Saturday, February 4, 2023

A Room of My Own: This What-If World Haiku

to stay or to go ...
alone in this what-if world
of my attic room


missile attack
after missile attack 
in the winter dark
an old couple phone-scrolling
through a cacophony of news


the full moon between
bars of a cellar window
the sound of booms

Friday, February 3, 2023

Butterfly Dream: Drought Haiku by Kristen Deming

English Original

breaking the silence 
of the drought 
acorn rain 

A Glimpse of Red, 2000

Kristen Deming

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Kristen Deming was an accomplished haiku poet and lover of literature. Her haiku collection, Plum Afternoon was a finalist in the Haiku Society of America's Merit Book Award in 2017. As a past president of the Haiku Society of America and active member in the haiku community in Japan for many years, one of Kristen's enduring contributions to the haiku communities around the world was a weekly poetry column in the Japan Times called "Haiku Moments" that she co-wrote with a Japanese colleague for six years, helping to open the world of haiku to English speakers and to give glimpses of Japanese culture through the lens of haiku. 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Poetic Musings: Tangled Fish Hooks Tanka by an'ya

old memories
like tangled fish hooks
to pick up only one
without all the others

First Place, 2008 Tanka Society of America  International Contest


Commentary: This tanka has layers of suggestion, evoking layers of response.

At the first layer, this is a visual tanka – you can SEE the tangled snarl of fish hooks and, like that old game of fiddle sticks, it would be almost impossible to gently extract one fish hook without disturbing the others. As a simile for memories it works well, you can imagine fishing in the storehouse of your mind to find a particular memory and savor it, only to find a flood of other memories that you can’t stop. I’m sure that everyone has experienced that....

This is where the power of the simile works to enhance the impact of the tanka....
The next layer is going into the particular side effects this shock of memories can yield. Fish hooks are barbed, treacherous objects, designed to trap the unwary. The poet implies that memory, too, is a risky business....

Finally I looked at the particular words in this tanka. It is a deceptively simple tanka -- simple language, many of the words just one syllable. Yet every word plays an important role. The key words to me were “old”, “only” and “all”. Very simple, basic words, not particularly poetic in their own right... excerpted from the Bowerbird Tanka Group Meeting Report, written by Carmel Summers

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Butterfly Dream: Pomegranate Haiku by Simon Hanson

English Original

splitting a pomegranate
a hundred days of summer
Muttering Thunder, 2, 2015 

Simon Hanson 

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Simon Hanson lives in Tasmania among tree-ferns, wattles, pines and eucalypts in the company of echidnas, wallabies, various lizards and snakes, hawks, owls, robins and wrens. He is Secretary to the Australian Haiku  Society and co-editor of Echidna Tracks: Australian Haiku.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

One Man's Maple Moon: Desire Tanka by Brian Zimmer

English Original

his desire
with each step
to the bridge

Lyrical Passion Poetry, 2011

Brian Zimmer

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Brian Zimmer wrote from the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri. His work had appeared in various international print and online journals. He took inspiration from a variety of sources, including the ancient Japanese poetic-diary (utanikki) and free-form, poetic "essay" (zuihitsu).

Monday, January 30, 2023

Butterfly Dream: Guest Room Closet Haiku by Dorothy McLaughlin

English Original

guest room closet
coat hangers
long empty

Bear Creek Haiku, October 22, 2017

Dorothy McLaughlin

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Dorothy McLaughlin's poems had been inspired by her husband, daughter, son, and grandsons, her native Massachusetts, forty-five years in Somerset, New Jersey, her interest in history and mythology, and teaching. Her haiku had appeared in bottle rocketsFrogpondModern HaikutinywordsSouth by Southeast, and other journals and anthologies.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

A Room of My Own: What Is the Difference?

This Brave New World, LXVIII
written in response to the released video of vicious Tyre Nichols beating by Memphis police officers

decades-old video
of the Rodney King beating --
now, punch after punch
a black man beaten to death
by five black policemen

a phalanx
of black youth with arms linked --
blood-red paint
on a pair of giant bronze hands
named Serve and Protect

FYI: The New Yorker, Jan. 28: "The Police Folklore That Helped Kill Tyre Nichols": A 1992 study claims that officers who show weakness are more likely to be killed. Law-enforcement culture has never recovered.

