Choice Haiku ~
Guest, Bernard Gieske, US
Do you compose desk haiku, writing haiku from an idea or
simply throwing words and images together in your
imagination? I must confess that I am one of these. I wish
I could wander in the woods, plow through the fields, camp
out in the night, roll with the waves
in other words commune with nature and discover, with pen
and paper ready, "haiku moments". Oh!, to experience
firsthand moments of enlightenment. Alas, these days I must
be content to view nature through my home, TV, car, book,
and memory windows. True, I sometimes am able to recall
meaningful events earlier in my life when I was more
exposed; however, I wasn't that observant, didn't know about
haiku, and sooner or later, maybe already, I have exhausted
all of these occasions. Blessed are those who can still
experience Mother Nature and all of her creatures with an
So what can we desk haiku poets do? Thanks to Jane
Reichhold and her haiku techniques, there are tools that we
can use. You will find all of these online at this link:
Jane lists and explains 22 different techniques with
examples that can be used in composing haiku. Here are some
of those techniques with examples from the September /
"cemetery" Haiku Thread. By the way, these techniques
can help even if you are not a desk haiku poet. If you only
read haiku, these might help you see more of what you might
There's the COMPARISON technique: two some things
that together evoke one special event, or something with
similar aspects clearly imaged.
the cortege moves
a long black snake
# 04. Sandra Martyres, IN
In her haiku Sandra not only compares the cortege to a
black snake but her use of “long” also gives emphasis to how
slowly the cortege is moving. We see both the snake and the
cortege engaged in the same movement.
covered in moss
# 01. Sergio A. Ortiz, US
In his haiku Sergio makes a comparison between the silent
prayers and the moss. The moss blankets the gravestone
keeping away all sounds and noises.
lonely among many, there
in a deserted village!
# 151. Smajil Durmišević, BA
the wind whistles among
loose stony teeth
# 84. Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic, CR
Another technique is CONTRAST. This involves two
images which provide contrast.
in the graveyard
birds are clamorous
graves are silent
# 10. Radhey Shiam, IN
Radhey provides contrast between the clamorous birds and the
silent graves. The sense of sound is not the only contrast
involved. We are also aware of the birds, full of life, and
graves, filled with death.
saints and sinners
death makes not a difference
# 56. Sandra Martyres, IN
Even though there is a definite contrast between saints and
sinners in Sandra’s haiku, looking over the cemetery we see
no difference. Death does not discriminate, nor does this
at the cemetery—
from birth to death
only a breath and sigh
# 125. Vera Primorac, CR
a cloud of crows hover
over stone angels
# 89. Chen-ou Liu, CA
beyond the grave...
looking for answers
to today's questions
# 109. Keith A. Simmonds, TT
the orchid blossom
# 31. Sergio A. Ortiz, US
a fruit-laden tree—
# 114. P K Padhy, IN
A third technique is ASSOCIATION: different things
relating or coming together.
# 06. Marg Beverland, NZ
The key word here is “broken” which gives us the idea that
this cemetery has been forgotten, thus all kinds of things
grow up in or near it like blackberry bushes. Marg might
have been one of these sunburnt children and now associates
that time she was picking blackberries with the cemetery.
Her addition of “sunburnt” is interesting because it
provides a contrast between the color of ripe blackberries
and the children’s sunburnt skin. In a haiku more than one
technique can be involved.
scent of wilting flowers
# 157. Rhiannon Bond, NZ
The next technique is the RIDDLE, a very old
technique. The ‘trick’ is to state the riddle in puzzling
terms which prevent the reader from figuring out the answer.
The bigger surprise the answer, the better the haiku;
nevertheless, the answer needs to make sense and be
Surprisingly I found quite a few riddles in the "cemetery"
of soulless bodies
# 55. Munia Khan, BD
This riddle might have been too easy to guess since we knew
the theme of the thread. What other answer would be
Here is a haiku that is definitely a riddle, but we are
left without the answer.
in the graveyard
the watchman puzzled
# 72. Radhey Shiam, IN
we share the puzzlement of the watchman.
“Life Doesn’t Pay”
# 08. Munia Khan BD
a glow in the cemetry
a ghost's party?
