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with Kevin McLaughlin

Kevin MacLaughlin, poetry magazine, haiku

Haiku / Juxtaposition / The Metaphysical Poets


From a classical viewpoint, the most elegant haiku are separated into two distinct segments. The two segments can be compared and contrasted, or they can be appreciated for a distant relationship they may share. Essentially broken into halves by a cutting word, a kireji, these haiku illustrate the metaphysical connection that runs through all entities.


Opossum ambles,

Back to its nest in the woods:

A donkey braying.


There is no conventional tie between these events. Yet, the donkey’s call affects how we see the opossum. It is bound together by the poetic force field. Some haiku may display two segments that are further apart than our donkey and lovable opossum. The connection may initially seem extreme to the reader.


Brownian movement,

Makes an atom’s path random:

Tree frogs bark at dawn.


Can there be a connection between atoms in flow and tree frogs? Absolutely. Both are part of our natural world. No matter how extreme the impression on the reader, the two elements are part of “the force that flows between all things.”


There is a danger to writing haiku that do not consist of these two segments, and it can be fatal to the significance of the verse. I have encountered it many times in both myself and others. Most three line poems I come across read like one sentence carved up, sometimes arbitrarily. That means the given haiku is really just the equivalent of a caption beneath a photograph. This is not poetry, nor is it a special moment of clarity.

Readers of this column interested in non-haiku may enjoy a loosely organized group from the 1700s known as “The Metaphysical poets.” This included John Donne, Andrew Marvell, and George Herbert. Frequently, they sought to yoke together the dissimilar elements of the Universe. They didn’t write haiku, but they shared in its spirit.


A snapping turtle:

The spike on its carapace,

Punctures the cosmos.


  Kevin McLaughlin



Peggy Verrall lives in Monks Risborough, UK. She is a retired teacher with an exceptional appreciation for the Seasons. Her second poem relates the truth that even green shoots have to fight their way to the sun’s nourishment.


Birdsong and bluebells

Flooding through the fresh-leaved trees

Soft, spring scented air.


Green shoots are fighting

Through the frozen soil, for their

Place in the spring sun.


  Peggy Verrall



Milton Ehrlich is an 87-year-old psychologist and a Korean War veteran who has been published in the Huffington Post and the New York Times.


A praying mantis

Snags a red salamander

Off a lily pad


A red-wing blackbird

Spreads her wings on a cattail

To protect her nest.


  Milton Ehrlich



Dianne Moritz has just recently started writing haiku. She lives in Southampton, New York, a part of the world blessed with a large deer population.


cool forest floor

a deer curls up

naps in brown leaves


vast Montana sky

only stars to guide us through

the darkness


  Dianne Moritz



Jack Maze is a Professor Emeritus of Botany at the University of British Columbia. What a feel for trees he has! It is as if sap runs along with blood in his veins.


little blue flowers

in a spring lawn

mower’s in for repairs


white magnolia petals

flutter in a breeze

one by one, they fall.


bundle of cherry flowers


into a raindrop


  Jack Maze



Joseph Davidson returned to life’s original home—the Ocean. He sees his true nature in the interaction of surf, sand, and sky.


White gust shifting dunes,

Abandoned castles crumble:

Waves bringing more sand.


Sea oats dancing fast,

Waves crashing ever closer:

Flock of gulls head west.


(Magnificent juxtaposition.)


  Joseph Davidson

Sravani Singampalli is a published writer from India. She is fond of house sparrows, drawing, and painting. Oh . . . she also writes beautiful haiku. So poignant! I would love to be able to read these in her native language.


twilight scenery

sometimes half

is beautiful


the wilted rose

still gives off strong fragrance

a widow


  Sravani Singampalli



Linda M. Crate found BTS on Facebook. Ms. Crate seems to enjoy an extremely personal relationship with nature.


silver solemn moon

the tulip dreams, eyes closed

cold rain interrupts.


wind chimes clambering

unsettling flower secrets

midnight without moon.


creek stones shimmering

the whispered stones spill secrets

a golden sun laughs.


  Linda M. Crate



Angie Davidson recently visited the White Sands Buddhist Center. Simply stated, she captured its essence.


Tree covering road

Walking down the Eightfold Path:

Giant white Buddha.


  Angie Davidson



Mick Rose enjoys working his camera and eating pizza . . . sounds great to me. Mick also displays keen juxtaposition.


stark reef shatters hull

mere flotsam left to salvage . . .

in him she finds rest.


  Mick Rose



Jerome Betts has submitted two haiku that appeal to visual sensation, and the first also invokes a pleasant aroma of cattle.


