Shamrock No 45 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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We are fourteen years old! Founded in January 2007, Shamrock Haiku Journal has since been published regularly. On this occasion, we have prepared SHAMROCK HAIKU JOURNAL: 2012 - 2018, a print edition of the twenty issues of Shamrock, Nos. 21 to 40, as they appeared on the Shamrock website. This paper-based collection covers the full range of English-language haiku, from classical to experimental, as well as haibun. Also included are English translations from one of the most prominent Japanese haiku poets of the 20th century, Ryuta Iida, and an essay on translating Matsuo Basho's haiku.

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Shamrock Haiku Journal: 2012 - 2018
Edited by Anatoly Kudryavitsky.

Copyright 2012 - 2018 by Shamrock Haiku Journal.

All rights reserved.

Published in Dublin, Ireland.

Printed in the United Kingdom.

Price Euro 16.92
ISBN 978-0-244-9767-9-8

Trade paperback. 302 pp.
5.8"x8.3", perfect binding.

Preview available here

Shamrock Haiku Journal Readers' Choice Awards 2020


Nine haiku have been nominated as the best of the year by our readers and contributors. The following pieces that both appeared in our No. 44 were voted the best haiku published in Shamrock Haiku Journal in 2020 (in alphabetical order)

ghost frog...
the ground cracked where
the pond was

-- Keith Polette (USA) #44

from the mist
the wingbeats
of sparrows

-- Bryan Rickert (USA) #44

The following haiku was the runner-up:

abandoned orchard
a split pomegranate
bejewelled by sunrise

-- Simon Hanson (Australia) # 43


Five senryu have been nominated as the best of the year by our readers and contributors. The following piece that was initially published in our No. 43 became the winner in the best senryu category:

train tracks
the part of me
I left behind

-- Glenn Coats (USA) #43

And the runners-up were the following two pieces (in alphabetical order):

cemetery parking
a bouquet of flowers
on the passenger seat

-- Bouwe Brouwer (the Netherlands) #43

quarantine -
a street fox looks for a place
to call home

-- Hugh O'Donnell (Ireland) #44

We congratulate the worthy winners, and express our sincere gratitude to each and every reader who cast a vote.

Irish Haiku Society International Haiku Competition 2020

The prize-winning haiku from this competition are available for viewing here:

There are excellent poems aplenty on that page; check them out!

thawing snow
four days of footsteps
come and go

on a path of water
through winter reeds
last year's cygnets

on a ridge above
the white-water weir
honeysuckle's new leaves

-- Thomas Powell (Northern Ireland)

moonshone hedge
a tangle of shadows

after dark
flashes of neon
in tinkles of ice

scudded sky
moon and clouds
shadow the fields

-- Simon Hanson (Australia)

silver fish
in a sea of stars

scented with lilac
fluffing her hair

-- Robert Witmer (Japan)

a cricket
crawls up a stem
prairie sunrise

flurries sift
through the pines
a clutch of snowdrops

-- Brad Bennett (USA)

rain garden
suddenly sharing the bench
with a blue jay

late November
the trees full
of sky

-- Greg Schwartz (USA)

after a downpour,
the garden
of blossoming moons

red leaves
rain washes passerby's shadows
off the pavement

-- Anatoly Kudryavitsky (Ireland)

cherry blossoms...
the color of the dress
i burnt

full moon...
a baby frog leaps
on my bed

-- Rachel Magaji (Nigeria)

too old to shake
a fly from its mane,
the grey mare

-- Michael Dylan Welch (USA)

fingers of clouds
another lost boat
nudges the shore

-- Glenn G. Coats (USA)

bouncing leaves
the wind changes
to a new rhythm

-- Adelaide B. Shaw (USA)

the winter wheat bows
in silence

-- Jennifer Hambrick (USA)

bare trees
a flock of swifts
in sudden flight

-- Hannah Mahoney (USA)