# 36. Sandra Martyres, IN
...We immediately wonder what the glow could be. Did you
guess the answer?
to the other side
# 39. Munia Khan, BD
This riddle also would have been much harder to guess if we
had read it someplace else or it could be a good example of
the Leap Linkage technique explained below.
is another old-time favorite of the Japanese haiku masters.
the wind howls
willow leaves cover
two new graves
# 05. Karen O'Leary, US
is a good example of the sense-switching technique. We hear
the wind howling and then we switch to seeing the leaves
covering the new graves. But there is much more to this
haiku. There are two new graves which describes a heavier
burden of sadness for the viewers. How heavy a burden this
is is conveyed by the wind not just blowing but howling.
There are a lot of leaves, enough to cover two graves. These
graves are “new” which means the grieving is still very
I brush aside
to read their names…
# 11. Cara Holman, US
Cara gives us another good example of
technique. We watch her brushing aside the leaves and then,
to our dismay, we feel the cold granite. Once again this
last line exposes the depth of feeling (shock) that she has
at this moment.
There’s the technique of NARROWING FOCUS. It’s like
using a camera and switching lenses three times, starting
out with a wide-angle lens, switching to a normal lens, and
then zooming in with a close-up view. In the following
haiku, Cristina-Monica almost accomplishes this. Almost I
say, because she switches lenses only twice. If she could
change it to include a wide-angle lens, it would fulfill all
tall fir in the graveyard—
a broken angel's wing
# 97. Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu, RO
Creating a METAPHOR can be another technique. Jane
writes that using metaphors is not encouraged, but she cites
Basho using it in his most famous “crow Ku” as support for
doing so. I am wondering whether Ljudmila’s haiku is a good
prestige without woe
and the mirror of might
# 24. Ljudmila Milena Mršić CR
Using the Metaphor technique is hard to explain. It involves
using words which together evoke an unstated feeling or
experience. If the reader has never experienced this, it
might be hard to appreciate this kind of haiku.
near the graves
sounds of shoes...
no one visible
# 74. Radhey Shiam, IN
Imagine yourself alone in a cemetery on a cloudy, moonless
night and then hearing the sounds of shoes, but turning in
all directions you discover no one. I don’t know about you,
but I would be having shivers up and down my spine.
The SIMILE TECHNIQUE is a more common technique. A
simile uses the words “as” and “like” except usually omitted
in a haiku, being considered unnecessary.
the distance travelled—
# 154. Stella Pierides, DE
Stella likens a gravestone to the measuring of a life time.
at every grave
a heavy stone
# 159. Bouwe Brouwer, NL
So many heavy stones, so much grief, is the equivalent of a
war cemetery for Bouwe.
a coffin pushed autumn
into a tomb
# 201. Malvina Mileta, CR
Death leaves us helpless. There is no pushing it back. A tomb
is like a whole season lost. Even silence is dead. This is a
The ABOVE AS BELOW TECHNIQUE ends up with a
well-rounded thought involving the switching of the first
and third lines. If the haiku produces a complete thought
even when the first and third lines are switched, then there
is a connectedness or completeness achieved with this
technique. Cara’s haiku I think illustrates this best.
still warm from my pocket
on their grave
# 75. Cara Holman, US
You will notice that switching the first and third lines not
only produces the same thought but also results in a
riddle. This is a good blend of two techniques once again.
Even though the thought might be the same either way, there
is a different set of feelings associated with each. I find
the riddle more exiting, but the way Cara has it reading
covets deeper feelings and past memories. No doubt, that is
what she wanted to convey.
There are quite a few good examples of this next technique
of the SKETCH or SHIKI’S SHAHSEI.
Shasei means sketch from life. The poet simply states
what he sees. The trick is to do this is a way that doesn’t
an abandoned letter
# 02. Janak Sapkota, Nepal (NP)
In the strictest sense, I assume this technique involves
only the sense of sight. Including the other senses as well
makes it more interesting but then it might be considered as
the Sense Switching technique. It’s perfectly acceptable to
use more than one technique. In this haiku Janak has us not
only seeing the moving letter but hearing it calling for
attention. Just now, thinking about this, this might also
be considered a Sabi, which I explain later. The
letter is abandoned, not just forgotten, which is
deliberate. This is a crematorium which adds the note of
destruction. What is the story about what happened?
