f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

July 27, 2006

letting tom paint our fence

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 9:40 pm


With the right presentation, as Mark Twain taught us, we can sometimes entice an entire line of volunteers to whitewash a fence.  Happily, on this sticky summer day, we didn’t have to work very hard to get haiku poet and teacher Tom Painting to cover this blank space with his poetry.  Indeed, add the adrenalin rush of competition — here, the monthly “kukai” (peered review poetry contest) from the Shiki Monthly Kukai folk at Haiku World — and Tom Painting becomes even more prolific and eloquent.

fence painter

So, please sit back in the shade and enjoy Tom’s contributions to the Shiki Monthly Kukai from April through July of 2006.  [At the foot of this post, you’ll find the kukai topics related to each haiku. You can see the work of other contestants in the Shiki Kukai Archives.]



rooftop garden
she collects the rain
in saucepans


humid night
the ice cream vendor
pulls back her hair


Fort Niagara
a wren sizes up
a knothole


I too wish to think
outside the box





long day
the lover’s share a pull
of saltwater taffy


day’s end
a bunch of daisies
in his bait pail





skipping stones
I learn the meaning
of release


the road not taken


– by Tom Painting 


“rooftop garden” 2nd Place, July 2006 Shiki Monthly Kukai-Kigo:  “Watering the Garden”
“humid night” 2nd Place, June 2006 Shiki Monthly Kukai-Kigo: Humid
“Fort Niagara” 8th place, July 2006 Shiki Monthly Kukai-Free Form: bird
“turtle” 6th Place,  June 2006 Shiki Monthly Kukai-Free Form: turtle
“long day” 7th Place, May 2006 Shiki Monthly Kukai-Kigo: long day
“day’s end” 2nd Place, May 2006 Shiki Monthly Kukai-Free Form: bucket/pail
“skipping stones” 4th Place, April 2006 Shiki Monthly Kukai-Free Form: rock/stone
“bordering” 3rd Place, April 2006 Shiki Monthly Kukai-Kigo: wildflowers


July 21, 2006

denise has us thinking about careers and choices

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 12:35 pm



We’re still eschewing punditry and mostly skirting the blogosphere, but we couldn’t help notice that Denise Howell of Bag & Baggage fame — one of the most liked, respected and admired lawyer-webloggers (and high-tech mommies) —  was recently removed from her part-time post at the giant law firm Reed Smith.  [See the reactions, e.g., of Bob and Carolyn, Evan, Dennis, and Ernie].

On July 15, 2006, Denise announced her work status, while proclaiming that being Tyler‘s mom was her “most important job,” and that her “professional roadmap henceforth will involve only things that are washed through a stringent ‘how much do I really love that?’ filter, and can be comfortably accomplished in the limited, catch-as-catch-can hunks of time that fall serendipitously out of the sky during the course of my other ‘duties’.”

. . . Tyler is job #1 . . . tyler swinger

The f/k/a Gang wishes Denise all the best in her personal, parental, and professional (ad)ventures.  Instead of opining further, we’re going to post poems from Kobayashi Issa, one of Japan’s four Master Haiku Poets.  Although he died almost two hundred years ago, we see some familiar themes in Issa’s haiku:  what is work?  do we all have choices?  does gender matter?   who’s the boss?   what are our priorities?

surprising the worker
in the field…
out-of-season blooms





gate’s cherry tree
all this flit-flit flitting
is work!



a migrating servant
laid off
at age sixty






looks like boss frog
in the high seat






the uproar in the servants’ room
beats the frogs…
drinking party



hey big cat
shake a leg!
the wife calls



the wife sowing wheat–
it’s that
kind of temple




the sake gone
time to buckle down
and moon-gaze






harvest moon–
when my heart’s had its fill
it’s dawn







Mister Toad–
the wife may be waiting
your children crying






my hut’s mosquitoes
go out to make a living…
dusk moon






the defeated wrestler, too
joins the crowd…
bright moon






if only she were here
for me to nag…
tonight’s moon!