Rain-matted cattle

Stand in vapor-wreathed circles

Under trickling trees.


Late sun on the roof

Caught in roundels of lichen

Congeals to crazed gold.


  Jerome Betts



Ray Spitzenberger is a Texan who has frequently made contributions to BTS. Once again, we welcome Mr. Spitzenberger to this column.


strange doings at the frog pond

gills become lungs

soon, new sounds


old weathered bridge

on a forgotten back road

creek runs underneath.


  Ray Spitzenberger



Maria DePaul, based in Washington, DC, derives poetry from the urban landscape. Her third haiku is a thing of beauty . . . and conveys starkly animal peril.


Fawn on Metro track

Galloping toward escape

Spring exploration


River mists linger

Egrets alight onto reeds

Early Spring morning


Sultry Summer night

Raccoons take risks to forage

On city streetscapes


  Maria DePaul



Gerard Sarnat has a delightfully offbeat way with words and verse. Dr. Sarnat was published in our previous column as well.


Sunbeams glance moonbeams

Dance waterfalls-trees and ferns

Infinite fractals.


Meditation’s life

Lifting at the gym-let go

Outside distractions.


Fab ability

To concentrate mind’s steady




Whole-hearted connectedness

Quick fully no strain?


  Gerard Sarnat

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

John Hawkhead has given us two haiku that deserve to be read at least twice in order for the reader to capture all of the nuances. John gives us the opportunity to remember that reading haiku is a skill. They are not meant to be skimmed through like many other forms.


placing the eel trap

into oil black waters

whispers through reeds


the fall of silence

in graduations of dusk

a nightjar’s first call


(Fine juxtaposition in both of these.)


  John Hawkhead


Goran Gatalica from Croatia has degrees in both chemistry and physics from the University of Zagreb. My compliments, sir! And Mr. Gatalica writes beautiful haiku. It is interesting to note how many scientists also write haiku.


sudden flood

the roots of hydrangeas

cover my rock wall


autumn harvest

in our overgrown yards

mice squeaking


  Goran Gatalica



Steve Denehan lives in Kildare, Ireland, with his wife and daughter. His second haiku combines beauty and wisdom.


behind me birds sing

in trees of empty branches

blossoms on the grass


we fall together

stones into a hidden lake

waiting to be found


  Steve Denehan



Sarah Lybrand is a writer, producer, and poet. Aristotle’s ideal man could be alone, yet never lonesome. I believe Ms. Lybrand’s climber has a sense of that ideal.


lone mountain climber

finds solace in the climbing

climbs out of himself


on air-thirsty skin

the must of hot luscious milk

drinks the mosquito


  Sarah Lybrand



Mary Spadoni, who resides in Astoria, New York,  gives us a verse in which a fox takes a bride . . . most admirable!


Lanterns are hung as

rain falls from the cloudless sky

The fox takes a bride


Reach for the branch and

your fruit will shake itself free

Dragons lie in wait


A bird gently preens

and soft feathers fill the air

like warm summer snow.


(Usually I don’t publish haiku using similes, but the delightful contradiction of warm summer snow was irresistible.)


  Mary Spadoni



Dan Cardoza has the versatility to envision both catfish and the stars.


Dew on a dawn leaf

snares a shiny universe

stars and moon complete.


Shiny catfish swim

through mirrored clouds that gather

rouge before the dawn.


  Dan Cardoza


Aliyah Jackson displays the traits of a visionary in these two verse. Note Aliyah closely parallels the classical format.


From the secret pond

he looked beyond the peak

of each mountain top.


The gravel road home

swayed so heavily that the

trees forgot to stand.


   Aliyah Jackson



Patricia Keely, with these contributions, is making her entry into the world of publishing her work. Welcome! This fine 71-year-old received her love of poetry from her husband. She writes that haiku flash through her mind.


Eyes of the Owl

Looking on begging owlets

In need of Mom’s hunt.


On top of a mountain

Two rainbows above a cloud

Much to my delight.


Pillow cloud drifting

Can I rest my head on you,

And fall into sleep.


  Patricia Keely


Robert Beveridge makes noise (band camp) and publishes his poetry in Akron, Ohio.  I was struck by the metaphysical beauty of his haiku. It is a pleasure to close out this month’s column with these exceptional pieces.


I stare into a

rose, blood red: Mishima

died for my sins


echoes of new love

trees listening to birdcalls

in the still forest


blue pagoda

cherry blossoms drip

April rain


  Robert Beveridge

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