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with Kevin McLaughlin

The Haiku Mind

“I purify my thoughts, my emotions, my memories, my perceptions, my sensations, and all of the atoms in my body,” might well be the aspirational prayer of every haiku writer. For it is in this State of mind that we are best able to objectively locate and express an image that reveals the thing-in-itself. Most, if not all, haikuists have a deeply spiritual nature associated with a religion, a benevolent philosophical / humanistic tradition, or a branch of scientific inquiry. Haiku does not relate a narrative or take a moral position. These characteristics are not required in this poetry form. No similes or metaphors are typically employed. Symbolism may be used, but only infrequently.


This spiritual component traces back to the form’s Japanese origin, to a hybrid of Shinto and Zen that described the seasons and the changing of the seasons. This was the “kigo,” an association with nature that had pantheistic elements. Life’s essence (Gods, Goddesses, energy, electromagnetism, hadrons) which comprised the natural world was everywhere . . . in rocks, waterfalls, mountains, the winter solstice, etc.


In the last 100 years haiku has acquired a powerful ally, the science of physics. Both seek to understand and describe the natural world.


The haiku mind catches life as it flows and presents it, objectively, to the reader.


Decayed maple leaves,

Pile up against the shoreline,

Where the current ends.


Kevin McLaughlin




Matt Dove of Andalusia, Spain, is an Irishman by choice and a wanderer by habit. He loves haiku and the smell of tatami.


Morning, Asia.

Cocks crow.  Monks chant.  Women rise.

The sound of sweeping


(The sound of that sweeping is the sound of the universe breathing.)


Matt Dove


Professor Juan DePascuale is in the Department of Philosophy at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.


summer draught

magnolia weeping



pine forest,

flapping wings

ruffle the silence


(For those whose minds have been spiritually ripened, this is a significant poem.)


staring at mother

staring out the window

nursing home


Juan Edgardo De Pascuale


Stephen Joseph’s work epitomizes that haiku-mind connection with nature.


crows caw from the trees

geese honk from the gathering clouds

old debate renewed


(The caw of a crow is a call to Be Awake as we go about our day.)


single bright red leaf

surrounded by green sisters

no hurry, grass waits


moth on the mirror

plainer than its wild cousins

admiring itself


Stephen Joseph




Kortney Garrison lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. Her poems have appeared in Solitary Plover, Hummingbird, and Warming Station Poems.


Nine geese pour across

the nearly full moon:

an evening benediction


(The fuse that through all nature runs.)


The river carries

earth’s crescendo in

fallen color and leaf rot.


Kortney Garrison



Philip Piarrot makes his home in Nashville Tennessee. Ah, the first line of the first poem!


Idyllic and warm

A sandy spot on the bay

Rowing there and back


Porch swing; in sweet gloam

Shadows play on the sidewalk

Dusk swallows them whole


Mottled One sleeps

Ruling over her kingdom

Little paws twitch


(How beautiful, the furry twitching.)


Philip Piarrot

Connor Bjotvedt presents a spirituality that is highly nuanced.


Pilgrim, auspicious

conditions are unlikely.

Providence is shrewd.


Connor Bjotvedt


Edison Jennings is a Head Start school bus driver in Virginia’s southern Appalachian region. Broadstone books will publish his collection Intentional Fallacies later this year.


I learned my lover

died while watching airplanes touch —

and-go, touch-and go.


Edison Jennings

Yvonne Hurst is a poet and artist living in St. Louis, Missouri, who finds her inspiration in nature, people, and just being.

small, silent, yearning

he lifts his arms to heaven

as the wild geese rise


moon-fruit bobbing in

star sauced sky sugars and stains

the black bowl of night


(Moon fruit…easy to enjoy moon, saucer, and bowl.)


round shouldered night rocks

star woven cradle, nestles

the cloud swaddled moon


(Such a beautiful image…and so comforting.)


burnt stubble pockmarks

rock’s wind-bitten face, grey ash

capes hunch shouldered hills


Yvonne Hurst

Yet once more I encourage all haiku writers to share their work, their insights into the nature of all things, with fellow poets and BTS readers.  

