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 with Kevin McLaughlin

Anhingas are among the only fisher-birds that do not have oil on their feathers. It is a common sight in Florida to see the anhingas, with their long, graceful necks, perched on a rock or a spoil island, drying their wings.


Rotting oyster stench:

Anhinga raises its wings,

To dry its feathers.

Commentary: Whenever questioned about enlightenment and the Dharma, Zen Master Gutei raised one finger.  On his death-bed, Gutei said to his monks, “ I achieved Shakyamuni”s One Finger Zen.  I used it all through my life, but could not exhaust it.”

Gutei raised one finger.  Tbhe anhinga raises its wings.  (This koan appears in Zen Comments on the Mumonkan,” translated by Zenkei Shibayama.)

Kevin McLaughlin


Tangle of pine roots,

I plant my staff carefully—

And stilI I stumble!


A thin lightning bolt,

Leaps from the Earth to the clouds:

Pleasant ozone smell.


Lightning may travel from clouds to Earth, intra-clouds, or from Earth to clouds.


The snow is falling,

Trespassing on hilly ground,

Skidding down the slopes.

K. McLaughlin

One of my favorite haiku poets is Ms. Vera Ignatowitsch.  How easily her verse merge into the classical pattern!  This month Ms. Ignatowitsch experiments with linked verse, a chain of haiku centered around a central subject, in this case, “on haying.”  These verse have a beautiful, rhythmic sound when spoken aloud.


blades of hay rustle

snicked into sheaf by sickle

sharp as season’s end


thirsty grass rustles

dry, cut, falling gracefully

sheaved into fodder


dry grass rustles pulled

taut to sheaf as the sickle

severs attachment

Vera Ignatowitsch

Rose Oliver’s haiku have the delicacy and style of Chinese ink paintings.  Her “Full Moon amid stars” is our teacher from ancient wisdom.  Ms. Oliver’s second piece is a delightful “howl.”  It reminded me of a short poem by William Blake: “My mother screamed/ My father wept/ Into this dangerous world/ Ieapt.”

Luminous jade plate,

The full moon amid stars:

Lantern for the lost.

Sheer beauty!


Destiny begins,

Upon birth in pink or blue,

No wonder we howl.

Rose Oliver

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

poetry magazine, kelly writers house

Another linked verse was sent by Liz Cooke, this chain centered on catch and release fishing.  I think we can all appreciate the stark drama Ms. Cooke frames out in this series.  In ancient times, poets used to collaborate on linked verse.  If you have the opportunity, join Ms. Cooke with your own related haiku.


Fish out of water,

You have been plucked from great depths,

I ponder red scales.


You witnessed the sea,

Her wrath foretold by Luna,

Wild in her tumult.


Breathe water again,

Swim deep and do not falter,

New seas await you.

Liz Cooke

Veerangana is a 13 year old poet from New Delhi, India.  It is difficult to fathom such deep insights being perceived by one so young.  Clearly, a prodigy, we can only wonder what Veerangana will eventually accomplish in the literary world.  We can only hope writing haiku remains in the canon.  Bear in mind, English is possibly just her second language.

temple sarovar

in the journey

of a dusty petal

they left it untouched

the moon

in the beggar’s palm


The above haiku reads like a Buddhist wisdom tale.


old widower

the winter mist

cools his tea


summer dumplings

slide off the moon

mama’s vessel


rainy morning

soaked clouds

in an empty tub


Joyce Kopp recently moved from Pennsylvania to Texas, and is wisely exploring her new world via haiku.  This is, indeed, more than just a linked verse.  It is a Poem to Texas, and can be read as either a series of couplets or as a Western poem.  It appears she is capturing the soul of the State.  We look forward to more from Ms. Kopp.

Cows graze peacefully,

Storm clouds form,

Black flies buzz and bite.

Gleaming eyes of trout,

Lie still under the shadows,

And dart when I move.

Red sunset bright moon,

Calm, still seas,

Sailors wish on stars.

Life’s long winding road,

Many unexpected twists:



Floating on blue waves,

Drifting toward brown shore,

Horizon tugs shore.

Joyce Kopp

Moment by moment reality as we perceive it with our senses never stops flowing.  Moment by moment Mr. Davidson perceives the world with the awareness of a Zen eye.  And a Zen ear and sense of smell that formulates 17 syllable images of what lies just beyond the veil.  This is known as Big Mind.

From atop cattail,

30,000 facet eye

Hunting prey in swamp.

(Oh, yes, I enjoyed the above haiku, and so will everyone else who admires the dragonfly.  I especially enjoyed Mr. Davidson’s subtle reference to one of humanity’s favorite insects.  We should all occasionally view the world with a 30,000 facet eye.)

Scent of orange in air,

Hints of cinnamon linger,

Carried on salt breeze.

Trumpeting of cranes,

Boiling kettle whistling:

Quiet sip of tea.

Shadows held at bay,

Darkness conspires with wind:

Flickering candle.

Joseph Davidson

Kevin MacLaughlin, poetry magazine, haiku

Mrs. Angela Davidson sent in a dragon based linked verse: two haiku that are related, and do influence each other. Dragons are the most wonderful of mythological creatures, and are significant in several religions. And we get the bonus of reflecting back on Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.

The lonely Mountain,

Gold treasure hidden within,

Smaug the dragon lives.


Fireworks in air,

Shape of dragon overhead:

Gandalf’s surprised look.

Angela Davidson

This poem by Yerusalem Work radiates pure joy!  The third line is a perfect complement to the first two, the expression of being united with God.


No anxiety,

God has me back in his arms:

Flowers in full bloom.


Robert Henry Poulin has been writing haiku for two decades, and is the former publisher of “Sea Oats, a Haiku Journal,” and the current CEO of Colt Press Publishers.


What red apples did

To the white basket:

Brilliant contract.



Weaving a Winter coat,


This is a beautiful image: spend a few  satisfying moments envisioning that caterpillar at work.


Freezing rain,

Monk crackles,

Icy gone.


Walking through forest,

Soggy leaves:

Autumn morning.


​My late wife’s


I trade pillows.


I feared the storm,

That took the tree,

But, oh—what a Moon!

Robert Henry Poulin


As was mentioned in last month’s column, Mr. Harrison has a highly developed, long nurtured world view.  I believe the Spirit of this gentleman from Vancouver Island permeates all of his poetry.  It was a pleasure to publish two more of his haiku.


Awkward silence,

He slips back into

his own silence.


Senior years,

Drifting from here to beyond:

Cloud formations.

Devin Harrison


Astrophysicist Honorah Murphy from Dublin, Ireland, submitted one more look into the fascinating natural world in which scientists live:


Neutron stars collide:

Gold and heavy metals sown,

Throughout the Universe.


Honorah Murphy

FREE “ModPo,” our 10-week course on modern & contemporary U.S. poetry.  (9-9-17/11-21-17)

(The ModPo site will be open all year but we convene a super-active 10-week “live” run-through of the course each September through November.)

1st opened ModPo in 2012 and has offered great fun of a community of people worldwide who care about poets and poetry. The original ModPo Teaching Assistants, whom you encounter in the video discussions, are still here! They are remarkable! And many ModPo students now join us as “Community TAs” (or “course mentors”). ModPo is more in fact than a course—it’s an ongoing symposium, a growing lively discussion, a true community. We sincerely welcome you!

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