Photo/Illutration (Illustration by Mitsuaki Kojima)

knowing the way the old Bedouin draws lines into desert sand
--Isabella Kramer (Lower Saxony, North Germany)

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fear of wood fires
at headquarters
--Julia Guzman (Cordoba, Argentina)

* * *

another sunrise--
another prayer
for rain
--Marek Kozubek (Bangkok, Thailand)

* * *

arid soil--
interrupted song
of cicadas
--Daniela Misso (San Gemini, Italy)

* * *

bare-rooted trees
the drought in the well
of my thoughts
--Rashmi VeSa (Bengaluru, India)

* * *

how soothing the noise
of online rain
--Arvinder Kaur (Chandigarh, India)

* * *

driest continent
a drizzle of recycled water
for the pot plants
--Madhuri Pillai (Melbourne, Australia)

* * *

thirsty for change
a river of people
flooding the streets
--John Hawkhead (Bradford on Avon, U.K.)

* * *

Scotch with ice--
even a murmur
near silenced?
--Yutaka Kitajima (Joetsu, Niigata)

* * *

s[h][w]eltering beneath
the sycamore’s shade
sound of lemonade
--Albert Schepers (Windsor, Ontario)


riverbanks in flames
black leaves fall into water
a journey to hell
--Sheila Riley (Alameda, California)

A river with flames flowing down both sides inspired this haiku, in which the haikuist called out “California is burning.” Extremely hot weather, drought, dry lightning and high winds have fueled the biggest wildfire season in the western United States. Safe for now at the confluence of the Sacramento river and American river, Scott Hundahl suggests the high sierra areas offer the best place to escape from all the central valley smoke, noting “beyond the peaks, there are great views of Lake Tahoe if the air stays clear.”

Gravel ground
Lone stem growing deep
Blue Tahoe whispers

Using both hands to cling to the railing of a bridge in Borken, Germany, Christof Blumentrath staggered by a dried-up riverbed. He reported that drought has become a big problem in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

summer stroll
under the bridge
a sea of poppies

* * *

flimsy clouds
river pebbles growing bigger
day by day

Global warming has changed Angela Giordano’s hometown of Avigliano, Italy.

going back home--
our childhood river
has run dry

Didactic poetry instructs philosophic, religious, artistic and scientific morals. Zen religion, spiritual art and Buddhist philosophy are often served part and parcel to discerning haikuists. Let’s compare a didactic 17-syllable message to an 11-syllable poem with a simpler purpose. Lysa Collins originally wrote this first line because she felt the adjective “evoked the exact feeling” she wanted to convey about the “expressive face of a baboon sitting completely alone beside a dry stream bed.” It was later reworked to the second version below to appeal to the sensitivities of general readers.

lugubrious face
of the gaunt baboon--
from the droughts in Africa

* * *

the sad eyes
of the gaunt baboon--
climate change

Saddened in Peterborough, Ontario, Sue Colpitts shared this cathartic one-liner inviting you to choose whether the word secret should be read as a noun or adjective: wildflowers secret baby bird grave. She later erased all evidence of the moment by composing this three-line haiku.

field of wildflowers
now you can’t tell where it is
the baby bird’s grave

T.D. Ginting wants you to select an appropriate ending for his religious experience penned in Murakami, Chiba Prefecture.

Sound of the pipe organ--
bread and wine
becoming (spi)ritual

During the drought season in Accra, Ghana, Justice Joseph Prah watched farmers at the plow hanging onto a bare thread of hope.

hanging death threat
where grasses once

Ramona Linke’s lips are parched from prayers in Mansfeld Land, Germany.

our wish for

Eva Limbach showed concern for “increasingly frequent droughts in Africa,” particularly in regions facing crises and a high probability of war. Hundahl, who recently retired as chief of surgery, suggested that his colleagues “in health care find gang shootings and rioting in Chicago and elsewhere in America of great concern.”

dried up fields
the promise of little pay
and a gun

* * *

Life water bounces
from summer urban sidewalk,
not reaching the leaf

Satoru Kanematsu reflected a thousand times from Nagoya, as he prepared to observe the United Nation’s International Day of Peace on Sept. 21.

Just one sun
above thousands of

* * *

Morn’ glories--
the paper features
peace haiku

Living in southern Australia, drought is a theme close to Louise Hopewell’s heart after having experienced a terrible bushfire. Dragan J. Ristic returned empty-handed to his home in Nis, Serbia. Richa Sharma watched a home disappear in Ghaziabad, India.

red sunset
city streets sprinkled
with desert dust

* * *

only the dust
I brought on my hands
from the antique shop

* * *

dusty skyline
the farmer’s goat chews
a roof straw

Roberta Beach Jacobson coexists with thorny roses and prickly cacti that know how to protect themselves.

morning sun seeks out
wild prairie
rose bush

* * *

saguaro flowers
can’t recall
last rainfall

Writing from Guilford, Connecticut, Kat Lehmann shared this one-line poem about what she has learned from living the way of the tall desert cactus: filling the inner reservoir saguaro.

Murasaki Sagano admired a towering cluster of red flowers in her Tokyo garden. The annual plant species has been cultivated as a grain and eaten by humans for over 4,000 years. Anne-Marie McHarg paid tribute to the last rose in a London garden. Writing from Dusseldorf, Germany, Bakhtiyar Amini commented on the American political climate. A fleeting autumn wind swept by John Daleiden’s porch in Phoenix, Arizona.

flaring in the wind
lasting life

* * *

To see is to behold
Fragility of the rose
In timeless beauty

* * *

wilted roses
lingering heat of

* * *

on the stair landing--
nothing that is not there
and nothing that is ...

Giordano dared not move. John Hawkhead may have felt a little kick. Barbara MacKay fought fever in Little River, California.

African hot
only the fan moves in the room

* * *

heat haze
the shimmering swirls
of her unborn child

* * *

restless with fever
she melts crayons in her hands
palettes of fire

Masumi Orihara refreshed at a well that connected to a vein of groundwater in Baluchistan, Pakistan. It appeared in “sharp contrast,” she said, “to the stretching desert under a boiling sun.”

baby cradle
by the streaming karez
sweltering heat

Teiichi Suzuki chides Canada’s inaction on climate change for having lost the glacier-fed Slims river in 2016.

Shrinking glacier--
vaporized long river
from Yukon

Kanchan Chatterjee took the sweltering day in stride in Jamshedpur, India. Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih’s lips smacked in Shillong, India.

blazing sun …
from his bunch, the fruit vendor
plucks a banana

* * *

dumplings steaming in a jar:
people inside cars
in a Delhi summer

Quench your thirst for haiku at The next issues of the Asahi Haikuist Network appear Oct. 2, 16 and 30. Readers are invited to send haiku about wine, bread or cheese on a postcard to David McMurray at the International University of Kagoshima, Sakanoue 8-34-1, Kagoshima, 891-0197, Japan, or e-mail to (

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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).