Welcome to Haiku Plus

Here you will find a forum for new haiku, as well as other poetry and postings related to the poetic process.

Many of the posts on this page start with a few lines of verse from sacred or inspired writing. Using an approach based on the monastic practice of lectio divina, we invite you to read the post, give it your heartfelt attention, then respond by writing a haiku. You'll find more about the process of Lectio+Haiku in the sidebar on the right.

Beautiful Words

puff singleA Royal Wedding Song
Beautiful words fill my mind,
as I compose this song for Love,
Like the pen of a good writer
my tongue is ready with a poem.
                   — adapted from Psalm 45:1, trans. Good News
♥ ♥ ♥
The summer ends, and it is time
To face another way….
— Wendell Berry, excerpted from “The Summer Ends,” A Timbered Choir

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.

Labyrinth – A Poem

Winding PathLabyrinth

by
William F. Maxwell

The labyrinth is for walking.
Not for trying to understand,
not for anticipating
the quirky turns or sudden
reversals. I’m simply
to follow a path, not
wondering where I’ve been
or where I’m going.

The labyrinth is
for this moment, asking only
that I move quietly along
the ordained path.
Mind and spirit free
to leave habit and comfort
and predictability behind,
I may find surprising openings
to unexpected rooms.
Or not.

 Labyrinth CenterArriving at the center,
I stand immobile and quiet,
waiting to discover
where I am.

Sometimes there seems
to be a new insight,
startling understanding.
Sometimes it is only
a voice saying softly
but inarguably,
Keep walking.

 

(c) 2014 William F. Maxwell

I’m grateful to my friend Bill Maxwell for permission to publish this poem, on one of my favorite themes. — Margaret

A Time for Every Matter

Salal Blossom and New BerriesFor everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven.

— Ecclesiastes 3:1

♦ ♦ ♦

Nothing great is produced suddenly,
since not even the grape or the fig is.
If you say to me now that you want a fig,
I will answer to you that it requires time:
let it flower first, then put forth fruit,
and then ripen.

— Epictetus, Stoic philosopher

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.

Now the Green Blade Riseth

New GrassNow the green blade riseth
from the buried grain,
wheat that in the dark earth
many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again
like wheat that springeth green.

— from hymn #204, The Hymnal 1982 (Episcopal)

 

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.

Like the Deer Who Lies Down

It takes courageThen I would be dark and wet,
like the deer who lies down
in a hollow and returns to herself,
becoming at last what she always was.

— Barbara Gibson, from “The Wet Woods,” Waiting to Fly, Crestline Press, 2013

♦ ♦ ♦

We must let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.

— Joseph Campbell

 

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.

Ferry Ride

The young man circles the passenger deck, a baby in the crook of his arm. He stops and holds the baby upright in front of a glass case containing a carved Salish mask. The baby gravely examines the face of the mask, then grasps a corner of the case and pushes, as if to make the case turn. The man moves the baby so it can view the mask from the side. After a while the baby pulls on the glass corner. The man moves the baby to see the mask from the front again. Push and pull, to and fro, back and forth. Finally the baby turns its head and puts its fist in its mouth. The man tucks the baby in the crook of his arm and resumes circling the deck.

near the end
my father stops telling me
to straighten up

blue waves yellow sky

 by

Margaret D. McGee

I’m pleased to say that this haibun appears in the 2014 Winter edition of Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America.

I Also Am Mortal

Left Baby FootI also am mortal, like everyone else,
a descendant of the first-formed child of earth;

and in the womb of a mother I was molded into flesh,
within the period of ten months, compacted with blood,
from the seed of a man and the pleasure of marriage.
And when I was born, I began to breathe the common air,
and fell upon the kindred earth;
my first sound was a cry, as is true of all.

— Wisdom of Solomon 7:1-5

———————————————————————–

Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it.

— Emily Dickinson

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

Read passages with haiku responses

Bless, O God, My Little Cow

Milking PitcherMilking Prayer

Bless, O God, my little cow,
Bless, O God, my desire;
Bless Thou my partnership
And the milking of my hands, O God.

Bless, O God, each teat,
Bless, O God, each finger;
Bless thou each drop
That goes into my pitcher, O God!

— The Carmina Gadelica, IV, 65 from Celtic Christian Spirituality: Essential Writings — Annotated & Explained, SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2011.

We invite you to spend time in contemplation with this milking prayer from The Carmina Gadelica, a collection of prayers, poetry, and folklore from the Celtic oral tradition. Then join in the conversation with your own poetic response.

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So Many Gifts

Happy BirthdayThere are so many gifts
Still unopened from your birthday,
There are so many hand-crafted presents
That have been sent to you by God.

—  Hafiz, excerpted from “So Many Gifts,”(trans. Daniel Ladinsky). From the book The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master, Penguin Compass, 1999.

———————————————

The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it. 
—  John 1:5 (NRSV)

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

Read passage with haiku responses

Mystery and Manifestations

Image by NASA                         1
… Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness….

                   11
… We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want….

             —tao te ching (trans. Stephen Mitchell), Harper & Row (1988).

—————————————-

Star light, star bright
first star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.

