Posts Tagged ‘haiku’

One last haiku entry. My sister Ceci, an ESL teacher in Chicago, assigned her students the Poem Elf quarantine haiku challenge, and they came through with flying colors. I’m impressed with anyone able to write creatively in a second language! These are wonderful—thanks to Ceci’s students.




Ellen from Taiwan wrote two haikus:


At difficult times

Be kind and help each other

Sunshine will come soon




Making me stay home and cook

Please go away soon




Lucy from China wrote three. (Ceci can relate to the first one—moving her class on line has been challenging and has sidelined her beloved basement-cleanout project.)


In this special time

Transition to e-learning

Keep calm, keep learning!



Generous neighbors

Help the elders and poor people

How friendly they are!



There is a little girl

She wants to play with her friend

Let’s meet in FaceTime!




Galina from Belarus was also wrote three. These ladies were feeling the haiku fever!


When I fall asleep

night fills the room with shadows

my dreams come to me…



Sunbeam on my face

I feel pleasant warmth as if

my Mom kisses me…



The sun is shining

orchids blossom on the table

How long do they bloom?




Luisa from Columbia is from the “better to light a candle” camp:


Play games, use your brain

Enjoy cooking new recipes

Dance or sing with others.




Ellen from Taiwan mirrors the up-and-downs we all feel:


At difficult times

Be kind and help each other

Sunshine will come soon




Making me stay home and cook

Please go away soon




WooYoung of South Korea lives on the bright side of the road:


Birds sing in the sky

We can walk on the green fields

I can feel the spring




Finally, Martha from Mexico speaks for us all:


Empty home, boring life

Better days are coming

Tired of being locked in

Keep your friends close

Take precautions & be safe in these times.


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To start off European Haiku Day here at Poem Elf, here’s a picture my daughter in Prague created. She took advantage of over-developed film to fiddle around with the image (that’s the technical explanation). She calls it “Pause.” (FYI that’s what those two yellow bars mean. I didn’t know this, dinosaur that I am.)



And now, haikus from our European friends.


From Truus Visser of the Netherlands is keeping busy—



Washing the windows

dusting all the bookshelves

waiting the lock-off






Luc Vrielinck a doctor in Belgium, took time from what must be an insane worklife to send a sober warning, haiku-style:



Social distancing

playtime is over now;

everyone’s concern



Here it is in Dutch, his first language.



Social distancing

de speeltijd is voorbij;

eenieder zijn zorg



(Is “social distancing,” like a smile, the same in every language?)



Luc adds—


My Haiku is, of course, a reaction to the difficult times we have now in Belgium and around the world.

I am a medical doctor working in a hospital, so I know from first hand what is going on once patients are infected, and when they are losing their battle. So the main focus is on prevention, … until we get a good vaccination.

The government propagates -among other things- the principle of social distancing: keeping enough distance between your self and the person next to you (1.5 m)






Anne Marie, my daughter in Prague, was out walking and heard music from a high window, which she knows is one of my favorite things in the world. Here’s the post-walk haiku—



Oh to take a peek

In all those secret squares

Someone’s dancing on piano keys!



And here’s the accompanying picture







Someone named “Name,” origin unknown, so let’s just say he or she is indeed European so we are consistent, sent in this reminder of life’s small pleasures—



Stuck inside for weeks

I go for a daily walk

Nice to hear the birds





Finally, to Very Truly of Ann Arbor, just in case you haven’t read my responses to your comments: I would love to get your haiku and photograph, but I haven’t yet. If you sent it as an attachment, please understand that attachments don’t go through on this platform. You can copy and paste text in a comment or send text and photograph to thepoemelf@gmail.com.  I will post it regardless of when it arrives!

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One last call for readers outside the United States . . . send in your quarantine haikus! I’ve gotten two so far and will post those tomorrow. Would love to have more! Post here as a comment or email me at thepoemelf@gmail.com.


Brenda Loew of Seattle sent in pictures and haiku. The pictures of are herself and the Seattle bridge troll, outfitted to reduce community spread:

I did not know this wonderful sculpture existed. Mr. Troll sits under a bridge, as trolls do, and in his left hand clutches a Volkswagen bug.



Here’s Brenda’s haiku. Lovely!


The walking people,

quiet pandemonium,

all humans stopped cold.



Sci-fi cityscape,

masked and gloved Seattleites

smile only with  eyes.



Equally plagued,

we see how we are truly

more alike than different



What is our true face?

Sheltering now at home,

spring robin singing.


And her lovely face

Nurse Pam Sheen (bless you!), solicited haikus from friends and sent in these:




Dog glued to my side

Unsure why we’re both at home

But grateful we are



Trees green, sunshine bright

The house warm and cozy too

Like beacons of hope


—Jenn Van Osdel




We’re inside monkeys

Climbing walls won’t get us out

Where’s my banana?


—James Lachowsky


Inside monkeys, tru dat.






Finally (for today) from my sister Susie in Massachusetts (wife of yesterday’s haiku writer Richard, far away in San Diego):



Yesterday, today,

Tomorrow, and days after,

The same, Groundhog Day.


