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Haiku Dialogue – Social Issues – Basic Human Rights

 

It’s no secret that the entire world has been divided since the beginning of time, whether that be by race, class, religious beliefs, or even cliques in high school. There’s only one way that we can learn to love unconditionally and that’s through empathy and understanding. Over the month of November, I’d like to take some time to get to know one another by sharing our diverse life experiences on the theme of social issues. Everyone has specific social issues that affect them.

The importance of social awareness in haiku is not to change opinions, but to show the opinion from our own perspectives. What personal experiences have we had to make us passionate about that particular issue?

For the month of November, each poet may send one or two haiku/senryu on the week’s theme via our Contact Form.

There will be a selection process in which I will briefly comment on a few of the selected pieces.

The haiku appear in the order in which we receive them.

This week we’ll explore the “-isms” within social justice. These include, but are not limited to: racism, sexism, ableism, classism. We all have either seen or experienced social injustice and this is a theme in which we can really delve into what makes us who we are as individuals.

Although I have provided suggestions, I leave this as open to interpretation as I can.

The deadline is midnight EST, Saturday November 16, 2019.

Social Issues: Basic Human Rights

I am both pleased and disheartened with the submissions sent for this week’s prompt. These poems are a critical reminder of where we stand within our individual societies, as well as the world as a whole. We have a lot to fix and bringing awareness to these issues is the best way to start our journey of creating solutions. The following poems I have selected were what I felt best fit this theme. I encourage everyone to keep submitting, as these are Revolutionary Haiku, or haiku for change.

sixties breadwinner…
the boss’s hand
on my breast

Pris Campbell

We are at a pivotal point in history and society in which more victims of sexual harassment and assault are speaking out against their abusers. This piece in particular caught my attention for a few reasons. One, it fits this prompt exceptionally well. Not only should generalized safety be a basic human right, but especially in the workplace. The other reason this ku kept me reading and re-reading is the double meaning as this could be either a working woman in her 60s or a woman working during the women’s rights movements in the 60s. Either way, this piece is brilliant and moving.

bullied boy
his dress dangling
on the beam

Roberta Beary
County Mayo, Ireland

We’ve come quite a ways in the fight for LGBT and gender identity rights, but there are still people persecuted daily for being who they are. What really tugged at my heart in this piece is the word “boy”. What happens to us as children affects us our entire lives. As someone who was bullied, and has been condemned for my sexuality, this just really hit home. What I admire about this piece is that the beam could be a literal beam where the bullies have thrown his clothes, or a metaphorical beam representing where he hangs his dress to suppress who he is as a need to please his family and/or society, both of which are heartbreaking scenarios.

superman pajamas
his kryptonite nightmare
lead in the water

Laurie Greer
Washington DC

This poem literally took my breath away. Here we are reminded of the innocence of children who know not the dangers of the world. The seriousness of this piece comes only in the third line while giving readers a lighter and more relatable beginning. Water is essential for survival and should be our most accessible right. Yet, not even our water is safe. Not only is the juxtaposition of lead in the water to superman’s kryptonite pure genius, but Laurie also gives us the perfect “ah-ha!” moment by linking line one to line two and shifting away in line three. Technically and contextually, this poem is power in the purest sense of the word.

Here are the rest of my selections for this week:

gay pride
the churchyard
out in pink

Helen Buckingham

 

the man who does not work
cannot form a family –
landfill bread

Vincenzo Adamo

 

homeless camp
other things on their mind
besides Thanksgiving

Stephen Peters

 

child bride –
the acrid smell
of shame

Maria Teresa Sisti

 

confectionery box –
a little refugee fills it
with mud dumplings

Aljoša Vuković
Croatia

 

VOTE!                              VOTE!
           VOTE!         VOTE!
                      VOTE!
           VOTE!         VOTE!
VOTE!                              VOTE!

