Saturday, 27 November 2021

Joseph P. Wechselberger and Elliot Nicely and the milk of human kindness

still warm in the cans
the village milk wagon
making its rounds

Joseph P. Wechselberger

"In 1954 when I was eight years old and living in a small village in northern France, there was a horse-drawn wagon that came down the street with large cans of milk fresh from the cows, unpasteurized and unhomogenized, the driver ringing a bell to signal its presence. Women came from the houses along the route with pitchers and small containers, and the driver would ladle milk into them. I’ve never forgotten it."

Joseph's favorite haiku is by Elliot Nicely:

in the icu
a ventilator’s slow exhale …
winter deepens
Elliot Nicely

first publication: Presence, Issue 66
a jar of rain: the Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku, 2020
Joseph says:
"This poem speaks to me directly. I have lived the moment Elliot Nicely so succinctly captures. It was a cold February in 1972. My mother lingered in a coma in ICU for ten days, hooked up to various machines that kept her temporarily alive. I spent each day sitting in the waiting room, alone, popping in and out of the ICU to spend time with her. I was with her when she died."
Waiting for Godot:
“VLADIMIR: You should have been a poet.”
Withnail and I:
“MONTY: Loyalty isn’t a matter of selection.”
Joseph P. Wechselberger
hails from Browns Mills, NJ USA
under stars our sleeping bags touching
Joseph P. Wechselberger
Frogpond 44.1 • 2021
how the saplings grew
over the summer
Joseph P. Wechselberger
The Heron’s Nest Volume XXII, Number 1: March 2020
another death . . . 
gathering fallen apples 
for tomorrow’s pies
Joseph P. Wechselberger, USA
Cattails October 2021 page 33
check out another on page 56
Also check out:
Prune Juice Issue #30 March 2020
Elliot Nicely

in the icu
a ventilator’s slow exhale …
winter deepens
Elliot Nicely
first publication: Presence, Issue 66 

anthology: a jar of rain: the Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku, 2020


silence at her end ...
the cord around my finger
coiling uncoiling
Elliot Nicely
Blithe Spirit, 25:4,November 2015 ed. Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy
Elliot Nicely is the author of two chapbooks: 
The Black Between Stars (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2017) and Tangled Shadows: Senryu and Haiku (Rosenberry Books, 2013). 

He is an Ohio poet (USA).

Tangled Shadows: Senryu and Haiku (Rosenberry Books, 2013)

The Black Between Stars (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2017)
Nominated for an Ohioana Book Award and a Pushcart Prize.
Randy Brooks review:
The Black Between Stars by Elliot Nicely 
(2017, Crisis Chronicles Press, Parma OH) 16 pages, 21⁄4×7 ̋, perfectbound. ISBN 978-1-940996-40-0. $4.99 plus $3 shipping from Crisis Chronicles Press, 3431 George Avenue, Parma, OH 44134.
On the Crisis Chronicles Press website, Elliot Nicely notes that “We set out to develop a new work that is both startling and stark, a book which invokes a sense of disquiet and discomfort.”
The book is published backwards to English conventions with the cover and title page coming last, and the reading pages progress- ing from right to left in a reverse chronology sequence. 
The title haiku is waiting / for her lab results / the black between stars. I like the way this haiku shifts from a contemplative outdoors, to the inner consideration of a medical scan. 
The chapbook progresses through two reversed pages with white ink haiku on black pages for two death scenes: first prayer / of the wake / only the wine breathes and blackberry winter / in the cemetery / a fresh grave
Small chapbooks have always been an excellent way to present a short sequence or unified series. Nicely’s The Black Between Stars excels as an example of this haiku publishing tradition.

flowering bittersweet . . .
the chances
i did take
Elliot Nicely

A New Resonance 11: 
Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku
editors Jim Kacian and Julie Warther


Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Alan Peat and Réka Nyitrai lunar and solar scapes, and invent a new kigo competition news!



day moon…
she feels for an eye
with her fingers

Alan Peat

Alan Peat says:
"This poem is about my grandmother. She continued to sew as her eyesight faded, eventually leaving her blind. I guess it’s also informed by surrealism. I co-wrote the catalogue raisonné of the surrealist artist John Tunnard  (1997) and this interest in twentieth century art often spills over into my writing."

