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10 Haiku from Afriku

by Adjei Agyei-Baah



the farmer digs

into his breath


season of migration

the lightning dash

of a late egret


full moon

the scarecrow watches

its own shadow


Harmattan winds

crossing the border

with leaves


roasting sun

an egret’s measured steps

in buffalo shadow


leafless tree

lifting a cup of nest

to the sky


dry savanna

the dotted castles

of anthills


dawn rivalry--

a muezzin

and rooster


deserted shore

the wind sharpen its voice

over a conch


all that remain

of a lost tribe's story--

scratches and scars

General Poetry with Suzanne Robinson

All day, water trickles from the downspout, but

I cannot see the rain. A black locust on the hillside

unfurls in feathered green. The old wooden

fence climbs by, its shoulders deeply stained.

Drops dimple the birdbath like the notes

Carol gently strikes downstairs. A nocturne

falls across the keyboard like April rain,

like rain I know is there but do not see.

Outside, I retrieve a tray of soaked seedlings

as drizzle taps my neck. From my window,

a dogwood glows white on the emerald lawn.

Blossoms stir, but I do not see the breeze or the rain.

All this Time
Pale blue asters speckle the weedy ditch,

yellow birch leaves tumble across the yard.

The old raven barks from its tower in the pine.
Lumbering, white-capped waves thump on ancient rock,

rear back to pound out stones, draw back to grind out sand.

Far out, a loon wails beneath the glazed indigo sky.
From his weathered bench near the boathouse, Mr. Lind

gazes, silent as the sunlight, patient as the ground.

Raymond Byrnes. Before embarking on a long and stimulating career in Earth-science communications, R. A. Byrnes was a college English teacher in Minnesota. His early poems appeared in The Great River Review, Alembic, and several other journals. Recently retired, he enjoys gardening and writing at his home in Virginia. Fear of Flying

The New York poet
Under the clock of this city

I beat with a new heart,

longing after new pairs

of hands to measure its blood.

It is necessary to cross bridges

and foreign waters, I tell myself,

to slay the ordinary shadow.

Let the marrow of the familiar bones

grow into this citadel’s crevices.
Here, the trail of blood and tears

is slowly turning into the very

ink of the intimate pen

that knows no other home

than the skin kneaded of wormwood love.
This ink and pen have moved house,

yet sing of the bird in the throat,

dreaming of a blue tongue of beach,

the Black Sea, mist over the foamy waters

and a pair of eyes sealed on the horizon.
My body trapped here,

my soul buried inside the sea I know,

I dream to get lost

into the heart of this new city

and twist the distance between my fingers.
Today I write at the waterfront,

Hudson river before my eyes,

a curious snake of naked light.

Its faint sound leaves my poem untroubled.

The rain will tamely soothe my longing.

Clara Burghelea is Editor at Large of Village of Crickets and currently taking her MFA in Creative Writing at Adelphi University. Her poems and non-fiction have been published in Peacock Journal, Full of Crow Press, Quail Bell Magazine, Ambit Magazine, The Write Launch and elsewhere. She lives in New York.

Romanian summer

The exasperated tenderness of home,

taking its time to claim my heartbeats,

slowly reminiscing my roots

to echo through flesh, bones and veins

breathes right from the flawed space

between my breasts,

where I choose to flaunt the rules

that make my world.

The way I lift my boy

into my arms and carry him

across the familiar space

resonates with the quiet pen

that awaits from a break.

This is your name,

my mother’s ghost says, then she spirals

back into the night.

Whose memory do you carry carved into the flesh?

Her ricochet undulates into my breath.

What did yearning teach you?

My truth lies here where I inherited my voice.

When I moved to this city

my lopsided sun came with me

and it’s been raining ever since.

Back home, a gray tongue

is hanging in grandma’s smokehouse.

She is going to eat it in a garlicky sauce.

“Be good”, she whispers behind the narrow screen.

My new tribe has no words for things I love,

and no remembrance of the wounds.

Inside my veins, there is a flow

of foreign blood,

pushing me into the cement dream

that coils around me like rubber.

