Entries received for our January 2017 prompt – Unrequited Love
old love at the bazaar
flower-sellers drown out
weeping willows –
his new love
This evening we walked over the mountain to meet the sun that has burnt itself down to a cinder and yet failed to thaw the cold between us . . .
from the beginning
you and I
Traces of you
Today I fell in love with the shadow under the lamp. Yesterday it was the flame that went off in a sliver of spiral smoke. And the day before that, the petrichor of its clay shell.
trying to figure
the colour of loss . . .
The man . . .
. . . moved with deliberate slowness. Only his shadow dogging his heels, leaving in its wake the woman who would pack his lunch in a steel tiffin-box, a toddler still tasting the sweetness of his first syllables and a dog gnawing an age-old wound.
divorce papers . . .
we end up deleting
The typewriter has a mind and a story of its own and even though the keys go clickety-clack, the darn thing just isn’t ready to type the words I want it to.
somewhere our lives
There were those who left the shape of their absence in the evening breeze and those who stayed behind like an odd pairing of words in a verse.
a raindrop ripples
Will you too leave?
What if I take a chisel and a hammer to this paperweight and release the flower and the delicate leaves within.
chalk lines . . .
the squares we skip and
those that skip us
dry red roses still stand
in front of the closed door
the rose in the vase untouched
by the storm
the suddenness with which
she leaves my life
now only the swirling mist
Walking through the neon city of the world, I imagined, could bring back the zing into our relationship. She is dazzled by the casinos and bright lights. And I see in her eyes, for the first time in years, the same warmth that I had seen when we first started dating. Then turning to me she says – “I’m in love with Vegas”
flight back home
the one vacant seat
to my left
your fingers clasp
into the twilight
the soul you chose not
Dr. Brijesh Raj
on the horizon
a single bird
Mahrukh Jal Bulsara
my haul of yellows
they brick up the window
old rose petals
her forty year old no
watching your footsteps
Raamesh Gowri Raghavan
In this post we review this haiku by Susumu Takiguchi:
wetting the sound
of the bugle
(Excerpted from The Works of Susumu Takiguchi, World Haiku Review, Jan 2014)
For me winter, rain and the bugle combine to bring up the Last Post, a farewell/remembrance piece dedicated to the brave military personnel martyred on the battle field.
They also evoke an image of their loved ones in black, standing tall… proud and teary eyed. Perhaps L2 is meant to convey the choked feeling they are bound to feel on such an occasion. L2 ensures a beautiful deepening of emotion and is a truly special juxtaposition in the context.
All in all a wonderful ku.
Raamesh Gowri Raghavan
At first, this haiku appears as a very ‘so what’ shasei ku, simply a bugle sounding in the rain, purely a description. But as with all good haiku, the insight is always below the surface.
Look at the fragment: winter rain. What is so special about sounding a bugle in the winter? But think again: is it the literal winter (which it is on one level), or is there a metaphorical meaning that arises in the space between ‘winter’ and ‘bugle’?
In the phrase: the bugle sounding reminds one immediately of the last post (a haunting tune if one has ever heard it), an army sounding the passing of a veteran. Thus the bugle loops back to winter, and Death raises his ghastly cowl. So is it rain anymore, or is it now tears, the bugler tearfully bidding a fallen comrade farewell? Susumu leaves it unsaid, leaving the reader to complete the semi-circle.
In terms of phonic structure too, this haiku is euphonous. The first line (win-ter rāīn, 2 short syllables and 1 long) resonates with the third (of-the-bu-gle, 4 short syllables) in a uniform beat, or taal as we say in Indian music theory. The middle is visually longer, but just four English syllables (wet-ting the sound), but applying my Indic music sensibility, the stress wet-ting and the sonorous so-und give me five beats, a nice contraposition to the lines 1 & 3.
I have always been a fan of synesthesia and melancholy in poetry. As far as synesthesia goes, how can one be a poet and not really taste the scent of a rose or be able to touch the warmth of the colour yellow. There is something exceedingly romantic about it. And melancholy, well let’s just say, it stays by your bed like a trusted old friend. This haiku manages to get both bang on.
The one thing, this haiku doesn’t manage to get right however, is a clear distance between two images. Reading and re-reading the haiku, makes me wonder if there even are two images in this haiku. May be not. Then what are those ellipses doing at the end of the first line? Are they simply meant to allow the reader for a longer pause in a bid to provide him the much needed mindspace that would eventually lead the sense of hearing and touch blend together seamlessly.
I would like to believe so.
Do I think, a different fragment would have done more justice to the phrase? I doubt that. I believe despite of not having two clear cut images, this haiku could not really be bettered in a tangible manner.