For those interested in haiku, I recommend you cast back into the BTS archives and reference the September 2016 columnIt provides a pretty thorough explanation of the basic format.

Kevin Mclaughlin

Steve Harvester was a United Methodist minister for 25 years. He focuses the reader on the whit-whit sound.


child recites fourscore

after taps

whit-whit of woodthrush.


Steve Harvester

David Watts of Mill Valley, California, offers tides joined to human activity.


bell tower


on a plaster wall


(That is an imposing bell tower.)


she pushes her sister

on the swing

tide ebb and flow


still waters

the jagged edge

of the loon cry


David Watts




David Gelber is a writer whose interests are not limited to a specific genre.


Canvases of light.

Many shattered scattered stars.

Fireflies marching.


(Fireflies/shattered stars burst upon the reader’s retinas!)


An emerald spread.

Perfume permeates the air.

Pine forest kingdom.


A sea breeze flies up.

Sapphire walls expand outward.

Mighty waves strike stone.


David Gelber




Bernard Lazenbury answers profound questions with subtle natural answers.


After monsoon rains

the air feels purer,

roadways steam then shine.


Sea drowns the sun.

Dying rays pierce the far clouds.

Colours to die for.


Curled corpses spiral.

October’s reds and golds.

The waiting broom sweeps.


(That first line would enhance any poetic form.)


From dark wintery seas

the leviathan erupts.

Gashing the white foam.


Bernard Lazenbury




Madi Castro is a 15-year-old girl from the Philippines and has already acquired what many might call the “Divine Eye.”


The blue butterfly

With its delicate wings, flew

Away from the leaf.


The sun is rising.

Her petals reach up, up up!

Above and beyond.


Madi Castro




Michael Pugliese from Warwick, Rhode Island, is as one with that “pantheistic” understanding of how kigo link man with every other physical entity.


The spider’s shadow

and the spider —



Every day

a bit less —

the squirrel’s body


Bare branches

full of birds —

winter leaves


Michael Pugliese




Ron Tobey, a West Virginian, and his wife raise cattle and keep goats and horses. He is an imagist poet who writes haiku, storytelling poems, spoken and video telling poetry.


wasp stings the spider

drags it across gravel drive

plants its eggs inside


(Magnificent insight into death and life, the natural cycle.)


white fields cattle loo

breaths plume in Fall’s first frost

geese honk in gray dawn


Ron Tobey



Mark Ward of Dublin, Ireland, is the founding editor of Impossible Archetype, an international LGBTQ+ poetry journal.


communion wafer

raised slowly into your mouth —

dawn sea eats the moon


(Magnificent juxtaposition! The communicant and the dawn sea become as one.)


the stream bends around

rocks that don’t feel each sliver

being washed away


the owl in daylight

ululating iambs

into a soft breeze


Mark Ward

William Cullen Jr. of Brooklyn, New York, is a veteran and works at a social services non-profit. He embodies haiku’s universality.


gnats in a sunbeam

the stream disappears

through dark pines


(Universal, yes. I’ve spent years trying to write this haiku.)


crisp day

the wind’s indentations

in the high cirrus


William Cullen Jr.

Sharon O’Bryan’s Old Fashioned Children’s Games, published by McFarland’s, is still in circulation. This lass was published in Scotland’s My Weekly magazine and has won numerous awards for her poetry.


October morning

   green-gold hay and sassafras

      scent the pumpkin patch.


Early morning rain

     taps a soft shoe down the roof

        cooing whippoorwills.


Wounded butterfly

     flutters calypso across

        sweet oleander.


Siesta key sand

     trickles cool between my toes

        pelican nose dives.


Sharon O’Bryan





There are 10,000 opportunities every day to write a haiku.


Kevin McLaughlin

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