Does an animal miss the tongue?

When I open the mouth,

a mute cry breathes out like a yellow balloon.

It has roots into a different body.

Clara Burghelea
That cancer was merely a parenthesis

(some grave aside) in a febrile play at life,

was the essence of our erstwhile denial.
The minutiae of our future lie ahead

deftly wrapped in impermeable glassine—

a promise to beguile immortality.
The surgeon clears his throat and practices

his rhetorical devices. Oxymoron—

aggressive controllable metastases.
Anacoluthon—We’ve scheduled a consult

with radiology for— Have you a will?

Death is neither rhetorical nor timid.
Wasn’t it just yesterday we held reprieve,

splitting open the garnet pomegranate

a sparkling geode, seeds staining sweet kisses . . .
I was mistaken. It was a blood omen,

a poisoned apple, insidious aril,

a mistrial at the turnstile of devotion.
Pamela Joyce Shapiro, PhD, Assistant Professor of Instruction in Psychology, Director, BA/MS in Psychological Research, Temple University College of Liberal Arts
Fingers, frost cold—even in early September.

Penny sitting at the bus-stop in a black pea coat, a red plaid scarf,

the white brick wall behind me.
I think of all the things I will miss:

strolls to the Garden House, coffee in an over-crowded shop,

standing outside the red door of her house waiting for the old key to click.
Walking by the expensive pastry shop on the corner—

I picked up almond tarts, and peach danishes to dine on.

At the tapas bar she liked the exoticness

of the fried jalapeño peppers filled with cream cheese,

chewy calamari rings coated in tomatoes,

water jugs filled with sliced limes, lemons, and oranges.

In May, the two Jennys took us to the Workshop

(a café that brought to mind a sooty-halfway house for girls,

if you mentioned it to those who weren’t regulars).

We nibbled on chorizo and spinach pizza,

posed for pictures, knowing we’d scatter from the city,

once summer started and the humidity slowly rolled in.

I found Penny in York around the Solstice.

We picnicked under the willow trees across from her home—

drank Pimms with strawberries and mint floating in our pint glasses.

She ate pork pies and quiche, and played the piano before bed.

Late August I met her in an almost empty station,

cups of hot rose tea (with milk) in her hands—

we caught an early train to London to see Arcadia (her favorite play).

Near Trafalgar square, we took our time at the trendy Italian bistro—

ate ravioli with sage and brown butter. Our zebra striped chairs angled

so we looked more like talk show hosts, than diners.

Here is my goodbye:

A chocolate bar nestled in the slit of a foiled banana,

warming in the bonfire.

The wine and blackcurrant squash on the table,

we hold umbrellas in the night rain.

In the morning I feel the icy wind press against the windows.

Feasts of forgiveness
We were incompetent at 19 and 20—

the garlic burnt and became bitter,

a tomato sauce with no flavor.

We said nothing, grudgingly

shredding a block of white cheddar

over bean-patties that had been soaked

and heated in too much oil.

Meals made out of disillusionment.

Swallowing sorrow with tap water,

creating ghosts out of regret.

They haunt me as I go about my day:

Preparing a breakfast of bourbon-peach French toast,

with maple glazed sausages,

next to a shimmering pomegranate mimosa.

Enjoying a lunch with friends—

the sweetness of a poppy seed vinaigrette

mixed with purple cabbage, decorating

a crispy tuna slider on rye.

Dinner—bacon (baked to the perfect crunch)

and egg salad on top of pizza con la patate—

the yolk bursting and dripping into the greens

with the first cut.

I imagine these as offerings for the spirits,

try to find ways to nourish these ghost girls—

make them whole. But they are just wisps, a mist

slipping from my grasp as I try to fix

and feed and heal.
They tell me to invoke the women nearing 30.

Prepare a feast for them. A conjuring to make them

manifest as dinner guests on an early

autumn afternoon.

I have dreams of feeding them sweet pea and prosciutto crostini,

purple potatoes and Spanish chorizo roasted in paprika infused olive oil,

lemon garlic aioli, tomato and goat cheese nestled together on puff pastry.

