A New Heart

Red-flowering currant, one of the early bloomers in the woods near my house.

Red-flowering currant, one of the early bloomers in the woods near my house.

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
— Ezekiel 36:26

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud became more painful than the risk it took to open.
—Anais Nin

In March, the church calendar makes its great turn from Lent to the Passion of Holy Week, and finally to new life on Easter, which falls on the last day of this month.

We invite you to spend time in contemplation with these words from the prophet Ezekiel and the author Anais Nin. Then join in the conversation with your own poetic response.

(My thanks to Carolyn Temte for reminding me of the “new heart” verse in Ezekiel.)

You can enter into conversation with this text by adding your haiku response below.

About Margaret D. McGee


  1. blustery dawn–
    the early bloomers go on
    about their business

  2. Brad Offutt says:

    maple bringing buds
    bird in maple rock below
    all live free of doubt

  3. CaroleAnn Lovin says:

    Don’t have a haiku yet… just doing this note to indicate I want email notifications for this new thread

  4. Marybeth Bland says:

    I just got a wonderful book from the library called, The Year Grows Round. It is a nature journal for kids to,d with haiku.

    On the tree limbs
    Junco trill
    New buds grow

    • The new buds are swelling on the flowering plum outside our kitchen window. At this time of year, I’m always looking out the window, hoping for the first flash of pink. And we have juncos trilling and coming to the feeder.. Thanks for the book tip, Marybeth — sounds good for any age.

      • CaroleAnn Lovin says:


        Hi! I did an Amazon search on the book, The Year Grows Round, but it did not show up… If you have a chance could you post the author’s name? Thanks!

      • CaroleAnn Lovin says:

        Ooops! Sorry, I guess it was Marybeth who posted about the book…

      • Marybeth Bland says:

        CarolAnn and Margaret,

        The full name of the book the year comes round, haiku through the seasons.

        Printed in 2012

        Author Sid Farrar
        Illustrator Isle Plume

        I think I wrote the title wrong,

  5. carolyn says:

    in spring
    one’s thoughts turn to
    another flat tire

    remove wheel
    and do a repair
    bandage finger

    is full of promise
    peonies break ground

    • Carolyn, what a fun haiku sequence! The first verse made me laugh, the second made me smile, and the third lifted my heart. I especially like the way each stanza contains a different sort of skin being broken.

    • Marybeth Bland says:

      I love it also. I could apply to a bicycle or a car. Since I was once a bicyclist I am reading it as a bike.
      And I will go get the book and find the authors name. He wrote in the five seven five format and I think it might have limited him. But it is enjoyable.

  6. Marybeth Bland says:

    I replies to the book up further,

    Now to my haiku. Bob Edwards wS interviewing two photographers who had spent time with wolves. They took their pictures and watched their behavior, . Dogs are descendent from wolves. They said dogs are the only animal that can look into your eyes and know exactly what you are feeling, That is true with nickel and me.

    As the conversation moved along, nickel started to fall into a deep sleep as if the sound of the wolf pack was comforting

    wolves howl
    my dogs jaw quivers
    In response

    • Nice — thanks, Marybeth. Another intimate moment with Nickel. I hope that you are saving & collecting your Nickel poems.

      • Marybeth Bland says:

        Yes I am in my nature journals . But I am having bad luck saving things of value. I misplaced old family letters from the 1800,s, Then I lost my great grandmas ring and now I misplaced a very old photo of my other great grandmother . We live in a small House so where can everything be? It is not like our home is cluttered, hopefully I will find this picture soon. . It has been right at my finger tips for three years. I probably put it in a safe place. Now where is my safe place?

  7. carolyn says:

    The wild and woolly weather forced me to stay indoors so I decided to clean a storage closet. I cleaned the top shelf and started on the second when I saw the red basket that was a gift from a wild and wonderful friend. After Mr. T’s death, my friend filled the basket with single serve meal items and chocolates. Each chocolate was individually wrapped in a special prayer, poem or goofy joke with a reminder that laughter was good for the soul. She wrote some of these treasures in English and some in German. The food treasures were long gone but the memories made me laugh.

    Now the basket held the sympathy cards from Mr. T’s death. I toyed with the idea of throwing them away but decided to read them again even if they made me weepy.

