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with Kevin McLaughlin

Kevin MacLaughlin, poetry magazine, haiku

Bhikku Bodhi in his book “The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to the End of Suffering” describes precisely the purpose of haiku and the cast of mind required to write a “heaven shattering” verse. Haiku is the poetry of mindfulness.  It is a Tao, a way to perceive reality as accurately as permitted by our feeble five senses.  Bodhi writes, “The way to enlightenment (a pure haiku) is mindfulness.  Mindfulness clears the ground for insight into the nature of things by bringing to light phenomena stripped of all subjective commentary, interpretations, and projections.  Then, when mindfulness has brought the bare phenomena into focus, the factor of investigation steps in to search out the characteristics, conditions, and consequences.  This is an active process which unflinchingly probes, analyzes, and uncovers their fundamental foundation.”


Bodhi is a Theravadan monk and, once again, there appears to be a link between Buddhism and haiku.  But read the above paragraph in a secular manner.  It points a finger at the moon which is the goal of the haiku writer.


Red mangrove prop roots advance into Florida’s bays and channels, trapping sand and organic debris, creating changes to island and shoreline configurations.  This tree releases a long, germinated seedling that floats off and takes root in a new location.


Slender mangrove seeds,

Bob upright in the shallows,

Between the spoil Islands.


“The Taoist concept of wu-wei is brutally misunderstood,” said Huangfu Mi.  “It is nothing other than the action of non-action. This could be the aimless wandering of a hermit on Wu Tai mountain.  Or it could be a mangrove seed being driven by the winds, the tides, the current and the shape of the river bottom.  This pure Tao, unforced, adhering to nature’s cycles.  Wu-wei is nothing special.”

Neither is a haiku.  It is just part of the natural world. -Kevin McLaughlin


The frozen river,

Leaves and branches embedded.

In the icy sheet.


Sun above the tree line,

The birdsong begins to fade,

Ending today’s dawn.


Turtle slides off bank,

Into tannin stained river:

Soon resurfaces.

-K. McLaughlin

Robin Helweg-Larsen is British born, but Bahamian raised. His chapbook Calling the Poem is available as a free download from Snakeskin webzine, issue 236.  Mr. Helweg-Larsen lives in his hometown of Governor’s Harbour on Eleuthera. One can hope that Mr. Helweg-Larsen writes haiku throughout his lifetime, assembling an autobiography that would serve as his legacy to future generations.

Where’s the young man gone

Who has lived in mirrors so long?

Putting old masks on. 

(Originally published in Asses of Parnassus)

I’m a page she read,

Smiled at, dog-eared, and read on -

She has not come back.

Originally published in Snakeskin Poetry Webzine


The sailing was fine –

Until I struck with surprise

Dark reefs of her eyes.

As the tiny ants,

Now in the dead wasp’s head, eat,

Its tail and legs twitch.

Originally published in Snakeskin Poetry Webzine                 

Haiku challenge my 

Fundamental sense of verse:

(Insert last line here).


(The third line of this poem, originally published in Snakeskin Poetry Webzine, conveys a pure Zen spirit.)

Sea won’t settle down,

Like a baby needs burping.

Suffering from wind.


Originally published in Snakeskin Poems


-Robin Helweg Larsen

Yet once more I encourage all haiku writers to share their work, their insights into the nature of all things, with fellow poets and BTS readers.  

For those interested in haiku, I recommend you cast back into the BTS archives and reference the September 2016 column.  It provides a pretty thorough explanation of the basic format.


--  Kevin Mclaughlin

Pawel Markiewicz was born in Siemiatycze. He studied both laws and German studies in Poland. He is a poet who likes haiku, tanka and cherita. He has published his poems in three languages in six countries. Pawel has a well loved cocker spaniel.

first flight of parrot

bird is losing its feather

over waterfall


pierwszy lot papugi

ptak gubi swoje pióro

nad wulkanem


(Please note the first and second haiku are translations of one another.  How wonderful to understand one or both languages and enjoy the sound of a foreign language with its English equivalent!)

thousand ladybugs

resting on cherry-blossoms

during sun-eclipse.


(What a beautiful visual image….Thousand ladybugs resting on cherry blossoms. Worthy of being considered a masterpiece.  It is beautifully balanced, all three lines.)

the heart of my frog

hits faster than falling rain

- the rhythm of nature

das Herz meines Froschs

schlägt schneller als der fallende Regen

der Rhythmus der Natur


(Comparing the frogs heartbeat to the falling rain! This is another unique haiku.)


