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with Kevin McLaughlin

Kevin MacLaughlin, poetry magazine, haiku


Breaking Symmetry in Haiku


Symmetry is often the measure of beauty, of a human being’s physical appearance, of a painting, a mathematical equation, the elegance of the Standard Model of Particle Physics, and of a sculpture. A beautiful woman, a handsome man, both typically possess extraordinary symmetry of facial and bodily characteristics, supplemented by evolution’s quest for finely gauged proportions. I espouse the 5-7-5 syllable haiku in part because it provides perfect symmetry. Graphed on an XY axis, the values would describe an isosceles triangle. Symmetry is a desirable function of nature.

Without breaking symmetry (asymmetry) the Universe would not exist: at the instant of the Big Bang, exactly one billion and one particles of matter were unleashed compared to one billion particles of matter. The two cancel each other out. But we are more concerned with asymmetry as it relates to beauty and haiku. Mountain ranges, rivers, and forests would hold little appeal if they were symmetrical. In the most attractive of human beings, there is frequently one anomaly, breaking the symmetry, that makes them desirable. Painting masterpieces showcase asymmetry. Maybe haiku with an x-y-z syllabic layout also create transcendent beauty. Form over inspiration can be boring.

I still believe a true haiku is 5-7-5, but maybe I am beginning to understand why so many others do not allow form to constrain creativity.


Monarch butterfly,

Strayed from its migration route:

Wings slowly open.


The five dock pilings,

Each with its own pelican:

A wave ripples past.


Kevin Mclaughlin


John L. Gronbeck-Tedesco’s poetry, translations and plays have appeared in an impressive array of publications and theatres.


wet cobblestone streets

old as time gray as weather

near a green cypress


damp poppies ignite

blood red lathered in dew light

May—so suddenly


statue of Jesus

frozen eyes stare still waiting

in alabaster

(Magnificent how the statue of Jesus radiates throughout the poem.)


chrysanthemums shine

red-bronze on the golden grass

in the autumn moon

John L. Gronbeck-Tedesco

Angie Davidson’s religion is tranquility. These two pieces display her multi-talented vision. The first describes the feeling of being in a Tibetan Shrine room on the night of a full moon.

Saga Dawa chants,

High energy vibrates shrine—

Sweet smell of flowers,


Town clock strikes midnight,

Thick fog rolls out through the moors—

Banshee sings lament.

(Banshees, symbolic or real, are known by many of us.)


Angie Davidson


April Pitts is a Detroit writer, professor, and singer who has been published in many journals. Miss Pitts, while remaining in the natural world, has a keen eye for the shades and the possibilities of other realms.


A place for birds and ghosts—

Edsel Street when the streetlights

stop working at night.


At dusk, the graveyard

swallows the newly dead whole.

Blame broken streetlights.


(That second line could enrich any style of poetry)


Spring daffodils—

Still growing in the courtyard

even after Gran’s death.


April Pitts

Jennifer Smith has a true photographer’s eye. Her camera is an extension of her senses.


Mirror images,

Reflections of those we are:

Embrace the beauty.


I am an orphan,

This tear I cry for my mom—

I miss her dearly.


(Not strictly a haiku, but she submitted this overlaying a photo of a doe. Sometimes emotion does break symmetry.)


Jennifer Smith

Mick Rose’s haiku present the range of human hopes and the recognition of impermanence. Spend a few moments to contemplate she who wages war while her head gently rests in the third haiku. I am sure BTS readers would enjoy learning more about Mr. Rose.


Flaunt vagrant songbirds

your sweet bold hues: reds, blacks, blues

Return spring's glory


(Beautiful seasonal reference.)


Memories . . . like mist

in merciless heat wither

searing empty hands

While she wages war . . .

in the meadow of his mind

her head sweetly rests


(Ah, the mind as a meadow)


Time’s sands nearly drained

loving fingers flip the glass

spilling rain again


Mick Rose


Is it possible to like someone you have never met?  If, as I suspect, such is possible, I truly like Angelee Deodhar, an eye surgeon (and a scholar) from India.  Her haiku have the delicacy of a yellow mountain rose. The exceptions are not difficult to detect.


gathering sunlight

this still warm stone

as crickets tune up


after the rain

here, there, everywhere



spring mist

plum blossoms play



another dream—

riding a white horse

into cherry blossoms


Earth Day—

this fragile you

this fragile me


lattice windows—

looking out, looking in

the same moon


through the mist

yamabuki* spill down

mountain trails

(* yellow mountain rose )


summer picnic—

on all our faces

watermelon smiles


beyond barbed wire

gun toting troops—

the country of my birth


(A very personal, heart rending piece. This is one of the exceptions I mentioned.)


a water sprinkler

catches the crescent moon

in an arc

Angelee Deodhar

Angela Sargent has been published in Our Journey, ERETE’S BLOOM, AIM Magazine, BEORH Quarterly, 50 Haikus, Tanka Journal, Three Line Poetry, and various other journals. She has self-published several books and short stories. 


Life’s merry-go-round

Lets riders off everywhere

Playground universe

(The concept of a playground Universe is delightful! And, oh yes, it lets riders off everywhere.)


Angela Sargent

Bob Whitmire writes poetry both on and off his motorcycle. When he mentally forms a haiku, he has to remember the poem until the next stop. He’s getting old, and the remembering is not easy (his words, not mine.) Bob, I have the same difficulty when a haiku comes to me while I am kayaking.


I can’t go back

too many land mines

travel hazard


on the spire

atop the lighthouse

the full moon


no moon, many stars

two angry cats

under my window


moonlight on the shade

mumbles in the dark

she’s talking in her sleep

Bob Whitmire


Joseph Davidson is a Sage. He has said that Dharma (the Truth, Christ Consciousness, etc.) is “hidden” everywhere. Mr. Davidson is Awake. Seldom does his Big Mind flicker.

Summer sun burning,
Morning dew on window pane:

Gray skies threaten rain


Summer night’s lantern,

Moth dancing mesmerized:

Kerosene moonlight.

(Are we not all, to some degree, dancing moths?  I love that joining of kerosene and moonlight.)


Joseph Davidson

Goran Gatalica from Zagreb, Croatia has degrees in both Physics and Chemistry from the University of Zagreb. He has published poetry, haiku, and prose in various journals and anthologies. His work shows what a powerful result the union of art and science can produce.

sunny hindu temple 

the sound of my mind

calm hum of bees


year after year

a lot of clover and moss

around her grave


sudden rainbow

the sun-washed colors

of minaret


quantum mist—

the colors of quarks

confuse my mind

(I absolutely delight in this piece. Only a mind swarming with physics would know quarks have “colors.”)


deep meditation—

around a black hole 

nucleus decay

(Meditation joined with Hawking’s black hole radiation. A supernova of a poem!)

fading autumn

captured in hay bales

echoes of squeak


Goran Gatalica

Shalane Harrigan is a fishing guide on Key Marathon, Florida. Ms. Harrigan earned a Masters degree in Oceanography from the University of Florida. She decided fishing (and releasing) was more desirable than laboratory work.


Swells in the shallows:

Viewed through the refracting waves,

Coral changing shape.


As eyes start to adjust,

More stars come into focus:

Sky a pale blue wash.


Slender mangrove seeds,

Bob upright in the shallows,

Between the spoil islands.


Cloud to cloud lightning,

Other clouds begin to glow:

A small rain comes down.

Shalane Harrigan

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

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