Most significant, the study’s core lesson about the imperative to dominate dovetailed with a nineties-era turn in law-enforcement culture toward what was known as a “warrior mind-set,” teaching officers to see almost any civilian as a potentially lethal assassin—an approach that many police trainers still advertise, even as the cops-vs.-citizens mentality has fallen out of favor among many police chiefs.

AddedThree Hundred and Sixtieth Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary
written in response to Bloomberg News, Jan. 27: "China Celebrated Lunar New Year Like Covid No Longer Exists" and The Daily Beast, Jan. 28: "How China’s COVID Crisis Could Spawn a Disastrous Virus Leap"

back-to-back waves
of Omicron subvariants . . . 
migrant workers
on their New Year's train ride
stare at the rolling dice

FYI: Lunar New Year celebrations, also known as the Spring Festival, in China start on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. The festival lasts for about 23 days, ending on the 15th day of the first lunar month in the following year in the Chinese calendar. And the Chinese New Year Migration, Spring Festival Travel Rush, is the largest human migration on earth annually.


these nail heads
of the new neighbor's fence ....
heat lightning

Added: reading between the lives and writing between the lines, LX

midnight barking ...
one group after another
hastily crowded 
into this new VRChat 
a men-only echo chamber 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Butterfly Dream: All Night Snow Haiku by Kirsty Karkow

English Original

all night snow
I listen to mouse feet
across the attics

shorelines, 2007

Kirsty Karkow

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Kirsty Karkow lived in Waldoboro, Maine, where she wrote haiku, sijo, tanka, and other short forms. Lyrical, poignant, and spare, her poetry reflected a rich and deep sense of place and spirit. Her haiku had won the Mainichi and the R.H Blyth Award and have placed in other contests. And she had two best-selling books in print: water poems: haiku, tanka and sijo and shorelines: haiku, haibun and tanka , published by Black Cat Press.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Special Feature: Poems For Reflections on the Day of Holocaust Remembrance

My Dear Friends and Fellow Poets: 

Today, I would like to share with you a set of haiku and tanka for reflections on both the meaning, personal and sociopolitical, of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the responsibility to prevent the spread of mis/disinformation about the Holocaust and its causes/motivations, aftermath and effects on survivors. 

for Phil Chernofsky, author of And Every Single One Was Someone

line upon line
page after page
the word
six million times

NeverEnding Story, January 27, 2014 

Chen-ou Liu

Note: Each page has 40 columns of 120 lines — 4,800 “Jews.” The font is Minion; the size, 5.5 point. The book weighs 7.3 pounds.... Its titleless cover depicts a Jewish prayer shawl, sometimes used to wrap bodies for burial. Mr. Chernofsky said it was Gefen’s choice; he would have preferred solid black, or a yellow star like those the Nazis made Jews wear.

“When you look at this at a distance, you can’t tell whether it’s upside down or right side up, you can’t tell what’s here; it looks like a pattern,” said Phil Chernofsky, the author, though that term may be something of a stretch. “That’s how the Nazis viewed their victims: These are not individuals, these are not people, these are just a mass we have to exterminate.

“Now get closer, put on your reading glasses, and pick a ‘Jew,’ ” Mr. Chernofsky continued. “That Jew could be you. Next to him is your brother. Oh, look, your uncles and aunts and cousins and your whole extended family. A row, a line, those are your classmates. Now you get lost in a kind of meditative state where you look at one word, ‘Jew,’ you look at one Jew, you focus on it and then your mind starts to go because who is he, where did he live, what did he want to do when he grew up?”

-- excerpted from Jodi Rudoren's "Holocaust Told in One Word, 6 Million Times" (New York Times, Jan. 25, 2014)

Holocaust Memorial
from an ashen sky
snow keeps falling
and falling
on fallen snow

Runner-up, 2017 British Haiku Society Tanka Awards

Frank Dietrich

as if 
still waiting to be claimed
a leather suitcase
in Auschwitz with the name:

Skylark, 2:1, Summer 2014

Sonam Chhoki

in spring rain
a long visitor's line
at Anne Frank House ...
did the church bell ring
on that fateful day?

