haiku review: rickety bridge

In this post we review the haiku by Arvinder Kaur below.

rickety bridge —
the langoor’s leap
from fog to fog

—published in A Hundred Gourds, December 2014 Issue.

Dr Brijesh Raj:

An interesting ku with movement in all three lines and yet an element of surprise. The usage of ‘fog’ in L3 sounds forced but does not detract too much from the beauty of the crystal clear visual. Reading this ku is like watching a video-grab from an incursion into mother nature’s space.

The Langur is a powerful and fiercely free-spirited being. It will not easily share space with us. Ironically it appears to be more sure of itself in the air than the observer on ground.

Gautam Nadkarni:

Obviously here, there are two distinct and disparate images: the rickety bridge – in the fragment – and the seemingly unconnected image of a langoor leaping from fog to fog, in the phrase. Here, how does the rickety bridge, in the fragment, connect with the langoor’s leap, in the phrase? When the langoor leaps from one fog covered limb to another, it bridges the gap between the limbs or branches of a tree, doesn’t it? That’s it! The key is ‘bridge’. And this leap between limbs, covered as they are with fog, is as dangerous as traversing the rickety bridge. The technique employed here, is one of Comparison, drawing a likeness between the two images.

Raamesh Gowri Raghavan:

Between ‘rickety bridge’ and ‘leap’ you see the first contrast: you’re made to think of an image in which you’d rather leap over a chasm than risking stepping on the bridge. ‘fog to fog’ adds to that uncertainty: visibility is low on both sides of the chasm, so how do you know how deep it is? The ‘langur’ is the third visual element and very strong at that: a powerful and resourceful animal much celebrated in Indian traditions.

Taken together, these three images work at two levels. At the literal level one looks at a langur taking a leap in a foggy situation, and one wonders whether s/he’s trying to avoid the bridge and trust her/his own limbs (Langurs are good leapers).

At the figurative level though, picture the mind as the langur (an image often used in Hindu & Buddhist philosophy), leaping from blurry idea to blurry idea, lacking faith in the rickety bridge of actual study and enlightenment; the mind is happier to by lulled by comforting falsehoods than traverse the difficult path of truth.

Mahrukh Bulsara:

The image in the haiku is beautiful.  The juxta positioning of the rickety bridge with the langur leaping is perfect, creating the right bit of tension in the reader’s mind. Although there is a liberal use of alliteration, the ambience and the aspiration created is fantastic. This haiku grows on you.  Makes me want to write a story on it.

Paresh Tiwari:

spring breeze review

Haiku Review

This will be a regular feature. In this post we review the haiku by Kala Ramesh below.

spring breeze
the sari slides down
her shoulder

— Kala Ramesh

(Golden Haiku contest 1st prize)


Raamesh Gowri Raghavan:

‘Spring breeze’ is in India an expression weighted with many meanings. From the innocence of the first leaves on trees at one end to sexual innuendo at the other, it occupies several layers of interpretation. Nevertheless the phrase leaves little to ambiguity, the sari sliding down shoulders is an unhindered cliché for sexual awakening. The Indian spring, vasanta, had long been a season for love and weddings; from the time of Dushyant and Shakuntala to modern Bollywood potboilers!


Paresh Tiwari:

It’s always a tricky business attempting to deconstruct a poem and none more so than a haiku, especially one that has been adjudged as an award winner.

What makes these seemingly simple eight words poetry and good poetry at that?

What does this haiku have in store that made it stand head over heels above other works?

In my quest for an answer let me start by rewriting the verse after changing a single word. In this experiment, I am replacing spring with gentle . . .

gentle breeze
the sari slides down
her shoulder

And suddenly the haiku becomes completely insipid. It is still a haiku mind you. There is fragment – gentle breeze, and a phrase – the sari slides down her shoulder. But it is a cause and effect verse . . . because there is a breeze, the sari slides down.

And I am forced to ask so what? If this was an ad film, it may have still sold for the titillation, but as poetry, well it is definitely not a very good one!

So, Kala Ramesh’s greatest contribution (in my opinion, to this haiku) comes in from of the simple act of choosing one very apt word. Spring.

Spring as we all know is a season of possibilities. Of the earth blossoming. Of the first leaves peeping with their translucent greens. Of the first flowers budding anew.

