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with Kevin McLaughlin

Kevin MacLaughlin, poetry magazine, haiku


Master Shogen, the Abbot of Zuigan Temple, loved teaching haiku to his monks. “Haiku,” he lectured, “is the ideal poetry form. It captures the-thing-in-itself, and nothing more. There is nothing extraneous. Perceive your unique vision of the world. Haiku measures both the amount of Zen in the writer and the reader.” Shogen, a lifelong haiku devotee, read one haiku per day and rarely wrote more than five in a year.

“Why is it that you read only one haiku each day?” asked Daitsu, one of his most promising students.

“Because reading one haiku per day is sublime,” replied the old Zen Master, “reading two is tedious.”

Unlike the fictitious Master Shogen, I write one haiku each day.  I consider putting together these 17 syllable pieces an essential part of my mindfulness practice. I prefer autobiographical haiku, images I have seen, heard, or smelled. This helps keep me awake, aids in preventing daydreams, idle musings, or perseverating about the hundreds of concerns each of us might experience. I do agree with Master Shogen that haiku are best read one per day or, if necessary, in small groupings. Reading haiku requires skill and concentration. Read them too rapidly, and you risk missing a beautiful image/insight. If we read too many haiku in one sitting, the haiku, due to their brevity, may bleed into one another; their unique character can be lost.

The gopher tortoise,

Disappears down its burrow:

Woodpecker screeches.


Water lily leaves,

Uprooted by the storm’s winds,

Float across the pond.


  Kevin McLaughlin

Pawel Markiewicz  was born in Siemiatycze.  He studied both law and the German language in Poland. He has a cosmic vision that ranges from spiders to stars.


the fog over me

lava is flowing slowly

in rhythm of spiders


the fog above me

all dreams are being fulfilled

in ways to the stars


ewer and calyx

the dew is being cooled here

ready to drink it


  Pawel Markiewicz


Nicholas Klacsanzky writes to us from Kyiv, Ukraine. Mr. Klacsanzky publishes a blog analyzing haiku. He is capable of seeing the sky with a touch of sparrows and also of grasping the essence of kelp.



the eyes I see

in the dark


thud of rain

on the forest floor—

horse dreams


an unfinished bridge

a sky with a touch

of sparrows


  Nicholas Klacsanzky


Honorah Murphy, a physics professor at Trinity University of Dublin, wrote to tell me how much she truly enjoys the work of our resident astrophysics buff Angie Davidson. I enjoy it, too.


The asteroid belt

Between Jupiter and Mars,

Circles the Sun.


Made of ice and dust,

Comets leave trails of vapor

Which are seen for miles.

  Angela Davidson


Elaine Wilburt is a versatile poet with a gift for haiku featuring surprise and juxtaposition. She graduated Middlebury College with degrees in English and French. Her work has appeared in several publications, and her devotionals in The Word in Season.


car door opens

unexpected freedom:

frog leaps out.


leaving hospital

under dark clouds:

birdsong in the mist.

  Elaine Wilburt


James Babbs has written three elegiac haiku that are in the Japanese tradition (mourning and sorrow) that also call to mind Donne’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and Milton’s “Lycidas.”  May you, Mr. Babbs, and your loved ones be blessed.

without you,

autumn chill hidden

in the summer wind



dried rose petals in

the pockets of my coat.


morning light falling

over gravestones

long shadows on the grass




  James Babbs

Joseph Davidson must spend part of each day in meditative equipoise. He is sensitive to all phases of nature, and clearly understands the inter-being of all things. Mr. Josephson writes a haiku every day, as do I.


Cold stars burning bright,

Salt breeze stirring sand pines:

Night’s coal ruby glow.


Unblinking night eye,

Gazing over darkened sea:

Waning silver light.


Moonrise hours off,

Forgotten Sun dawns elsewhere:

Darkened highway east.

  Joseph Davidson


Mr. Fazio Lives in Sicily.  He holds a BA in philosophy and works as a translator. . . excellent credentials for a haiku writer!  Perhaps this is just my own subjective assessment: I detect traces of deep spirituality in Mr. Fazio’s work.


curtain moving

back and forth in a gentle wind

God’s breath in my bedroom


end of summer evening

a bat frantically chasing

the runaway sun


child’s laughter carried

by Autumn’s gray breeze

smell of baking cake

  Loris John Fazio


CM Crockford has submitted but one poem, but it is a thing of beauty. It conveys both sensuality and a love of nature. There is a unique parallelism in the first two lines. Mr. Crockford is located on the Autism spectrum. We hope he sees fit to make additional contributions to this column.


