Photo/Illutration(Illustration by Mitsuaki Kojima)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Sand trickles through my fingers--the ocean of life

--Paul Geiger (Sebastopol, California)

* * *

apartment balcony

a figure with a cigarette

appears in the mist

--Hidehito Yasui (Osaka)

* * *

the birds and I

watch the valley mist creep

through our minds

--Earl Livings (Melbourne, Australia)

* * *

Mist . ..

his answers

when I ask why

--Ana Drobot (Bucharest, Romania)

* * *

Fog . ..

i admire the lack

of landscape

--Nikolay Grankin (Krasnodar, Russia)

* * *

Craving to be

immersed in greenery

urban girl

--Christina Sng (Singapore)

* * *

digging the garden

only a ceramic head

rosy cheeks

--Brendan Hewitt (Rigaud, Quebec)

* * *

red sunset

flamingos cram

on an isle

-- John Zheng (Itta Bena, Mississippi)

* * *

An old pond

no sound from turtles

though I wait

--Satoru Kanematsu (Nagoya)

* * *

A day passes by

the turtle

still where it started

--Zoie Martin (Misawa, Aomori)

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FROM THE NOTEBOOK

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What’s sprouting

from what’s decaying

the soil’s scent

--Satoru Kanematsu (Nagoya)

A retired school teacher, the haikuist informs our understanding of ecology. In Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture, Yutaka Kitajima recalls the smell of shaved wood and graphite. Gexter Lacambra notes that schools in the Philippines begin in June, when monsoon rains sweep the islands.

The schoolroom

fills with the scent of

new pencils

* * *

First school day

tucked in my raincoat

unsharpened pencils

April 22 marks Earth Day, an event when leaders in 193 countries promote this year’s goal of ensuring that every student around the world graduates high school as a climate-literate citizen. Eleonore Nickolay casts a critical eye on such celebrations in Paris.

Earth Day T-Shirt

redolent of lavender

fabric softener

Minako Noma teaches her granddaughter the sounds of nature in Matsuyama. Twelve-year-old Zoie Martin listens intently. Jiro Oba recalls a once familiar sound in Kawasaki.

Imitating

the low warbler twittering

a girl asks its name

* * *

The wind blows

hear my name being whispered

the wind’s message

* * *

Insects awaken:

sound of military boots

on the radio

Lucy Peterson relives a fabled time in West Springfield, Massachusetts, when she was “walking to school on a sidewalk under hickory trees, stepping on the fallen pods for the sheer pleasure of feeling them squish.”

Hurry count the paces--

underfoot, hickory pods

stain new shoes

Adjei Agyei-Baah fondly describes his school days in Ghana. Lucia Fontana jogs in Milan. John Zheng observes birds dance in Mississippi. Guliz Mutlu tries to decipher messages overheard from the Black Sea.

going to school

the comfort of being

the teacher’s favorite

* * *

mist

soft blackbird chirps

along the path

* * *

tap-dancing--

hubbub of blackbirds

on bare trees

* * *

dolphin messages

the universe

solved, unsolved

Eva Limbach peeks at her past in Saarbrucken, Germany. Ramona Linke untangles the way she was raised in Saxony-Anhalt. Twelve-year-old Claire Bowman responds to a question raised in her biology class.

forget-me-not

the gate to my old school

slightly ajar

* * *

old schoolhouse

birch trees growing

up the stairs

* * *

Labyrinth

seedling searches

for light

Alexey Andreev’s morning express passes through a station in Moscow. Fellow commuters ride oblivious to his wont to communicate.

no-stop station

floating into the mist

a jar of cranberries

* * *

morning mist

a girl in the trolley

looks through me

Commuting to school in Italy, Maria Laura Valente describes her town of Romagna as “a very green country with a wonderful natural landscape, with many beautiful peach trees blossoming in pink.” Her haiku underlines the importance of environmental protection. By the time her students graduate at Marie Curie High School, she hopes they will be ready to take action and be a voice for beneficial change to our shared world heritage.

misty highway--

invisible peach trees

blossom

Valente’s second haiku is about the shallow Rubicon river. Surrounded by a beautiful park and a naturalistic path called Julius Caesar’s Ring, she says that “on misty days you can’t see the river anymore, we only can hear the sound of water.”

deep mist--

Rubicon is nothing

but a sound

Madhuri Pillai was likely walking by a school in Melbourne, Australia, when she heard the morning chimes calling students to class. Sequentially she may have first crossed the road, heard the 9 a.m. school bell, and finally relaxed in the resulting calm. The haiku moment takes place in the here and now of the silence.

the silence after . ..

the school bell

from across the road

Having retired years ago, Teiichi Suzuki revisits the moment when a city girl transferred to his village school, “I still remember her looks and name. She was very pretty, with a special look rarely found in the country.” Fatma Gultepe enjoyed teasing students every April Fool’s Day in Ankara, Turkey. Simon Hanson recalls being mesmerized by the furious pace of his teacher at the chalkface in Queensland, Australia. Aparna Pathak sneezes in Gurugram, India. Let’s wish Slobodan Pupovac many happy returns in Zagreb, Croatia.