Bamboo Hut, 1:1, 3013

Chen-ou Liu

sunless morning
and yet ...
sunflowers in Auschwitz

Mainichi Shimbun: Best of 2014

Sonam Chhoki 

being a German
the "privilege"
of pronouncing
Beethoven and Dachau (FYI: the first concentration camp built by Nazi Germany)
without an accent

The Tanka Journal, 47, 2015

Tony Boehle

written in response to State Senator Scott Baldwin's comment

be impartial
when teaching about Nazism ...
the tattooed number
still visible on grandpa’s arm
and in his broken heart

PoemHunter, January 13, 2022

Chen-ou Liu

To conclude today's Holocaust Remembrance Day Special Feature post, I wrote the following tanka in response to this alarming news, NL Times, Jan. 25, 2023 : "23% of young Dutch have doubts that the Holocaust happened"

"I, too, find it shocking, ”Prime Minister Mark Rutte later said. “We can debate everything, but it is important that we at least agree on the facts.”

Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Netherlands residents born after 1980 think the Holocaust is “a myth” or that the number of Jewish people killed is grossly exaggerated. That is more than in other countries. One-third to over half of the generations born since 1980 know remarkably little about the persecution of the Jews and genocide in the Second World War.

This Brave New World, LXVII

in the chat room
did SIX million really die
loud and louder ...
more youth enter this guessing game
as the night grows dark and colder

FYI: Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth at Last is a neo-Nazi, Holocaust denial pamphlet published in 1974 by neo-Nazi propagandist Ernst Zündel...In 1983, Holocaust survivor Sabina Citron began a private prosecution under s.181 of the Canadian Criminal Code against Zündel, charging him with spreading false news...The Supreme Court concluded in the 1988 trial that "The pamphlet Did Six Million Really Die? does not fit with received views of reality because it is not part of reality." -- excerpted from the Wikipedia entry, "Did Six Million Really Die?

Thursday, January 26, 2023

To the Lighthouse: A Poetic Device, Mitate (Taking One Thing for Another)

The Japanese concept of mitate is to suggest or infer an element B which is absent, through an element A that is present in the text. In writing a haiku or a tanka, one can use mitate as a rhetoric device of "taking one thing for another" as shown in the following most influential haiku before Basho’s old pond haiku was known to the Western literary world:

 The fallen blossom flies back to its branch:
 A butterfly

Arakida Moritake (1472-1549)
(FYI: for further discussion, see my "To the Lighthouse" post, Haiku as a Form of Super-Position)

Or as shown in the following waka:

In my garden
plum blossoms fall –
or is it not rain
but snow, cast down
from the sky?

Otomo No Tabito (665 – 731)

This rhetoric device was already widely used by Li Po, the most famous Chinese Tang poet, whose poetry had a great impact on classical Japanese literature, in his best known poem of all Chinese poems, especially among Chinese living overseas.

"Thoughts in Night Quiet"

Seeing moonlight here at my bed,
and thinking it's frost on the ground,

I look up, gaze at the mountain moon,
then back, dreaming of my old home.

-- translated by David Hinton

In a nutshell, the rhetoric strategy of mitate consists of recalling something in absentia by means of something in praesentia to enhance the visually and emotionally suggestive power of the poem as shown in the following tanka:

I tried to pick it up
but it wasn’t there
a piece of moonlight
I thought was a pen I dropped
while writing to you

Gusts, 30, Fall/Winter 2019

Kath Abela Wilson

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

One Man's Maple Moon: Sand Plain Tanka by Jun Fujita

English Original

Over the lifeless sand plain,
The moon and I
Are Alone.  

Jun Fujita

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Jun Fujita (Jun Fujita (1888-1963) was born in a village near Hiroshima, Japan, and immigrated to Canada as a teenager. By 1915, he was in Chicago, where he worked for the Evening Post, known as the first Japanese-American photo-journalist. He was also an accomplished poet,  arguably the first master of tanka poetry in English. He certainly was a master of the rhetoric of omission or, as he put it, "that fine and illusive mood, big enough to illuminate the infinity of the universe," which is a defining characteristic of tanka. And his Tanka: Poems in Exile, first English language collection of tanka, was published in 1923. The flip-flop ebook version can be found here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Butterfly Dream: Icicle Haiku by David Cobb

English Original

drip by drip
the moonlight lengthens
in the icicle

Snow on the Water, 1998

David Cobb

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

David Cobb was a British educational writer and champion of English-language haiku and haibun genres. He founded the British Haiku Society in 1990 and served as its president from 1997 to 2002. He won four Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards, and the 1997 collection of haibun, Spring Journey to the Saxon Shore, established him as the "initiator of the haibun in Britain."