    I spread the cards out on the dining table and slowly read my way through them. Because his death occurred just before Christmas, some people sent beautiful Christmas cards with messages of hope and joy as well as condolences. In other cards people wrote wonderful memories of him. A memory that filled my heart with joy and renewal was from one of his caregivers. Mr. T always sang Christmas carols in Norwegian. One afternoon he sang several Norwegian carols to her. In her note she shared that the afternoon of carols was her most treasured Christmas gift.

    In these cards, I heard his voice, his laughter and saw his twinkling eyes. It was Christmas and Easter all in one afternoon. I carefully bundled up the cards and returned them to the basket and put it back on the shelf.

    Perhaps one day ………..

    becomes spring
    the bud unfolds

    carolyn temte

    • Thanks, Carolyn, for all the nested scenes — the wild and wooly weather, the basket of cards, the memories of you and others, and the poetic reflection, a reminder that the bud unfolding is a process that takes its own time.

  8. High in awkward form
    Springtime’s sweet anticipation
    Resonates in crows ragged cry

    • carolyn says:

      high up in the tree
      await nesting time

    • Sharon, how wonderful to hear from you. I especially like the way this poem expresses the struggle of new life — the “awkward form” and “ragged cry” that wrap around sweet anticipation. Spring is a time of new life … but it doesn’t come easy.

    • Marybeth Bland says:

      Sharon welcome back . The crows do cry around here also. But there is another sound we have started hearing, it comes every march

      On the front porch
      In an old shoe
      The tree frog croaks

      Across the way
      An answer returns

      Mating calls

    • Brad Offutt says:

      Thank you, Sharon! I especially like the first line. Not many crows around our place here, but how well I remember them above the mid-western fields on the farm where my sister still lives.

  9. CaroleAnn Lovin says:

    Here’s my haiku in response to the Ezekiel quote… any feedback welcomed!

    new heart opening
    to joy in God’s creation —
    sun in a sea shell

    • Marybeth Bland says:

      I like this. We’re you able to find the book?

      And I found the picture in my desk hidden for safe keeping . Maybe there is an haiku ib that, tomorrow

      • CaroleAnn Lovin says:

        Yes, with the correct title it popped right up on Amazon! Thanks!

    • CaroleAnn, I find the image of sun in a sea shell so intriguing. My first thought was, How is that possible? Because the first image that popped into my mind was of a conch shell, or some other type of shell that has a dark (hidden) interior. Then I thought, wait a minute, why does it need to be that kind of shell? I pictured an open shell on the beach, like maybe a clam shell, and sunlight reflected from the white surface. So that made me think about the various shells I have myself … the ones that are closed, and the ones that are open. Thanks for the journey!

  10. Brad Offutt says:

    her snow-wounded heart
    unfurls red maple-fingers
    reaching to the sun

    • Marybeth Bland says:

      a gentle gnome
      holding a latern
      greets the night intruders

    • I’m picturing a maple tree sending out new growth in the spring.
      Snow-wounded is an interesting way to put it.
      I like maple fingers … for me, the hyphen isn’t needed with maple fingers.
      Thanks, Brad!

      • Brad Offutt says:

        Thanks, Margaret! And you’re right about the extra hyphen. I realized that when I read the post again last night, but of course I couldn’t edit it. “Snow-wounded” is both figurative and literal. This lovely tree lost a main branch to a load of snow a few winters ago. She survived but the wound has never really “healed” and will eventually cause her trouble. Every spring I welcome the signs that she has survived yet another long sleep and, with Persephone, is up from the underworld again.

  11. Marybeth Bland says:

    out my window
    the black hills loom
    rarely seen in winter

  12. Fat toad in tux
    Conducts frog pond choir
    Practicing arpeggios

  13. Brad Offutt says:

    Persephone’s insertion of herself into my earlier comment also brought on this haiku. Comments welcome!

    this year’s cherry buds
    come fresh from roots’ underworld
    with Persephone

    • I like the reference to Persephone very much, Brad. And she fits right in with your 5-7-5 structure.

      This word order reads a little more naturally to me:

      this year’s cherry buds
      come fresh with Persephone
      from underworld roots

      What do you think?

      • Brad Offutt says:

        I think that’s brilliant! Thank you!! As for Persephone, her old, old story fascinates me. Even though her home was very far to the east, I think she is at home here too, with your garden and our lady maple.

