Haiku

with Kevin McLaughlin

Zen Master Yuansou (translated by Thomas Cleary), writes, “The mountains, rivers, earth, grasses, trees, and forests, are always emanating a subtle, precious light, day and night, always emanating a subtle, precious sound, demonstrating and expounding to all people the unsurpassed ultimate truth.”

We live in the heaven realm.  We live in the land of suffering and dissatisfaction.  Be comfortable with contradictions and Yuansou will honor you.  The ultimate truth, the unity of the absolute and the conventional realms are available at all times to one who is trained in haiku.  On a daily basis, starting at the particle level and extending throughout the cosmos are myriad openings to perceive the ultimate truth so evident to Master Yuanou.  All a trained haikuist need do is be awake throughout the day, free from distractions and magical thinking. There are 10,000 opportunities to write a haiku every day.  Inspiration and images will come streaming like photons from the sun.  All you need do is pause, receive the inspiration, and format a haiku that answers any koan a Zen Master could toss at you.

The Buddha Statue

Tibetan Buddhist shrine rooms are a place of great joy.  They contain colorful Thangka paintings of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, prayer flags, incense, and altars crowded with statuary and flowers.  There is a lion throne with a thunderbolt Vajra and bell for the teacher.  In the far corner there is a shrine for the wrathful deities who guard the Dharma.

Tibetan Buddhism’s Nyingma school is founded on the teachings of Padmasambhava, the Lama and omniscient mystic who brought the Dharma to Tibet in the 8th century.  Padmasambhava is considered to be an emanation of Shakyamuni.

The shrine room in this haiku-like verse was silent because the practitioners were meditating.

A golden Buddha,

Flanked by Padmasambhava,—

A silent shrine room.

When you see a statue of the Buddha, you should recognize it as if it were your own reflection cast in a waveless mountain lake.

Kevin McLaughlin

 

Jack Priestnall has a unique style in which the intensity of each line grows with each word.  The second line of his first poem takes the reader from pebble to ripples.  When I read it, I automatically filled in the sequence to include melting ice and rapids.

 

Wind, leaves, dancing green.

Pebble, water, ripples fast.

Guns, bullet, dead elk.

 

Finger breaks surface,

waves attack the intrusion.

My goldfish swims on.

 

Fish under the waves.

Maneuverability.

Glimmering wet scales.

 

Pitter patter rain.

Damp asphalt, patterned concrete,

car wheel, puddle…splash!

 

Feathers floating free.

Spreading of the morning wings.

Song for you and me.

 

Puffed up chests of red,

the robin sings for the sun

and the breeze takes it.

(There is more than a touch of mysticism to this haiku.)

 

Jack Priestnall

 

Pawel Markiewicz was born in Siemiatycze, Poland.  He studied both law and German in Poland.  He is a poet who favors haiku, tanka, and cherita.  I suggest he should take a look at gatha.  He has published his work in three languages in six different countries.  He has a well-loved cocker spaniel.  Mr. Markiewicz was published in BTS last month. I hope is inclined to send us more of his poetry for future editions.

 

an insect in icicle

as if he rested after

the forest walking

 

humming bird will fly

towards young boars into

Greek ruins of temple

 

Druid’s altar in snow

I’m bringing warm blueberries

as gift for winter

 

hundred foxes—pond

they are gathering before

the winter full moon

 

the big snowstorm

bird—drinking not frozen drops

from ancient Karst spring

notebook with haiku

I am hiding in hollow

of oldest redwood

Pawel Markiewicz

Angelee Deodhar is an eye surgeon from India.  She has edited three editions of International  Haibun; Journeys, Journeys 2015, and Journeys 2017.

 

equinox mizzle . . .

just enough to bring out

the petrichor

 

water mill—

   prayer flags flap out

songs to the stars

 

(Such a deep understanding of prayer flags!)

 

gamboge

  the nasturtiums’ scent

    a Lama’s robes

 

Boy’s Day—

in a cloud filled sky

colored carp streamers

 

after love,

silence between   rain drops

lengthens

 

Angelee Deodhar 

Sean Lynch is a worker, poet, and editor who lives in Philadelphia, PA. Lynch's poetry has appeared in Chrysanthemum, Poetry Quarterly, (parenthetical), and elsewhere online and in print. His work can also be found at swlynch.com

 

dark clouds hang over

Camden's bombed out row houses

kids run down the street

the wind rustles leaves

harder on this side of the

Delaware River
 

the train speeds by

Our Lady of Lourdes statue

she stands solemnly

 

(Beautiful.  Packed into this haiku is a short story, a novel, and an image with which the reader can instantly identify.)