New school term

urban transferee

red sweet pea

* * *

After the quiz

I draw an April fish

on the board

* * *

Old school

memories of chalk dust

riding sunbeams

* * *

Chalk dust

teacher grows old

explaining life

* * *

I’ve started

the sixtieth race

around the sun

Paul Geiger might have heard kids shout in unison: “the Eagle has landed” while they ran back to class. Nazarena Rampini watches insects retake the schoolyard in Pogliano Milanese, Italy.

paper gliders

all land

recess over

* * *

Children in classroom--

over the silent lawn

only butterflies

Evgeny Ivanov studied physics in Moscow. Jonas Woodbury studies haiku at Sollars Elementary in Aomori. Craig W. Steele makes a wish in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania.

school lesson--

petals of lilac

on the cloud chamber

* * *

the dandelion

with a mane

of gold

* * *

dandelions’ yellow

turns white

turns bare

With her green thumb, Pillai pinches withered blooms to channel all its energy down into the bulb to regenerate lilies again next year. Ken Sawitri explains interconnectivity from her home in Blora, Indonesia. Craig W. Steele reports on May disease, an increasingly common disorder that causes worker bees to abandon their queen and hive.

deadheading

the last of the sword lilies . ..

autumn’s breath

* * *

A dewdrop falls into the pond

the wing beat of a new butterfly

moves the sky

* * *

dead honey bee

painful sting

of colony collapse

Singaporean writer Christina Sng is nurturing her skill at growing plants. Admitting that at first she “actually killed cactus,” she adds, “I am making up for the plants I inadvertently let die.” Her cat rolls in a refreshed environment.

Green thumb

bringing back to life

these wilted plants

* * *

Patch of grey

in the grass

my tabby cat

Thomas Canull prays for a good harvest in Indiana.

tilling of the soil

aroma of the fresh turned earth

waiting patiently

Isabelle Prondzynski double-checks the guide paper during Japanese calligraphy class in Kenya. Jennifer Hambrick claims that, “True Kentuckians teach their kin why bluegrass is called bluegrass.” Christof Blumentrath attends reading class in Borken, Germany. Rod Walters tinkers with photography in Matsuyama. Dragan J. Ristic observes art class in Nis, Serbia.

feeling the texture

of the practice paper--

is this the smooth side?

* * *

mountain mist

she teaches me

how to read the bluegrass

* * *

evening school

moving the index finger

from word to word

* * *

freshly cleaned camera

shooting white magnolias

with hungover eyes

* * *

art in the school--

so much sincerity in

drawing mother

Ed Bremson reports “it doesn’t take much snow to close the schools in Raleigh, North Carolina.” Bowman enjoys a skiing adventure when her school closed for a snow day. Valentina Ranaldi-Adams shivers in Fairlawn, Ohio.

first snow,

just enough to make

children happy

* * *

gondola

takes me

through the clouds

* * *

nineteen degrees--

daily walk to school

on snowy sidewalks

Chinook winds roll down the Rockies to warm up Pat Benedict Campbell in Calgary, Alberta. Kiyoshi Fukuzawa finds solace in Tokyo. Murasaki Sagano sits center-stage.

his diagnosis

our dreams move ahead

without us

* * *

No cherry trees

no friends to meet, and yet

petals come flying

* * *

Singin’ in the rain

they drop from the stage

cherry blossoms

Anna Cates remembers when unruly teens killed 13 people at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Columbine is the official state flower of Colorado, named from Latin for its dovelike petals that grow peacefully in meadows and woodlands.

snowy field

remembering columbine

gray horizon

Junko Yamada bows toward the home of a bereaved family in Kamakura. Eleonore Nickolay realizes there’s not much time left.

Primroses

in a bay window

house mourning

* * *

third quarter day moon

so much still to be done

on earth

Grassroots haiku grow at http://www.asahi.com/ajw/special/haiku/. The next issues of the Asahi Haikuist Network appear May 5 and 19. Readers are invited to send haiku about children on a postcard to David McMurray at the International University of Kagoshima, Sakanoue 8-34-1, Kagoshima, 891-0197, Japan, or e-mail to mcmurray@fka.att.ne.jp.

* * *

David McMurray has been writing the Asahi Haikuist Network column since April 1995, first for the Asahi Evening News. He is on the editorial board of the Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku, columnist for the Haiku International Association, and is editor of Teaching Assistance, a column featuring graduate students in The Language Teacher of the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT).

McMurray is professor of intercultural studies at The International University of Kagoshima where he lectures on international haiku. At the Graduate School he supervises students who research haiku. He is a correspondent school teacher of Haiku in English for the Asahi Culture Center in Tokyo.

McMurray judges haiku contests organized by Ito En Oi Ocha, Asahi Culture Center, Matsuyama City, Polish Haiku Association, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Seinan Jo Gakuin University, and Only One Tree.

McMurray's award-winning books include: "Only One Tree Haiku, Music & Metaphor" (2015); "Canada Project Collected Essays & Poems" Vols. 1 -- 8 (2013); and "Haiku in English as a Japanese Language" (2003).