10 Haiku from Afriku
by Adjei Agyei-Baah
the farmer digs
into his breath
season of migration
the lightning dash
of a late egret
the scarecrow watches
its own shadow
crossing the border
an egret’s measured steps
in buffalo shadow
lifting a cup of nest
to the sky
the dotted castles
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.
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.
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
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.
Into the well of night
a soul falls.
From below, almost afoot
on the heartfelt bottom,
the moon ripening in the June breeze
echoing the exaltation
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
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.
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
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!
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.”
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.
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
Pulls us to earth.
(A haiku for Newton and Einstein.)
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!)
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
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
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.
Andrew Brown is a free-lance writer based in Richmond, Virginia. He lives on-line at www.brownalerts.com. 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.
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.
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.
Orphaned, baby, gas giant,
From new formed system.
A lot of something,
That looks like nothing is dark-
Measuring is proof,
That validates to science,
Instead of seeing.
(I believe many quantum physicists would agree.)
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.
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.)
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:
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.
Formal Poetry with Vera Ignatowitsch