Haiku review – the last poem

This is the haiku review for the haiku, the last poem, by Sanjuktaa Asopa. The review is by members of In Haiku Mumbai and Chennai.


the last poem
signed with a flourish-
falling star




This poem leaves so much open to interpretation that it has all the hallmarks of a super haiku.


I say haiku with some reservations because “falling star” appears to be a kigo. Yet the sensibility seems to point to the senryu. After all, writing poetry does not belong to the purely natural world and appears to be more man-made.

Apart from categorizing the poem, there is more than one level that opens up to the perceptive reader.

Who was this poet? Did he/she know the poem would be the last one at the time of writing? Or did the chronicler interpret it this way much later?

The flourish mentioned, may be an interpretation rather than intended by the poet.

Falling star, is suggestive of decline, but who noticed it, the poet of the last poem or the chronicler?

All these questions have a myriad possible answers, and as a well known critic once said, rhe more interpretations possible, the better the poem.





This haiku by Sanjuktaa Asopa starts with an end by referring to a last poem. The stage is set for a sad haiku defined by a sense of loss in the first line itself. The second line introduces the poet (without any pronouns) and shows the flourish with which the poem has been signed. The image of a poet who is on the verge of a literal or metaphorical death is what comes to mind. This could be the last time the poet will ever write and sign a creation.


Then, Sanjuktaa juxtaposes the flourish of the pen very deftly, with a falling star. Suddenly, the poem takes on a very different depth because to me, the image of a falling star is one that lights the sky and one that many yearn to see and perhaps, wish upon for their own future. The poet has perhaps lit up the world around her with her own creations and now, knows that she has to move on. And hence, the flourish of the last signature. The clever play on the words ‘falling star’, which could refer to leonids and perseids or to the falling star which is the state that the poet herself could be at, leaves the haiku at a semicircle with plenty of scope for the reader to step in and interpret.


From a sad haiku, this turned into a poem about quiet acceptance, dignity, ends, and perhaps, even trailblazing. The endless possibilities are definitely what made this haiku a winner. (It won a prize in 2011 at the Calico Cat international bilingual haiku contest held by Origa in memory of Hortensia Anderson).




the last poem—anything that suggests “a last” is so sad; and here it says-a poem. how sad! When does one say its a last poem .when the poet is no more. A death ku?


signed with a flourish— wow that gives me hope but with a tinge of sadness that its all coming to an end. but not before that one last performance.


falling star- bright and beautiful journey of a star before it gets lost


As I finish reading this poem, one image flashes on my mind. Sachin Tendulkar.




A rather sad haiku is brightened with ‘a flourish’. The last line sounds final.  Did she give up writing? Or is it a death haiku?


Falling star suggests the process has been going on for a while.  The decline may be due to old age or the declining fortunes of a famous person. But it is rescued by ‘signing with a flourish’ which shows a certain awareness of the decline and a defiance of it by signing with a flourish even right at the end.


So it’s really a hopeful haiku. I like the flourish put in the middle line so it can cushion  the bleakness of falling star which might have been too much of a downer on its own.




The context of the phrase gives a second meaning to the fragment: of the poet on the decline. This reading then reanimates the phrase, in my mind there’s the image of the poet/ess struggling to accept that s/he’s no longer as popular as s/he was, and like all declining stars, the flourishes becoming more pronounced. The first line nevertheless indicates an end to this struggle; the acceptance, perhaps even surrender, that there will be no more poems. So why not sign it off with a flourish?


Analysis is of course, not without context. Though Sanjukta might not have intended it, her ku makes me re-examine the publishing phenomenon that is Rupi Kaur, now on the upswing even as her popularity leaves the current price establishment in tatters, and I wonder how prepared she is for the inevitable eclipse. In the same way that one sees writers, sportsmen and ageing movie stars.


Is it a death ku? I do not think so, but there is the inevitability of it, but an artistic rather than literal death. A signal for our times.