Monday, January 23, 2023

A Room of My Own: The Confession of a Guy Like Me

written for the fiftieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on  January 22, 1973

her eyes fixed
on the test results
as the snowy night deepens 
the burden of red lines
on my wandering heart

Whatever happens to her in the bathroom causes her to have these dreams; they keep her squirming, tossing, and turning all night long. She says nothing, and asks nothing of me. 

What am I (or are we) going to do in the foreseeable future, the future after Roe v. Wade?

Note: This poem is a sequel/response to my haiku sequence below:

First Post-Roe Independence Day

slanted light
the rise and fall
of her belly

unbroken heat
an 800-mile road trip
to the clinic

firework-lit sky
in the cheap motel window
a dream deferred 

blood-scrawled on the entrance
silence between us

what ifs ....
return trip from the clinic
in gathering dark

FYI: The New Yorker, June 24 2022: "We’re Not Going Back to the Time Before Roe. We’re Going Somewhere Worse:" We are entering an era not just of unsafe abortions but of the widespread criminalization of pregnancy.

...We have entered an era not of unsafe abortion but of widespread state surveillance and criminalization—of pregnant women, certainly, but also of doctors and pharmacists and clinic staffers and volunteers and friends and family members, of anyone who comes into meaningful contact with a pregnancy that does not end in a healthy birth... 


this silence
between the two of us
grows louder ...
winter sunlight pouring
through stained-glass windows


the demon
hiding behind my back
waits for me
to turn in the half dark
white-haired in the mirror

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Hot News: A New Milestone, 1.5 M Pageviews and Call for Submissions

 My Dear Friends:

NeverEnding Story reached a new milestone on the first day of the Chinese New Year: 1.5 M pageveiws (FYI: On May 4, 2020, NeverEnding Story crossed the one million view mark) 

We read to know we're "not alone."

-- The character of C.S. Lewis in William Nicholson's play, "Shadowlands" 

The proper response to a poem is "another poem."

-- Phyllis Webb 

I am grateful to everyone who has been a part of this poetry journey. And look forward to reading your haiku and tanka (see anthology submission guidelines for haiku and tanka)

New Year's sunshine ...
behind my garden Buddha
a rabbit

I wish you a creative and joyful new year. May your "happiness be large" and your "bills be small."


AddedThree Hundred and Fifty-Ninth Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary
written in response to Bloomberg News, Jan. 18: China’s Censors Vow to Erase "Gloomy Emotions" Over Holiday

as cases explode
upside-down face, confused, sad eyes
shocked and scared emojis
scrubbed clean from the internet --
Happy New Year of the Rabbit


police cars parked
near the Happy New Year banner ...
rabbit lanterns
decorate downtown streets
where deadly silence rules

FYI: The Canadian Press, Jan.22 : Gunman kills 10 near Lunar New Year 
festival in California

The massacre, which sent fear through Monterey Park and Alhambra’s large Asian American communities, was the nation's fifth mass killing this month. It was also the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas...

...An Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S. shows that 2022 was one of the nation's worst years in terms of mass killings, with 42 such attacks — the second-highest number since the creation of the tracker in 2006. The database defines a mass killing as four people killed not including the perpetrator...


the Stars and Stripes 
fluttering at half-mast ...
another mass shooting

FYI: CNN, Jan. 23: Three weeks and 36 mass shootings. This is America in 2023.

... Firearm injuries are now the leading cause of death among people younger than 24 in the United States, according to a study published in the December 2022 edition of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics...

AddedThis Brave New World, LXVI

Doomsday Clock
set at ninty seconds
to midnight ...
mass shooting after mass shooting
as the sky turns dark, darker

FYI: Atomic scientists set the "Doomsday Clock" closer to midnight than ever before on Tuesday, saying threats of nuclear war, disease, and climate volatility have been exacerbated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, putting humanity at greater risk of annihilation...

And NBC News, Jan. 24The U.S. has had at least 39 mass shootings in just 24 days so far this year, data shows

Saturday, January 21, 2023

One Man's Maple Moon: Patchwork Tanka by Marilyn Humbert

English Original

it's thin ice
cracking the puddles
this noonday
patchwork of shadows
and broken promises 
Tanka Origins, 2, 2019

Marilyn Humbert

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Marilyn Humbert lives in the Northern suburbs of Sydney NSW Australia. Her tanka and haiku appear in international and Australian journals, anthologies and online. Her free verse poems have been awarded prizes in competitions and some have been published.