Let the sweetness of roasted garlic rest on their tongue.

Letters to a prospective lover, written next to a carafe of wine,

after a stroll in the afternoon rain. It holds the promise

of wandering through the streets of Paris

during the first flush of spring.

Daydreams of the woman from the coffee shop,

the one whose fingertips (when they rest against your lips)

taste like a fresh pumpkin scone. Remember the warmth

of the yellow couch when you spent the night at her place.

Warnings from your new paramour’s former lover:

She is the ghost in your flesh. Salt and burning her bones

won’t banish her. She creeps into bed next to him,

while you worry into the night.

Words of advice from the old artist,

(her body strung together and gessoed for the hundredth time).

She knows the magic of forgetting, what houses to hide in,

the flowers that keep an old love at bay,

spells that bar anyone new from entering the mind,

and sinking to the heart like a stone.

Marisa Silva-Dunbar’s work has been published in Gargoyle Magazine, Conceptions Southwest, Redheaded Stepchild, Words Dance Magazine, and the UEA 2009 Anthology: Eight Poets. She graduated from the University of East Anglia with her MA in poetry, and has been shortlisted twice for the Eyewear Publishing Fortnight Poetry Prize.

(After Colinas)
Into the well of night

a soul falls.

From below, almost afoot

on the heartfelt bottom,

it watches

the moon ripening in the June breeze

echoing the exaltation

and exasperation

of migrating nightingales.

Sometimes a hammer, sometimes a bird,

sometimes a few working words

from black men building

what’s not theirs—

a chance quickening a poem,

only here a rut, there a rut,

tracks everywhere a trap.

Better sometimes to loiter beyond,

dune a cold tongue, dawn

illuminating a hope of shadows.
Stone? Cross? Graveyard's a park,

grass clean-cut as honor guard

marines. Elms better than blight

haunt far hills. For our standoffish toes,

a bronze plaque, one line

to answer who, another

to answer when.
Sky's a gap. Good grown-ups,

we talk basketball. Courtney's

the looker. Afraid of bugs,

hater of haircuts, she wooed

Dad back once, only last chance

he ever took. Isn't this hideout

another deep basement

to wait out time as he loved doing

in a salvaged chair

with tools like second thoughts,

watching light get ready for the dark?
Roads could be palms, so tricky to read.

Way out is way in if enough attention's been paid.

This cold lake port's got beer like gold

brewed below its bars

like Dad's hidden homebrew.
J. TARWOOD has been a dishwasher, a community organizer, a medical archivist, a documentary film producer, an oral historian, and a teacher. Much of his life has been spent in East Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. He has published four books, The Cats in Zanzibar, Grand Detour, And For The Mouth A Flower, and What The Waking See, and his poems have appeared in magazines ranging from American Poetry Review to Visions. He has always been an unlikely man in unlikely places.

dancers tipping wine glasses on a tray stray off stage

to the edge the corners of the room moist

from breath and laughter
they hoof-tap slowly back

stiffen to a pose

drape across tables lift legs

in slow motion to top hat

glasses raised against the screen ―

could be a wedding with pearls

a funeral with pietas

a lost space in a bar

sweet mouths split glasses of champagne

stake their fate like vampires

Roxy counts tears

holds a tin can for pennies

as it is the wind
discarding velasques‘ classical figures emerging

into full light their spaces folded in volumes of

flesh of dramatic gestures within each line of

the triangular composition the glowing reds

I view the open land of a stretched canvas
as large as his las meninas with the royals staring

into the room at the infanta margurieta

but I am not a king or a queen & the little princess

in front of me is but a photograph of you

with your hair tied back in much the same way
as it is the wind I want to capture blowing