  14. Fir trees quiver
    Warring crow’s battle
    For nesting space.

  15. Marybeth Bland says:

    Mine is a little departed from the others. But today on the stone in the pond where I saw an osprey last month , I spotted something different

    a great blue heron
    with long elegant legs
    stands gracefully

  16. carolyn says:

    turning green
    with envy

  17. carolyn says:

    another try at this — I must have been asleep still might be!

    dressed in yellow
    daffodils nod their heads
    in harmony

    turn green
    with envy

  18. carolyn says:

    primrose display
    in front of the store
    a blooming frenzy

  19. CaroleAnn Lovin says:

    Here’s my attempt at a haiku sequence in response to the Ezekiel quote… comments welcomed!

    A New Heart

    stone heart —
    melts at the foot
    of the cross

    new heart —
    at the empty tomb

    • Marybeth Bland says:

      My response is I like this haiku CaroleAnn

    • I like the parallelism and balance in these two verses, CaroleAnn. Did you consider “breaks” instead of “melts”? Just a thought. You might want the liquidity in melting. I can see strengths either way.

      Traditionally, haiku uses images from everyday life to share the human experience and evoke human feeling. As it is now, your sequence consists almost entirely of symbolic language. Now, I like the way you use symbolic language very much! And at the same time, I’m enough of a traditionalist in haiku to make this suggestion: What would you think of expanding this sequence to four verses? The way I imagine it, your two current verses become verses 3 and 4 in this poem. The new verses 1 and 2 would carry images in your life experience to ground us, and lead us into the symbolic language. (The dry leaves at the church door in your earlier sequence is an example of that kind of image.)

      So … if that sounds interesting for you to try, I’d like to see the results.

      • CaroleAnn Lovin says:

        Margaret —

        I agree that ‘breaks’ works better in the first stanza of my “New Heart” haiku sequence…

        I’ve been puzzling over your other suggestion,though… I thought I was using more concrete imagery — ‘foot of the cross’ and ’empty tomb’ — for the symbolic/ abstract Crucifixion and Resurrection… What am I missing??

      • Yes I agree, CaroleAnn, that “foot of the cross” and “empty tomb” are concrete images compared to the abstractions Crucifixion and Resurrection. The language you use in your poem is simple, concrete, and direct. But the phrases are still religious symbols. Those words are so central to Christian iconography because they’ve come to represent universal spiritual states or conditions, as well as particular places 2000 years ago.

        In fact, it’s hard for me to relate to the foot of the cross and the empty tomb except on a symbolic level. I don’t mean that they aren’t powerful images — they are. They resonate because of what I’ve been taught about them, and because of what they’ve come to mean in my own life. They represent the place where love comes up against the pain and cost of mortality, and love wins. That’s a big deal.

        My comment has to do with taking advantage of the conventions of haiku as a form of poetry. Traditionally, haiku use images from nature and everyday life to share the human experience. It’s actually a pretty humble little form. Much of the power in haiku comes from images that the poet directly perceives, and readers recognize from their own experience, too. I thought that the addition of those kinds of images might balance the iconic images in your sequence, bringing the whole poem closer to home. But only if you want to go there!

        Well … that probably went on longer than it needed to! Thanks for making me think, and for sharing this evocative work.

        • CaroleAnn Lovin says:

          Margaret —

          I think I understand what you mean… If someone was not Christian or knowledgeable about Christian iconography the images ‘at the foot of the cross’ or ’empty tomb’ would not mean anything and without that meaning attached to them the images by themselves would have no resonance…

          If that’s true then I’m not sure adding extra stanzas would solve the problem… However, I’ll put the sequence on my ‘To Ponder Further’ list and see what happens.

          Thanks for your explanation.

  20. Marybeth Bland says:

    Now I have been spending most of the day trying to write this haiku in between errands, work, playing with nickel etc, I have had three different versions in my head . None I truly liked . But here it is . I should add I sit by Thd kitchen window every morning and watch what is going on in my front yard.

    white daffodils
    wait upon the suns kiss
    ready to burst open

    • Nice image, Marybeth. I wonder if you can do some pruning, and get the time of day in there.

      spring morning–
      white daffs wait for the sun
      ready to burst

      • or I might have pruned too much … now I think the last line should stay like you have it: “ready to burst open.”

      • Marybeth Bland says:

        Well maybe I should go with yours but keep open in the end line . I did like the subs kiss also. But now I think it is too long. Oh well

        Spring morning.-
        white daffs wait for the suns kiss
        ready to burst open

        • I don’t think that’s too long, Marybeth. It’s true the middle line is long, but the whole poem is still well within the length of a haiku. And I do like having the time of day in there. For my ears, you could cut “ready.” Doesn’t shorten the middle line, but it does make the first & third lines close to the same length. (I like that sort of balance, though it’s not worth cutting the word if you want to keep it.) I like the white daffs on the verge.