 

Mark Gilbert
UK

 

heavy heat
how he keeps on insisting
after she said no

Olivier Schopfer
Switzerland

 

lesson in winter
the teacher explains
love in the world

Dennys Cambarau

 

I learn
I can say no
somnolence’s end

Christina Sng

 

from coolie
to class one grade- same school
village’s pride

Radhamani sarma

 

coppers for food —
wrapped in a dirty blanket
a one legged man

Robert Kingston
UK

 

imagine the bombs
family, books, music smashed
around Syria

nancy liddle

 

empty seashells
the refugee can talk
in many dialects

Guliz Mutlu

 

outlaw
environment campaigns–
the mass arrests

Christina Chin

 

a rakhi on my wrist –
my friend who barely
speaks English

Neelam Dadhwal
India

 

war pollution –
the pastures around,
deserts

inquinamento bellico –
i pascoli, intorno,
deserti …

Maria Teresa Piras

 

many ways to soften the term half-caste

Ingrid Baluchi
Macedonia

 

cane shines in the sun
sound of his lame dragging feet
too late for the bus

Nuky Kristijono
Indonesia

 

cancelled engagement
was I wrong in asking to keep
my maiden name

Vandana Parashar

 

Lesbos
encased in barbed wire
a baby doll

Eva Limbach

 

long ago
and forced relocation –
candle flames

Zdenka Mlinar

 

the guitar remains silent
at the homeless person’s grave
an old dog’s howling

kitara molči –
na brezdomčevem grobu
zavija star pes

Ivanka Kostantino
Slovenia

 

street protests
bread and freedom
on banners

Goran Radičević

 

discussing fervently
my international students
the UN Declaration of Human Rights

Judith Hishikawa
NY

 

self-expression
one black sheep
in a white herd

Serhiy Shpychenko
Kyiv, UA

 

bowed heads
the wind whispers
into shields

B Shropshire

 

work day
the chimney of a nearby factory
without smoke

Slobodan Pupovac
Croatia

 

in the clinic
the freedom of having
no choice

Pat Davis
NH USA

 

human sales traffic stop

Marilyn Ashbaugh

 

they stole more than
just my hearing
explosions of war

Roberta Beach Jacobson
USA

 

a burden
abandoned
old parents

Vishnu Kapoor

 

memories of war
he keeps to himself
Veterans Day

Debbie Scheving

 

women and abortion:
the right to manage
your body

donne e aborto:
il diritto di gestire
il proprio corpo

Angela Giordano
Italy

 

her whisper
at the reception desk
no insurance

Peggy Hale Bilbro
Alabama

 

temple feast
whether rich or poor
the same queue for all

Richa Sharma

 

old beggar
with a plastic cup of hot drink
winter smell

Neni Rusliana
Indonesia

 

eating last
with salt
without her
share of curry

R.Suresh Babu
India

 

lives lost to hatred
blown away by oblivion
red leaves falling

Jackie Chou
CA USA

 

needed worker
for the reception –
not pregnant women

Ljiljana Dobra
Sibenik Croatia

 

torn jeans
below the voting booth curtain
hanging by a thread

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY

 

empty hands
the weight of spare change
in my pocket

Rich Schilling
Webster Groves, MO

 

still here
after three flushes
the spider

simonj
UK

 

my wife in ICU
door boy says
visitors not allowed

Srinivasa Rao Sambangi

 

child shows off
a bullet proof backpack
no joke

Kath Abela Wilson
Pasadena, California

 

one kitchen
religious holidays
Christmas and Eid

Nani Mariani

 

withered silver grass
the trace of life
voiceless cries

Tomoko Nakata

 

traffic signal –
a beggar shuffles moonlight
in his bowl

arvinder kaur
Chandigarh, India

 

park bench…
the man with no address
sings to his dog

Madhuri Pillai

 

hand-me-downs
see what hides her pregnant bulge
in a car mirror

wendy c. bialek
az, usa

 

soup kitchen
her life of living
hand to mouth

Michele L. Harvey

 

subway station –
morning headlines
homeless man’s blanket

Tomislav Sjekloća
Cetinje, Montenegro

 

Islamophobia —
a new moon steeple lost
into the orange clouds

Hifsa Ashraf
Pakistan

 

a small boy
the ocean has delivered
face down

Ron Scully

 

now exposed the brittle roots of dreamers

Steve Tabb

 

human writes
the refugee stories
of children

Christina Pecoraro

 

house call
in my black bag no cure
for hunger

Ruth Powell

 

gay parade
pride and prejudice
hand in hand

Franjo Ordanic

 

stoved
in clay bricks
children’s pain

Helga Stania
Switzerland

 

at the tavern
we think twice
about holding hands

Janice Munro
Canada

 

bread and wine –
the rest of the groceries

Adrian Bouter

 

cough syrup
one tablespoon short
for the third child

Anthony Rabang

 

