Before I get into the podcast I just wanted to let those of you in the UK know about something special.

Roger Watson that excellent haijin from the UK, was telling me that he had been to the inaugural meeting of the London Haiku Group. Check out the link if you’d like to get in touch with them and maybe try it out yourself.

This week is a special on pain. Why did I chose it? Well, I received a haiku from Jim Azevedo around the same time as I was reading about Shiki, who suffered most of his writing life from Tuberculosis and worse. I thought that we could do a lot with this topic. I hope when you’ve listened to all the poetry from so many talented people that you will feel the same.


I want to sleep
Swat the flies
Softly, please

Sorry can’t find the translator for this one,

the gourd flowers bloom,
but look — here lies
a phlegm-stuffed Buddha!

translated by Janine Beichman

and now over to you:

The first haiku is from Jim Azevedo, he is retired and comes from northern Colorado in the States.  As well as writing haiku Jim has been a keen photographer for many, many years. He said something that I thought summed up why many of us enjoy haiku writing, he said “I write haiku because it brings me closer to life, life without all the filters.”

Jim’s peice:

pain slows evening voices
small mortal bird
hops to another rock

Staying in the US let’s hear from Robin Anna Smith. I’m so glad she submitted some work as I know she is very busy writing for Rhythm and Bones. This time, some one liners…

suicide disease the doctor asks if I’ve tried Tylenol

pain management practicing my scales

pain creeps into the forevernight
*originally published in Sonic Boom, Issue 11, April 2018

More from the US: Laughing Waters.

on the top of the hill
me and ants

mountain bike —
me and my knee
getting a new smile

young pup
discovering roses
one thorn at the time

Up next Joan Barrett, another new member of the community, a retiree who is also very much into photography. Have a look at her website.

She has written poetry for many years, but only recently started to write haiku so I am delighted that she took the plunge and is sharing some of her work with us.

Broken children
sleeping in the attic
red chamberpot

Joan says: “The “broken children” were real, broken in that they were foster children from broken homes, taken in by my relatives only because (I believe) they were a source of income. I spent a few days and nights at the house and remember them as not belonging, as rather lost.”

The next haiku has had a little journey to be with us today. I read the first draught, which was good, but encouraged Joan to have a little think about it and she wrote this, which I think is wonderful:

old yellow dog
even the cold floor
lies trembling

Last but not least in this US section of the podcast another poet new to the podcast, Marissa Glover. She works as a teacher and writer. She says “she writes haiku for the challenge of choosing a single image or perfect word to say what she wants to say–not an easy task for a woman who likes to talk.”

I would like to share both her original piece and then an edited version
The original:

Hope is the foul thing
flying out of reach, waiting
to poop in your eye

For those of you with a knowledge of Emily Dickinson’s work, do you see the connection?

Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –

Marissa told me: “I hoped (pun intended) the title and the images brought her poem to mind, at least for poetry readers with knowledge of our foremothers’ writing.”

I asked Marissa if I could have a go at re working the poem and so with her permission this is the edit:
flying out of reach–
poop in your eye

Marissa thank you.

You can catch up with her on Twitter @_MarissaGlover_.

Now off to Europe, to meet some old friends and some new. Let’s start with Ian Speed who is in the middle of a really interesting project.

He has sent me five haiku based Schubert’s Winterreise, the first five verses. He is continuing to write more. The Winterreise Haiku tell us of the winter journey of a spurned lover.

Ian intended them to be stand alone pieces which could also be read as one progressive work. I’ve also put a link to youtube so you can have a listen to the music.

Door’s soft latching,
gate’s silent moonlit shutting
echo my sad farewell.

Night wind’s lament
rends my heart strings asks if
I was ever loved.

From where come fresh tears,
freezing on my cheeks, dropping
noiselessly on snow.

Vainly look for traces,
frozen footprints in the snow,
that my grief won’t die.

Linden tree at the gate-
sheds my story, calls me back
to lay me gently down.

1.Good night- (Gute nacht).
2.The Weathervane-(Die Wetterfahne).
3.Frozen Tears-(Geforne Tranen).
4.Frozen Stiff-(Erstarrung).
5.The Linden Tree-(Der Lindenbaum).