(Another translation, perhaps the first of its kind in any contemporary haiku journal or haiku page.  This delighted me as I can read a bit of German.  I read both versions for their separate merits.  Thank you Mr. Markiewicz .)

in early springtide

flowers in all its glory

dew in the calix

im frühen Lenz

Blumen in voller Pracht

der Tau im Kelch

(Translation #3!)


the meteorite

having fallen in crater

of old volcano

under the rainbow

in the ancient forest glade

thousands of cobwebs

under the rainbow

meteorite is falling

at flight of barn owl


-Pawel Markiewicz



Vera Ignatowitsch’s haiku have a rare quality. They retain their beauty when read aloud; it is essential to silently read the poem but another dimension is added when you read or listen to Ms. Ignatowitsch’s work aloud.  They have rhythm, rare in even the best haiku, a touch of alliteration, and an instinctive utilization of vowels and consonants.  These poems, in particular, serve as a medium to enlightenment if your mind is serene.


bare branches like bone,

jeweled in rows of reddish buds:

endless embryos




for martyred moments

sky turns the blue of deep sea

somersaulting time


(I wonder what Stephen Hawkins, author of “A Brief History of Time” would think of this lovely piece.)


glass frog guards its eggs

under the leaf of tadpoles

bred to modesty


-Vera Ignatowitsch



DE  Navarro, an award winning poet and author, lives near Los Angeles, where he is an editor and a publisher.  He founded NavWorks Press.  His recent works are Dropping Ants into Poems, 2016, and the acclaimed This is the Way- Walk Ye in It, 2017.


still wet with rainfall
they reach for the shining one
flower stems rigid


an empty cocoon
the form of a former self
it's no longer here

(Zen insight with a touch of humor…)


frozen into place
sculpted snowdrifts cover all
art by wind unseen

(The use of the wind as a snow sculpting artist unites nature and man.)


here is last year's ice
flowing in cold swollen streams
tomorrow's flowers


people are talking
the sun swelters long today
and the hot air blows


the bushel half full
under the ripe cherry tree
red lipped I snooze

-DE Navarro

Joseph Davidson practices the Six Paramitas of generosity, morality, patience and forebearance, ceaseless effort, concentration and wisdom.  These traits, to some extent inseparable, inform his haiku, and make it possible for Mr. Davidson to accomplish his goal of writing one haiku per day.  The Six Paramitas, taken together, are subsets of mindfulness, the subject of Bhikku Bodhi’s introduction to this month’s column.


Cool breeze across marsh,

Sun burning off winterscape

Cypress dares fresh growth.


Tannin stained waters,

Obsidian mirror marsh,

Blue sky reflecting.


Like the sun through space,

Rising out of dark waters,

White lily blooming.

(Great contrast between dark waters and white lily.)


Galaxy of suns

Captured in tiny prisms:

Early morning dew.

(I refer to this as Mr. Davidson’s “wish fulfilling jewel” poem.)

-Joseph Davidson



Honorah Murphy, our astrophysicist contributor from Dublin, Ireland, wrote that she was able to watch, and enjoy, Neil de Grasse Tyson’s interview with Stephen Hawking on American television’s Natgeo channel.  Ms. Murphy also contributed some suitable poems witch recognize the cosmos as part of the natural world.

The crab nebula:

Neutron star at its center,

Pulsates energy.

The tidal locked moon,

Has driven the Earth’s oceans,

Throughout the ages.

Dwarf planets collide,

Debris in the Kuyper Belt:

Frogs await insects.

-Honorah Murphy

It dawned on me to pair Honorah’s verse with that of our other astrophysics enthusiast, Angela Davidson.  Her work is written with enthusiasm and a deep abiding love of the natural world.  Mrs. Davidson’s vision is consistent with NASA’s motto, “Eyes on the Stars.”


A supernova,

Makes gravitational waves,

That stretches through space.


Nitrogen ice forms,

Flowing like toothpaste, bubbling,

Up from Pluto’s core.


Roche-Lobe overflow,

Through Legrangian point, where two

Stars meet gravity.

(The third line is sublime.)


Doing dance of death,

Two black holes collide, making

Super massive hole.

-Angela Davidson


Originally, haiku was used as play-verse, a fact well known to Vinnie Mongelli.  Mr. Mongelli is a devout Catholic.  A retiree, he tries to attend daily Mass.  Are his haiku social commentary?

Wino drains bottle,

Then lies down beneath the stars:

Priest drinks blood of Christ.

(Wonderful contrast…and he maintains the 5-7-5 format.)

- Vinnie Mongelli

John Hawkhead, from southwest England, first contributed to BTS in November 2017.  At the time I remarked upon the amount of energy and tension he is able to create within Haiku’s small syllabic framework. He demonstrates why it is valuable to read a haiku at least twice.  Mr. Hawkhead’s  book “Small Shadows” is available from Alba publishing.


lightning flash 

something white

rolls over the weir


(To fully appreciate this haiku it is worth googling lightning.)


hanging on for life

the world spins me round

inside the bottle


electricity pylons 

looping through mist

the fizz of starlings

(Again, incredible energy.)


kingfisher blur 

the percussion

of fish and branch


dewdrops on grass blades

the iridescent baubles

of lark song


blood moon

gliding over desert stone

the viper’s weave

(Although not in classical Western format, these fit nicely with Shelley and Byron.)

- John Hawkhead

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