silver dollar
the face of Liberty
effaced

Mark Meyer

 

broken flowers:
dirge silent of child brides

fiori spezzati:
nenia silente di spose bambine

Giuliana Ravaglia

 

out-of-work
the sound of bees
carrying pollen

cezar ciobîcă

 

my girlfriend
reveals her bruises –
coming out

Tia Haynes

 

the a(n)esthetic of Ableism

Michael N Morell

 

basic right
health care
for all

Kathleen Mazurowski

 

under open skies
unharvested corn fields
demarcation line

Natalia Kuznetsova

 

tyrants with guns
among the innocent
heroines and heroes

Carmen Sterba

 

old coat…
without dinner in bed
on a bench

Francesco Palladino

 

a bum’s hand
offering help
refusing to himself

brezdomčeva roka
ponuja pomoč
sebi zavrača

Saša Slavković
Slovenia

 

wilted garden
bluesman sings
of climate change

Rehn Kovacic

 

distant moon
love me for
who I am

Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo

 

border detention–
one Monarch flies high above
a child’s reaching hand

Susan Rogers

 

Lori Zajkowski is the Post Manager for Haiku Dialogue. A novice haiku poet, she lives in New York City.

Guest editor Lori A Minor is a feminist, mental health advocate, and body positive activist currently living in Norfolk, Virginia. She is the editor of #FemkuMag. Most recently, Lori gave a presentation on social awareness in haiku at Haiku North America 2019.

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).

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. cancelled engagement
    was I wrong in asking to keep
    my maiden name
    .
    Vandana Parashar

    your poem speaks of the (sometimes) conflicting feelings…. which arise as an awareness of people who wish to do things differently, and how to deal with the pressure to conform to the expectations of others. to be needy of the approval from others verses to be true to oneself.

  2. park bench…
    the man with no address
    sings to his dog
    .
    Madhuri Pillai

    i appreciate the respect and compassion shown in this poem.
    “the man with no address” can be anyone….maybe his house was burnt down from a wildfire…..maybe he lost everything he had paying medical bills for a wife who passed away….after all! …it is refreshing to me to see… that no negative judgement is made about him….and that he gives love and comfort to his dog shows a heart-warming example….that although he may not have the soft material comforts for himself….he has a big heart to share with his companion…and provides a loving, harmonious home…where ever he is. very zen!

  3. A significant read this week. Am looking forward to the next. Commenting on a couple not previously mentioned:
    .
    confectionery box –
    a little refugee fills it
    with mud dumplings
    .
    Aljosa Vukovic
    Croatia
    .
    The hope the child maintained in play moved me. Plus I associated the box with being boxed in.
    *
    cancelled engagement
    was I wrong in asking to keep
    my maiden name
    .
    Vandana Parashar
    .
    I loved this in the form of a question. So many life decisions represented here.
    *
    park bench…
    the man with no address
    sings to his dog
    .
    Madhuri Pillai
    .
    Both sad and uplifting, which I appreciate in a poem.

  4. Dear Lori Zajkowisky, Lori A. Minor, and Catherine Munoe,
    Greetings. Thanks for selecting mine. I am honored. MY favorite for this week is the following, of so many.

    under open skies
    unharvested corn fields
    demarcation line

    Natalia Kuznetsova

  5. it is clear, not only from these comments, but from the poems themselves, that ‘social issues’ have a place in haiku – thanks to Lori & to all you brave poets for your powerful words!

  6. lori you have done a great service to humanity for choosing to run this series. thank you for posting my poem here.
    the poems are all terrific. will comment later.

  7. I meant to avoid reading the newspaper first thing this morning by visiting this site! I momentarily forgot the topic of the week. So much disrespect, so much violence, always inflicted on the most vulberable. The world is buckling under the pain.

  8. Congratulations Lori on a strong start. Many powerful pieces here. I particularly responded to Debbie Scheving’s memories of war / he keeps to himself / Veterans Day. The way line 2 can serve double duty (as the veteran keeping silent about his experiences and as the veteran isolating himself) is so effective and eye catching. War wounds are often invisible.

    1. Thank you Craig, for seeing the overlap of lines, and the sentiment. I had a family member in mind when I wrote this. He was drafted and served honorably but chose to share very little about the experience with family.
      I’m still reading and absorbing all of the thoughtful poems this week.