The fact that it is the spring breeze and none else layers this otherwise cause and effect haiku with a story that I want to know. Is the girl blossoming like the earth in the spring breeze waiting? What does her bare shoulder look like? What’s she like? How much of the slide of sari, incidental? How much of it, is intentional? Was the poet an unintended intruder in this scene loaded with sexuality or was she the intended consumer? (The fact that the poet is female, makes the last two questions even more delicious).

With spring breeze there exists a juxtaposition of images an opening of possibilities and that’s how this first line is absolutely essential to the haiku.

Coming to the phrase, Kala shows great restraint by simply stating an event. Going almost for ‘shasei’ or painting from life. We haven’t been told about anything else. No unnecessary or distracting details like the texture of the sari, or the sound of the slip. It’s up to the reader to supply these and the rest of the details and for me it opens up a tantalising array of possibilities.

A very satisfying haiku indeed.  Eight words (ten syllables) can be poetry.

But one that I would hesitate from including in my list of great haiku, simply because I cannot shake away the feeling of cause and effect that permeates the work.


Rohini Gupta:

The first thing which came to my mind when I read this lovely haiku, was a sense of youthfulness. Spring, in any case, is a season of birth and childhood. In old Sanskrit literature like Kalidasa, spring is a season of freshness and young love and full of slippery silks.

Saris are not as slippery as they seem. I remember when I first wore a sari all I could do was hang on to every loosening part. But once you get used to wearing one the slippage is either carefree or deliberate.

In this haiku it seems more carefree. It comes from forgetting yourself in the lovely spring breeze. To me, it seems like a young woman at the threshold of life. The slipping of the sari is that moment when she allows herself to be lost in the spring breeze thereby opening herself to the larger world.

The moment of seeming inattention is actually a deep involvement in life itself and that is always beautiful.


Brijesh Raj:

An evocative ku that many Indian readers would connect with. Kala leaves the plot open to the reader’s imagination or to a reliving of an old experience. Was it a tease , happenstance or perhaps the beginning of a romance? To me the breeze and sari fabric convey a lightness of spirit. Nice.


Mahrukh Bulsara:

It’s a naughty one. Brings an instant smile. Spring creates a picture of flowering trees, romance, colour all around. Spring breeze adds a lightness in the ambience and a sense of playfulness.

The woman hasn’t pinned her sari, intentionally or unintentionally. It creates an image of a person who is open, carefree and uninhibited. Yet it leaves you open to various possibilities (was she embarrassed, was she alone, did she enjoy the moment).  It’s fun to imagine what happens next…


Sandra Martyres:

An interesting write – on the face of it very simple, yet replete with innuendo!

bittersweet the mogras

bittersweet the mogras

a freestyle renku sequence

coffee shop –
the flavour of her voice
in every sip       / Gautam


bittersweet the mogras
sold by the schoolgirl      / Brijesh


lingering over
the evening rush hour –
summer sun        / Raamesh


bleeding from the barbed wire
the coat you wore last winter     /Paresh


nothing left behind
except that last
goodbye      / Rohini


I step into the morrow
of my dreams     / Gautam


from the tulip garden
stolen petals
and kisses      / Brijesh


bridal veil the colour
of magic on her lips      / Raamesh


with cross stitches
we add a full moon
to the night sky      / Paresh


sketched in pen and ink
the group all smiles     / Rohini



Published originally at Whispers

A hatful of sky

The writings of IN haiku Mumbai group

Sandra Martyres

moonless sky –
not even a shadow
to follow him

XII Edition Winter 2015 – European Kukai
2nd place


Raamesh Gowri Raghavan

with a hatful of sky
the night
is my only cloak
and soon my shroud

A Hundred Gourds, September 2014


Paresh Tiwari


dawn cold light over crumpled sheets . . . my hand over her belly . . . over her sagging contours soaking warmth taking my time over her stretch marks, reading faded words of an old-intimate diary.

She stops me when I reach the now long-healed incision three inches below her navel.

This one was him she says.

the moon the colour
of emptiness

Modern Haiku 43.1

Dr Brijesh Raj

forest walk
the cool breath
of Eucalyptus trees

Herons’s Nest March 2016


Rohini Gupta

baleful eyes
the bounding dog takes
a sudden u-turn

whiskers and purrs, a book of cat haiku, 2016


Gautam Nadkarni

looking within
the sky no longer creased
by the ripples

A Hundred Gourds — Sept 2015 Issu



Mahrukh Bulsara

spring rain
the tiny leaf
catches a flower