naughty child–
instead of his chores
a snow Buddha






new year’s fog
she washes
all the windows






fresh straw for the garden–
about ten servants
at work







a laid-off servant at market–
his fifty year-old face




the flute-playing servant
is the village headman!
butterflies dance




hands clapping
mother teaches her child
the dance




its mouth open
waiting for mother…
baby bird in the autumn rain







children crowded ’round
wear her out…
mother sparrow




mother cat
steals for her kittens…
run faster!






the child snores
the mother pounds straw…
summer moon






mother monkey
baby on her back points…








even for washing
four or five radishes…
hired help




Mum Festival–
the drunk I hired
gives me sake




the dragonfly, too
works late…
night fishing







in the short night
the dew works fast…
blades of grass




siesta work
for the stepchild…
picking brother’s fleas




the bees with children
are work-a-holics…
making honey




the blacksmith basks
in the cool air…
night work




growing old–
by the hearth’s light






the goblins are gone
so get to work!


. . . . . by Issa, translated by Daniel G. Lanoue
BONUS from Honored Guest Poet JOHN STEVENSON
I hate
my job


winter night
firemen coil
smoke-scented rope





the tethered dog
watches the guide dog
enter a deli


late night —
a waitress repeats
the list of pies 


Monday morning
putting the point
on a pencil


. . . by John Stevenson 

“butterfly” – from Upstate Dim Sum (2005/I)
“winter night” and “the tethered dog” – from Quiet Enough
“late night –” – from The Heron’s Nest (March 2006)
“Monday morning” – from Upstate Dim Sum (2003/I)


p.s.  A trio from Matt Morden of Morden Haiku:
an old resume
my son colours in
his rainbow




shortlisting . . .
a hint of perfume
on the resume’

job interview —
the candidate’s cufflinks
tap on wood


“an old resume” – Snapshots #7 (2000); bio page at World Haiku.  “shortlisting . . .” –  the loose thread: rma 2001; tundra 2; “job interview –” – Morden Haiku (April 11, 2006)


July 14, 2006

of breezes and fireflies

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 5:00 pm


July is proving just how hot and humid it can be, throughout much of the eastern and midwestern United States.  With the help of f/k/a‘s Honored Guest Poets, haikuEsq offers summer distractions that we hope will bring more than momentary relief.


a sea breeze
through the oleanders–
long afterglow


the third-note rise
of a towhee’s song
fragrant breeze


Gershwin’s lullaby
magnolia petals ladle


  peggy willis lyles – To Hear the Rain  & “a sea breeze” – Snapshots Haiku Magazine #10 (2001)


Warm breeze
the colt’s erection nuzzles
a daisy




Stifling heat
a palm frond suggests
there is a breeze


the backyard shade
a small gust brings coolness
and a white petal

George Swede 
  “Warm breeze” – from Taboo Haiku: An International Selection  (2005)
   “stifling heat” – The Heron’s Nest (Dec. 2005)
   “backyard shade” – The Heron’s Nest (June 2006)


wilting hay –
thermals shift a kite
from row to row



afternoon heat
a chapel door
half open



  matt morden 
   “wilting hay – ”  Morden Haiku (June 17, 2006)
   “afternoon heat” – Morden Haiku (July 8, 2006)



prairie breeze–
the girl’s ponytail
as she rides a horse




heat wave–
the cow’s udder
hangs in the pond

   DeVar Dahl  – “prairie breeze” – Shiki Monthly Kukai (Jan. 2006)
    “heat wave” – from Basho Mem. Museum (English selections, 2005)




proud host
his orchard bursting
with fireflies




summer day
a seat in the movies
away from others

 john stevenson
   “proud host” – Some of the Silence
    “summer day” – Upstate Dim Sum (2004/II)


summer breeze
the criss-cross of gull tracks
in damp sand




midday heat
one petal of the red poppy

   pamela miller ness    “summer breeze” – The Heron’s Nest (Oct. 2000)
      “midday heat” from Summerday, Puget Sound, a haiku sequence





in the beach breeze
my travels forgotten…
evening cool




a softly blowing
world-improving breeze…
fireflies flit


    kobayashi issa, translated by David G. Lanoue


July 7, 2006

a summer tradition at Modern Haiku Journal

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 6:00 pm


Summertime often means revisiting special places that offer a familiarity which is both comfortable enough for reminiscing and secure enough to permit new adventures and perspectives.  For haiku lovers, a visit to the Robert Spiess Memorial Haiku Awards, at Modern Haiku Journal, has become a rewarding new summer ritual — where we can find poems that ememplify both “the time-tested canons and aesthetics of haiku” and the creative vitality of the finest contemporary haiku poets.