      • Marybeth, here’s another thought with this poem. The convention in traditional haiku is to set the poem in a season. But there’s also a convention of not overdoing it. That is, one reference to the season is plenty, and two is too much. My earlier suggestion over-loaded your poem in seasonal references. (Daffodils set the season, so “spring” is redundant.)

        What about something like this:

        White daffodil morning–
        waiting for sun’s kiss
        to burst open

        Now the first line is a little long, but it gets the season across right away, without overloading. What do you think?

  21. Marybeth Bland says:

    I like that version. I will stick with that,

    Now I must write about today that was so beautiful I could not fit it into a haiku but maybe later.

    After the rains
    I step outside
    and am greeted
    with a musical chorus
    that cloaks me

    Tree frogs croak
    ducks quack
    as a crow caws
    and redwinged black birds sing
    all in harmony with birds
    I can not even see

    Cars drive by with windows shut
    unaware of what I hear
    or feel
    It’s a new dawn
    a new spring

    Peace has arrived
    in natures song

    • Brad Offutt says:

      Marybeth, that is just beautiful. You rolled my windows down and I hear it! Thank you.

      • Marybeth Bland says:

        Thanks Brad and Margaret . I think if I had not stepped outside right after the rain had stopped I might have missed this.

    • Oh, Marybeth, thanks for sharing this spring outpouring! Some feelings & experiences just don’t fit in a haiku. You lift my heart.

  22. snow capped mountains
    purple in the morning sun
    strait fogged in

    • Marybeth Bland says:

      Beautiful picture. Here we would not see the Olympics if the fog was around. I loved the visualization.

  23. Buds swell, birds sing
    Will spring help to heal
    My broken heart?

  24. a pot of gold
    at rainbows end
    a bottle of Gunniness

    Happy St. Patty’s day

  25. Barbara Gibson says:


    Please may I have TWO
    hearts? Stone for protection,
    flesh for love.


    The bud breaks open
    of itself, like a baby
    slips forth from the womb.

    Barbara Gibson

    • Barbara, how wonderful to hear your voice. I love the push-back in both of your answers.
      You’ve been much on my mind. Good thoughts.

      • Barbara Gibson says:

        Thanks, Margaret.
        The “Ezekiel” haiku actually has 17 syllables, and when it’s arranged that way, it looks pretty good. The “Nin” was just a DRAFT, and I mistakenly added it. Not ENOUGH syllables! I’m kind of a purist that way.
        I very much appreciate your Courtyard–and all you do.

      • Well … you get to be a purist when it comes to your own poetry.
        But I like ’em just the way they are. (smile)

  26. One Tuesday a month, I am part of a volunteer kitchen crew for a local music program. Yesterday while waiting for the throngs of diners to come another crew member, Roger Uhden, and I came up with this poem.
    Roger enjoys haiku.

    still moonlight at dawn –
    serenity reigns supreme
    flowers bloom wildly

    Happy Spring!

    • And Happy Spring to you, Carolyn & friend Roger.
      I like the contrast between still moonlight & wildly blooming flowers.

    • Brad Offutt says:

      Carolyn, are you by any chance a fan of Mary Oliver’s poetry? She, too, sees a wonderful wildness in nature’s beauties.

  27. Yes, Brad, I like Mary Oliver( guess I am just wild), May Sarton and much of John O’Donohue and others. Are you familiar with Robert Sexton? His prose, poetry, and art work soothes the savage beasts in my soul. I just like words. Do you subscribe to Panhala? One gets a nice variety of poetry there.

    • Brad Offutt says:

      Carolyn, both Sexton and Panhala are new to me. Thanks for the tips! Robinson Jeffers is another personal favorite, although Mary Oliver seems more approachable somehow. And, if you are wild in the way she is, you’re in a good place.

  28. Dear poets,

    For those who follow this posting through the comments, this is to let you know that we have a new posting for April, “Love Lives Again.” The conversation continues through moving, funny, and evocative new work — check it out!.

    You can get to it through the menu system at the top of the page. Choose Lectio+Haiku on the menu, and the new post will show up on top of the listing.

    Or, here’s the link to the new posting:

    To receive email notification of all comments, make a comment (add a haiku) to “A New Heart,” then click the box that says “Notify me of follow-up comments via email.”

    Looking forward to where the creative spirit leads us in April.