1900 1971


Alan Peat's favourite haiku by another writer:

February silence —
an old woman knits her sunset

Réka Nyitrai


Alan says:
"I’ve chosen this beautifully evocative poem by Réka Nyitrai. It’s one, among many, of Réka’s poems that I often re-read. 

I love poems that create a vivid, resonating image. I see my grandmother in Réka’s poem too - it speaks to me directly and leaves enough space for me to personalise the words. 

A great haiku is one which the reader can inhabit  - this ku, in my opinion, achieves that distinction."

‘Withnail and I’ quote:
You bloody fool. You should never mix your drinks.

Waiting for Godot’ quote: 
Let us make the most of it before it is too late.

Alan Peat lives in Biddulph, Staffordshire, United Kingdom: 

The history of signs:

Alan Peat is a U.K.-based poet, author, and Fellow of both The Royal Society of Arts & The Historical Association.

He is an Independent Literacy Consultant and his unique INSET, conference and school-based training provides teachers and school leaders with practical, effective and enjoyable strategies for raising pupils' achievement in both reading and writing. 

Alan is the author of a number of books on a wide range of subjects including education, art and ceramics. 

The Magic Stone is his first story for children:

Réka Nyitrai

While Dreaming Your Dreams
by Réka Nyitrai
I appreciate these haiku that can go beyond the present moment: Everything is ongoing, it’s simultaneously past, present, and future. 

Sometimes we need to turn to surrealism as a way to embrace uncomfortable truths.

Alan Summers
founder, Call of the Page

while dreaming your dreams/mientras sueño tus sueños
Réka Nyitrai was the recipient of a Touchstone Distinguished Books Award for 2020 for her volume While Dreaming Your Dreams (Valencia Spain: Mono Ya Mono Books, 2020).


Réka reads out her different sunsets haiku: 


Sunday, 21 November 2021

Richard Matta and Debbie Strange in the lightning zone

Richard Matta says:

“As it turns out, Waiting for Godot was my favorite play in high school. I remember where my mother and I sat for the performance.”

unanswered proposal…
a teetering kite awaits
the wind

Richard Matta

Richard says:

"How long the wait for the wind as the kite balances on its edge, possibly falling forward or back, but either way requiring us to start over. Patience is required, and acceptance we are not in control, just as a proposal, say for marriage, puts us in a holding pattern…with hopes to soar."

Richard choose:

a wild sky
tethered to earth . . .
chain lightning

Debbie Strange
Gnarled Oak, Issue 1, December 2014

Richard comments:

“Having lived in Florida I know lightning and can relate to the wildness of the sky. The assonance in tethered and earth is wonderful, and the use of tethered and wild certainly makes one think of a wild monster with which you might try to use a chain.”

Waiting for Godot:

“Better hope deferred than none.”

Withnail and I:

“What about what’s-his-name?”


Richard L Matta

Richard Matta was raised in New York’s Hudson Valley and now lives in San Diego, California. He practiced forensic science after attending university. Most often  he’s on or near the water, sailing or walking along the bay, usually with his golden-doodle dog. His walks provide the inspiration for his haiku and other poetry. His poetry has appeared in Healing Muse, Dewdrop, and Ancient Paths. He’s a practiced forensic science after attending Notre Dame. He is active in San Diego poetry circles. 

Debbie Strange


The Language of Loss: 
Haiku & Tanka Conversations
Winner of the Sable Books 2019 International Women’s Haiku Contest
“The Language of Loss contains tanka and haiku of exceptional quality. But it is the remarkable way in which the poet links tanka and haiku that elevated The Language of Loss into the winner’s circle. The poems on each page come together in a conversation of many layers. That these conversations will deepen and change for each reader is due to the author’s expertise. I am delighted to congratulate Debbie Strange on her winning collection.”

