Twenty-twenty luck

Happy New Year 20-20! MMXX. With a name like that, this is sure to be a really cool year — or so I told my haiku students at Kyoto University yesterday! It’s also the Year of the Rat, the first of the zodiac animals.

On January 1st, guided by the coolest of my Japanese friends, I went to the rocky islet of Miyado Benten in Loch Tōgō, Tottori, to pay my respects – as a poet might – to the goddess thought to preside over the Arts.

As we reached the sacred island, something unusual, yet truly auspicious, caught my eye. May my haiqua image bring you, too, some good luck!

New Year —
a water rat
swimming the periphery
of Benten’s isle

New Year Rambling

Kigo (season words) generally contain a sense of time passing, and this is particularly so when a change of year is concerned. The season word, kozo-kotoshi 去年今年 (last year/this year), when used in a haiku, will conjure deep emotion for the changing of one year into the next on New Year’s Day. In a single night, yesterday will become part of the old year and today, the new. The New Year (kotoshi, or shin-nen) physically stands on the base of the Old Year (kozo, kyonen, or furutoshi).

The existence of time in this world is said to be the most perplexing enigma for the physicists to theorize over. How is it, for example, that two years can share a time border? And should such a boundary be accurate to the nearest second? Or can it be further refined to the nearest milli-, micro-, nano-, or even pico-second? Perhaps not, … although 1/∞ (infinity) second surely exists!

New Year hike –
my hot lunch at the summit,
cup noodles as usual

Old Year/New Year:
as the bullet train
passes Nagoya

Lines and limbs

.  “It is the line, as the custodian of the syllable, that controls the shape of a poem. Vowels expand the line; consonants contract it. … The line is the divining rod that releases the wellspring of poetry” (R. Parthasarathy). Perhaps this is also true of lineation in most English haiku?
.  I’ve just finished reading R.P.’s magnificent English translation of the 5th Century Tamil epic, the Cilappatikaram. On the first day of this year, out on the Coromandel Coast near the mouth of the Kaveri River at Poombukar, I had stumbled on a tiny local museum commemorating this gem of world literature. Thus was my interest in the epic awakened.
.  Epics could not be farther away from haiku in their length and form, and yet, strolling along the seashore afterwards amidst the holiday throng, I found a simple haiku to take away from my encounter with the mythic/erotic/heroic story of Kannaki and Kovalam I’d had that day …

Lithe black limbs flailing
As they dash into the sea …
Waves crash back.

from the Icebox inbox – 31

floating down the dark river
in my tiny boat—
who is that, singing?                                   C M Wilson

leaping salmon
sunlight falls to the rocks                            Martin

autumn wind
a swimming pool’s worth
of bare trees

New Year’s wind
blowing blowing
blown                                                           Michael Henry Lee

winter fog—
stretching a lane
the bald trees                                              Neelam Dadhwal

Interesting articles on haibun

Happy New Year to all our readers!
An interesting two-part article by Joan Zimmerman has appeared at Contemporary Haibun Online. The first one is published at
and entitled “What Haibun Poets Can Learn From Non-haikai Western Poetry Practices”.
The second is at and is entitled “”What English-Language Haibun Poets Can Learn From Japanese Practices”.

From the Icebox inbox – Christmas & New Year

at the bus stop
a flying santa
up the gum tree
(Barbara A. Taylor)
new year advent –
thinking of what ifs
and what might have beens
(Vic Gendrano)
new year moon
icy dusk slips away
down river
(Willie Bandit)
a blue moon
illumines the New Year…
joy to the world
(Keith A. Simmonds)
virgin snow
the fox making prints
for the morning
(Alan Summers)
Thank you to the above, and to all who submitted in Jan./Feb. Anyone wishing to submit haiku, kindly do so as a comment on the Submissions page (top right).

from Kamome

Two haiku and a photo, just received from Kamome:

After the great thaw,

Odour of leafmould suspires

From the grass verges.

Kamome writes: I cannot find ‘suspire’ in any online dictionary; I learnt it from Fitzgerald’s quatrain in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: ‘Now the New Year reviving Old Desires,/The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires./Where the White Hand of Moses on the Bough/Puts out, and Jesus from the Ground suspires.’ There is definitely a New Year association, of the rebirth of the seasons, and of life still breathing in us.

New Year’s ladybird

Appears on my armchair drape –

‘Home is where you are.’