In their Summer 2006 issue (Vol. 37.2), the editors of Modern Haiku announced the winners of the fourth annual competition, which commemorates the life and work of their former editor Robert Spiess.   Once again, the three prize-winning poems and the five honorable-mentions are fine examples of the art and craft of “modern” haiku poetry.  The f/k/a Gang encourages you to start or renew your own tradition of spending a summer break with the Spiess Awards, no reservations needed. 

Because Spiess Award winners again include a number of our Honored Guest Poets, we are pleased to share their winning selections with our readers.

The 2006 Spiess Memorial Contest, First Prize goes to a woman whose trophy case must be getting very crowded — Carolyn Hall.

plum blossoms
I make plans
for my ashes


In fact, Carolyn may be on the verge of creating her own haijin summertime tradition, as she also took First Prize for the 2005 Spiess Memorial Contest, with:

wild berries —
one training wheel
lifts round the curve


Two other members of our f/k/a family were also honored in this year’s Spiess Awards:

Jim Kacian took Third Prize for:

I read her poem
                     jim kacian

Honorable Mention went to “Dr. Bill,” w.f. owen for


snow flurries
the square dancers

                     w.f. owen


Although you’ll need a subscription to fully enjoy the poems and essays found in Modern Haiku, an online sample is available for each issue at their website.  You can find representative haiku and senryu from the Summer 2006 issue of Modern Haiku here.  They include more poems from our f/k/a Honorable Guest Poets:


last of the daffodils
brrng brrng brrng of a bicycle
approaching from behind
                                         Carolyn Hall  


a yellow bag
over the gas nozzle—
dog-day cicadas
                                Peggy Willis Lyles  




unstrung pearls
the children divide
her estate
                                 w.f. owen  



out of the blue
the window washer
brightens my day
                                     Tom Painting 


One tradition that has just ended at Modern Haiku is the editorship of Lee Gurga.  The new editor, Charles Trumbull, discusses Lee’s stewardship and his own acceptance of the honor and responsibility, in this Letter .  Lee Gurga knows a thing or two about summer and traditions:


a bike in the grass
one wheel turning —
summer afternoon


hidden waterfall —
they come to see
why we’re not speaking




graduation day —
my son & I side by side
knotting our ties


      Lee Gurga, from Fresh Scent


Now, it’s back to our f/k/a online summer siesta. 

July 1, 2006

clouds peak: new online haiku journal

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 11:57 pm


Dustin Neal should have passed out a lot of cigars today [bubble gum, I hope] — Issue #1 of his brand new, online haiku journal, clouds peak, went public early on July 1, 2006.  Although Dustin says future quarterly editions will be pared back to 25 to 50 traditional English-language haiku, Issue #1 has a couple hundred haiku by almost 70 haijin.

Contributors for the inaugural edition go from Aalders to Wojnicki, including website luminaries like Paul David Mena, Laryalee Fraser, CarrieAnn Thunell, Robert Wilson, and Denis Garrison.  There are far too many additional, excellent poets, to mention them all — so, you should look for yourself.  (Take more than just a peek.)

Meanwhile, here are a pair each from clouds peak #1, by three of the usual f/k/a suspects:


a child’s questions . . .
as far as the eye can see



winter wind
this stack of bills
its own paperweight

     by andrew riutta, clouds peak #1 (July 1, 2006)



sculpting cloud peaks
from shampoo suds —
crooked fingers




wintry mix
a snow buddha
and a mud buddha

       by david giacalone [dagosan], clouds peak #1 (July 1, 2006)

mOOn viewing
                    some habits are impossible
                                                               to break




“Grand Opening”
    a searchlight beam illuminates
        the cloud’s peak



    by ed markowski, clouds peak #1 (July 1, 2006)


!! Please have a safe, thoughtful and enjoyable July 4th/Independence Day weekend!  See our posting from a year ago: Independence, fireworks and dissent (July 4, 2005), for a string of fireworks haiku.

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