The tangle of trees/

The tangle of her red hair/

Rich in morning light.

  CM Crockford


Jack Priestnall has submitted three haiku that demonstrate the inner stillness a haiku poet can convey. The cutting between the 2nd and 3rd lines of the first poem is the true haiku spirit.


A summer stillness,

my concentration broken

by a sparrow’s call.


Cotton wick burns out

inside the temple idol

—my last second up.

The young choir girl sings

to Nirvana’s Nevermind

at home . . . in secret.

  Jack Priestnall


Welcome to the writings of Bobby Horn, a United Methodist Pastor who serves a pair of churches in Cass County, Texas. He captures well the variety of God’s creations. Pastor Horn manages to accomplish this while adhering to the 5-7-5 syllable format. I am especially moved by his great white sharks and majestic trees.


beneath calm waters

great white sharks swim blissfully

like children at play


dark clouds high above

gather together and cry

tears for the day’s death


fire, fire burning bright

passing gently through the woods

destroys and creates


grand majestic trees

stoically weather the ages

never complaining

flying dragons soar

high above fields and cities

keeping peace alive

  Bobby Horn


Asad Jaleel is a writer and a legal professional from Naperville, Ilinois.

Biking down the creek

A new unexpected sight

Brown buck with antlers

(Ho, ho, imagine the delightful surprise!)


Silver lightning sky

Makes a circuit with the soil

Natural power

(So much contained in that 2nd line. I envision its physics quite vividly.)


  Asad Jaleel

Thalia Dunn lives in New Jersey with family and an assortment of cats. Her work deals with the natural world and the cycles of life.  Ms. Dunn teaches at a local high school. Note the simple beauty of her “solitude or freedom” poem.


Autumn’s morning chill

sliding into equinox;

Winter’s hidden gift

(I admire the way we slide into winter.)


Burnt orange maple leaves

herald winter’s cool approach;

brilliance fades to snow


Sliver of moonlight

smiles in the darkened sky

bidding daylight farewell.


Lone goose flying high,

is solitude or freedom

its destination?


Nature’s artwork

Nurtures, yet overwhelms us

With her beauty

  Thalia Dunn


Diane Lowman has a sense of the world’s visual beauty that could easily translate into photography or painting.  Her second haiku is both metaphysical and of this world.


The Fanciulla sings

The old lady scarfs romaine

From a Ziploc baggie.


Creeping back into

A newish reality

Up a thin silk thread

Diane Lowman


Armando Quiros was born in Panama and raised in California. My personal favorite image is the bark [that] still collects. The Jesus spirit, referenced in the fourth haiku, runs throughout these poems.


ounce of ambergris—

dung coveting beetles trade

in their home for scent.

needles from larch trees

golden currency of fall—

the bark still collects.


scenic xeriscapes—

aurinias in full bloom, gold

bathing in sun rays


her fragrant resin—

boswellia, biblical sap;

praises to Jesus.


  Armando Quiros


Angela D.  Sargent senses the presence of arachnids and the richness of underground life, dormant, but ready to burst awake in spring. How better could a spider be described than “deft” and “quiet?” Thank you, Angela for such subtle poems in the 5-7-5 format.


Deft, quiet spider

Hidden in your tapestry

Teach me all your tricks

Halted underground

Sleepy, hibernating life

Awaits coming spring

  Angela D. Sargent


Pravat Kumar Padhy hails from Odisha, India. He holds a Masters Degree in Science and Technology, as well as a PhD from the Indian Institute of Technology, Dhanbad. Amazing, it is, how many people from the Scientific community write beautiful haiku! Pravat has been published numerous times and won the  Editor’s Honourable Mention Award, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (2013.) Recently his haiku is published in a hole in the light: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2018.



the night in its



falling leaves

my attention drifts

to windward

end of the eclipse—

the fish escapes into

the little pond


crying baby

attention bifurcates

towards the bee

  Pravat Kumar Padhy

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

water branches
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