Photo/Illutration(Illustration by Mitsuaki Kojima)

  • Photo/Illustraion

wintry sky fiery tip of pine won’t burn

--Francis Attard (Marsa, Malta)

* * *

seeking stability

the tip of a cypress--

summer heat

--Antonio Sacco (Vallo, Italy)

* * *

Withered vines

their tenacity

to resist

--Satoru Kanematsu (Nagoya)

* * *

Faded grass

old men roll

goodbye words

--Philmore Place (Minsk, Belarus)

* * *

Healing my soul

with narcissus

wind, and time

--Minako Noma (Matsuyama)

* * *

so many holes there

yet the most sparrows want is

the same for their nest

--Midhat Midho Hrncic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

* * *

Tower flatlet

immersing into

the smell of the past

--Ramona Linke (Saxony-Anhalt, Germany)

* * *

naughty students

outside the classroom

white sakura

--Prijono Tjiptoherijnto (Jakarta, Indonesia)

* * *

The mirror

image my white hair--

a new cut

--Angela Giordano (Avigliano, Italy)

* * *

lunatic moon

eating top hats

in the air

--Scarlet Kirmis (Misawa, Aomori)

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FROM THE NOTEBOOK

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Seven Last Words from the Cross the colour of compassion and clemency

--Pravat Kumar Padhy (Bhubaneswar, India)

The haikuist referred to seven sayings, Jesus Christ’s last words that were spoken on a Friday in April of the year 33. His epitaph revealed what was ultimately important to a dying man nailed onto a wooden cross: 1. Forgiveness, 2. Salvation, 3. Relationship, 4. Abandonment, 5. Distress, 6. Triumph and 7. Reunion.

Luciana Moretto selected four words for her prayers in Treviso, Italy.

different script

the same wish

Mercy Pity Peace Love

Today is Good Friday, the most important date in the Christian calendar commemorating a crucifixion at Golgotha and burial in a cave on Skull Hill located outside the walls of Jerusalem. Ana Maria Lopez Navajas composed a haiku about a purplish blossoming tree in Hinnom Valley, named for the disciple who hanged himself on it after his betrayal of Jesus.

Judas tree …

His treetop full of flowers

and yet, not a leaf

Francis Attard noted, “In Malta, it’s the Judas tree that mostly appears in towns at this time of the year. Initially, flowers appear to be by themselves. It often communicates the illusion of being purple.”

with no leaves yet

shadows won’t tarnish blossom

pink in their brightness

In Dhanbad, India, Ram Krishna Singh composed a haiku while methodically preparing a cotton wick and vegetable oil for a traditional lamp. Molded from clay, when lit, it is thought to symbolize the human body with a soul like a flame of light rising towards the sun.

cleaning the remains

of burnt out earthen lamps--

dusky temple yard

What will you say on your deathbed? Will your final words be filled with fear, or a meaningful observation on life to be persevered as an epitaph? Junko Saeki said prayers in Tokyo, where writing a haiku as one’s death approaches is a Zen Buddhist tradition. Nothing went to waste in Francis Attard’s workshop.

folded cranes

in one-thousand colors

each with warm blood

* * *

carved Buddha

rest of ash wood embers

keep place warm

Receiving news that her husband’s uncle had passed away, Satoru Kanematsu’s wife walked to a neighborhood temple to pray to the goddess of mercy and compassion. The haikuist intently studied an image of how Buddha, having attained an ultimate spiritual goal, may have appeared on his deathbed.

Winter sky--

funeral too far

to attend

* * *

Dawn worship

stepping on thin ice

to Kannon

* * *

Winter peace:

on Nirvana scroll

a stray fly

John Hamley relayed an anecdote from his aunt concerning the pace of the procession led by the chorus and pallbearers at his father’s funeral in Marmora, Ontario. On a visit from Sydney, Marilyn Humbert lost her train of thought in Kyoto.

The old aunt

can’t even keep up

with the coffin

* * *

shoes forgotten

on the philosopher path

sakura petals

Natalia Kuznetsova admired the robust moon over Moscow tonight.

a jolly piglet

smiles at us from above--

super red moon

Christina Chin penned a two-line tribute in Kuching, Sarawak.

wild carrots in the meadows

a horsefly settles on Queen Anne’s lace

As it is located near to where he lives in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, Teiichi Suzuki would love to peek inside the keyhole-shaped burial mound of Emperor Nintoku, especially if UNESCO were to recognize it as a World Heritage site.

Unsealing

old burial mounds--

misty rain

Marshall Hryciuk entered an arid park in Wyoming to witness bewitchingly tall, thin spires of soft rock topped with protective hard stone caps.

hoodoos

etched in Yellowstone walls

each step 1,000 views

Minako Noma found solace in the scent of a small white flower in Matsuyama. Hiep Vo was cheered up by the sight of a gold-colored flower in Hanoi, Vietnam. Ashok Weerakkody was inspired by the D.H. Lawrence short story "Odour of the Chrysanthemum," and may consider watching a rerun of “Lawrence of Arabia” in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

White fragrance

narcissi

in the room alone

* * *

Feeling lonely

a cup of coffee

chrysanthemum

* * *

Odour

of the Chrysanthemum

throne of Lawrence

In Japan, year designations state the year of the reign of the current emperor, in addition to the Gregorian calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Emperor Akihito abdicates the Chrysanthemum Throne to end the Heisei Era on April 30. Chrysanthemum casts a heady scent, yet sakura has none, noted Paul Geiger in California.

resigning

from the Chrysanthemum Throne

to smell cherry blossoms

Writing from Ankara, Turkey, Guliz Mutlu marked the anticipated end of Emperor Akihito’s journey that began on Jan. 8, 1989.

the sun shines

at journey’s end--

remember

Kanematsu played a challenging round of one hundred poems during the holidays. “Hyakunin Isshu” requires players to listen to half a poem, then quickly swipe a card with the other half of the poem from among 100 cards spread on the floor. The card deck forms a classical Japanese anthology of waka composed by past emperors and empresses and others.

Poem card game

an emperor’s words

flipped away

Writing from Bulgaria, Tsanka Shishkova likened Japan’s imperial seal to rays of sunshine. Moretto read a Japanese legend about the 16-petal chrysanthemum.

sixteen petals

as if a shining sun--

chrysanthemum

* * *

splitting a petal

endlessly ...

tender tale

Shishkova felt warm and comfortable in the spring sunshine.

Japan--

the warm smile of

Empress Michiko

Adam T. Bogor strained to hear through a sliding door; a rare one on which the image of 32 Chinese sages had been drawn on silk cloth and pasted to a set-in wooden panel. Singaporean poet Elancharan Gunasekaran would like to peer through the doors.

kenjo no shoji ...

celestials’ whisper

of the Chrysanthemum Throne

* * *

ghost of winter

sited behind the sliding door

lunar throne

Suzuki wrote about the end of a golden chrysanthemum, noting that “even though they become withered, they should not be ignored because they have incense.” Hackles ruffled, John Hawkhead acknowledged a heads-up signal in Bradford on Avon, U.K.

Dead chrysanthemum

burning in a bonfire

smell of incense

* * *

end of an era

the boy runs through the garden

with a raised feather

Writing from Essex, U.K., Lucy Whitehead imagined how it might feel to sit on a ceremonial chair.

era change

a butterfly settles on

the Chrysanthemum Throne

It’s always a good Friday at http://www.asahi.com/ajw/special/haiku/. The next issues of the Asahi Haikuist Network appear May 3, 17 and 31. Readers are invited to send haiku about children, feeling young again or greenery 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).