rain after long drought
the perfume
of pinon

-- Alanna C. Burke (USA)

worm moon
this pain
bone deep

-- Lori A. Minor (USA)

shuffling blossoms...
another monarch
joins the buddleia

-- Julie Warther Schwerin (USA)

off the back
of a black slug

-- Seren Fargo (USA)

summer evening
the stillness
of corn tassels

-- Lori Becherer (USA)

stuck in a puddle,
believe in rain

-- Dan Spencer (USA)

the whisper
of the grass

-- Stephen C. Curro (USA)

days of rain
a long-grounded boat
shifts starboard

-- June Rose Dowis (USA)

a redbud's veins
by a dewdrop

-- Mary McCormack (USA)

on the back porch
an empty rocking-chair
comes to a halt

-- Nika (Canada)

mud banks
a heron glides over
the boatyard

-- Robert Davey (England)

morning mist
the worm stretches and shrinks
to nowhere

-- David Gale (England)

two mallards working hard
to stay put

-- Tony Williams (Scotland)

last rays -
a burst of scarlet-orange
from the robin's breast

-- Mark Miller (Australia)

fish market
all those identical
open eyes

-- Oscar Luparia (Italy)

spring morning
a wasp circles
my daydreams

-- Hemapriya Chellappan (India)

circus stand
the child takes a balloon dog
for a walk

-- Lakshmi Iyer (India)

first seen then heard waterfall in the woods

-- Srinavas S (India)

ripe grapes
the earth tastes of honey
the grass of mould

butterfly dreams...
this silky cocoon,
its intricacy

-- Luigi Celi (Italy; translated from Italian by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

The Passing of Time

By Barbara A. Taylor (Australia)

In 1970, I left London, for a romance in gay Paris. In desperation, the demise of that relationship sent me fleeing Downunder to the other side of the world. How else could one cope with the intrusion of another lover?

     local wine's the best
     wherever you are

Way back then, I was filled with a vital energy to explore the globe: hitchhiking around/across Australia, Asia, into Afghanistan to Iran, through to Turkey, back to Paris, before returning briefly to my roots in Northern Ireland to visit family after many years apart. I had lots of yarns, adventures to share. Mother told me how father looked forward to my homecoming. It was a shock to arrive in bustling Paris once again, but then, even more so: on arrival, a telegram says papa has gone...

We watched the hearse, and mourners under black umbrellas, move slowly down the curved white-fenced avenue as if in a Luis Buñuel movie. It was a typical Ulster day of soggy rain and mists, army tanks, and police checks. My older brother opined women do not attend funerals. I never understood his inane protest and made my attendance present. My grieving mother stayed at home behind closed blinds. All her world had changed. Valium kept her calm. Emptiness ruled.

     open to miracles
     at each turn
     of the door handle

After gloomy weeks, relief comes on arriving in the safety and comfort of this happy farmhouse cottage in regional New South Wales; early morning calls of kookaburras, daily cackles of chickens, my perfumed garden still in tact, and mobs of wallabies munching on dewy grass. Various trees bear fruit. Life abounds in a brilliant light. Sun, sun, and still more sun. Anxiety, depression, sadness dissolves. This hundred-year-old home with all its creaks and imperfect angles, overflows with warmth, strength, sustainability. Sadly, it's doubtful I'll view the Emerald Isle again; never see those haystack patterns in patch-worked fields, tall hawthorn hedges, nor scarlet fuchsia spilling over granite walls. How I wish my parents had visited, for here they could see our perfect rainbows. It is the greenness I love. Since mother too has now gone, guess I will be here forever. Future travels not under consideration but plenty stories yet to tell.

     rich humanity
     exudes from well-trampled
     timber floorboards

Taking Flight

By Michael Dylan Welch (USA)

I have a walking alarm clock. It's loud. This morning it bounds up to the edge of my bed. It yells, "Wake up, daddy!"

"I'm awake," I mumble to my son.

"Wake up your eyes!" he replies.

