River Song

I am very sad to have to report that the body of my friend, the haiku poet Martin Lucas, has just been found on a beach near the mouth of the Ribble, a river he deeply loved. How this happened we do not yet know. He had been missing for more than three weeks. Martin has long been the editor of one of the world’s finest haiku journals, Presence. When Martin visited Japan in March 2003, he had presided at a kukai held by Hailstone in Osaka; and again, in May 2005, Hailstone had linked up with Martin’s ‘Roses’ group in the North of England for the world’s first international synchronous kukai (conducted ‘live’ via the internet). He had only just published, in the latest issue of Presence, his review of our new book.
The following haiku sequence (or rensaku) – what he simply called “River Song” – was read by Martin in a BBC Radio programme featuring his Yorks-Lancs haiku group (broadcast Dec. 2003).

Dear Martin, always energetic, pure and true. We will ever appreciate you through the art you have left behind. Missing you so much.

into the swirls
of the spring river
the cormorants dive

where the clear river
clouds across the stones
eight swans

as far
as the eye can see
the river song

between the rocks
and the river breeze
the dance of light

evening by the river
the spurt of red flame
beneath a hot air balloon

high tide
when I return to the river
the swans return to me

a quiet stretch of river
the gull’s little kick
into flight

as far as the river
a river of lights

first catkins
in the riverbank trees
the tide turning

Martin Lucas

27 responses to “River Song

  1. This is tragic news, Stephen. I have heard you speak of Martin many times and always assumed I would meet him one day. Didn’t you tell me he was from my home town? Very sad and I am terribly sorry for your loss.

  2. I heard about this tragedy from Alan Summers. So sorry – both for your personal loss and for that of the haiku world. These poems are even more poignant now and a tribute to his one-ness with nature.


  3. Tank you for posting this – beautiful and appropriate. Impossible to comprehend that we will not see Martin again.

  4. Deeply saddened to hear this. Martin was a fine poet and his editorial ear acute and attuned most finely. My deepest condolences to his family, and his many friends all over the world of haiku and beyond.

  5. Thanks for sharing this beautiful poem. The man and his talent will be remembered and missed. T. French

  6. Dear Stephen,
    Thank you for posting this beautifully done memorial and ‘River Song’. Martin was indeed ‘energetic, pure and true’ and is very much missed. My sincere condolences to all of Martin’s family and friends.

    Lorin Ford, Australia

  7. Thank you for posting this beautiful sequence. I never met Martin but I feel I know enough of him from reading “River Song” to doubly grieve his loss.

  8. I cannot forget his friendly smile at his visit to Osaka.
    My sincere condolences…

  9. Pingback: Daily Haiku 2014.04.18 – | Rob's Surf Report

  10. Very sad news. I never met Martin personally but in this wired world I knew him virtually, and I will miss him. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

    Bob Lucky

  11. I knew Martin only from the many e-mails we exchanged over the years. As an editor he was always helpful and willing to give suggestions and help. His poetry and his contributions to haiku will be missed. My prayers and thoughts are sent to the family and all his friends.

    Adelaide B. Shaw

  12. Dear Stephen,
    Thank you for posting this lovely memorial and River Song.
    I knew him only through my submissions and enjoyed the interaction a lot. My condolences to his family.

  13. Martin was a good haiku friend and we had been planning a visit to a bird sanctuary near where I live as we hadn’t met for some years. It saddens me now that I hadn’t been more proactive about arranging that. I’m just left with birdsong, the call of every unnamed bird a reminder. May Martin be at peace.

    Brian Tasker

  14. Details of Martin’s funeral are as follows:

    Friday, May 2nd at 12:15
    St. Wilfrid’s Roman Catholic Church, Chapel Street, Preston, Lancashire, England

  15. Like Brian, I was hoping to meet up with Martin this year. He had invited me to a Yorks/Lancs haiku meeting to coincide with a visit to my brother who lives in the North. Martin and I enjoyed a ‘sibling’ rivalry, which I will always miss.

  16. Thank you all for the comments so far. Martin is obviously much valued and much loved. I will copy and paste all comments down to Gerald’s (directly above) and express airmail them (together with a few other things I have collected) to his mother in time for the funeral in another week. Don’t stop leaving messages here, though, if you feel like doing so …
    Flowers for the funeral can be sent to Clifford Ward funeral directors, Mount Pleasant, Corporation St, Preston, PR1 2UQ, United Kingdom (tel. 0177 228 4967).

  17. I just came across this sad news. Martin Lucas was kind to me and published a few poems of mine. My condolences to his family and wish them well.

    river light
    falling into the shadows

    martin gottlieb cohen