                  — English language nursery rhyme

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

Read passage with haiku responses

Poets and Labyrinths at Seabeck Haiku Getaway

Spiral labyrinth at Seabeck Haiku Getaway

This photo by Ida Freilinger shows the labyrinths we made at the Seabeck Haiku Getaway.

Gather a bunch of haiku poets in one place, say “Let’s make something beautiful together,” and we are on it. 

Friday, October 11, about 30 poets at the Seabeck Haiku Getaway joined me to make two big double-spiral labyrinths in about 20 minutes flat.

After making the labyrinths, we walked them together, inspired by opening lines to Bashô’s Narrow Road to the Interior:

The moon and the sun are eternal travelers. Even the years wander on.… every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
(trans. Sam Hamill)

[Read more…]

The Will of the Wind – November’s Lectio+Haiku

Will of the Wind

The moon and the sun are eternal travelers. Even the years wander on.… every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
—Matsuo Bashô (trans. Sam Hamill), Narrow Road to the Interior, Shambhala (1991).

The plants and flowers
I raised about my hut
I now surrender
To the will
Of the wind.
— Ryôkan (trans. John Stevens), Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryôkan, Shambhala (2004).

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

Read passage with haiku responses

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.

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Twin Fawns — Haiga for the Autumn Equinox

Twin Fawns Haiga - Autumn EquinoxOnce I decided to do a nature journal entry for the autumn equinox, it seemed as if every fallen leaf I saw was half-colored. There were probably just as many leaves with color all over, but the bifurcated ones drew my eye.

[Read more…]

The Round Jubilance

Apple Water Color

This is an apple, not a peach. But I think it still has its round jubilance.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
— Li-Young Lee, excerpted from “From Blossoms,” as found on the web site Poem Hunter.

Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.
— Mother Teresa, from Love: A Fruit Always in Season, Daily Meditations by Mother Theresa (Ignatius Press, 1987)

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

The Great Door

The Open DoorAs you sit on the hillside, or lie prone under the trees of the forest, or sprawl wet-legged by a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens.
Stephen Graham, The Gentle Art of Tramping, Holmes Press.

Recognize what is right in front of you, and that which is hidden from you will be revealed to you…. They asked him: When is the Kingdom coming? He replied: it is not coming in an easily observable manner. People will not be saying, “Look, it’s over here” or “Look, it’s over there.” Rather, the Kingdom … is already spread out on the earth, and people aren’t aware of it.
Gospel of Thomas, 5a, 113

Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.
–Winnie the Pooh

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

 Read passage with haiku responses
Read passage with haiku responses

My Tender Heart

Wild rhodie starts to bloom

In the forest around our house, the wild rhodies’ new buds appear just as soon as the spring blooms fall away. Through summer, fall, and winter the hard buds hold on tight, biding their time. Finally in April they soften and swell. In early May they break open, giving way to what comes next.
The buds that protected their cargo through summer’s drought and winter’s snow are soon gone, their outer coverings scattered on the forest floor, pale specks decomposing beneath the eye-popping blooms.

What I can do, I know, what I’m
supposed to do, born to do,
what everyone is born to do, is this:
to take my tender heart

in my old wrinkly hands,
and stumbling on my bony feet
carry it right into the pulsing center
of this beautiful, suffering world.

— from “First Thing in the Morning,” by Barbara Gibson, taken from the book Waiting to Fly, Crestline Press, 2013

We invite you to spend time in contemplation with these words from the one of my favorite poets, Barbara Gibson. Then join in the conversation with your own poetic response.

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Love Lives Again

Rose OpeningHow did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light against its being — otherwise, we all remain too frightened.

— Hafiz, “It Felt Love,” from The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master (trans. Ladinsky), Penguin, 1999.

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain;
love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

John Macleod Campbell Crum (1872-1958),
from “Now the green blade riseth,” hymn 204
in the Episcopal Church Hymnal (1982).

We invite you to spend time in contemplation with these words from the Sufi mystic poet Hafiz and an Easter hymn. Then join in the conversation with your own poetic response.

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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.) Read passage with haiku responses

Online Class – Friends In Linked Verse

Linked HeartsDear poets and emerging poets,

From March 18 – April 5, I’m teaching “Friends in Linked Verse – Inspiring
Each Other,” a 3-week online class in poetic collaboration. We’ll focus on linked-verse forms related to the haiku. Participants write verses linked to each others’ verses, creating lively collaborative poems that range widely through the human condition.

If that sounds like fun, please join us. Click here for details and registration.

Enrollment is limited, and a few places are still open. Early registration (save ten bucks) ends March 1.

Feel free to call me with questions about the forms we’ll practice, or how the class will work.

Phone: (360) 301-5284.

Thanks, and best wishes in all your creative endeavors,

Margaret D. McGee

Dust and Ashes

The bluff at North Beach in Port Townsend, Washington.

The bluff at North Beach in Port Townsend, Washington.
Photo by Alison Hedlund.
(Click on the photo to see it full size. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is behind you.)

