a moon without subtitles

    Marlene Mountain

    almost autumn so many holes to another universe

    Karen Cesar

    a broken window
    reflects half the moon,
    half of me

    Michael McClintock

    mockingbird an octave shy of the moon

    Billie Dee

    train whistle
    a blackbird hops
    along its notes

    Alan Summers

    working late
    i meet my loneliness
    in the long hallway

    George Swede

    ***

    Wind – Vayu

    a falcon dives
    how completely
    I surround my bones

    Peter Yovu

    morning birdsong requiring quotation marks

    Lee Gurga

    the wood breathes:
    a leaf falling
    into fallen leaves

    Martin Lucas

    rumble of thunder
    a sunbird comes darting
    through the wire fence

    Johannes Manjrekar

    between the sky
    and the spin of the earth
    this falling leaf

    Laryalee Fraser

    so few feathers left
    it barely has a name
    the melting snow

    John Barlow

    rumors of war
    up into a darkening sky
    – a child’s newsprint kite

    Angelee Deodhar

    ***

    Fire – Agni

    campfire sparks —
    someone outside the circle
    starts another song

    Billie Wilson

    evening breeze —
    hundreds of lamp flames
    sway in the temple

    K. Ramesh

    ***

    Water – Jalam

    winter morning—
    scribbles on a scratch pad
    get the ink flowing

    John Stevenson

    icy rain
    at the bottom of the lake
    a door to yesterday

    Fay Aoyagi

    solstice moon
    breasts that filled
    and emptied

    Francine Banwarth

    Basho’s frog. . .
    four hundred years
    of ripples

    Al Fogel

    summer storm
    the windscreen wipers
    slice our silence

    Jo McInerney

    ***

    Earth – Prithvi

    coming home
    flower
    by
    flower

    Jane Reichhold

    cardboard boxes
    my son turns himself
    into a robot

    John McManus

    aftershock
    a tremor lingers
    in the dog

    Melissa Spurr

    migrating geese —
    the things we thought we needed
    darken the garage

    Chad Lee Robinson

    New Year’s Day
    the center of the chocolate
    not what I expected

    Carolyn Hall

    birth certificate:
    the name of the father
    he never knew

    Catherine J S Lee

    spring afternoon
    the schoolchildren return
    to the dead squirrel

    Bill Kenny

    self-portrait some truth to the smudges

    Jim Kacian

    stone before stone buddha

    Karma Tenzing Wangchuk

    temple path
    the dust i kick up
    sticks to me

    ed markowski

  4. solstice moon
    breasts that filled
    and emptied

    — Francine Banwarth

    Another powerful one selected by Kala.

    The simplicity powers the emotional weight of this verse.

    Alan

  5. Thanks Alan
    Enjoyed reading your view of this poem.
    And it’s so apt!

    Thanks Ellen,

    Yes, Jane’s haiku was the first poem that started off my ‘Earth – Prithvi’ set of poems.
    Thank you so much for your response.
    _k

  6. Kala said:

    I had it under — Earth – Prithvi – sound, touch, form, flavour & smell
    Would you agree?

    cardboard boxes
    my son turns himself
    into a robot

    – John McManus

    Cardboard boxes are very tactile, full of anticipation, whether we know the contents or not. Also it happens that many children apparently get more excited about the box than the contents when they are very young. Cardboard of course comes from trees that are very grounded in nature.

    Cardboard boxes have sound, touch, form & smell, and a flavour of excitement, all that a child in their infancy need to explore the world in its early stages, and to development imagination that has formed humankind for better or for worse.

    Alan

  7. Thanks Alan for commenting about this poem:

    cardboard boxes
    my son turns himself
    into a robot

    – John McManus

    I had it under — Earth – Prithvi – sound, touch, form, flavour & smell
    Would you agree?

  8. Another gem:

    cardboard boxes
    my son turns himself
    into a robot

    – John McManus

    I’m lucky that I enjoy many styles of well-written haiku, and the simple ones about children, if the candy greeting card is set aside, are always rewarding, like this wonderful verse.

  9. Today’s haiku is a six-word haiku where it’s like molecular photography, the item/poem doesn’t really finish where the naked eye expects it to end.

    self-portrait some truth to the smudges

    – Jim Kacian

  10. Thanks Alan. I agree with you completely. I love Peter Yovu’s poem.
    Hoping all the other poems are as resonant as this one.

    Today’s per diem is your beautiful little poem:

    train whistle
    a blackbird hops
    along its notes

    Alan Summers

    Lovely!
    _kala

  11. This is one of my favourites so far, although I’ve appreciated all the haiku:

    a falcon dives
    how completely
    I surround my bones

    — Peter Yovu

    It’s thoughtful, thought-provoking, actiivity biased, and yet so more, so much more, than the sum of its parts.

    Alan

  12. Thanks a ton for posting this news feed, Jim.
    Truly appreciate it 🙂

    I would love to hear both from participating poets and readers about this theme and the poems chosen.
    warmly,
    _kala

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