  9. Again I have taken the prompt much more literally than most, but this week I particularly admire for their power or poignancy –
    *
    street protests
    bread and freedom
    on banners
    -Goran Radičević
    *
    a small boy
    the ocean has delivered
    face down
    -Ron Scully
    *
    at the tavern
    we think twice
    about holding hands
    -Janice Munro
    *
    distant moon
    love me for
    who I am
    -Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo

  10. Thanks to Laurie Greer for remarking on my poem – I was hoping that the many forms of “freedom” would come through. Thanks to all who submitted and to Kathy and Lori,

  11. Maybe it will let me post now!
    Thanks, Lori–for all your work on this–an exciting and important prompt, and insightful and sensitive comments; I appreciate your remarks on mine.
    I liked and was moved by too many to comment on. but some thoughts:
    gay pride
    the churchyard
    out in pink
    Helen Buckingham
    *
    Love the new spin on the old trope of flowering trees in the cemetery
    *
    homeless camp
    other things on their mind
    besides Thanksgiving
    Stephen Peters
    I agree with Ingrid’s remarks on this one. Also like the way thanks and Thanksgiving aren’t counted out, just put into a larger context. And when we give thanks for what we have, how often do we think of the fine lines that separate us from those who go without?
    *
    child bride –
    the acrid smell
    of shame
    Maria Teresa Sisti
    *
    A subtle comment here: who, exactly is feeling the shame, and who should be?
    *
    heavy heat
    how he keeps on insisting
    after she said no
    Olivier Schopfer
    Switzerland
    *
    This one is loaded—in several senses of the term
    *
    work day
    the chimney of a nearby factory
    without smoke
    Slobodan Pupovac
    Croatia
    *
    Like the strong visuals here and all the lack says about dying dreams, homoe fires, etc.
    *
    in the clinic
    the freedom of having
    no choice
    Pat Davis
    NH USA
    *
    This one nicely gets at a range of meanings of “freedom”
    *
    her whisper
    at the reception desk
    no insurance
    Peggy Hale Bilbro
    Alabama

    *
    More shame here—not having health insurance does make one feel like a second-class citizen, and it often seems to incite suspicion among health-care givers. Or maybe it’s just their confusion over not knowing which form to fill out for an atypical situation.
    *
    empty hands
    the weight of spare change
    in my pocket
    Rich Schilling
    Webster Groves, MO
    *
    This is nicely done—that “weight” suggests guilt and substance and probably more.
    *
    a small boy
    the ocean has delivered
    face down
    Ron Scully
    *
    Powerful image. And “delivered”—not into a new life here.
    *
    now exposed the brittle roots of dreamers
    Steve Tabb
    *
    Nice reflection of the DACA situation, and of those following the American dream more generally.
    *
    human writes
    the refugee stories
    of children
    Christina Pecoraro
    *
    Yes—we need to listen: each figure in the headlines is a person with a past, present, and future, not just part of a data set or issue.
    *
    house call
    in my black bag no cure
    for hunger
    Ruth Powell
    *
    Another one that conveys complicated feelings and problems elegantly and powerfully
    *
    cough syrup
    one tablespoon short
    for the third child
    Anthony Rabang
    *
    And here, too; I’d also add poignantly
    *
    my girlfriend
    reveals her bruises –
    coming out
    Tia Haynes
    *
    Startling and rich—the coming out of something to be proud of as well as raising awareness of the thoughtless assumptions and bias in response
    *
    Thanks to all for contributing!

    1. Thank you for commenting on my poem, Laurie. This week’s theme brought out some powerful writing. I’m honored to be included with them.

    2. Thanks so much, Laurie, really appreciate your comment…..and thanks also to Lori for doing an excellent job, some really good work here, congratulations everyone!

  12. Thank you Lori for hosting this series. The poems this week are moving and awakening. One that reaches into my personal experience:

    I learn
    I can say no
    somnolence’s end
    .
    Christina Sng

  13. .
    tyrants with guns
    among the innocent
    heroines and heroes
    .
    Carmen Sterba
    .
    .
    We seem to idolise and empower the tyrants who use guns directly or indirectly and decry and despise and attempt to disempower those who do straight talking, such as Greta Thuberg (environment) and the college young adults who eloquently denounce excessive gun use on their own or other college students by fellow countrymen (usually male).
    .
    Every time there is a mass school shooting we learn about the murdered, how young or older, they gave so much on a daily basis, and on the killing day, and can no longer enrich our society.
    .
    A powerful piece about guns from Carmen Sterba.
    .
    .