“These exquisite poems illuminate the skill of the author in pairing haiku and tanka in conversation, one page at a time. On one page, the long ago past talks to the recent past. On another, the sorrow of the natural world is juxtaposed with that of the human world.”

— Roberta Beary, final judge


Prairie Interludes
Winner of the 2019 Snapshot Press eChapbook Awards
Mouth Full of Stones 
a book of haikai comprised of dark subject matter and black-and-white photographs released by Title IX Press, 2020

Friday, 5 November 2021

Marcie Wessels and Keith Polette


cubicle curtain of falling leaves her whites yellow too
Marcie Wessels

"My friend has been battling stage four breast cancer. Over the past three years, I’ve accompanied her to appointments and been privy to some difficult conversations. Watching her decline has been hard. Every time we say goodbye, I wonder if it will be our last visit."

 artwork by Marcie Wessels


night rummages through me
looking for lost keys and loose change

Keith Polette
from The New World haiku collection

See Notes further down

Marcie says:
WHY I LIKE “insomnia” by Keith Polette
'I love the personification of night. The verb “rummages” is a brilliant descriptor for the way so many of us insomniacs relive our failures in the middle of the night. I admire the long phrasing of the second and third lines and the internal musicality from the repetition of the “L” sound."
"I’ve chosen the following quotes from Withnail and I and Waiting for Godot. They must be read together, in their entirety, and in order. They speak to the human condition and reflect my appreciation for the camaraderie that I’ve found in the #haiku community during the pandemic."
Look at that, look at that. Accident black spot. These aren't accidents. They're throwing themselves into the road gladly. Throwing themselves into the road to escape all this hideousness. [to a pedestrian] Throw yourself into the road, darling, you haven't got a chance.
POZZO: I, too, would be happy to meet him. The more people I meet, the happier I become. From the meanest creature, one departs wiser, richer, more conscious of one's blessings. Even you . . . (he looks at them ostentatiously in turn to make it clear they are both meant) . . . even you, who knows, will have added to my store.

Marcie Wessels is the author of Pirate’s Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime (Doubleday BFYR, 2015); as well as The Boy Who Thought Outside The Box (Sterling Publishing, March, 2020) named Best Informational Book for Young Readers by Chicago Public Library.
Pirate’s Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime
Take a peek at the illustrator’s amazing process
Pirate's take over studio...
Also check out:
Please do check out haiku by Marcie Wessels on Twitter

crying baby
the midnight ache
in these dried-up breasts
Marcie Wessels 2021

And Instagram for haiga and shahai
Marcie Wessels (@mwessels)
Keith Polette




Keith Polette's haibun collection:

Winner of a Merit Book Award, 2020, Haiku Society of America, and Shortlisted, 2020 Touchstone Distinguished Books Award (The Haiku Foundation)
Haiku Society of America
Merit Books Awards for 2021
Ce Rosenow and Bryan Rickert, judges
Best Haibun Book:
Keith Polette. Pilgrimage. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2020.
Keith Polette’s book is filled with intensity, imagery, and artistry. He draws us into his work using descriptive and poetic language, making us feel the moment with all our senses and immersing us into a fantastic and sometimes surreal world. It is an excellent collection of haibun.
Also see:

The New World 

Keith Polette's New World haiku collection:

And finally, check out:
three one-line haiku by Keith Polette



Monday, 1 November 2021

Issa and Eva Zimet

iron-barred window
so high up, beyond reach,
birds call out there

Eva Zimet

Eva’s statement
“He was introduced to me as Rinpoche. Six months like this, he said, holding his wrists together in front. And six months like this, his wrists together behind. And then he repeated the gestures. The window was very high and small, but it was enough to share with the birds in the sky, and keep him alive.”

Eva’s favorite haikai poem by Kobayashi Issa

How much
are you enjoying yourself,
tiger moth?

translation by Robert Hass
“Dialogue in haiku is so much fun! We don’t get the tiger moth’s reply, but it is clearly invited and the tiger moth is assumed capable of responding, if only we could understand the response. 