These next haiku involve mostly seeing, but even “heaviest”
includes the sense of touch or/and feelings and contributes
from the old crosses
# 03. Vania Stefanova, BG
she joins the mourners
# 34. Sandra Martyres, IN
his dog protects him
even in death
barking at his grave
# 58. Sandra Martyres, IN
black coats and
# 80. Sandra Martyres, IN
tombstones' shadows lower
down the hill
# 82. Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic, CR
There are two techniques that are twins: SABI (SAH-BEE)
and WABI (WAH-BEE). There is a debate as to
what each exactly means. They are twins depicting beauty,
but each in its own way. Sabi depicts beauty in the
sense of loneliness, solitude, but this might also mean
being miserable, insignificant, pitiable, or include
asymmetry or poverty. Wabi depicts the kind of
beauty that is a result of living simply. Both Sabi
and Wabi are characterized by a certain deepness,
I am thinking that Evica’s haiku might qualify as a Sabi.
watering flowers on her son's tomb
with her tears
# 137. Evica Kraljic, CR
There are actually two ways of reading this. It could be an
example of the technique of the Sketch. We see a woman
standing by her son’s tomb watering the flowers and crying.
To see this as a Sabi, we can read it as if the woman
is crying so hard that her tears are watering the flowers.
Her sorrow must be very heavy, thus a broken heart, in order
to produce so many tears. A very touching scene to behold.
It might be unexpectant to link a haiku with beauty when
focusing on death and graves. Beauty, though, as they say,
is in the eye of the beholder. So this next haiku I see as a
cemetery at noon…
# 95. Vania Stefanova, BG
Behold the beauty of oneness!
I found a couple haiku that fall in the category, THE
IMPROBABLE WORLD technique. In poetry all things are
possible, so we should not be surprised to find something
happening which just can’t be true.
rally of tombstones
to defend death—
# 51. Munia Khan, BD
you, my friend—
let the dream of eternity
spread your arms
# 135. Evica Kraljic, CR
song colour of love
drains the corpse
# 146. Karin Anderson, AU
These next haiku exemplify the techniques of CLOSE
LINKAGE and LEAP LINKAGE. These might also have
the hint of association, contrast, and/or comparison. A
close linkage is easier to see. The connection is small and
maybe a well-known one. The leap linkage technique is a more
distant leap/connection. Depending how far a leap this is,
there is the danger that the reader might not see the
connection and it might be known only to the poet. Here are
some examples. You can decide which technique is being
side by side
their names, in stone…
# 73. Cara Holman, US
a lone silence
pacing over the cemetery—
tear in the eye
# 25. Evica Kraljic, CR
barefoot she runs
to her boyfriend’s grave
# 26. Karin Anderson, AU
among the rows of crosses
a fleeting cloud
# 16. Chen-ou Liu, CA
mirrored in the tombstone
# 128. Ljudmila Milena Mršić CR
For Sale sign
on a cemetery plot
# 104. Chen-ou Liu, CA
under the setting sun
angel of death
# 12. Agop Kevorkian, AM (Armenia)
beside Buddha’s picture…
field of bones
# 33. Sergio A. Ortiz, US
covered with the snow
# 143. Zeljko Spoljar, CR
on a headstone...
# 163. Michele L. Harvey, US
no name on the cross
full of muscle
# 196. Maria Tirenescu, RO
is another technique and might not be expected in a
"cemetery" Haiku Thread. This next haiku could be considered
using the sketch technique, but I can also see some humor.
This might also be a case of association.
at his headstone
the wife waters the grass
with his favorite beer
# 182. Kathy Nguyen, US
This haiku of John’s makes for a good ending. Sunset occurs
at the end of the day; death, at the end of life. We can
feel a certain endearment and longing conveyed by the
tracing fingers and the waiting. Sunset is also a transition
with the promise of the sun rising and beginning a new
day. Death is a transition and the beginning of a new
existence. So prayers, remembering, faith, longing, hope all
make sense and keep the future real for us.
with her finger
she traces his engraved name—
waiting for sunset
# 216. John Daleiden, US