 

a cricket will sing

in between the blades of time

green sea of silence

 

(This cricket’s song has the spirituality of a quiet cathedral.)
 

the river desires

expansion and floods when fed

from the blooming sky

ghosts of natives prowl

these empty woods — you can see

their shadows crack leaves

 

Sean Lynch

Elisabeth Liebert is the interim director, Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and an associate Professor of English at LSU in Shreveport.

 

mellow sunshine

summons the sleeping earth

tomorrow maybe

abandoned lot

the breath of pink

azaleas

driftwood moon

in my cupped hands

empty water

golden evening

my glass half full of wine

half sun

breathing

I share secrets

with the wind

 

Elisabeth Liebert

 

Arun presents two diverse verses, both of which exhibit a dramatic tension seldom seen in haiku.  We hope to receive more haiku from Arun, along with some biographical information.  Reading these haiku, you can’t help but wish to know a bit more about their writer.

 

Blistering hot sun

Fights to reach tree lined street, fails

Refreshing cool shade

 

Wild and violent

Was said of the art, whose artist

Agreed timidly

Arun

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

Joseph Davidson’s offerings this month remind me of T.S. Eliot’s concept of the “objective correlative,” the connection between the inner man’s emotional state and its reflection in outer nature.  Mr. Davidson focuses on storms.  In each of these haiku the storms are subdued by the tranquility of his inner mind.

 

Misty summer morn,

Cool dampness of passing storm,

Blushing hibiscus.

 

Elemental clash:

Thunder-lightning enwraps shrine,

Ego prostrating.

 

Dark clouds pierced by moon:

Brief flash of jealous lightning,

Summer’s rain sweet smell.

 

Joseph Davidson

Angie Davidson has the ability to see life with Big Mind.  Her worldview is beautifully expressed in the line, “A flower unfurls its bloom.”  Mrs. Davidson’s altruism is reflected in all her poetry, as well as in her daily life.

 

Rain comes down on earth,

A flower unfurls its bloom—

The power of life!

 

(Pure joyfulness)

 

Traveling down road,

Colored trees on side of road,

Sun is shining bright.

 

(One of this month’s few seasonal references.)

 

Angie Davidson

 

Devon Richey hails from Vidor, Texas. His haiku cover a diverse subject matter (appropriate to Texas).  The last haiku in this set is sheer beauty . . . he finds the perfect haiku subject in such an unlikely setting.  It is so easy for the reader to envision that advent calendar floating by.

 

gentle summer breeze

the hotel balcony sheers

attempting to fly

sunset piazza

the flip-flops' rhythmic slapping

descends with the sun

cloudless summer sky

the L-shape of seagull wings

framing horizon

startled summer flock

childhood games of hide-and-seek

in the clothesline whites

after August flood

last year’s advent calendar

floats past the front door

 

Devon Richey

 

John Rowland appeared in this column last month.  His theme continues to be nautical, the primeval soup from which all single cell life began.  The images are vivid and appeal to all our senses, as if we ourselves were on the water.  The reference to the Southern Cross in the last haiku ties all of them together.

 

The squall lines pass south,

Marching from the Atlantic

Bound for Mexico.

 

Beyond the west ridge

Towering thunderheads rise

White against the blue.

 

The afternoon sun

Falls toward the horizon.

Clouds are rose and grey.

 

The sun sinks away,

Azure turns to indigo,

Stars light up the sky.

 

Fifty boats at rest,

Guarded by the Southern Cross.

The cycle runs on.

John Rowland

 

Bob Whitmire also appeared in this column last month.  Mr. Whitmire is a retired journalist, social worker, and an ex-soldier.  He has expressed taking joy in being with his grandchildren and in riding his mototcycle.

 

snowflakes never ask

if the dance will ever end

they love the falling

dragonflies converge

canoe glides through lily pads

spring vibrates the air

quiet night

wisps of clouds across the moon

a lumpy cot

flashes of red and gold

blow by on a bitter wind

autumn leaves.

 

Bob Whitmire 

 

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” -Shakespeare

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