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I have haikus to post today and tomorrow, and that will be the end of this project . . . unless. . .  my international readers step up! Sending out a challenge to Poem Elf readers in countries outside of the United States to send in a quarantine haiku. I know you’re there, I see you.




Tom McGrath, a new grandfather from Chicago, sends in a vision of dreamy peace:


Haiku for Emilio Tomas


A newborn slumbers

limp against this grandpa’s chest,

a lion at rest.


Tom adds that the original final line was “big sister pokes him.” Two completely different poems! I like both.




From her quarantine in downtown Baltimore, Trish Rawlings muses on what she found on the ground outside the grocery store:


White latex gloves dropped

Rudely on the lot up close

Are not: pale blossoms.


(What she thought were a shopper’s protective gear was actually blossoms from a shedding tree. Would that all nasty sights turn out to be blossoms!)




My brother-in-law Richard has temporarily re-located from Massachusetts to California to help care for his little grandsons as his daughter-in-law recovers from health issues. (Yes, he is that great a human!) Being so far from his wife, he thought about other separations, including mine from my daughters (we are literally thousands of miles apart and will be for the foreseeable future), and he came up with this, which ends with classic New England stoicism and a signature Bostonian phrase:


Haiku from San Diego

Daughters coming home
Squeeze is what we want to do
Fa’ get about it




Benedikt Rochow, an engineer from Alabama, took a break from working at home to come up with this—


A man a plan a
canal Panama really
is a palindrome.
Last one. I’ve been reading a lot of essays about how this virus is helping us get back to our core selves, our shared humanity, the things that truly matter. Marge from Chicago says the same in her haiku:
Corona’d we are
Self-starters we have become
Reliant on God
Thanks, everyone! More tomorrow.

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Welcome to the third installment of readers’ quarantine haiku. Thank you for sending in these gems. I love them.


(Reminder:  if yours hasn’t been posted yet, wait a day or so, I’ll get to it. And keep them coming!)


Let’s start with flowers because . . . flowers! After winter, flowers. What a marvelous event.


Sharon Carey sends in this




Springtime violas

uplift stone cold riprap spirits

Johnny jump ups cheer somber days



In case you, like me, don’t know what a Johnny jump up is—

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Judith Berger, herbalist, sends greetings from Manhattan:



Outside my window,

waxwing in the Juniper.

She too wears a mask.





Who knew this little project would be such an education? Here’s a waxwing in a juniper bush:



Screen Shot 2020-03-27 at 11.17.08 AM






My sister Mary K. wrote one we can all relate to:



Stationery bike

Attempting to stay in shape

Food and wine negate





My grand-nephew Charlie Greco, age 9, made a PSA haiku. Simple, sober and to the point. Thanks, Charlie!




it is horrible for you

wash your hands please, thanks!






Last ones for the day are from my friend Michelle of Chicago.




[Explanation needed:  weeks and weeks ago which feels more like a lifetime ago, we met in Maui (I cringe at the Marie-Antoinette tone of that phrase, but it is what it is, and it’s relevant). In the airport restroom we spoke with a woman who had just come back from the little island of Molokai, once home to lepers. She enchanted us. Tall, willowy, gray-haired, dressed in safari-type clothes, a big smiler—also a widow who had buried her native-born Kauai husband on his home island years before. We wanted to know more about her—really I wanted to be her best friend—so we stalked her. Tracked her down in the airport restaurant to see who she was with.]




Molokai Lady

You were so interesting

Tell us your secret 




Michelle also wrote this one:




Were the fish laughing

When they saw my snorkel mask

Or was it my fins?





Okay, more tomorrow!

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(Please note: If you sent in a haiku and you haven’t seen it here yet, have patience! I have an abundance of haiku which is so much nicer than an abundance of caution.)


Here’s a lovely dose of spring from Patti Russo of Bloomington, Indiana (a perfectly-named town for the season):

Sunshine on a stick
Immune from fear or worry
Spring forsythia


Patti must have an abundance of creativity because she sent two haikus. Here’s the other:

To want a dog’s life
Not just any dog’s..this one’s
The smile says it all!


Brenda Loew sent these lovelies:

Where are the two leggeds now?!?
the crows are wondering…
the world is so still.

And her second, a timely reminder of our need for human contact, whatever form it takes

Dying is not difficult.
Not having good Friends,
a Hell realm indeed.


My daughter Lizzie, a nurse in northern Michigan, sent a few. Her work brings back memories of long ago when we sat at the kitchen table and wrote haikus inspired by art postcards.