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
— Wendell Berry

Remember that you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.
— Genesis 3:19

In the church calendar, Epiphany turns to Lent on Ash Wednesday, which falls on February 13 this year. Read passage with haiku responses

We invite you to spend time in contemplation with these words from Wendell Berry and from the book of Genesis. Then join in the conversation with your own poetic response. Read passage with haiku responses

Just As I Am

Stones with strata.

Stones with strata.

Dear God, who made the rocks just the way they are,
rising through the earth;
Who made the stars just the way they are,
red stars dying and new stars being born;
Who made the wind just the way it is,
bending a tree or breaking it;
Who made the waters just the way they are,
cold soup running with live ingredients;
Who made the mule deer just the way it is,
stepping from shadows into light;
Who made the gray mole just the way it is,
digging deep;

Who made us, who made me, just the way I am,
blood-filled and trembling, trying to move.

Dear God, wash me in the love that changes everything. Amen.

— Margaret D. McGee, excerpted and re-worked from the book Stumbling Toward God: A Prodigal’s Return, Innisfree Press, 2002.

(In the church calendar, January is the month of Epiphany. I think of this prayer as a prayer for epiphany—that is, for a glimpse of the larger truth that lies behind the surface of things.)

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God Reborn in Tea Leaves

Here’s the peaceful still-life photo my friend Brad Offutt sent me from the Tea Zone in Portland, with his reflections and haiku that were written in response to this month’s Lectio+Haiku, Radiant Creation – One Spirit.

Brad_TeaRoomI’m back in Portland and in the Tea Zone on NW 11th. I walked here on dead leaves wet by rain on this somber day. But it is so peaceful back here in the lounge, and I wait with anticipation as the tea steeps. I pour the tea and the slanting light makes it all so lovely. The tea seems to shine with its own life. All of a sudden I think: tea is dead leaves wet in water. The difference between leaves is in my experience of each. And if I see God in the tea, he is in the sidewalk leaves as well.

dead leaves
reborn
in a tea glass

— Brad Offutt

Radiant Creation – One Spirit

The older I get, the more I like rose hips. I like their warm color. I like their spiky crowns. I like their generous curves. And I like the way they reveal themselves as the leaves fall, and hold on through winter.

There is no creating that does not have radiance.
Be it greenness or seed, blossom or beauty,
it could not be creation without it.
— Hildegard of Bingen, 12th Century mystic and Benedictine Abbess

We were all made to drink of One Spirit.
The body does not consist of one member but of many.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
There are many members, yet one body.
God has so arranged the body that the members may have the same care for one another.
We were all made to drink of One Spirit.
— excerpted and adapted from
1 Corinthians 12

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Roots and Blooms

Hello haiku friends,

This is a departure from the regular postings on this page. I wanted to let you all know of a great haiku experience I had over this past weekend.

I attended the annual Seabeck Haiku Getaway in Seabeck, Washington, at a beautiful little old conference center right across the street from the beach and mountain views. The getaway is organized by Haiku Northwest, and the schedule was packed with readings, workshops, and panels. It was amazing! [Read more…]

Listening to Autumn

Autumn is slipping through summer’s branches
     and I am listening.
I am listening to the dying
     flowing forth from autumn’s being.
I am listening to the life
     hidden in the dying.

— excerpted from the poem “Listening to Autumn” by Macrina Wiederkehr


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Drink Your Tea Slowly

Small Cup

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.
–  Thich Nhat Hahn

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Stay Close to Those Sounds

The Open Door

excerpt from “Stay Close to Those Sounds”

The sun turns a key in a lock each day
As soon as it crawls out of bed.

Light swings open a door
And the many kinds of love rush out
Onto the infinite green field.

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Every Particle of the World is a Mirror

EVERY PARTICLE OF THE WORLD IS A MIRROR

Every particle of the world is a mirror;
In each atom lies the blazing light
of a thousand suns.
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Dust of Snow

Two Snowflakes

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

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We shape clay

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

— tao te ching: A New English Translation, Stephen Mitchell (trans), Harper & Row, 1988. Read complete passage with haiku responses

Milking Prayer

Milking Prayer

Bless, O God, my little cow,
Bless, O God, my desire;
Bless Thou my partnership
And the milking of my hands, O God.

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The Guest House

The Open Door

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

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Like a Child

Psalm 131: 1-3


O LORD, I am not proud;
I have no haughty looks.

I do not occupy myself with great matters,
or with things that are too hard for me.

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Help from Sophia

Psalm 3

“Help from Sophia”

O Wisdom, how many are my doubts!
My cynical thoughts disturb me,
saying “There is no hope for the world.”

But you, Sophia, are a shield against despair.
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Like the Vine I Bud Forth Delights

From Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 24

I came forth from the mouth of the Most High,
and covered the earth like a mist….

Like cassia and camel’s thorn I gave forth perfume,
and like choice myrrh I spread my fragrance,
like galbanum, onycha, and stacte,
and like the odor of incense in the tent.
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Treasures in Heaven

from Matthew 6

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust consume
and where thieves break in and steal;
but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
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Called from the Womb

from Isaiah 49

Listen to me, O coastlands,
pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The LORD called me before I was born,
while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.

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“For Waters Shall Break Forth in the Wilderness”

from Isaiah 35

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.

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