Shamrock No 32 Haiku from Ireland and
the rest of the world

An international online journal that publishes quality haiku, senryu and haibun in English

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IHS International Haiku Competition 2015 announced!

The Irish Haiku Society International Haiku Competition 2015 offers prizes of Euro 150, Euro 50 and Euro 30 for unpublished haiku/senryu in English. In addition there will be up to seven Highly Commended haiku/senryu.

Details and previous winners here:

All the entries shall be postmarked / e-mailed by 30th November 2015

Good luck to all!

World Children's Haiku Contest 2015-2016 

A call for Irish entries for the World Children's Haiku Contest 2015/2016 (one three-line haiku + an artwork per child from the island of Ireland under 16 years of age) organised by Japan Airlines in cooperation with the Irish Haiku Society. The winning haiku will be published in the anthology "Haiku by World Children".

The Ireland Section: rules, the entry form and more information can be found on the Irish Haiku Society website:

All the entries shall be postmarked by 15th February 2016.

Shamrock Haiku Journal Readers' Choice Awards 

We invite all the readers of Shamrock Haiku Journal to vote for the best haiku/senryu poem published in 2015, i.e. in the issues THIRTY to THIRTY-TWO (you cannot vote for your own poem, though). 

To vote, send an e-mail to irishhaikusociety[at] with "Best haiku of 2015" or "Best senryu of 2015" in the subject line. Please insert the full text of the poem you vote for (only ONE poem in each category) plus the name of its author in the body of your e-mail. The deadline for vote is 31th January, 2016. The best poems will be named in the next issue of Shamrock Haiku Journal.

rising moon
the fine craters
on her skin

corner light
a slug hauls its shadow
up the wall

smoke obscures the stars
a mollusc begins
to open

crows begin
their calling hours

the lift held aloft
waiting for a dead person
to come down

shifting snow
the smell of summer
in the shed

-- Ian Willey (USA – Japan)

washing clothes
in the cold mountain stream –
buttons flash

an owl glides
over the black tree –
moon stands stock still

pilgrims on their way home –
rain falling
on the mud path

a thousand flags flapping
in the cool morning air –
monkeys climb the hill

under the Dhauladar rocks,
a stony path
to the market

down the Ganges
on an old wooden boat –
sun sinks under water

-- Siofra O’Donovan (Ireland)

pushing through
the dead of winter

where the meadow
becomes a ravine
chiffchaff's call

chilling breeze
a coot stays close
to the lough shore

fallen slates
the little owl's eyes
through the mist

graveyard's edge
the damsons close
to falling

-- Thomas Powell (Northern Ireland)

hiding in the vine –
grape-green eyes
of the white cat

cloud shadows scudding
on foothills above the bay –
mottled blue lobsters

white haze
of frost-laced windows –
cashmere layers

darting bird’s foot –
the green clawed grapevine
grapples the trellis

Nollaig na mBan –
winter sun redecorates
the undressed tree

Nollaig na mBan: Women’s Christmas in Ireland

-- Amanda Bell (Ireland)

pond’s edge…
the budding limbs
of polliwogs

evening calm
a spider webbing
the breeze

I, too, am drunk
with wild azaleas

after the storm
a cricket then

the white
of the white koi
summer clouds

-- Ben Moeller-Gaa (USA)

colder days…
walnut trees yet in leaf
in the dying light

sun low in the sky –
warm grass swarms
with grasshoppers

against sunset wall
autumn brushwood stacked
away from the wind

small shrine
a blue prayer flag among
stubbles of thistle

-- Barbara Morton (Northern Ireland)

river shadows
his fishing rod leaning
against the willow

river’s edge
the rippled shapes
of acacias

pale light skimming
the ridge

-- Gavin Austin (Australia)

fading light…
the shadow of Slieve Martin
longer than itself

harsh sunlight
a crow's caw
cuts the ice

-- Marion Clarke (Northern Ireland)

spring light
the shivering ivy
spits out a wren

nesting time –
the magpie returns
the branches to the tree

-- Paul Bregazzi (Ireland)

the weathered face
of a mussel shell
autumn beach

his one good eye
keeps watch on me
tourist store cat

-- Gregory Longenecker (USA)

Veterans Day
in the flower bed
fresh loam

cloister bells...
an upturned turtle
treading sky

-- Mark E. Brager (USA)

winter’s end –
our cat scratches through
the window sheeting

late winter fog –
warming the oldest cat’s
insulin syringe

-- Brent Goodman (USA)

curled lily pad –
a water-strider spans
the sun

switchgrass –
the silent strokes
of a luna moth

-- Theresa A. Cancro (USA)

clanging buoy
a frog leaps from mud
to sand

a tidepool
of rippling sunset clouds
reddish egret

-- Bill Cooper (USA)

a swamp robin
vanishes into twilight –
yellow moon

cherry moon –
for the last time an old steer
lies down in the meadow

-- Kevin Valentine (USA)