As of late although

Surfaces are suspicious

All has been wiped clean


and here’s one about delayed affection in the age of coronavirus


Just six feet away

You laugh and stand there smiling

I will hug you soon


My sister Ceci is using her quarantine time to clean out her basement. My sisters and I tease her that she has forever been cleaning out her basement. A good reason to disappear downstairs, I suppose. Anyway, here’s her Marie-Kondo-inspired haikus:

Cards and photographs
Fond memories abounding
Life in the basement!
And this one, presumably written before she found her way to the basement
Empty calendar
Days to fill and time to spare
For long lost projects!
Ceci’s friend Marge sent one too (both live in Deerfield, Illinois and miss playing tennis):
Fewer body aches
Could it be no more tennis?
Aching joints ok
Finally, for today, another dog haiku from Monica Bailey in Florida. She included a picture of her cute little friend Lilly:
There once was none.
Lilly working from home.
Now there is peace.
More tomorrow!

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Thank you to everyone who sent in a haiku! Can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading them. It’s a balm for my nervous system. The creative spirit is fundamental to us humans and strengthens our connections!


Up first from Jeanette, who gets extra credit for taking a picture:

(Jeanette has a very droll sense of humor and I am laughing at “safe connection.”)


Extra credit too for Truus Visser whose native language is Dutch. A lot said here, very artfully:

deep-orange sky
birds fill in the  silence
handsoap foams fragrant


Here from Nancy Murphy, mother of four, a positive spin on quarantine:

Games, puzzles unearthed
Joyful sounds, parents exhale
Family renewed

Nancy adds, “Please note that my poem is in no way intended to make light of the seriousness of the virus and its consequences. Hope we all get through this ok.”


And from Michigan resident Gail Haffey, gardener extraordinaire:

Season for pansies

The snowflakes touch them gently

Sun melts them away


Thanks, everyone! I’ll post more tomorrow.


Keep them coming!




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                                   **my inspiration**


I am in need of music, poet Elizabeth Bishop wrote in her poem of the same name.


I am in need of distraction, I find myself saying, and how nice!, distraction is everywhere— funny animal videos, show-me-your-dance-moves Instagram accounts (shout-out to my daughters), clips of Italian mayors shouting at their constituents who won’t stay home.


So here’s a Poem Elf distraction. I’m inviting you to submit a Quarantine Haiku. You can also send me a picture of your haiku, Poem-Elf style. You can be in the picture or not. I’ll post as many as I can.


Email your haikus and/or photos to thepoemelf@gmail.com.


A brief tutorial on haikus (for better instruction, link here and scroll down):


  • Haikus have three lines, traditionally 5-7-5 syllables, but feel free to experiment. No one’s counting.


  • Start with an image (something you see, hear, taste, touch, smell) around you.


  • Keep it simple. Try not to get too metaphorical or flowery.


  • Haikus often contain an element of surprise or sudden understanding.


Your haiku can be silly, profound or mundane. Just not political, please. The point is to use the structure 5-7-5 to re-focus your thoughts away from anxiety and worries.


Just so you’re not self-conscious about submitting work that is mediocre or worse: first of all, it doesn’t matter. This is just supposed to be fun, communal and distracting.


Second, here’s mine so you know the bar is low:


Goodbye, soda bread

Once upon a time, St. Pat’s!

Crumbs and raisins now




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There comes a time in a woman’s life where she has to let go of long-held goals and finally to admit she’s never going get into grooming or have a wardrobe that’s pulled together.


The same goes for an elf.


For a long time I’ve wanted to make this blog more polished. Someday when I have extra money, I’ve been telling myself, I’ll pay someone to re-design the website. I’ll categorize poems by occasion. Someday I’ll print out poems on vellum, tie them with ribbon, maybe laminate them. Alas, nearly six years after I launched Poem Elf, it looks no different than when I started. My blog roll is shaggy, my presentation is not user-friendly or fun. The poems I put up around town are often crumpled or crooked, reflective of my scissor skills. I still print poems on plain white paper, and tape is always visible,.


No surprise that this blog is lacking in visual appeal. I wasn’t the girl with the eye-catching poster at the science fair–I was the girl who got “Unsatisfactory” in Penmanship.


This failing was brought home recently when I became aware of two other Poem Elves. One has style, the other better graphics.


Annie, one of my Washington, D.C. nieces, sent me pictures of a Poem Elf she discovered on her way to work. How wonderful! I love the cherry blossom colors and graphics and the fact that these haikus will be read by hundreds of people. None of them will blow away.

Image 5

This was Annie’s favorite, and mine too

Here’s a few more she passed by:


Image 3

Image 2

Image 1


Turns out this is not one Poem Elf but many. These are entries to the Golden Triangle Golden Haiku Contest. Link here to see the winners and other entries. (The winner is actually one of the haikus Annie sent me.)


The other Poem Elf is a continent away. For Christmas this year my niece Sophia made me a calendar with pictures of her and her sister Georgie poem-elfing around Quito and her home town of Guayllabamba, Ecuador. Their mother, my sister Josie, tried to translate the Spanish poems, which is a little helpful, as I could not find any translations of these poems on line.


Notice the fancy hat Sophia wears in every picture. It’s like a scrunched-up chef’s hat. I like her style, her sly appearance in every picture.





See Sophia peeking out behind the wall


April is National Poetry Month, and I suspect we will see other Poem Elves coming out of the woodwork. Should you come across one, send me their droppings.

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