There is a certain pathos to this ku. The last poem of the poet signed with a flourish… gives the impression that the poet’s best days are over and that his talent is on the decline. Recognising this sad fact, the poet gives significant importance to what he thinks is his last work of art.




Perhaps a death ku, L1 sets a poignant tone. The word ‘flourish’ in L2 though suggests an almost impish satisfaction at a writing life well spent. After all, even a falling star draws gasps of delight.


I wonder if it could also allude to the creator’s pen using the skies for a page and a falling star as a signal for us to sit up and take notice, now that his/her work is done




She is an aging diva, a doyen of yesteryears. And now she has given her final performance. She knows she will not be performing again. And hence gives her best.


This piece is also reminicent of O.Henry’s last leaf. The masterpiece that the artist dreams is his/her final performance.


Does she like the artist in the O.Henry’ s story die a physical death? Or is it an artistic death?

Submit for New Beginnings

The prompt for our February Blog is – New Beginnings.
Please send in your entries – haiku, senryu, tanka, haibun etc. by 28-02-2017 to:
We look forward to hearing from you….

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


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

Haiku of Mahrukh Bulsara

For her birthday, Cafe haiku publishes the haiku of our own member, Mahrukh Bulsara.

summer skies
my heart dissolves
into a cloud


spring dew…
the bud reveals
a mandala


twin bed
our baby tries
to find her space


first published in World Haiku Review 


morning fog…
the lighthouse
now a star


incomplete moon
a child sells balloons
to my daughter


tulip petals…
I search for
hidden fairies


evening drizzle
among her toys
a glow worm


the horizon –
away and beyond
my father


leaves tremble
on the forest floor
another quiet


garden soil
a hand caresses

Slow Afternoon

At our last monthly session, the group wrote haiku prompted by this picture taken by Brijesh Raj.

Here are the haiku. You are welcome to add your own.

slow afternoon
what does he carry
in his dreams?


~ Raamesh Gowri Raghavan


Mumbai traffic
the big burden becomes
a pillow


Mumbai traffic
the strain on his face
even in sleep


~ Rohini Gupta


sultry noon
the handcart man clothed
in blue sky


dog tired —
only those twinkling stars
behind shut eyes


handcart man —
wrapped up in his nap
and a dhoti


~ Gautam Nadkarni


passing by…
the world
in a rush of dreams


~ Brijesh Raj


swacch Bharat –
the rag-picker relaxes
 on his haul


~ Sandra Martyres



Haiku by Paresh Tiwari

The members of INhaiku Mumbai chose their favorite haiku by Paresh Tiwari for his birthday. Here they are.


early morning…
a tree’s foliage bursts
into parakeets

Chosen by Sandra Martyres


longest night…
the taste of sea breeze
and her absence


the sound of dusk
washing ashore


Choosing a single ku (albeit from Paresh’s truncated list of favorites) is like letting loose the inner child in a candy shop, filled with the vibrant hues and delicious hurt of one who continues to experience and capture life in 4D (poetry, painting, prose and photography). And telling it to just look around.

So I broke the rules and chose two. The first has lent its second line as title to our little anthology and is therefore that much more familiar and close to the heart. The second I loved because it lends itself to so many subtle shades. Is it the sailor in him ? The fact that he must endure long absences from his loved ones or something more enigmatic, perhaps foreboding, left to the reader’s imagination?

Happy birthday Paresh. Keep writing as well as you do and this teetotaler will keep getting high.

Chosen by Brijesh Raj



alley puddle –
a paper boat glides
over the stars

Chosen by Raamesh Gowri Raghavan


the sound of dusk
washing ashore


Chosen by Kasturi Jadhav




gran’s hand
how frail, how cold
this autumn dusk


the scent of summer
in a bluethroat’s song


mustard fields-
a thimbleful of sun
on each blossom


It was hard to chose just one. So, here are three.


Chosen by Rohini Gupta