I lie still for a moment, but I know it's useless. I can no longer resist my three-year-old fire alarm. So I rub out the night and slowly wake up my eyes.

"Good morning, daddy," Thomas announces, pulling at the sheets until I swing my legs out of bed.

"G'morning," I sigh.

And so begins our Sunday, for which we have a family trip planned to the flight museum.

     soggy corn flakes -
     my son tells me
     to put a smile in my mouth

Fear and Trembling

By Diana Webb (USA)

As a child I was always alert to the slightest suggestion. From a car from a cat from a crow. I would look up into the sun-tinged clouds for a sign of the angel instrument poised to blow the final note.

     from trumpet-shaped flowers
     the solace of silence
     how bindweed clings

A Home for Haiku

By Anatoly Kudryavitsky (Ireland)

Poetry resides in poets' heads, but what about its more material incarnation? Stones of poetry are mossless; mosses of poetry are quilts for a quiet...

Do haiku have a home? In the year of 1670, i.e. in the Genroku Period, Matsuo Basho was on the road travelling from Kyoto along the bank of Kiyotaki river to Arashiyama and further to Mount Hiei, composing haiku along the way, and he spent a few nights in a cottage near the Kompuku-ji temple. This temple was founded in 864 by a monk named An'ne, the head priest of Enryaku-ji temple, according to his master En'nin's dying wish. Basho really liked it there and later kept coming back to write. Tesshu, Basho's friend and the head priest of Enko-ji, afterwards called that humble abode Basho-an, Basho's Hut.

Less than a century later, in 1760, the haiku poet and artist Yosa Buson visited the area but couldn't locate the cottage. Some women and children eventually led him to it. Buson, who admired Basho,  was saddened to find the cottage in a most ramshackle state. In 1776, following the suggestion of his friend Higuchi Doryu and encouraged by Shoso, a priest of Kompuku-ji Temple, Buson began rebuilding Basho-an. His haiku disciples, Hyakuchi and Emori Gekkyo, assisted him and Doryu. The work took almost five years, and was finished in 1781. For the roof, Buson used Japanese pampas grass (miscanthus); this thatched roof now hides among the trees. Here's one of the six haiku that Buson reportedly wrote in Basho-an: all ploughing done / the cloud that seemed unmoveable/ now gone (the translation is mine). In December 1783, when Buson passed away aged 68, his disciples buried him on the top of the hillock just above Basho-an. Some of them were later laid to rest next to Buson's grave, with "poem-monuments" above their graves; among them, the artist Gekkei Matsumuro and haiku poets Gekkyo and Yoshiwake Tairo.

A century after Buson's death the temple itself deteriorated, but the famous samurai and Zen master Tesshu Yamaoka rebuilt it. The main gate is hiding from a passer-by, and one has to know where it is to enter. A path goes from there towards Basho's hut and then through a little graveyard towards Buson's grave. In autumn, the path and the thatched roof are strewn with red maple leaves. This temple was also the setting of the last part of 'Lifetime of a Flower'  by Seiichi Funahashi, the classical novel about Takajo Murayama, a former geisha turned a spy. This novel was later made into a feature film,  as well as into a television series. Takajo Murayama, who lived in the 19th century, stayed in this temple as a nun for fourteen years, until she passed away. The belongings of Yosa Buson and Takajo Murayama are displayed in the main hall. A stone monument to Basho, erected by Buson, is in the heart of the temple's garden. If haiku were to have a home, this would be it.

First published in the Haiku Society of America Newsletter, December 2020

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Copyright © 2021 by Shamrock Haiku Journal. All rights reserved. All the Shamrock Haiku Journal contents are copyright by the indicated poets/artists. All the rights revert to the authors and artists upon publication in Shamrock. Any unauthorised copying of the contents of Shamrock Haiku Journal is strictly forbidden. The Shamrock logo image is copyright © by Christine Zeytounian-Belous (Paris, France).