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with Kevin McLaughlin

Kevin MacLaughlin, haiku poetry magazine, haiku

Haiku and Maggots


The aesthetics of haiku are non-judgmental. The natural world, including the quantum and macro realms, is indifferent to the sufferings and joys of humanity. Some of the finest haiku present with pure objectivity. In this regard, haiku may be compared to some of the best-known Zen koans such as “The Buddha is a shit-stick,” “The sound of one hand,” and “Does a dog have Buddha nature?” Many haikuists are capable of reflecting an image or the-thing-as-it-is without encumbering the 17 syllables with the afflictive emotions.


Haiku’s subject matter is wide open. There are no appropriate or inappropriate topics.

Another difference between classical haiku and traditional poetry is a kind of non-duality in which the separation of subject and object is removed. This non-duality removes judgmental thoughts and the afflictive emotions. The strong sense of Self is replaced by an interconnected-ness with all images and entities. In Zen this is known as mushin, no-mind. The poet has an unselfconsciousness wherein they are not divided from their subject, the knower from the known.


Attaining this state of mind makes even the most mundane subject a source of wonderment. Everyday objects and images reveal the inner world. The plop of Basho’s frog jumping into a pond resolves the mystery of the Universe. Rejoice in the sight of a dog pissing as you would the spectacle of a waterfall roiling into the rapids. Do not overlook the jewel in the mundane because you are scanning the heavens.

Fat maggots wriggle,

On the open trash can’s lid:

Early morning light.

Kevin McLaughlin

Observe the maggots mindfully.

Gerry Fabian lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He is a retired English instructor who has been published in many journals. His novels are available at Smashwords and other ebook publishers.


Wandering jew vines

hang from a rough oaken beam —

the snow falls outside.


The river current

bubbles over long flat rocks

forming white rapids.


In early morning

a skyline with streaks of red

and clouds hanging low.


A northern chill falls

across the leaf covered lawn.

A slight white coating.


Gull prints in the sand

are erased by foaming tides;

leaving shell debris.


Gerry Fabian



Anthony Watkins, a renowned poet in many different forms, has written a wish-fulfilling jewel.


When the wind blows waves

Into whitecaps on the bay

The flounders don’t mind.


Anthony Watkins



David VanderMeer is a recent college graduate, returned to his native Colorado. He enjoys working around machines.


That car is gone

But never gone, just smaller:

The vanishing point


Cotton candy clouds

In the sunset’s afterglow:

Ferris wheel lights up.


An old address book

Digits on yellow pages

Line disconnected


David VanderMeer

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

Sarah Calvello is a student at City College of San Francisco. Her “empty thoughts” are the emptiness of the absolute realm that lies beyond the conventional world.


between the lines

I try to step outside

daisies light up sweet grass


empty thoughts


windy sun blows circles in my mind


I thought I smelled cigar smoke

stopping midstep

ghosts whisper in these walls


Sarah Calvello


Raj K. Bose demonstrates what is like to be awake and present in the moment. He is a mindful man, aware of moonbeams and the smell of rain. All of the senses, all of the time.


barred window,

silently entering the room . . .



waking up . . .

earth and my nose tell me,

it rained last night!


winter night

the breeze carrying

the distant notes of a guitar.


Raj K. Bose



Joseph Davidson, a classicist and an advanced spiritual practitioner, has written a unique “Chain haiku,” each poem riffing from the first, each poem flowing like a mountain stream.


Watching river flow,

Lost soul’s bottle drifting by,

Every breath anew.


Watching river flow,

Leaves of yesterday’s storm pass—

Turtle suns on log.


Joseph Davidson


Andrea Cecon gives us pathos, hope, light, darkness, and the moon. He lives in Italy with his Russian haijin wife, Valeria Simenova-Cecon.


withered fields

beneath the moon

my aging face


First published in Haikuniverse November 10th, 2018.

I light a candle

with a candle —

memorial day


from darkness

to darkness —

winter dawn


(This piece celebrates, indirectly, a holiday sacred to many, the Winter Solstice.)

subzero morning . . .

my breath

in the teacup

winter afternoon

the long shades

of my mistakes


fragile moon

a leaf falls



meditation retreat . . .

a candle melts

into candle’s remains


Andrea Cecon


Dylan Hull is a high school English teacher in Japan. He has been published in a variety of journals.


wringing dishwater

from the putrefying sponge—

I’ve my mother’s hands


Hiroshima dome

the toddler wraps his fingers

around balloon strings


(The first line is an image Yeats would have called “A terrible beauty.”)


cherry blossom

cherry blossoms . . .



(This entrancing poem has the feel of a Zen koan. So?)


Punching in and out—

beyond the factory gates

wild strawberries


Dylan Hull

haiku image

Paula R. Hilton is a novelist who explores the way deeply flawed people can still be forces for good. Her debut novel, Little Miss Chaos, received the Kirkus Star.


Birds trill, hoot, coo. Palms,

pines, magnolias stretch for sky.

Dawn in Florida.


Fall fox is hidden.

Stealthy. Camouflaged. Even

when the world burns orange.


From the dry, brown twigs,

cottony buds burst open.

We survived winter.


Paula R. Hilton



Tate Lewis will be graduating from Wesleyan University with a degree in English Writing and a degree in Religion.


flowers bloom

in graveyards—

bees don’t mind


(Agreed. This is not a realm for nihilists.)



i cannot imagine




trees on fire remembering

my father’s cremation


Tate Lewis

Jake Maze was raised in Hollister, California. He is a Professor Emeritus of Botany at the University of British Columbia. Mr. Maze is eminently qualified to write haiku, and this is reflected in his work.



pretty yellow flower

now dingy gray seedhead


(Thing of beauty. This haiku conveys the same sense of impermanence as Blake’s “O Rose thou art sick.”)


fading from view—

forsythia flowers

hidden by emerging leaves


small-leafed ivy

along an old picket fence—

gray-green lichens


lumbering biped

follows a squirrel down the street—

bare branches


under the maples

but still apprehensive—

bare branches


first cherry blossoms

alongside a hospital—

bed by the window


Jake Maze


Goran Gatalica is an avid haikuist from Zagreb, Croatia. We have been fortunate enough to become a frequent publisher of Goran’s work. In particular, the first haiku has the “feel” of one of the ancient masters.


father’s memories


in roadside ditch


new moon

smeared the windshield

with the moths


other side of river

hulking body

of a buffalo


warm afternoon

this untamed landscape

in the cicada’s song


spring melancholy —

an old railway line

after rain


turbulence —

traffic snarled city

in my veins


Goran Gatalica



Mark Gilbert writes poetry and prose. He has recently been published in Sonic Boom, Human/Kind, and Twist in Time.


black-capped chickadee

just a few syllables



(Enjoyable twist on classic haiku’s 5-7-5 syllable structure . . . bit of well phrased irony.)


      the cold flames

           of fireflies

      playing our song


(Buson and Issa would have enjoyed this haiku.)


Mark Gilbert


Alan Watts has provided a unique insight into the poet/subject nature of haiku. “Words are not used to express anything but rather to clear away something that seems to stand between us and the real things—which are, in truth, not separate from ourselves at all.”


Kevin McLaughlin

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