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with Kevin McLaughlin

Kevin MacLaughlin, poetry magazine, haiku

Haiku and Non-Duality


Haiku writing is an introduction to interbeing, to a community effort that Buddhists might refer to as non-dualism. The author of the haiku is of secondary importance. A moment of insight into the nature of reality has been created, and it matters not whether it was you or I who brought it into existence.

In the early years when Basho and Buson were writing, it was not uncommon for poets to gather at places known for cherished subjects—bamboo groves, streams, mountain lakes, etc., to share their haiku. One poet would write a line, then pass it to another, who would add the second line, and pass it to the third, who would usually add a juxtaposition to the first two lines.

Sharing lines became accepted. It was not plagiarism to “borrow” a line. It was a sign of respect. Each haikuist might build on the work of another. A form of chain writing also developed where poets gathered to write haiku about an identical image. What variety that created! It became a form of “chain” haiku that is practiced to this day. Each poet contributes in a noncompetitive manner. All poets share the final product.

Recently, I sent my friend Joseph Davidson a casual haiku:


One drop of water:

Numerous protozoans,

Swim in their Cosmos.


Truly delighted was I when Joseph linked into my verse:

One drop of water,

Rain falling on small pond,

Music of the spheres.

Truly astonished was I when Ron LePere unexpectedly added:

One drop of water,

Another and another,

Making of a flood.

Even more gratifying, the small haiku circle wasn’t finished linking. Angie Davidson completed the play verse with:

Tug from gravity:

An atmospheric vapor,

Brings raindrops from the sky.

Haiku is a form of friendship, of unity. This is collaboration, not competition, in its purest form. Through synergy it is a form that becomes greater than the sum of its parts. All are welcome to join.

David McClintock lives in Liverpool, England. He believes the mundane can be poetic. For this observation alone, he is either an accomplished haikuist or a Sage . . . or both. Reminds me of J.P. Donleavy, one of my favorite novelists.

Under grey sky, surface

Water of pond scooped up high—

Yellow-legged ducks skip.

digger-bucket claws

a wall. bricks spill; rubbles scooped;

windows snag like rags.

Sun shuttered down street,

breeze, single car, bird: red brick

wall shouts angry quote.

David McClintock

Hanoch Guy is a poet bilingual in English and Hebrew. He has authored six collections of poetry.


Himalayan salt shaker

By a salt sea shaker

Meeting of ocean and mountain


Hanoch Guy

Joseph Davidson’s haiku are transcendent. He captures the true nature of the-thing-in-itself. Few can achieve that state of Being.

Wings drying in the sun,

Terrestrial no more:

Cocoon turns to dust.



Hundreds laid out in column:

Frog poop on driveway.


(Great juxtaposition! Our Zen friends will appreciate this verse.)


Joseph Davidson 

Cynthia Sharp enjoys sipping a latte while reading BTS magazine. Her “yin and yang at rest” line in the first haiku is a description of a Taoist Immortal’s life.


slender curve of moon

in the cool descending night

yin and yang at rest


Previously published in Haiku Journal.


sunfish in the sky

clouds dipping like quick minnows

turning lavender


Previously published in Haiku Journal.


rhythms of womb time

spilled like sunlight incarnate

when Gaia dreamed earth

Previously published in Three Line Poetry.



exploding supernova

eternity blinks


Cynthia Sharp

David Bankson’s “one million raindrops” have the impact of a finely conceived Impressionistic poem. Mr. Bankson works well with rain.

one million raindrops

rendezvous at the puddle

to mirror the sky

rain beats the rooftop

mother washes the dishes . . .

water spills a rivulet.

David Bankson

Angie Davidson has sent one of the most rewarding haiku we have published this year. Ah . . . “Salted ash ascends.”


Swallow tail flutters

Among Buddha in the garden—

Salted ash ascends.


Slowly taking breath,

Laying on leather table,

At acupuncture.


Angie Davidson

Ray Spitzenberger’s elegant work is well-known to those who follow this column. Ray, who holds a doctorate from the University of Michigan, makes his home on a prairie near Houston.


hermitic heron

standing in shallow water

wind blows through salt grass


bubble-throat lizard

between the teeth of my cat

rolls his eyes at me


flat endless prairie

rare prairie cocks leave tall grass

must be seen to mate.