a man's shadow
rousing other shadows –
shallow stream

the kingfisher's cry –
a gingko leaf spinning
in the eddies

-- Melissa Watkins Starr (USA)

city morning
sound of daylight
revs up

summer winds
the puppy chases unseen
into the magnolia

-- Perry Powell (USA)

at the pond's edge
seeking sink holes

in the cattails
two gator hunters
swapping fish stories

-- Kevin Heaton (USA)

more peace talks…
a monal hen startled
by our approach

prayers at nightfall
a thrush crushes snail shells
on the temple step

-- Sonam Chhoki (Bhutan)

blossom time…
a different song
from the apple tree

surfers’ beach –
riding the same wave
seven seagulls

-- Grace Galton (England)

summer night
in the white bath
the dust of moths

-- Richard Turner (England)

hanging on the edge
of darkness
winter moon

-- Rachel Sutcliffe (England)

breathless evening
every reed head bowed
at the dusk chorus

-- David Kelly (Ireland)

altzheimer woman
wandering nude
picking blackberries

-- Noel King (Ireland)

but the road I'm on...

-- S. M. Abeles (USA)

my echo swallowed
by the valley…
the silence of stones

-- Jay Friedenberg (USA)

stopped at the light
a droning man stares
out into nothing

-- Tyler Pruett (USA)

mulberry leaves
evening rain soaking
cricket song

-- Anna Cates (USA)

desert twilight
white-winged doves deeper
into the canyon

-- Devin Harrison (USA)

late fall
a boy bikes home
carrying skis

-- Brad Bennett (USA)

autumn rain
stippling the pond
a dart of minnows

-- Louisa Howerow (Canada)

the difference:

-- Elizabeth Crocket (Canada)

the garden goose
fans her wings…
shower of white petals

-- Anne Curran (New Zealand)

liquid garden –
sprinkles of sunlight
on coral blossoms

-- Pravat Kumar Padhy (India)

Llangernyw Yew
a different moonbeam
for each grave

-- Rajandeep Garg (India)

paper boat…
what kind of dream has he launched,
that immigrant child?

-- Massih Talebian (Iran)

frozen to the windowpane –
looking through it

fast and easy flight…
which means she’s hungry

-- Andriy Gagin (Ukraine, translated from the Ukrainian by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

winter cherry
lying next to rubber bullets –
no time for songs today

-- Igor Gusev (Ukraine, translated from the Russian by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

Wrist Slap

by Al Ortolani (USA)

My first grade granddaughter learns self-defense in taekwondo. Her assailant is startled by her sudden scream as she swats his hand and falls free to the mat. Bowing perfectly at the waist, she returns to the sidelines. Already, she has snapped her first piece of pine like a quick blow to the throat. During practice, she spars with another giggling seven year old. “Come at me like a kidnapper,” they laugh – yellow belts snug around their tiny waists.       

flowers bloom
in broken
bottle light

Strange Tugging

by Sonam Chhoki (Bhutan)

Leaving the rumble of traffic in the full glare of an August sun, I step into the cool interior of Musée Guimet, Paris. In the Tibetan Art section I am drawn to the Black Hat Dance costume in a wall-mounted glass case. Only the long black apron is displayed like a large painting. I wonder what became of the main brocade robe with wide sleeves. The accompanying plaque describes it as: 'Tableau Rituel, Le Thibet, XIX siècle.'

Ceiling lights trained on it reflect off the glass panels creating strange optical effects. The three-eyed wrathful deity embossed in the centre of the apron looks perplexed, rather than awe-inspiring. The primal scream of its fanged mouth appears stifled by what seems like its swallowing of a statue of the Buddha on a near-by plinth.

The Black Hat Dance apron is accredited as a gift of the estate of Alexandra David-Néel, a French woman, who travelled extensively in Kham, eastern Tibet in 1921-22, often disguised as a beggar. This is one of many ritual artefacts she brought back.

A group of Brazilians crowd around the display. I retreat to the side. Back in Thimphu dzong*, the Black Hat Dance costume is kept in the darkened chambers of the protective deities out of public view. The performer who dons it at the Tsechu mask dance undergoes intensive training in religious choreography and music. A high-ranking monk initiates him through rites of purification and empowerment for the annual festival. Each gesture of his hand and his facial expressions symbolise different aspects of the Buddha Mind. To the clang of cymbals, the blare of long horn trumpets and the ululations of accompanying dancers he swirls and leaps in a haze of juniper and roasted barley incense sanctifying the dzong courtyard as a hallowed space for pilgrims who come to be blessed.

Here, in a thermostat-controlled room under security cameras and primed alarms the applique apron hangs pristine, free from the smoke of incense, the dust of a monastery courtyard and the sweat of the monk-performer. I fight an impulse to prostrate before it. There is a jostle of cell phones honing into the costume. I walk out of the building into the warm street, my lens misting.

Paris nightfall
flashing cameras dim
the Eternal Flame

full-chested moon
the cruel solitude
of a long haul

* Dzong (pron. zong): a fortress that serves as both a monastic and a secular administrative centre.

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