Or should I wait, is the poet trying to tell us something else entirely with the ellipses. Is the deep chill of loss, brought to fore by that evocative winter rain meant to lead us into the pain (and may be the tears) of the bugler, and by extension the poet and the reader too?
A satisfying if a bit mystifying haiku. A verse that I would always like to come back to for it presents me with a delicious ambiguity.
a very evocative write. there is a certain finality associated with the sound of the bugle. It seems as if even nature aware of the solemnity of the situation is sending rain showers..
Brijesh this is a wonderful choice of haiku…
The haiku we choose to review this week is the following one by Johannes Manjrekar:
the silence heavier
after the barking
In what is normally supposed to be a relaxed Sunday afternoon – the protagonist seems to be clearly uneasy. There are two possibilities here – either his dog’s incessant barking distracted him momentarily or a heated exchange with his spouse akin to barking left him more upset.
In both situations, the silence that follows becomes even more stark when the noise stops…
Touching upon the technicalities, as I am wont to do, I note the tell tale words ‘afternoon’ and the word ‘barking’ [which implies the presence of a dog] — both terms being Summer kigo.
L2 says the silence is heavier, which means there was a heavy silence even before the barking started. Immediately the question arises: Why this heavy silence?
Could it be the silence which accompanies a Sunday afternoon nap? Could it be something deeper, a more serious reason? Then again, perhaps the poet persona is alone at home, with only a dog keeping guard at the doorstep or gate, and an intruder comes along to set off the barking.
And on a more morbid note, which cannot be dismissed — Could there be a mourning in progress?
As can be seen, there is a lot more lateral space for interpretations than meets a less perceptive eye. A less perceptive reader would take only the interpretation most obvious to him and make a grandiose judgement. But for the more perceptive among the readers, there are a myriad nuances and meanings to be read and deciphered, nuances that enrich a haiku which would otherwise have been rendered insipid and shallow with a naïve ‘directness’ at best.
Raamesh Gowri Raghavan:
There are few things more precious than a Sunday afternoon. So to have your society-given license to laze shattered by the paranoia of a suspicious dog is doubly tragic. If you’re a pet owner, especially in a pet unfriendly neighbourhood, your dog barking his head off at a perceived slight to his dignity or security, is added pain. That it is also often comical, when your dog’s offender is a neighbour’s pajamas fluttering in the breeze, only as to the disquiet.
That I could read so much into Johannes’ piece must weigh as a tribute to him. I’m not quite sure he leaves a lot of lateral space, the barking and the silence stand in sharp contrast to each other, and the reclamation of the Sunday afternoon resonates.
When we were looking for a haiku to review with enough lateral space to give us room for interpretation, this one stood out.
Presumably, it is a silent Sunday afternoon, a peaceful and restful time of day, broken by loud barking. Was the poet dozing and interrupted by the barks? Perhaps.
Is it the poet’s dog or is it a stray outside the window? No idea, but it leads to that lovely second line and the weight of the silence.
The simplicity of the haiku is appealing. Everyone has experienced silence after sound but it takes a poet’s sensitivity to describe it’s heavier quality.
A beautiful haiku with a meditative feel about it.
‘Heavier’; a three syllabic word that adds so much weight to a potentially banal Sunday siesta. Eyelids heavy with sleep? The silence after a crime witnessed by dogs alone?
A delicious lateral space to be coloured by the reader in the nuanced shades of his/her own life experiences. Not to mention the synaesthesia between sound and substance, used to describe the silence. All the tell-tale signs of a master at work.
What is the cause of the intrusion in the haijin’s consciousness? Only he can tell. But the imagery of a hot summer afternoon punctuated by disturbance serves up a good contrast, pivoting around the one word ‘heavier’ that makes the Ku so effective to me.
waiting all night
for a shooting star
— Shobhana Kumar
The phrase in the haiku, read by itself, spells out the hopelessness of the subject/protagonist who is “waiting all night/ for a shooting star” — and the despair when the shooting star fails to show up, which failure is implied.
However, when the phrase is read along with, and in the context of, the fragment: “remembrance day—“, it assumes a new and deeper significance and a more poignant meaning. ‘Remembrance day’ is a day when soldiers who have died in action are remembered.
Could the protagonist be the wife of a soldier who is missing in action? Could it be that she is looking in vain for a shooting star to wish upon, and to wish for her husband’s miraculous and safe return?
Possible of course, among several other possibilities, which shows the vast lateral space left in the haiku by the poet — a space which by virtue of saying nothing at all, by itself, serves to enrich the poem greatly and adds depth to it.
Certainly, this is a haiku, which no reader is likely to dismiss after one reading.