I’ll read mine at this point, after all I have a foot in the UK and in Switzerland:

single black dog
snaps at her heels
the abyss

It was written about one terrible dream I had at a difficult time. I hope it can speak for itself.

Off to the Orkney Isles to meet Robert Horrobin, another writer new to the podcast.

on the whale road
how the bone house creaks –
the shore is far away

Robert wrote this while reading Norse Saga’s and Anglo Saxon riddles and I think you can hear those influences in the poem. Rather than speak of pain directly he has chosen a metaphorical approach, which he thinks has failed. I enjoyed it. It has a certain eerie feel to it. As I read it I was transported through history to a cold and distant shore. To me, the creaking of the bone house on the whale road speaks of pain and the shore is recovery or the good day when pain is not the only thing you can think of. Is it haiku or senryu? Possibly not but he thinks it might be zappai. Yes zappai. Something I had not heard about and have not yet researched except to understand that it is a relative of the haiku. but I am grateful to Robert for giving me something new to research. I shall come back to it in another podcast. Thanks Robert, I hope this will not be the last time we hear from you.

The last of our UK writers for this week is  John Hawkhead who is an experienced poet, indeed if you would like to read more of his work I will put a link to his book, Small Shadows, in the show notes. He enjoys writing haiku as “The discipline of brevity is good for all facets of life – saying just enough and no more to capture a moment in the universe and to share it with others.” I agree John.

He has also recommended something for us to read which he says is a useful resource for all of us haiku writers: David Lanoue’s “Write Like Issa”. I must have a read.

Let’s hear from John

her lost hair
lining the crows’ nest

dropping the glass
the shattering

Mineko Takahashi writes for us from Japan. This haiku has also had a little journey to be with us and Mineko tells me that it was very much influenced by news reports.

at the roadside
fallen olive lilies
a homeless body

Guliz Mutlu from Ankara in Turkey.

cat’s cataracts
on the clean linens
white heliotropes

Don’t you find the sound of the alliteration in the first two lines very effective?

Now to  India to hear from yet another writer new to the podcast.

B S Saroja.

Interestingly, she is a graduate in Science and a post graduate in literature. There is definitely a link between science and haiku, I’m quite convinced.

hiding dreams
hollyhocks whither
mum cries

This makes me think of women of my mother’s generation many of whom did not have the freedom that I did to follow their dreams.

the crowded path
feels lonely
unheard cry

Crowded places can also be loneliest. Thanks so much for these pieces, which say so much in so few words.


Professor R K Singh, also writing for us from India:

unable to map
on the face where her pain ends
and mine begins

I think the metaphor works really well in this work, don’t you?

wiping his face
under the umbrella
an old man with books

L3 is a marvel for me. Professor Singh could have just said “an old man” but the addition of books adds just a little bit more depth. What do you think?

Next Su Wai Hlaing, writing from Singapore. Her first haiku will give yo a clue as to her occupation:

small talk
my patient forgets about
the needle

at the dentist
I grind my teeth tight for
a jab

This clearly shows something that I associate with Su Wai’s work, her humour.

When I read this next haiku from Giddy Nielsen Sweep in Australia I knew I had to use it.

his face deep lined
pale hills throw shadows
in the moonlight

Last and not least we’ll end our podcast today in New Zealand with Isabel Caves

padded cell –
all the voices
she couldn’t lose

Powerful isn’t it?

What a very special podcast that was. A mixed interpretation of the word pain expressed in some very strong poems. Thank you so much to all of you.


London Haiku Group

Robin Anna Smith:

Joan Barrett:

Marissa Glover

John Hawkhead

  • To buy a copy of Small Shadows please send an email to

Mineko Takahashi

  • Instagram “your_private_japanese_tutor” and “ur_japanese_tutor” which teaches Japanese characters
  • FB account @yourjapanesetutor

Guliz Mutlu

BS Saroja

Professor RK Singh

Su Wai Hlaing

Giddy Nielsen Sweep

Isabel Caves




Week 49: Pain

BMC logoBuy me a coffee