Beneath the Surface – October’s Lectio+Haiku

Water DropsYou visit the earth and water it abundantly;
you make it very plenteous;
the river of God is full of water.
Psalm 65:9, NRSV

fields flooded—
beneath the surface, somewhere,
the river bends
— Christopher Herold, Haiku in English: The First 100 Years, Norton Books, 2013. p. 146

We invite you to spend time in contemplation with these words from wise ones. Then join in the conversation with your own poetic response.

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


About Margaret D. McGee


  1. I was drawn to these passages for October’s Lectio+Haiku by the heavy rains we had over the weekend.

    between raindrops
    the croaks of the tree frog
    float to earth

  2. tower bell—
    under the mature oak
    yellow leaves

    • haikucircle, this is a beautiful combination of sound and sight images. What would you think of “big” instead of “mature”? Maybe you wanted more of the connotation of mature?

  3. Brad Offutt says:

    south wind from Africa
    brings rain but no desert dust –
    every leaf is clean

    • Brad, I love your images from across the seas! You bring the world to the Courtyard.

      • Brad Offutt says:

        Margaret, thank you! I can’t begin to express how much it means to me, here many thousands of miles from Port Townsend, to be able to visit the Courtyard whenever I wish and to share the wonderful creations of my fellow poets. Although we have one foot firmly planted on this little Aegean island, the other foot, in Port Townsend, is the one that bears most of our weight! Time to be wrapping up here – be home before too long. Interesting though – in PT rain is rain. Here, with a strong south wind, it can be “red mud” rain full of dust from the Libyan desert and even the further Sahara. What a mess! And all the plants suffer too.

  4. Marybeth Bland says:

    After the rain
    the sky reddens
    day is done

  5. the bell
    tolls the witching hour
    a murder of crows

  6. Marybeth Bland says:

    I just placed this on the wrong site . Here it is again

    on the deck
    my dog’s nostrils flare
    he jumps on the rail

    he knows something
    I do not

    • Marybeth, I deleted it from the other posting, to avoid confusion.

      I love the capping two lines to this poem! That’s exactly what I feel when Bingo and I are sitting quietly together on the recliner, and he suddenly raises his head and looks around. He knows something I don’t know!

  7. the boatswains mate
    whistles a happy tune
    home is the sailor

    yellow rose petals
    drifting out to sea

  8. Marybeth Bland says:

    sun heats my face
    like summer time
    tomorrow we rake leaves

  9. Brad Offutt says:

    sun moon and Venus
    above Eleni’s chimney –
    Fall is really here!

    I realized tonight that in Port Townsend I mark the changing seasons by foliage, the calendar, and weather changes. Here it’s more by where the sun sets and where Aphrodite (oops – I mean Venus) is in relation. Eleni’s chimney is due south of my seat on our lower terrace – by the Winter Solstice the sun will set somewhere to the left of where the moon is tonight. I’ve sent a picture you can see.

    • Poets, I just updated the Poet’s Gallery with Brad’s beautiful photograph. Check it out — the link to the Poet’s Gallery is in the sidebar. Thanks, Brad, for sharing this image to go with your poem.

  10. Who knew it was God’s
    idea that we water the earth?
    So are we the rain, too?

  11. CaroleAnn Lovin says:

    majestic trees
    float down the skyblue river —
    God’s reflection

    Comments welcomed!

    • Hi CaroleAnn,
      I like the skyblue river in this poem.
      I am not sure but I think the image in the first two lines that you want me to see is the reflection of trees that are standing beside the river. On first reading, the image I see is either logged trees being floated down the river purposely, or possibly trees that have been uprooted by a flood floating down the river. It’s only after I read “God’s reflection” that I think you might mean the reflection of the trees. But if I’m mis-reading it all together, just say so!

      • CaroleAnn Lovin says:

        No, you’re not mis-reading… I meant for the first two lines to suggest the reflections of the trees along the river’s edge. The image obviously doesn’t work!

        I’m wondering if the following revision works — since actual trees wouldn’t ripple ??

        majestic trees
        ripple in the skyblue river —
        God’s reflection

        • Hi CaroleAnn,
          To me your revision works better. I don’t know why I see it right away as a reflection when the verb is “ripple,” and I didn’t see it that way when the verb was “float” … but there you go, language is a mysterious thing. I’d be interested in hearing how others see this poem — original and revision.

          • CaroleAnn Lovin says:


            Yes, language is mysterious… Another thing I find interesting — I wonder why I didn’t think of “ripples” in the first place? I mean, I sorta had an inkling when I posted the original poem that it maybe didn’t quite work… Only after your comments made it clear that it definitely wasn’t working did I think of using “ripples”… Curious, eh??

            BTW. hope you’ll tell us about the haiku and labyrinth workshop!

  12. Marybeth Bland says:

    A bright quarter moon
    fades into fog
    I bundle under a quilt

  13. Marybeth Bland says:


    I am not getting new posts again. But I have checked all the boxes. Is it my old I pad?

  14. Sharon Nowicki says:

    In the final hours of dark this morning I was letting the dogs out and noticed the shy early dawn light was casting a glow on top of the row of grass clippings along the gardens edge. I thrust my warm bare feet into cold yard shoes, cinched up my fur robe, turned up the collar and headed for the garden. Sure enough, as suspected I was excited to find frost. I knelt down and stroked the hard delicious smoothness of ice as the touch of my fingers melted the fine layer of delicate sugary crystals of frost sparkling in the growing dawn’s light. The calendar had announced autumn a few weeks ago, but this morning, the true breath of autumn finally arrived in my yard. My favorite season, so glad to see her back again.

