Guest Bernard Gieske's Choices ~





Haiku – myriads of meanings, images, and memories


Words have a meaning. In haiku, words and the various combinations of words usually have many meanings and images, depending on the experiences, personality, and knowledge of each reader. So no haiku will induce the same results for any two readers. Reading haiku is thus an adventure for each reader becoming engaged with not just what is worded and poetized but also with what is not explicitly stated. That is why I enjoy reading people’s comments and the poet’s explanations of their poems. Unexpected awakenings and new awareness can spring forth. I hope this is true for you too. You will find some good examples of such possibilities if you read John’s comments in the last issue about the results of the first Showcase Haiku--"Through An Open Door". To find his comments, scroll down the right side after opening to Poetry Genres, click on Featuring Sketchbook Poets, click on John Daleiden, then click on Featuring Showcase Haiku Haijin...Through An Open Door.

The candle theme for this thread offers a lode of meanings, images, and memories ready to be unleashed. Candles have been used for centuries and even the advent of electricity has not dulled their use and significance. They are associated with celebrations, religious rites, special occasions, used in arts & crafts, can offer comfort and entertainment, and have become a part of many of our activities. This is very obvious from the haiku in this thread. I hope you do the filling in after my comments.

the colorful candles
light up Bethlehem

# 37. Priyanka Bhowmick

This haiku recalls that historic event which changed a lot of what happened afterwards, eventually used as the basis for the calendar a good number of us use as well as our previous use of B.C. and A.D. In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII wanted to correct the Julian calendar, a product of Julius Caesar, and so he established his own calendar to match more closely the solar year. By that date the Julian calendar had added 10 more days to the solar year. So we ended up with 10 fewer days in October and 1 extra day in February every four years. We are reminded that perfection is never achieved in this life. Despite Gregory’s changes, by 4316 there will then be 1 extra day compared to solar years. I can be thankful to Gregory since I have a special day on which to celebrate my birthday and use fewer candles for its celebration. This should also give us occasion to reflect that we are all prone to commit errors. Gregory miscalculated the year in which the Child Jesus was born by perhaps as many as 4 – 6 years. According to his calendar, Jesus might have been born in 4 B.C. or even as early as 6 B.C. If a lesson is to be learned, we can know that there are some errors that are not upsetting and with which we can calmly live.

 flames of divinity
mingled with silence—
baptismal ceremony

# 43. Munia Khan, BD

Every culture has its birth rite, an official acceptance into the community. Baptism for many is no ordinary event, but one that confers new spiritual powers and entry into a mystical body. We all realize the importance of a birth or baptismal certificate.

among mom’s
baptismal candles

# 34. Alegria Imperial, CA

The birth and baptism of a child is without doubt most meaningful to the mother. A mother never forgets.

the first birthday—
first time on his feet gazing
at a single flame

# 08. Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic, CR

Not every birthday is memorable, but this one was. We might have all been gazing at a single flame, but not the first time on our feet. Maybe, there were other things that made your first birthday memorable.

around the table...
three generations
in the candles’ glow

# 10. Cara Holman, US

Among my kin and relatives, I have some examples of three generations and even four still living together and not only coming together to celebrate a birthday.

birthday candles
too many tree rings
to count

# 60. Cara Holman, US

What a wonderful, imaginative way to count the years and link candles with trees. Candles are made out of bee’s wax and the hives of wild bees are found in the hollow openings of trees. A song once popular easily comes to mind: "The Taste Of Honey".

in candle light
a dinner for two
her face glows

# 70. Sandra Martyres, IN

Important times in many people’s lives are the days of dating and courting. This recalls a very memorable occasion. “Her face glows” could refer to a first meaningful date. Then again, it could recall a lot of other pleasant occasions.

alone by candlelight
thinking of that spring we met
and another spring…

# 65. Chen-ou Liu, CA

Chen-ou makes us linger reading this and trying to come to grasp with a lot of possibilities. Does “Alone” mean one or two? Then the double use of “spring” sends us off into many guesses about that other spring.

they light their wedding candle—
incense fills the air

# 140. Yamadori, US

In Yamadori’s haiku the symbolism of lighting one candle perfectly reflects the commitment that has just been made. The two have become one flesh. His “incense fills the air” amplifies the meaning of the marriage and might even be a hint of “increase and multiply” as well as helping each other realize their human potentialities.

bee wax dripping
shaped in teardrops
a burning Good-bye!

