Haiku review — Sunday afternoon

The haiku we choose to review this week is the following one by Johannes Manjrekar:

Sunday afternoon
the silence heavier
after the barking

Sandra Martyres:

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…

Gautam Nadkarni:

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.

Rohini Gupta:

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.

Brijesh Raj:

‘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.

Review of remembrance day

remembrance day—
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.

Gautam Nadkarni


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.

Paresh Tiwari


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


Book review of our anthology

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.


hatsuyuki —
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


first snowfall
icing on chocolate

~ Kumarendra Mallick


my daughter introduces me
to her intended

~ Madhuri Maitra


hatsuyuki —
the white bougainvilleas
that rained last night

~ Raamesh Gowri Raghavan


first snowfall
the milk
boils over

~ Alaka Yeravadekar


bright are cancer cells under
the microscope

~ Seshu Chamarthy


Then Ajaya Mahala explained the Kashmiri word for hatsuyuki, nausheen. So I wrote a ku for that too!

… I forget to ask
her name

~ Raamesh Gowri Raghavan


decorating the trees
on these festive days

~ Purushothamaro Ravela


first snow the sudden urge to touch every rosebud sunrise

~ Samar Ghose


rising moon
snow-capped Kanchenjunga floats
above it all

~ Johannes Manjrekar


Christmas morning-
the children wake up
to hatsuyuki

~ Sandra Martyres



first snow
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


hatsuyuki —
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.


Diwali, the Festival of Lights

Diwali, a time of oil lamps and fireworks, sweets and festivities. What better time for Cafe haiku to put together a Diwali post, with photos and haiku.

So, here we are, with the last big festival of the season.

Sandra Martyres

a single diya
lights up the widow’s home-

Lakshmi puja –
the lure of ladoos
keeps the child awake

the street child’s face glows
more than the sparkler he holds-
Diwali treats

drowned by the sound
of bursting crackers-
the pujari’s chants

swinging lanterns-
even the winds celebrate

sweet bonanza –
no weight-watching
at Diwali


Mahrukh Balsara

late morning
one of the diyas
still burning

Diwali sweets –
she picks out
the brightest pink

Gautam Nadkarni
Diwali night—
the blind man’s face
lights up

Laxmi pooja—
the shadows dancing
on the walls

mantra chanting—
the young mother stifles
her son’s yawn


Paresh Tiwari
clay lamps …
one by one the stars
snuff out

whistling cracker
my son packs away
his crayons


Brijesh Raj



Diwali night
the gentle sway
of kandeel tails

Diwali week
pushing away her
nth sweet

morning after
the ashen face
of Marine Drive skies

bottle rocket
the cyclist peddles


Raamesh Gowri Raghavan

Diwali cleaning …
grandmother throws away
her wedding saree

neighbour’s rangoli
Rorschach blots
of a broken house

cracker bursting…
my dogs tail between his legs
below the bed


Rohini Gupta


Anitha Varma

new moon night…
a stray breeze teases
the diwali lamps
Deepavali –
pirouetting stars
outdo the diyas


Akila G.

Diwali sale-
the sugar-free counter
reads out of stock

the night
after fireworks

so many shooting stars
to make a wish


And, finally, a haiku which does not deal with Diwali but with another festival from the other side of the globe.

D. Holmes

a pumpkin’s grin
by candlelight… the sound
of children’s laughter

Goubou, Georgia, USA

Autumn, Winter submissions

Submissions are open for the World Haiku Review‘s autumn/winter issue.

Its autumn here and leading to the chill of winter. A time of falling leaves and passing years. A very good time to sit in the warmth of a room with a view, with a hot drink, and write.

The themes are lost love or autumn and winter subjects but they are only guidelines and you do not necessarily have to follow them.

The Deadline is Tuesday, 29th November, 2016.

Please send in your best – make sure it is not published elsewhere and please read the guidelines carefully HERE.

Look forward to reading your work.

A Sensorial Treat of an Utsav

Geethanjali Rajan

Triveni, the World Haiku Utsav 2016 at Pune, has been the highpoint of this year for me (so far). In addition to hearing many experienced voices and emerging tunes in haiku, there was a great deal of infectious laughter and bonhomie. Haiku in Sanskrit, tanka in Japanese and the transcription of haiku into various Indian languages had my ears hearing the music of Bengali, Tamil, German and Oriya without comprehending all of it. But the music was there for us to revel in. And that brings me to the duo from Symbiosis College who kept taking me back and forth from the 1990s to the present and back again. The ears couldn’t ask for more.

The visual spectacle that was dance, photography and a movie on the Lost Letters of Chiyo-ni by Terry Ann Carter and Marco Fraticelli was complemented by the scenes of poets meeting each other and some, meeting again after a hiatus. The visual treat on the final day, which was the three dancers giving form to a Banyan tree or a flowing river was quite the high in synesthesia. The movie on Chiyo-ni was a combination of music, reading and performance. At times jocular and at times, bringing the throat into a tight knot of sabishii, the poetry of Chiyo-ni was offset so beautifully by Marco Fraticelli’s music and reading.

The taste buds and the olfactory faculty had to work overtime too. With sumptuous fare at each meal, I found that the paths to some of the best discussions on haiku are catalyzed by Maharashtrian street food. That was an ‘aha’ moment.

I have always believed that the best part of conferences and Utsavs are on the sidelines, where I get to meet other poets, have discussions, laugh a little, form bonds, take away a little from each of them, and give a little of me to some of them as well, to keep. That way, I look forward to opening my email each day, in the hope that I will end my torpor and reach out again to these people and that they would do the same. That’s been happening as well. So yes, I am still grinning.

Preparing for my sessions with some of the best haijin in India was the greatest learning for me. Understanding most of Mariko’s poems in their untranslated Japanese version was the greatest revelation. Meeting old friends and making new ones were the untradeable ‘best’ moments. Missing out on meeting the folks I thought were going to be there but couldn’t make it, were the disappointing bits. And continuing the haiku discussions on our way home from Pune to Chennai, till 9 in the night while chewing on Shrewsbury biscuits and bingeing on masala chai at the airport (K Ramesh, Sreelatha and Vidya for company) was the cherry- on- top- of- everything else for the Chennai team. I even got to read out the poetry of Ko Un  at the airport. No reason why I shouldn’t keep smiling till the next Utsav!