through each strand the glint in your eyes

caught by the sun’s rays the intimated gesture

of your right hand not yet in motion & words

of intent I can but read on your quizzical eyebrows

I cannot use lines of composition of placement

of defining colors only the abstracted shattering

of features gestures light

girl with jug
sometimes I imagine you are Vermeer

as I fill the jug with milk to the lip

sunlight edging the table
I tuck my hair under my cap

note the Naples-yellow clouds reflected

stare wide eyed lips slightly parted
he ground powders of ochre lamp-ash jade

used grit of paste

painted brick & ledge light through windows panes

glint of porcelain a jug paused in the pouring

where is your glide of oil

sense of the moment

the pause
you utter words upon words


in the hands of magicians it is what’s hidden

what slips between lip & lip

a breath half uttered

a word lost in letterset

the rouge on flesh

the ears of a rabbit

it could be that the painter predicts

what the conjurer performs

turning wheat fields to turmeric

spring to shimmering saffron-green

orange blaring as marigold

color cut to shapes

quincunx in black

set against a red triangle shifting

changing surface to depth to perspective

the canvas cloth its warp and woof

to the random construct of the imagination

in a city of canals & boats

the tide flooding St Marco Square

I sit on an upholstered chair

in the world’s Most Famous Bookshop

the water filtering through the open door

lapping at table legs

books stacked as staircases
I peer at its gentle to & fro sway

cup my hands outward as if to rock

each passing gondola with its inverted image

the bow pushing onward along old waterways

gathering skirts I dunk my feet in cool water

my legs moor one by one in an unknown landing

grope for anchorage as the incoming tide

foretells of the sinking of shops

homes palace treasures books
the shop’s cat perched on a shelf purrs

at peace with the intruding water

juli Jana is an international poet and artist writing and exhibiting in different countries. She has 2 published pamphlets: ‘everybody needs a lunatic’ - published by Indigo Dreams, ‘ra-t’ published by Shearsman. She has co-presented a poetry event for 10 years and held various workshops.
Sister, Sister
I’ve done this hundreds of times

and I know

I could be such

a bad sister sometimes.

When we fight,

it feels good to

be mean to you and

let out some stress.

I’m sorry, sis

it makes me feel terrible

but you do the same

thing to me.

Darynne Osorio has an interest in social and political activism, which is why she intends to be advocate for women’s rights. She loves to analyze people, as psychology is another passion for her. When she isn’t focused on societal issues, she’s using makeup as a form of artistic expression or watching conspiracy theory videos on Youtube.

There is something unusual about this morning

The bed leans at alien angles without you

I rub the sleep off my cheeks, staring back at your side.

The covers are pulled out and cattywampus,

like you’d just crawled out of bed, but you didn’t.

You are in Hong Kong and haven’t called

I spoon sugar into my coffee and wait for that phone call

It is bitterly cold as I look out through the window

memory cues when the wind blew in our faces

love messages written by winter on our cheeks

Originally published at Inbetweenhangovers
Sofia Kioroglou is an award-winning poet, 2017 Best of the Net Award nominee by Sundress Publications, journalist, editor, translator, and the author of two poetry chapbooks. Her poems have played on the radio and are included in many anthologies, literary journals, and printed books that include Dumas de Demain, Page and Spine, Galleon Literary Journal, Pengician, Your One Phonecall, Lunaris Review, VerseWrights, Galway Review, Visual Verse, The Outlaw Poetry Network,The Festival For Poetry, Spillwords, and Glance to name but a few.

The woman can’t find her luggage

She did not want mirrors in the bedroom

The phrase book bulges

Through her coat,

Next to the passport with a recent picture

Sometimes she looks young and pretty

Sometimes not

When does no mean no?

The flight from Charlotte

Stopped in London

When she last heard something

She understood without thinking

Distance is not a funny thing

Like how far is far enough

Or when is over over?

Finally her suitcase appears, bumps a strange one

With a big red name tag: John

She didn’t see that

She didn’t but

She feels the plane inside her again landing

Kennenzee mir helfen?

Her reflection in a window waves to her

For a moment it is he

And she yanks her suitcase off

The second one does not appear

For a moment it was he

Is far away enough far enough away?

Now she the only one is

In her shoes tightly curl her toes

Following the suitcase with the big red sticker

go round and round, she is watched

from behind by a German

with the English name

What did she read somewhere

In an inflected language

the object often comes before the verb?

