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with Kevin McLaughlin

Kevin MacLaughlin, poetry magazine, haiku

This issue seems like an appropriate time to review some haiku basics. Your editor is a devout classicist. Nevertheless, after years of writing this column, I have come to enjoy and appreciate the many forms and evolutions of these three-line diamonds. Painting art did not stop with representational work; it evolved into the impressionists, modern art, and many subsequent variants such as Jackson Pollock’s beautiful canvasses. May it be the same with haiku.


Haiku forms a natural land bridge over the deep gorge separating the everyday and absolute realms. A haiku conveys those moments when nirvana is glimpsed within samsaric existence, when the pilgrim glimpses the Holy Grail. This is not a poetry of the imagination; this is a poetry taken from direct experience.


Originating in Japan, the poem consists of three lines, or segments, and 17 syllables, structured syllabically 5-7-5. Traditionally, there is a seasonal referent, either direct or indirect. The best verse contain a kireji, a cutting word that enables the quality of juxtaposition. There are ten thousand opportunities every day to write a haiku.


Swells in the shallows:

Viewed through refracting waves,

Coral changing shape.


The brief squall passes:

One drop of water glistens,

On each pine needle.


   Kevin McLaughlin



Armando Quiros enables the reader to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of a dilapidated rocking chair. And most any reader will smile wistfully along with the first haiku in the set.


sakura blossoms

an ephemeral delight

the trees toasting foam


an old rocking chair

without its proper padding



the branches expand

withholding all but your touch

a new stem blossoms


   Armando Quiros



Robinson Terry lives in Northeast Iowa where he enjoys pausing during hikes for the views.


There is something sweet

About someone all alone

In this scary world.


The stars shine above us

The ground stares up at us

But the trees watch over us.


Cold storms stop coming

Warm breezes replace snowflakes:

The sun starts to shine.


   Robinson Terry


Diana Frybarger resides in Knoxville, Tennessee. Oh, to see flowers through her eyes, and to delight in their scent as she does! I remind the reader to let the poem linger in their mind.


tulips flirting

perfume scattering

Holland bursting at the seams!


(This first poem sets the tone for the set.)


daffodils, dip, dip, dip

to the babbling spring brook

church bells ringing


(These three lines create a harmonious interplay.)


change in wind speed

Japanese pink Sakura

Mikimoto pearls


(Another sakura reference! The sakura is a type of cherry blossom.)


pink daffodils

adorning kitchen windowsill

dishes in sink


picnic on the farm

dandelions sweeten up

three leaf clovers


   Diana Frybarger

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

Manoj Sharma is a public accountant who lives in Kathmandu, Nepal. He has been published in various publications, including The Bonsai Journal.



a pair of white doves—

gusty wind


late evening—

the full moon

shortens my walk


street children

around a burning tyre—

winter wind


misty morning—

a boy whistles

giggling girls


watching . . .

a pile of books

beside my bed


wheat biscuit

and tasteless soup—

another overcast day


   Manoj Sharma


Featured Haiku

Jacob Butlett holds an A.A. in General Studies and a B.A. in Creative Writing. Some of his work has been published in Panoply, Cacti Fur, Rabid Oak, and plain china.


cold black skillet

congealed islands of fat . . .

summer sunshine


sunlit maple trees—

riverbed tasting moss

soaked in deer blood


rehearsing their elegy

white robes fluttering tonight . . .

a congregation of swans


(The congregation of swans, fluttering whitely, is a unique image.)


summer morning—

dark ferns fan

fallen infant robins


potted plant in the park—

pink tulip blooms

in a dead robin’s skull


her shiny little stove

her spongy lemon cake

her empty kitchen chair


   Jacob Butlett

John Hawkhead writes haiku with a steady voice, one that must signify practicing mindfulness and awareness during each day. We are fortunate that he has become a frequent contributor. John lives in Bradford on Avon where he writes and illustrates books. His book, Small Shadows, is available from Alba publishing.


deeper in the copse

the old path reappears

bluebell twilight



she conceals her hand

in mine


summer showers

a rainbow curves

in the child’s bubble


winter on time

meeting at the station

I breathe in her breath


walking on water

the power and the glory

of water spiders


   John Hawkhead

Angela Davidson celebrates the Universe and all things interstellar. The eye of Mars is, for Mrs. Davidson, both an auspicious omen and a subtle symbol of the compassion with which we should treat all beings (including ourselves).