# 39. Munia Khan, BD

Munia packs a lot of emotion in this haiku, the cause we can only guess at: a sudden parting, breaking up, heartbreak,…? This also reminds me of the uses of candle wax: wax drippings on a collage, wax flowing down the sides of a colored bottle from the burning candle stuck in it, lit candles held by those praying, protesting, and commemorating.

Tonka also provides us a haiku full of feeling with this next haiku.

by the candlelight
so dense

# 87. Tonka Lovric, CR


Candles can be a source of entertainment as exemplified by the following:

candlelit study
three shadows chase each other
around the wall

#61. Chen-ou Liu, CA

sputter of flame
magnified shadow of a moth
jiggles on the wall

# 22. Emily Romano, US

candle’s dancing flame
shadow playing hide and seek
a stormy night falls

# 06. Munia Khan, BD

With Munia’s haiku we can imagine the electricity going out due to the storm and the family resorting to lighting a candle. The shadow would be an entertaining distraction or a source of comfort.


early nightfall ...
a candle flickers
in the beggar's hut

# 74. Keith A. Simmonds, TT

With Keith’s haiku, I immediately picture this scene which soon comingles with a crowd of feelings. There is a sense of aloneness and loneliness. Early nightfall gives me the impression that this was a disappointing day and there is a certain degree of resignation which he has come to know. It might also indicate that this is winter which reflects the bleakness of the experience. The beggar is in a hut and not a house or home and this conveys a sense of being outside the community, a certain kind of rejection or being pushed aside, reduced to the level of begging. This may not be of his own choosing and he might be a victim of the current state of affairs. This pricks my conscience. The candle maybe provides some comfort, some kind of companionship, and perhaps a bit of hope for a better tomorrow. It does flicker though and all of this is tenuous like life itself. There are no guarantees.


I am thinking that in this next haiku, Smajil is addressing the present state of affairs and the tribulations of living even with faith. Sometimes we have questions which cannot be answered or we suffer difficulties which seem to have no solution. The worms may have found a secure spot within the earth, which reminds us that someday we shall also be interred in the earth.

The glory and the light
of the faith hide. Today
even the worms are wise

# 59. Smajil Durmisevic, BA

Candles are easily associated with prayer, worship, churches, and wishing.

the steady flames
of tea candles
my mother’s prayers

# 32. Alegria Imperial, CA

altar candles
each flicker
a sigh

# 42. Alegria Imperial, CA

a lighted candle
blurs the blue cathedral air—
wax on the table

# 80. Vladimir Ludvig, CR

I think I would find Vladimir’s comments about his haiku interesting.

crowned candle light
soaring nightingales
in Lucia ceremony

# 123. Karin Anderson, AU

In this haiku Karin reminds us of the traditional ceremony held in Italy, Malta, the United States and other countries. Here is an explanation, from Wikipedia, of the ceremony held in the Nordic countries.

In Sweden, Estonia, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, Lucy (called Lucia) is venerated on December 13 in a ceremony where a girl (some boys have been voted as Lucy) is elected to portray Lucia. Wearing a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head, she walks at the head of a procession of women, each holding a candle. The candles symbolize the fire that refused to take St. Lucia's life when she was sentenced to be burned. The women sing a Lucia song while entering the room, to the melody of the traditional Neapolitan song Santa Lucia; the Italian lyrics describe the view from Santa Lucia in Naples, the various Scandinavian lyrics are fashioned for the occasion, describing the light with which Lucia overcomes the darkness. Each Scandinavian country has lyrics in their native tongues. After finishing this song, the procession sings Christmas carols or more songs about Lucia.


Nowadays there are candles with so many kinds of fragrances which can create pleasant moments and recalls.

prayer candles
from the Virgin’s robe
the essence of roses

# 44. Alegria Imperial, CA

old candles
my grandmother's favorite
the jasmine scented

# 35. Priyanka Bhowmick, IN

Priyanka has chosen “jasmine” for a reason, perhaps for its symbolism.

Indian jasmine, or white jasmine, is symbolic of the notions of attachment and sensuality. Particularly in the East, gifts of jasmine flowers represent the idea that the presenter is saying "I attach myself" to the recipient. The sweet scent of jasmine flowers often invokes feelings of sensuality, and the white, star-shaped flowers can also symbolize amiability.