I often seem to forget, how a seemingly simple Haiku with a juxtaposition that works, really works, can be such a delight. And then when I cross paths with a work that embodies the true spirit of Haiku, it’s like coming across an old song unexpectedly on radio. Warm and soothing almost akin to coming home to a well worn blanket or the damp nose of your dog.
Shobhana’s remembrance day is a work that disarms the reader with its simple yet profoundly touching honesty of emotions. Of course the meaning of the Haiku is pretty clear from the first reading itself and yet somehow that only adds to the beauty of the verse. This directness, this steering clear from multiple layers of meanings and obscurity is what in my opinion works most.
The ache of a loss, the need to wish upon a star, the want to turn the wheels of time once again and the biggest question of all ‘Is war ever worth it?’ are all relevant to the state of being human and make for a deeply touching work of art.
What is it about poignancy that leaves such a deep impression on us? A soul connect with sorrow perhaps? Tragedy unites unlike any moment of happiness can.
Climbing man-made mountains wreathed in fog is a slippery slope Shobhana knows a thing or two about. She is associated with an NGO caring for destitutes, which is the setting for her Haibun ‘Stopper’. Whose ending ku this is.
To me, the title suggests a delectable irony on the concept of a show stopper. Shobhana’s character here IS the most beautiful spirit despite being sadly the most broken physically. The haijin describes the destitute ward she visits and the happiness her visits bring to this particular doughty inmate.
The ku uses the dual imagery of loss (Remembrance Day) and hope (futile?). Hope…awaiting the flash of what is in essence a speck of burning dust. Burning almost as soon as it appears but brilliant nonetheless. Or is the shooting star symbolic? An epiphany or sign the haijin herself is waiting for?
Hope, by lieu of its very existence, can never be futile. It gives strength and purpose. Waiting patiently on those dark dark nights, and cherishing a single moment forever is something truly worth living for.
Thank you, Shobhana, for a wonderful read.
Dr Brijesh Raj
Here is a book review of the Taste of Sea Breeze, the anthology of our INhaiku group.
Since we published the anthology a while ago, it has been selling a few copies and been borrowed as well. Copies have been sold in five countries on Amazon.
Poetry – and haiku – is doing better than I expected.
And now it has a review, a sensitive and unbiased review. Do take a look at the blog A Bookworm’s Musing.
The review is here.
The anthology is available here.
Thank you, Vinay Leo R.
This set of haiku emerges from a prompt given to IN haiku members.
I read on the BBC website that it has snowed in Tokyo in November for the first time since 1968. The article led me to learn this very beautiful Japanese word:
hatsuyuki (first snow)
Here are some responses to the exercise prompt using this kigo.
our amicable divorce
now two years old
~ Raamesh Gowri Raghavan
on zoom lens … I find
my singing heart
~ Kala Ramesh
her little fingers
make mom shiver
~ Rajeshwari Srinivasan
my mind drifting back
with the flakes
~ Gautam Nadkarni
icing on chocolate
~ Kumarendra Mallick
my daughter introduces me
to her intended
~ Madhuri Maitra
the white bougainvilleas
that rained last night
~ Raamesh Gowri Raghavan
~ Alaka Yeravadekar
bright are cancer cells under
~ Seshu Chamarthy
Then Ajaya Mahala explained the Kashmiri word for hatsuyuki, nausheen. So I wrote a ku for that too!
… I forget to ask
~ Raamesh Gowri Raghavan
decorating the trees
on these festive days
~ Purushothamaro Ravela
first snow the sudden urge to touch every rosebud sunrise
~ Samar Ghose
snow-capped Kanchenjunga floats
above it all
~ Johannes Manjrekar
the children wake up
~ Sandra Martyres
the road to the graveyard
not yet closed
~ Ajaya Mahala
Her face brightens
after the blood transfusion
first snow spreads fast….
~ Purushothamaro Ravela
I try to catch a flake
on my tongue
~ Anitha Varma
shower of soft
~ Kumarendra Mallick
all the premises and lawn
glisten in silver sheen..
~ Purushothamaro Ravela
And Geethanjali Rajan has the last word: Japanese language has many such words. First snow, first thunder (of the year), first rain of autumn, first frost, first visit to the temple on new year. Beautiful.:)
Something to read on hatsuyuki from world kigo database by Gabi san.
hatsu yuki ni kizo no taimatsu no hokori kana
in first snow
last night’s pine torch
~ Kobayashi Issa
Issa uses the word hokori (“dust”) in its older sense as “remnant”: in the new-fallen snow he sees the charred remains of last night’s torch. A nice example of both juxtaposition and seasonal mood in haiku.