    Reading Garry’s post, I’m reminded way back in 2007, undertaking a lot of research for a manuscript that teachers were being sold various ‘bullet-proof’ accessories including clipboards that would slow down a successful incursion, and ‘bullet-proof’ blankets to envelop children to give them a chance to survive a school or college invasion.
    .
    It’s shocking enough to have to require accessories to survive an onslaught of live ammunition, but for schools or individual to be made to buy them for themselves and children is astonishing to me. It’s capitalism going too far, in taking monetary advantage from these evil acts.
    .
    This haikai verse was inspired by a quote, I believe, from novelist Edna O’Brien. And at 88 years she continues to talk about guns, and weaponising:
    .
    Author Edna O’Brien: ‘Women and girls are weapons of war now ’
    https://www.channel4.com/news/author-edna-obrien-women-and-girls-are-weapons-of-war-now
    .
    Edna O’Brien Bears Witness To Horror In ‘Girl’:
    https://www.npr.org/2019/10/16/770434488/edna-obrien-bears-witness-to-horror-in-girl
    .
    .
    This haikai verse is inspired by a much earlier quote, which sadly I cannot locate, where she talks about mothers, and their child either dying by a gun, or carrying a gun and committing a crime in aggression or in defence, but nevertheless resulting in death:
    ,
    .
    she carries the warm gun’s child
    .
    Alan Summers
    is/let ed. Scott Metz (January 2017)
    .
    .
    and
    .
    .
    inside the apple core
    a pocket full of sorry
    kills the gun
    .
    Alan Summers
    Publication credit: hedgerow #111 ed. Caroline Skanne (2017)
    .
    Article: “Loading a Gun: Imagery in Haiku” by David Grayson
    (Frogpond vol. 41:3 fall 2018)
    http://www.hsa-haiku.org/frogpond/2018-issue41-3/Grayson-LoadingGun-Fp41-3.pdf
    .
    .
    We have gone past the stage where capitalism was the enabler, and we need to get back to ordinary business that benefits not parasites or weaponising the innocent populations around the world.
    .
    In the U.K. it’s knives and hot air by politicians, and running interference or not funding any decent person in public service by doing something to stem the growing violence often exacerbated by crippling cuts by a single political party in power/government.

    1. And I see that Kath Abella has:
      .
      .
      child shows off
      a bullet proof backpack
      no joke
      .
      Kath Abela Wilson
      Pasadena, California
      .
      .
      I’m reminded of when someone took a potshot at me at night walking home from a poet’s house, in a semi-dodgy part of Bristol once. It sounded like a gunshot, and the thing zing-popped by my ear and the concussive effect stung and I got a headache.
      .
      The emergency police call didn’t get anyone out that though, even though a second blast was heard by the operator.
      .
      I worked out that my bright green backpack was actually highly luminous, night club luminous, and that’s what they were aiming for, driving past in a car. I liked that bag! But it’s not bullet-proof, and neither is my head. 🙂
      .
      It’s strange that in the 21st Century there is enough violence, of one kind or another, going around to equal a small to medium war.

  14. Thank you to Lori for this opportunity to ‘air our views’ on basic human rights — a subject of ever increasing importance in our world today.
    .
    This week produced some great reads, among them, but by no means all:
    .
    homeless camp
    other things on their mind
    besides Thanksgiving
    .
    Stephen Peters
    .
    Transitory migrants who are stuck in limbo for whatever reason may well have a roof over their heads, and even a little food, but what goes on in Libyan camps, which are no more than prisons, and especially how women are treated, is utterly shameful.

    1. I could not agree with you more, Ingrid. Stephen’s piece really captured what hunger and poverty is actually like. He did a stunning job of not just retelling a story, but actually making us feel something for the homeless. I think that many times we tend to acknowledge that these things do happen and want to help, but fail to fully empathize unless we’ve been there ourselves. Haiku is a brilliant platform for helping others to step into our shoes. I firmly believe it’s the next best thing to experiencing it ourselves and that is how we will gain an understanding and compassion toward others. This is how we can change the world; by recognizing the problem, spreading awareness, and fighting for a solution.

      Thank you for commenting and for sending to me this week. I loved your piece. Such a brilliant monoku that I get lost in with every read.

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