And thus the gist of the haiku, I think, is the narrator jealous?

The question is not “if” but “how much” enjoyment the tiger moth experiences. Is this simple state unattainable for the narrator? How poignant! Or is the narrator aware that a tiger moth lives for only a fraction of the human life-line and is making fun of its frolic? How dim and banal! And how clever of the writer, who (in this interpretation) steps aside from the narrator.

Or is it a moment of communion? How temporal, how temporary we are.”

Waiting for Godot
Pozzo (to Vladimir): Are you alluding to anything in particular?

Withnail and I
“I” (to uncle Monty): Perhaps it’s in the other bag.


Eva Zimet

Kobayashi Issa

小林 一茶

dore hodo ni omoshiroi no ka hitorimushi


why is playing
with fire such fun...
tiger moth?

David Lanoue translation

David says:

In this haiku Issa questions the moth's Japanese name, hitorimushi: as Shinji Ogawa translates, "bugs that love to play with fire."

David Lanoue’s website about one of Japan’s most favourite haikai poets:

Search for Issa haikai verses:

Sunday, 31 October 2021

gun metal clouds and deep woods: Claire Vogel Camargo and Rachel Sutcliffe

deep wood and clouds

the tailgater 
gun metal clouds 

Claire Vogel Camargo
Claire says:
"Driving in heavy traffic one cloudy afternoon, amidst laid-on car horns, screeching tires, and cars cutting in front, this haiku was born. Road rage incidents are increasing. A guy even followed me off the freeway years ago. The fright of another honking, tailgating, menacing guy remains with me." 
 Claire's choice of a favourite haiku is by Rachel Sutcliffe:

deep woods happy to just be 
Rachel Sutcliffe 
 Per Diem, The Haiku Foundation, October 2018 
Claire says:
"Rachel Sutcliffe’s poetry can be wrenching. Having died much too early, suffering debilitating illness, Rachel wrote with an exquisiteness of expression; in a way that touched the raw ends and receptors in my mind, heart, and soul. Her poems bring me right into her pain, illness experiences, and feelings about life. Her monoku I chose to share stood out to me. In it, I can feel her sustaining and last gratitude maybe, but I also feel a message of positivity for the living." 
“Waiting for Godot”:  
Vladimir:  “Extraordinary the tricks that memory plays.” 
 “Withnail and I” 
I:  “Get out of it for awhile. Get into the countryside. Rejuvenate.” 
the soft brush
of our hands folding sheets
cherry blossoms

Claire Vogel Camargo
Masters of Japanese Prints: Haiku (Bristol Museum & Art Gallery)
More about the live and online events:

a future
Claire Vogel Camargo
HAIKU DIALOGUE – ink ed. kjmunro (July 2019)
“Adoption or fostering is a gift to a child bereft of family, and of care and diligence, and love. Wonderful poem.” Alan Summers (adopted)
just widowed
all she accomplishes
without him
Claire Vogel Camargo
International Women’s Haiku Festival: Two Haiku by Claire Vogel Camargo
March 2018

Rachel Sutcliffe
(6 November 1977 – 23 January 2019)
Rachel Sutcliffe
Flying Free: A Poetic Response to Illness 
(Misfit Books Press 2018)
free download
Poetry Corner: Seeing the World Differently 
Hosted by Kathabela Wilson
October 2018
Rachel Sutcliffe
“Simple seasonal changes can also be seen at a deeper level as lessons worth learning in life.”
Halloween party
the surgeon
takes his skeleton
Rachel Sutcliffe
Half A Rainbow
Haiku Nook: An Anthology
Dedicated to Rachel Sutcliffe (1977-2019)
& Haiku Nook G+
Edited by Jacob Salzer
Proceeds will be donated to Leeds Clinical Immunology Research Fund, Leeds Cares at St. James's University Hospital. 


Joseph P. Wechselberger and Elliot Nicely and the milk of human kindness

    still warm in the cans the village milk wagon making its rounds   Joseph P. Wechselberger   "In 1954 when I was eight years old and...