Blood shot eye of Mars,

Watching over the cosmos,

Lights up Universe.


Moonshine through window

Reflects thousand specks of light:

Looks like fireflies.


Tingling fingers,

Sending shivers up arms:

Overcast skywards.


(Effective juxtaposition in this piece.)


   Angela Davidson



Joseph Davidson practices mindfulness throughout the day in a way that would bring fulfillment in any religious or philosophical tradition. I can only surmise that in any set of circumstances

Mr. Davidson maintains his equipoise.


Lonely setting moon

Pale blue light paints predawn sky:

Day’s embers kindle.

Suspended in air,

Ever falling groundless flight:

Oak leaf caught in web.

Silent stars of morn,

Arcing across Mother Earth:

Universe hums Om.

   Joseph Davidson

Billy Antonio was born in San Carlos City, Pangasinan, Philippines. He has been published in a wide variety of journals. Mr. Antonio is a public-school teacher. The first haiku displays the insight and joyfulness of the acknowledged masters . . . and it is written against the backdrop of a power outage!


power outage

my daughter chases

a firefly


(The entire world in a firefly.)


power failure

a black cat and i

stare at each other


(Two pieces linked, yet completely separate in spirit.)


coin toss

the hollow sound

of a beggar’s bowl


(The sound of compassion.)


   Billy Antonio



A.R. Crow has contributed four haiku of impeccable grace and insight. Each of these poems could give rise to significant appreciative commentary. And Mr. Crow has accomplished this natural flow of words and images while staying within the 5-7-5 format.


Morning melody

Crickets chirp in unison

Nature’s song of praise


The soft leaves of grass

Break the fall of Autumn’s leaves

Peaceful resting place


The sunlight through glass

Coloured words on mote stained air

Poetry in light


Sandpipers peck grains

Searching for tiny shellfish

Sand sprouts nourishment


   A.R. Crow



J.R. Heatherton lives in middle Michigan. His work has appeared in Aphotic Realm, Micro-Fiction Monday, and will soon appear in the Flash Fiction Anthology. His second haiku illustrates the life force that flows through all living beings.


cold chair fully draped

smell lingering scent of grounds

The fox lies at rest.


blue field over head

thirteen folds are presented

Soon poppies will bloom.


   J.R. Heatherton



Peter Schneider is a poet and psychotherapist who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and in Rochester, Vermont. He holds an MFA from Columbia University and a PhD in clinical psychology from New York University. Mr. Schneider writes effortlessly in the classical 5-7-5 tradition while using a modern, almost experimental, style that is layered with meaning. Unique, indeed.


to separate out

one part to start anywhere

is arbitrary


permanent scarecrow

a dying backwards of soon’s

quiescent at dusk


the body’s thickness

a collection of spaces

Eleatic bytes


(Eleatic pertains to a school of ancient Greek philosophers.)


panes of sidewalk sheets

gingko leaves isotopic

traverse distinctions

mutual silence

alights in our fused glances

this monadic net


(Monadic refers, among other meanings, a chemical valence.)


light held in the black

branches’ watery dusk more

mere sub-division


a stubborn glass of

water on a table at dusk

of no color


last fire winter sun

readdresses the dumb bricks

turns on a pivot


   Peter Schneider

Given this month’s stylistic diversity, it seemed appropriate to close the column with a haiku by one of the acknowledged Japanese masters. Poems from other languages seldom translate 5-7-5.


The god is absent;

His dead leaves are oiling

And all is deserted.


(The shrine is lonely and neglected. Translation by R.H. Blyth.)





Kevin McLaughlin

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