A native of El Salvador, though raised in the US, MAURICIO ROSALES (Dumont, NJ) is a retired, public high school English teacher (Teaneck, NJ) of 30 years. His poems have appeared in The Bilingual Review/La Revista Bilingüe, The Irreal Reader: Fiction & Essays from The Cafe Irreal, Exit 13, and The Lyric. His translations have appeared in Mundus Artium and Borges and I(Univ. of Arkansas Press).

Haiku with Kevin McLaughlin

Haiku frequently celebrate our AHA! Moments, those times when our vision has a special clarity, when we feel an effortless oneness with nature, with the Universe. This quote from Manuel Cordova Rios, cited in Stephen Harrod Buhner’s text, “Plant Intelligence, and the Imaginal Realm” presents this state of mind in a delightful prose-poem:

“As my glance wandered in the tree tops I became aware of undreamed beauty in the details of the textures of leaves, stems, and branches. Every leaf, as my attention settled on it, seemed to glow with a greenish golden light. Unimaginable detail of structure showed. A nearby birdsong…floated down. Exquisite and shimmering, the song was almost invisible. Time seemed suspended; there was only now and now was infinite. I could separate the individual notes of the bird song and savor each in its turn. ..I floated in a sensation that seemed somewhere between smelling an intoxicating fragrance and tasting a delicate ambrosia.”
Pure ecstasy. Time was suspended. Mr. Rios could have written ten thousand haiku in those few moments alone. May all of you experience this spirit, commemorate it in a haiku, and contribute the verse to BTS!
Fire Coral


Ocean swells lift and drop a small boat anchored off Hutchinson Island. The effect of the sea bottom, seen through the clear ocean water is hypnotic. Reefs, fire coral, and shoals of fish seem to increase and decrease in size, all the while elongating and contracting.

Swells in the shallows:

Viewed through refracting light waves,

Coral changing shape.

Sean Yeats asked Master Rigdzin, Abbot the Red Mangrove Sangha in West Palm Beach, “What are the most auspicious times during the day to meditate?”

“You’re meditating right now, “ replied the Lama. “You mediate all day long. Formal, seated meditation is very beautiful, but its results can be protean and misleading. It is like the vision of fire coral shape shifting on the ocean’s vast floor.”

-Kevin McLaughlin

Through the ice ages,

Florida rose from the sea:

Limestone and fossils.
Blight has killed the trees,

Only four pines are standing:

A woodpecker taps.
-Kevin McLaughlin
Vera Ignatowitsch’s haiku are as graceful as a swan landing gently in a calm pond. And the swan manages this ballet move while adhering to the 5-7-5 format. Bhikku Boddhi has written that,” the way to enlightenment starts with mindfulness. Mindfulness clears the ground for insight into the nature of things.” Ms. Ignatowitsch uses mindfulness and her love of words to give us pure images of the thing-in-itself.
Sewn seed pod quivers

Patiently as breezes warm

Enough to promise.
Fallen hot dog crumbs

Vanish in a blink; so swift

Are the hungriest.

(In Florida, it is usually crows that scoop up those fallen crumbs.)
Long icicles melt

Gradually; gravity

Pulls us to earth.

(A haiku for Newton and Einstein.)
-Vera Ignatowitsch
Toni Pyon enjoys making annual trips from her warm California residence to Big Bear Mountain for snowboarding. Clearly, she has a wonderful relationship with nature. She is also very fond of spending time with her family.
The sun is rising,

But many are still asleep,

Morning is now arising.
The world is awake,

Now energized and ready,

For what today holds.
The excitement gone,

The day is dwindling down,

It’s time to go home.
Sunlight to moonlight,

Signals it’s time to sleep and

Restart the cycle.

(A day in the life!)
-Toni Pyon

Christina Cruz writes she hates smiling and prefers staring blankly at people with her heterochromatic eyes: I believe she has at least a bit of Zen in her spiritual DNA. Previously, she has been published in Vox Poetica.