    Red and yellow leaves
    Falling to frozen ground
    Horse breathes tiny clouds

    • Sharon, what a lovely embrace of the changing season. Thanks for sharing this.
      One comment: your adjectives are beautiful and evocative. At the same time, adjectives can lose their power when they pile up. A few well-chosen adjectives are generally stronger than many, even if the many are each strong on their own.

      For example, I think “dawn light” is stronger than “shy early dawn light,” and that “I thrust my bare feet into cold yard shoes” is stronger than “warm bare feet.” Just bare feet and cold shoes does the job, with more punch.

      You might also look at “hard delicious smoothness … delicate sugary crystals.” That part made me uncertain, not sure of the experience, because I couldn’t see how delicate sugary crystals were also hard and smooth.

      I love your haibun, Sharon — your connection to the natural world is uniquely yours, while bringing my own feelings to life.

      • Sharon Nowicki says:

        Margaret, I understand where you are coming from, while I try to portray my experience in a way that I can relive every sensation in the future when I review old writings.

        The hard delicious smoothness was the thick crust of ice on the wet grass clippings that the frost had settled upon. I guess I didn’t make that clear.

        Thank you for your comments, always welcome.


        • Of course, Sharon, I understand! It’s also important for me in my own writing that I get it right for the most important reader: me, at some future date.

          And I understand the ice images better now. You do have it all right there, and the fault may have been in my reading. But I will venture one more thought. I might have gotten the ice image immediately if the two parts were reversed, so that I “experienced” the feel of the delicate frost before the hard ice underneath it, just like you did. Something like this:

          I knelt down, and as the touch of my fingers melted the fine layer of delicate sugary crystals of frost sparkling in the growing dawn’s light, I stroked the hard delicious smoothness of the ice beneath.

          You can probably make that sentence better still … and if you’re happy with your original, then by all means stick to it!

          Thanks for letting me play with your words.

          • Sharon Nowicki says:

            Very good suggestion and I will make that change when this piece goes in my journal. Thanks!!

            I always welcome a chance for improvement.


  15. Like most cats Maddielion sometimes called The Girl is fascinated by water. When I use the bathroom sink, she hops up on the counter and watches the water swirl down the drain. This morning we both notice that the water is very slow going down. I look at her and comment that the sink trap needs to be cleaned. I ask her if she thinks I can clean it. The gleam in her blue eyes tells me to go ahead and give it a shot. I don my plumber’s hat and gather up the things I think I need to do the job. I clean out the cabinet and take a good look at the pipes. First I put a small plastic pan under the elbow to catch any water in the pipe. I squirm and wiggle until my head and shoulders are in the cabinet with the pan and pipe. Totally ignoring my head and shoulders the Girl climbs in with me. This isn’t going to work I tell her. I wiggle out and pull her out too. We then discuss this matter about who is doing the work. Again I climb in and so does she. I get out again and pull her out too. I put her out into the bedroom. The ring on the pipe is hard to loosen and she is banging on the door. The entire racket makes me a nervous wreck even my eyelashes are sweating now. For the third time I climb out, pick up the Girl and tell her there is only room for one nose and one pair of blue eyes in there and they are mine. I put her outside in the kitty condo. Fortunately a crane fly catches her attention and keeps her content. I go back to my job. After some unpleasant words and profuse sweating I get the job done. The cat is back in the house and we are on speaking terms again. Peace reigns once more.

    the dam
    is removed
    the river runs wild

    • Carolyn, you make me laugh! Again! I especially like the “plumber’s hat” (don’t know what it is exactly, but that doesn’t matter, because I can make something up), and your sweating eyelashes. And of course the whole story of the cat and the plumber.

      In the haiku, what would you think of cutting “is”?
      I like it that the haiku is related to your story without repeating images from the story. And also related to the original inspirational verses.

      Thanks for sharing.

      • Yes, Margaret, I like the haiku better without the is. I get caught up in sentences. I had a hard time choosing between the words wild and free also. We often use the expression “one wears many hats” so I have a hat for different chores particularly ones I don’t like. My plumber’s hat is a blue and white striped railroader’s cap that we got when we rode the Black Hills train from Hill City to Keystone SD. Sometimes I forget all the marvelous things I have done in my life – at least marvelous to me. I am happy you laughed!!!!

        Why is it Margaret that once I press the post button that I start revising?

  16. Marybeth Bland says:

    we watch
    golden leaves fall
    morning prayer

    When I refer to we, it often means Nickel and me. This morning as I was eating breakfast I was fascinated by autumn . Nickel spends more time smelling the air these days. If I only knew what he smells,

  17. Marybeth Bland says:

    Today I decided was my day to do art work. I wanted to complete one simple painting in 20 minutes, I gathered a book I has bought two weeks ago. I found my paints, my paper and sat down to create a simple hillside in October.

    But I did not have creamsom yellow, or colbalt blue the book callee for. My red was too red. Oh I wanted to paint. Nickel was in a down stay under the kitchen table. My paper was wet and ready. So I created anyway, I used greens, lemon yellow, bright red,. I mixed and matched . Then it happened.

    I drop my brush
    watercolor paints my pants
    autumn magic

  18. Marybeth Bland says:

    My quilted lawn
    yellow red orange leaves
    time to rake

    And another one

    Thick fog coats the air
    spider webs lace tree branches
    Halloween weather

    • Marybeth, I especially like “my quilted lawn” in these two poems. In addition to being a strong image, it also evokes the warmth and homey-ness of quilts, which feels like autumn to me.

  19. Marybeth Bland says:

    the container slips
    dry dog food tumbles out
    a mad dash

  20. Posted a new Lectio+Haiku for November. You can see it on the Home page: “The Will of the Wind – November’s Lectio+Haiku.” Hope to see you there!

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