Ray Spitzenberger



Nancy Botta manages to blend both the ethereal and the concrete in her work. Her third haiku is absolutely haunting . . . and well-known to many of us.


Bustling white sidewalks

displaced coyotes yip, howl,

slink through midnight streets.


Early winter fog

envelops a neighborhood—

the burial shroud.


In a rusted town

weeds entomb old railroad tracks—

new necropolis.


Nancy Botta

On or off his motorcycle, Bob Whitmire has a steady poetic eye. He also has a fine understanding of how this planet functions.

the bell’s toll

vanishes in air

sea mist rises


sluggish breakers

night sifts slowly through the mist

cry of the white gull


the moon

behind thick clouds

may still be the moon


Bob Whitmire

Harold Whisman, from Virginia, is a retired English and Journalism teacher. It is clear, especially in his third poem, that he perceives the cycle of birth and death, and beauty’s paradox.


surrounded by drab,

near lifeless green, a bright red

bloom springs forth, smiling


a November wind

blows and stunning beauty falls

to a quiet death


standing alone in

a dull field of grass and weeds,

the oak never sighs


Harold Whisman



Christy Burbidge, who grew up spending summers on Martha’s Vineyard, has been published in six literary journals and one anthology.  We are delighted she decided to make BTS her seventh journal. I love her “Canadian geese” verse.


Canadian geese—

silhouettes stirring

forgotten snow.


sheep by stone walls

bathed in maple air—

equally aged


(Maple air . . . how fulfilling for the senses.)


younger fisherman

casting hope—

pulls in rejects


Christy Burbidge

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

Linda Scott writes she partakes of the joyousness of a brain ramble. What a lovely, energizing thought!


Aging friends recall

the days of fun and dancing

as if yesterday


(True, true.)


What are you dreaming?

Such a precious babe!

Life has just begun!


Linda Scott

Jeffrey Thomas submitted an entry that, to me, combines a subtle feeling of both selected finality and wistfulness. Well done.


Benevolent winds

Blowing me away from here

Never to return


Jeffrey Thomas

Gerard Sarnat has been published extensively. He has won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award in addition to the Dorfman Prize.


Tutsi beauty — head

cut off along with breasts — new

Hutu massacre.


Two glasses of wine

a day — more than exercise

— helps live past ninety.


Liberated — arhat

zilch sexual desire — not

advertised widely.


What differentiates

states of enlightenment from

just getting real old?


Patriarch in pain,

though loved, no one cares as much

as moi about me.


I’ve been a student

of desire for more than

seventy-two years.


Forks in roads soon yield

clean well-being — or swoons on

muddy spoon-chocked paths.

Gerard Sarnat


Joan Fingon from Ventura, California, enjoys entering (and frequently winning) writing contests. Matsuo Basho would have walked miles to enjoy the jacaranda leaves in Joan’s third poem.

salt water catches
sand between my toes
leaving footprints behind me

two hummingbirds
circle and dance—
marriage in the sky

a gust of wind
drops Jacaranda leaves—
painting a purple carpet

Joan Fingon

Joyce Kopp was kind enough to indicate she enjoys reading BTS.  Ms. Kopp let me state I enjoyed reading your work.


dawn squints through dark clouds

soaked trees drip leftover rain

birds feast on wet worms


Shinto shrine of rocks, wood

sacred water

sprouts new life and ripples peace


Joyce Kopp

Professor Ram Krishna Singh sent us haiku from Dhanbad, India. His work, at least this set, is especially eclectic, featuring masses of people and a wonderful image of “decaying fireflies.”


crowded streets

moving among the years

wretched faces


fingers feel

decaying fireflies

in night lights


slowly rising

from the cloud’s edges

autumn sun


Prof. R.K. Singh

Faiz Ahmad is in the final year of pursuing Bachelors-Masters Sciences, at IIT Madras. He believes in poetry as the “ground of bewilderment,” or just “simply being.”


perched mynas;

pecking at the sun with

thin yellow beaks


winter night;

silver moon hatching into

young moon-birds


Faiz Ahmad

Please Note: Once a haiku is written, it belongs to all of us.

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