Milky swirls in brown

fur. My daily pick me up

is Cappuccino.
The smell of lemon

scented windex fills my home

as my mom cleans it.
As I place the conch

shell to my ear the ocean's

breeze whispers to me
-Christina Cruz

Josephine Overbeck is a first time contributor who works in the senryu genre of haiku. The second poem reminded me of every single time I grapple with the seat belt in my F-150. Please, Ms. Overbeck, continue to send us “real time” images.

It’s the time of the year,

Where a man all dressed in red,

Breaks into my house.
I hate it when I

Reach for the seat belt and feel,

Like a branded cow.
-Josephine Overbeck

Andrew Brown is a free-lance writer based in Richmond, Virginia. He lives on-line at His haiku give us an unvarnished view of nature and the supramundane world that lies behind the everyday world. His “Like weathered boulders” and soil receiving fresh rain are serene reflections on ancient processes.

Stars are to restive

Imaginations a cup,

Crown, scales, vulture, harp ...
Snowballs bash against

Brick walls, vibrations knocking

Loose frost from windows.
Like weathered boulders

We discover new edges

When the wet ground shifts.
To receive fresh rain

Is nothing new to soil,

Yet it’s still nervous.
Lightning rips a gap

In the thundering sky while

Trees stand defiant.
(This flash of lightning in the thundering sky celebrates the “consciousness of trees” and their ancient majesty.)
'No Loitering Here.’

Try telling the cat, stalking

The injured squirrel.
-Andrew Brown

Frequent contributor Joseph Davidson’s work embodies the spirit described by Manuel Cordova Rios. He has an immediate , uncontaminated grasp of reality that often transcends intellectualization. Mr. Davidson captures “the thing-in-itself.” This is the full development of being Awake.

Creak of bones and stairs,

Climbing higher in tower,

Encircled in light
(The Florida coastline is dotted with lighthouses, and each one has a unique history.)
Diving in moonlight,

Floating amid pools of stardust,

Ripples in a dream.
White and yellow blooms,

Poised atop tender thin stems

Over Winter’s lawn.
-Joseph Davidson

Angie Davidson is an astrophysics enthusiast who also happens to be an active member of Tibetan Buddhism’s Palm Beach Dharma center. These wonderful pieces are the synergy of science and Buddhism.

Tear drop shaped space,

Pulling one to another:

Giant red star looms.
Exoplanet found,

Orphaned, baby, gas giant,

From new formed system.

A lot of something,

That looks like nothing is dark-

Matter ignorance.

Measuring is proof,

That validates to science,

Instead of seeing.
(I believe many quantum physicists would agree.)
-Angela Davidson

Jen Smith shows a playful appreciation of nature’s critters this month. At the same time, she clears away something that stands between us, the alligator, and the squirrel.

Laying silently,

Watching you walk briskly past,

Reptiles in the sun.
(The referenced reptile was nothing other, I suspect, than an 8’ long alligator soaking up the sun’s rays after a cold spell.)
High in the tree tops,

I’m more than a tree rat,

Searching for acorns.
(I concur with Ms. Smith’s appreciation of squirrels. It is a total joy to watch their acrobatics in the trees after the sun rises.)
-Jen Smith

Denise Corrigan, an architect from Hicksville, New York, has been reading haiku ever since sophomore year of college. After reading this column the past few months, she decided to write and contribute a few poems. Ms. Corrigan obviously uses a wide frame-of-reference that encompasses living and dying. Note she adheres to the 5-7-5 format.

Male blows bubble nest:

Two Siamese fighting fish,

Preparing to mate.
“Don’t pick that flower!”

I call from a long distance,

My cry was too late.
Tent still in place,

Over the freshly dug grave:

Mourners departed.
-Denise Corrigan

Arnie Runcie is a robotics mechanical engineer from Seattle, Washington. Mr. Runcie enjoys his leisure hours reading mysteries and John LeCarre style spy novels…and by writing an occasional haiku.

Friends of forty years,

Departing with a handshake…

And then an embrace.
The frozen pond:

Leaves and branches embedded

In the icy sheet.

-Arnie Runcie

Formal Poetry with Vera Ignatowitsch

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