The Spanish jasmine is a yellow jasmine that is often associated with grace and elegance in addition to sensuality. Prized for its simple beauty and sweet fragrance, Eastern women have worn jasmine flowers in their hair for centuries, solidifying its reputation as the bloom of choice among modest, elegant and graceful women.

The jasmine also holds strong spiritual and religious significance, as it has been a constant symbol of divinity and hope. One double variety of jasmine is said to be held sacred by Vishnu, the Supreme God in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism, and the blossoms are often used as votive burnings or other religious offerings to symbolize the divine hope he represents.


Eventually our lives will end in death.

a meltdown on the rim
of the candlestick
silver and black

# 02. Vania Stefanova, BG

Vania has encased a cornucopia of meanings in her haiku. Candles are used to measure time. The wax is sacrificed in the burning. She reminds us how something cataclysmic can happen. “Meltdown” now has an nuclear significance. We live in dangerous times, on the rim/edge so to speak. Death means darkness and black is associated with death. Silver in this case might symbolize what we hold precious or consider lasting, our faith. I interpret Vania’s haiku as a death. Our light/life is extinguished. We are sent into darkness/unknown territory. We have lived our lives in sacrifice, giving and using up, and have reached the end of our journey on this earth.

early dusk
the candle melts
into itself

# 58. Cara Holman, US

Whereas Vania’s haiku might be more concerned with the fact of death, Cara’s haiku might be more concerned about the quality of living. In order to live we must die to ourselves. Maybe, Cara is thinking of the length of a life. “Early dusk” suggests someone who has not lived a long life.

perfumed candles
light up her grave
a daughter's blessing

# 72. Sandra Martyres, IN

Prayer may be a daily exercise not calling for the use of candles, but it is those special reasons to pray which entice us to light a candle. After death we remember the deceased, visiting the grave or even lighting votive candles in church.

vigil candles
the flicker
of mumbled prayers

# 03. Alegria Imperial, CA

graveyard visits
same candle
one prayer

# 36. Alegria Imperial, CA


In this next haiku P K Padhy reminds us that the power of candle light should not be underestimated because of its small flame. The flame of a candle may be very tiny, but its impact can be felt around the world. Some of you have not let us forget these memorable occasions, not all of which are pleasant.

lone candle—
another solar system

# 95. P K Padhy, IN

Candle light can send us beyond our own ego system out into the world and its tribulations. When huddled together or in a procession, candle light can send a message world-wide.

quelled candle
he straightens the cold limbs
of a battered child

# 45. Karen O'Leary, US

farewell—England’s rose!
Elton’s “Candle In The Wind”
sadness in the air

# 49. Munia Khan, BD

Sunday offering…
candles, roses and prayers
for our soldiers

# 56. Willie R. Bongcaron, PH

a long procession
of flaming candles ...
a march for peace

# 76. Keith A. Simmonds, TT

St. Gertrude website
one by one he lights candles
for his family

# 11. Chen-ou Liu, CA

I had to google St. Gertrude website to find out what Chen-ou’s haiki was all about. I found that the site features the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude, a museum in Idaho with over 60,000 artifacts, displaying 10,000 of these, and which has been operating for 80 years. What’s remarkable is that each object is accompanied with the story of who possessed and used it. Chen-ou highlights such individuality with “one by one” emphasizing the importance of each member of the family. I encourage you to google the site.

Here is another haiku I had to google to find out about what happened in Vukovar. Djurdja reminds us of the Vukovar massacre, which took place in 1991 in Croatia. A total of 263 men and 1 woman were murdered by members of the Serb militias.

two decades later
candlelight in the streets—
the town of Vukovar

# 53. Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic, CR

Christmas is a time of giving and many are generous in their giving. There are many who don’t receive a gift from us or anyone else at this time. But gift giving and remembering those casting shadows need to be something we do throughout the year and not just during the Christmas season.

an old beggar throwing
shadows on the wall

# 139. Cezar-Florin Ciobīcă, RO

There are many beautiful haiku in this thread revealing emotions, contrasting light with darkness, and other experiences which captivated their authors and which can provide us with a multitude of meanings and feelings. I hope that Karina and John will give us their insights with their choices.









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