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with Kevin McLaughlin

Kevin MacLaughlin, poetry magazine, haiku

“But with a little more familiarity you realize that haiku poetry excels in one of the rarest haiku virtues, the virtue of knowing when to stop.” – Alan Watts

Nothing Special

Red mangrove prop roots advance into the bays and channels, trapping soil and organic debris, creating changes to islands and shoreline configuration and to the course of channels in the back country. 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 Huang Mi.
"It is none other than the action of non-action. This could be the effortless meandering 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 is pure Tao, unforced, adhering to nature’s cycles.  Wu-wei is nothing special." - Kevin McLaughlin

Opossum ambles
Back to its nest in the woods—
A familiar route.


Gravity squeezes,
Hydrogen into dense clumps—
First stars form.


Two spiders reside,
In a nook of the shower stall,
Safe from water spray.


-K. McLaughlin

Raymond  Spitzenberger is a freelance writer who has published poetry, haiku, fiction, non-fiction, and history in numerous publications. He holds a Doctor of Arts in English from the University of Michigan and a Master of Arts in English from the University of Houston.

the owl takes his perch
baby squirrels hide in nest
eerie clouds and moon

coldest night ever
telephone pole moon halo
church bell knells brightly

a blue moon this year
giant ball of reflected light
The Blue Moon sells beer


(The four following haiku are about Vincent Van Gogh, a preacher’s son, who did a bit of painting. Though it does not follow traditional haiku logic, I could not resist selecting these powerful pieces. Ah, Starry, Starry night.)

“Reformed Church, Nuenen”
large crowd for small church
the preacher’s son leaves
missionary work
mining town of Borinage
the preacher’s son preaches
“Miners in the Snow”
pencil, aquarelle, paper
the preacher’s son draws
concern for outcasts
“The Brothel,” night life in Arles
the preacher’s son sins
- Ray Spitzenberger

It is evident that Vera Ignatowitsch is tapped into “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower." (Dylan Thomas). These haiku proclaim the Dharma like the trumpeting of an elephant. Wish I had written that third poem.

purple horizon;
blood flooding capillaries
crushed into a bruise


monarchs migrating;
transcontinental journey
of generations.

phytoplankton bloom
chlorophyll swells and beckons


-Vera Ignatowitsch

John Rowland’s poetry has a distinct nautical flavor. Right now, we inhale the sea air in the safety of a bay. Mr. Rowland’s senses are acutely awakened. I thank Mr. Rowland for staying close to the traditional form. Haiku sometimes takes work to craft into a poem. It is not, as some believe, free form, loosely associated clauses expressed in 3 lines! Employing some punctuation helps the reader follow your vision.

First rays of the sun,
Slipping over the east ridge,
Dance on indigo.
A new day begins,
In the safety of this bay,
This ancient refuge.
A broad open bay,
Ringed by lush, rugged hills.
Rocky shores, save one.
The sun runs its arc,
Indigo turns to azure,
Fifty hulls gleaming.

-John Rowland


Bob Whitmire is a retired journalist and social worker, an ex-soldier and doting grandfather. He writes poetry both on and off his motorcycle; his work is sprinkled across the web and in print.

small child in twilight
tiny hands wave at the moon
the pain of Issa


(My compliments to all haiku writers familiar with Issa.)

my two grandchildren
butterflies poised on milkweed
waiting for the wind

sitting in shade
wooden bench on Iona
call of the cuckoo

laden sky descends
snowflakes big as umbrella
nor’easter bows low


-Bob Whitmire

Joseph Davidson is a bodhisattva whose work proves that haiku is the simplest and most sophisticated form of literature. His poems sometimes look as if they are the work not of art, but of nature. Follow the progression of darkness in the second poem; is not “creeping" the perfect verb for the second line?

Home on horizon,
Gulls cry and salt air greet me,
Miles now memories.


Phantoms in sunset,
Shadows creeping along the wall,
Absorbed in night.


Moonbeam’s silver road,
Becoming dewdrops in sun:
Daisies and diamonds.


-Joseph Davidson


This month Angela Davidson shifts her focus from the heavenly realm to the earthbound realm. She is adept in either sphere.  So gentle is she!

Down by waterside.
Sitting in dark silhouette,
A peaceful silence.


In the morning light,
Thinking of the journey home:
Fog over mountains.


Flames dance on darkness,
Sound of chanting fills the air:
Inner peace fulfilled.


-Angela Davidson

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

Angelee Deodhar is an eye surgeon as well as a haiku poet. Ms. Deodhar lives in Chandigarh, India.

first light —
beach combers and
a rolling wave of gulls
stillness . . .
after the storm
a night of stars
floating world —
in the wind shorn dandelion
one haiku

April showers —
the scarecrow loses
its face
smoky morning

sunlight struggles through
a warbler's song

-Angelee Deodhar
Winston Plowes lives aboard his floating home in Calderdale, U.K. His latest collection of verse, “Telephones, Love Hearts, & Jellyfish” was published in 2017.

boots march through mud
writing the future
we’re living today
September’s yellow suns
nature comes and goes
mirabelle plums

password protected
echoes of hearts and lungs
don’t look at the screen


grief is seldom black
sometimes it’s brown or gold —
birds sat on a fence


in a bar in Donegal
life lives in pint glasses
some full, some empty


-Winston Plowes


Devon Richey lives in  Vidor, Texas. He submitted on haiku only …one that radiates purity. This piece has elements of classical haiku and is suffused with colors and visual imagery. One such verse is worth more than 10 mediocre pieces.

sun beams escape clouds
gold and orange, the butterflies
array clover fields

-Devon Richey

Christine Taylor, an English teacher and librarian at a local independent school, resides in her hometown Plainfield, New Jersey. Her work appears and is forthcoming in Modern Haiku, Presence, and Shamrock Haiku Journal.

snowy riverbank
such red
holly berries

afternoon hike:
only the dog marks
our path

the foot
of an old tree—
our kitten called home

paw prints
across the snow
whisper white

sudden snow . . .
       I thought I saw
clover in the grass


-Christine Taylor


Denny E. Marshall has had art, poetry, and fiction published. One recent credit is poetry Weirdbook #37 Sept 2017 issue.


new robots for sale
with feelings or no-feelings

i could not decide.


(1st Published Planet Magazine)


computer virus
infects all electronics
toast comes out blue screen


(1st Published Lincoln Underground)


flower bud opens
slowly with green toothless jaw
tongue showers color


(1st Published Poetry Pacific Green)


(Toothless jaw …what a beautiful image.)


crowd in heart thins out
over time each left two drops
took one drop of mine

-Denny E. Marshall

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