Haiku to make you smile

I was going to write this post about Death Haiku but given the recent posts, decided it could wait for another time – if you’re keen to read up on the topic (which is more interesting and less morbid than it sounds) you could start with this essay by Robert Epstein, who published a book about death haiku in 2011.

What has been in short supply for the past few weeks are some smiles, so here are some haiku/senryu that might make you grin, smile wryly or even laugh out loud.

zinnias . . .
why yes my favourite
was Harpo

- Scott Mason, The Heron’s Nest 11.3

(If you don’t get this one, read about Harpo Marx here.)

letting rip a fart -
it doesn’t make you laugh
when you live alone

- Karai Senryu 1718-90, from The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse (1964)


my bread
sprouts a beard

- Ernest J Berry, Commended, Free xPresSion contest 2014

eye surgery
I sign my consent
on the bottom blur

- Karen Peterson Butterworth, a taste of nashi (2008)


seven calories per stamp
i write too many letters

- Janice Bostok


stopped to allow geese crossing some idiot honks

- Janice Bostok

barbecue -
hairs on the cook’s belly
sprinkled with salt

- David Cobb, Jumping from Kiyomizu

David Cobb and Janice Bostok have both penned articles about humour in haiku. David’s article; Janice’s article.

Martin Lucas 1962-2014

I am sorry to report that the body of Martin Lucas has been discovered on a beach at St Anne’s in Lancashire, northwest England. Police are not treating it as a suspicious death.

a winding path
from the banks of the beck
into bracken scent

- Martin Lucas


frostmelt – just the disappearing shadow of a wren

- Martin Lucas, both from Where the River Goes

Here are some of his haiku from the Presence website.

Tributes are being collected at Haiku NewZ. My sympathies to his family and friends.

No news

Martin Lucas pictured here at the 2009 Haiku Pacific Rim conference in Australia, with organiser Beverley George. Photo: Bev Lapacek

Sadly, there is still no news of Martin Lucas, coming up to three weeks since he walked out his front door in Preston, Lancashire during the night, without phone, money or medication.

Britain is reckoned to be one of the most observed countries in the world, thanks to its love of CCTV – one camera for every 11 people – so it’s puzzling and worrying that there have been no reported sightings of Martin.

Martin, former president of the British Haiku Society, is editor of Presence, a journal that comes out twice a year. He has a PhD for his study of haiku as creative writing and is author of Stepping Stones: a way into haiku (British Haiku Society, 2007) and co-editor of The New Haiku (Snapshot Press, 2002). Martin is a keen bird-watcher and some of his haiku were included in the Wing Beats anthology (Snapshot Press, 2008).

a light rain …
sweeping the moor
the peewit’s cry

                                                                               – Martin Lucas, from Wingbeats

a moment before sunrise –
     ice singing
            beneath the swans’ feet

-  Martin Lucas, winner of the Katikati Haiku Contest, 2010

For updates on the search for Martin keep an eye on the BHS Facebook page. There has been nothing new from Lancashire police since this bulletin.

Oh, and

I realised I forgot to mention a biggie in the way of honours … short-listed for a Touchstone Award, although I’m not sure if this one will make it into stone:

humid evening -
the census taker’s
arched eyebrows

- Sandra Simpson, Kokako 19

My haiku is as it happened. The woman dropping the papers off had high arches drawn on and they caught my fancy. Think of the things the census takers must have heard in the days before everyone was literate! (By the way, the census in New Zealand should have taken place in 2011 but was delayed to 2013 because of the Canterbury earthquakes.)

As anyone who does family history research knows, census information is invaluable but I heard recently that not all New Zealand census forms are kept, how sad for future family historians.

Anyway, read all the short-listed Touchstone haiku here - and please take special note of the one by Harry Frentz, who was just 17 when he wrote it.

Catching up

Heard today that

receding tide the gasps of little shells

has been named as a runner-up in the Snapshot Press Haiku Calendar contest (UK), which means that it will appear on the back of a page in the 2015 desk calendar. Read the full list of winners here. (Frequent readers will know that this was also recently chosen as Haiku of the Year by Heron’s Nest readers.)

Have had two haiku chosen for the June issue of A Hundred Gourds and the latest issue of Kokako has landed in my letterbox.

high-wind warning -
a circus rolls past
on the Desert Rd

- Sandra Simpson, Kokako 20 (April 2014)

The Desert Road forms part of State Highway 1 and crosses the high-altitude Rangipo Desert in the central North Island.

Martin Lucas missing

Shocking to hear today that Martin Lucas, the editor of Presence haiku journal, is missing from his home town of Preston, Lancashire in England and that police have grave fears for his safety. Martin was last seen at his home on March 22. Read a police update here.

I met Martin in Australia at the Haiku Pacific Rim conference, a lovely man and a fine editor and poet. Good thoughts and prayers, then, both for Martin and those searching for him and those waiting for him.

British Haiku Society members are helping with the search, see the BHS Facebook page for updates.

March 27: No new updates from the police.

March 28: An email from Ian Storr, one of the Presence editors, this morning to say there has been no further news of Martin. “The range and depth of affection and respect for him that has been shown has been quite extraordinary,” Ian writes.

March 29: One of Martin’s brothers has posted on the BHS Facebook page to say that Martin had a ticket to London booked for yesterday but didn’t turn up to board the train.

April 2: A new update from Lancashire police but no sightings of Martin, unfortunately.

April 3: A story in the Lancashire Evening Post with more information about when Martin went missing (also a video, but I couldn’t get it to play).