Shamrock No 34 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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IHS International Haiku Competition 2016 announced!

The Irish Haiku Society International Haiku Competition 2016 offers prizes of Euro 150, Euro 50 and Euro 30 for unpublished haiku/senryu in English. In addition there will be up to seven Highly Commended haiku/senryu.

Details and previous winners here:

All the entries shall be postmarked / e-mailed by 30th November 2016.

Good luck to all!

through the railings
of Trinity College
a whiff of wild garlic

weeping ash –
on twig ends
beads of light

Easter morning
a dog goes on barking
at the echo of himself

cloud break –
the oak in a drift of stars

day's end –
ewe and lamb dragging
their own shadow

April evening –
everywhere settling
the no-sound of snow

-- Hugh O'Donnell (Ireland)

low winter sun
the blindness
of my shadow

out of the morning mist
a mountain arrives
after the mail man

empty harbour
i walk through the uneasiness
of gulls

winter moon a pale tide through my window

evening mist
a swan drifts towards

coastal storm
a wave breaks
over the moon

-- Eamonn T. O'Neill (Ireland)

wind sings a lullaby
to a baby frog

submerged village
the only visitor

between darkness and light a paper aeroplane

father's ship barometer –
the weather
many storms ago

old goat
climbing into a greater

New Year's Day
the bookshelf Buddha
weaves sunbeams

-- Anatoly Kudryavitsky (Ireland)

walled garden
the cat drops into a pool
of shade

camping site
the sun sinking
into pine branches

plum blossom
churning in the breeze
a lark's song

sandstone gorge
the cliff-face burnished
in sunshine

winter dawn
the filigree of branches
framing pale sky

-- Gavin Austin (Australia)

waking up tipsy
cherry blossoms
in the mist

a rat snake
lying by the kerb –
its persistent grin

dawn on the lake
the distress signals
of a moth

shallow pond
a turtle following
in another's footsteps

-- Ian Willey (USA – Japan)

park bench
the passing shadows
of birds

after the funeral
the world through
grandpa's glasses

evening light
through the window
into the chardonnay

-- Ben Moeller-Gaa (USA)

spring morning calm
a pinwheel spun
by rain

waterslide a beetle in magnolia rain

sap bucket
the spider abandons
a half-finished orb

-- Bill Cooper (USA)

summer dawn –
an empty chrysalis rustles
in the wind

cloudy morning –
the half-closed eyes
of a screech owl

long drought –
a drop of nectar clings
to the hummingbird's beak

-- Theresa A. Cancro (USA)

winter dawn
from all things grey
color's warmth

wet path
in my shadow
spring fragrance

-- Martin Gottlieb Cohen (USA)

mountain path
meeting the snail

the acorn's long

-- Mark E. Brager (USA)

yellow moon
a spotted salamander
revels in log rot

cactus thorns
a black snake unknots
its shadow

-- Anna Cates (USA)

midnight marsh
a night heron wades
into the moon

six year drought –
the creek overflows
with emptiness

-- Kevin Valentine (USA)

childhood fields
a bobwhite calling
across the years

boardwalk rain
footprints collecting
under an awning

-- Rick Tarquinio (USA)

also with us
on the mountain
a snail

spring light –
threading the river,
a loon's wail

-- Louisa Howerow (Canada)

frosted dawn
crows spill across
the horizon

shining wind the halt and sway of evergreens

-- Debbie Strange (Canada)

old battlefield
the widespread silence
of molehills

in moonlight swimming
in the lagoon

-- Jan Dobb (Australia)

winter morning
the white rabbit
vanishes into the snow

the art of dying

-- Christina Sng (Singapore)

deep river bend...
the fisherman casts
into a cloud

stir of breezes...
a spider's thread
arcs in the light

-- Paul Chambers (Wales)

Saturday a.m.
worm workout
on the topsoil

young blackbird
shifting around
sewing wild oats

-- Noel King (Ireland)

a butterfly's wing
dips into sunset

-- David Kelly (Ireland)

the whisper
of a butterfly's wings

-- Rachel Sutcliffe (England)

my breakfast table
maple syrup sweet-talks
the blueberry pancake

-- Ayaz Daryl Nielsen (USA)

the passing shadow
of an owl

-- Aron Rothstein (USA)

train whistle...
last feather of the last
passenger pigeon

-- Cyndi Lloyd (USA)


-- Bob Carlton (USA)

dune she-oaks
mixing sea
and sky

-- Duncan Richardson (Australia)

the prettiness of
her name grows

-- Anne Curran (New Zealand)

summer rain
the sound shaped
like my tent

-- Bouwe Brouwer (the Netherlands)

insomnia –
the skipping stone
skips forever

-- Rajandeep Garg (India)

morning dew –
rose bush

-- Padmini Krishnan (Singapore)

autumn leaf
falls into lake water
the whole tree shaken

since we've split up
the hallway mirror preserves
the steam of your breath

-- Nicolae Dabija (Moldova; translated from Romanian by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

Wife and Cat

by Al Ortolani (USA)

There are no curves like the curves of my wife, standing before the mirror on a Friday morning, brushing out her yellow hair. The cat sits on the sink, cool water running from the faucet. He laps at it before it swirls down the drain, quenching his night's thirst. I rest my hand on the flat of her stomach. I know everything about her. Still, I know nothing but what she lets me see. The cat drops to the carpet, curls on a pile of laundry.

waking to her footsteps,
frost blossoms
melt in morning sun

Let Silence Speak
by Sean O'Connor

A Haiku and haibun Collection
Alba Publishing, P.O. Box 266, Uxbridge,
UB9 5NX, England, 2013
90 pp, ISBN 978-1-910185-30-8

Available from

Priced at Euro 12/USD 14/BP 9.

This is one of the better collections brought out by Alba Publishing that should be commended for their continuous interest in Irish haiku. It introduces to us a haijin who probably doesn't need an introduction, as he has been around for years. Between 1998 and 2000 Sean O'Connor co-edited Haiku Spirit magazine (with James Norton). His haiku appeared there, in Blithe Spirit and in Shamrock, as well as in The New Haiku, Zen Poems and Bamboo Dreams anthologies. He has published a joint collection of haiku, Pilgrim Foxes (2001), with Jim Norton and Ken Jones. This is his first solo collection that brings together 134 of his haiku and three haibun, with an introduction by James Norton.

The material is presented in small sections, with haiku interspersed with haibun; some have a geographical topic, e.g. Pennsylvania, New York, Bucharest, Japan, Dublin, Rural Ireland, the Burren; some others have titles like People, Earthquakes, the Edge, Zen. One of the sections has to do with Sean O'Connor's profession, as he used to work as a psychiatric nurse – and also to play Irish music, the latter is the path he is following these days.

There is plenty to love in this book: Sean O'Connor's best haiku are pleasure to read and reflect on.

in this late night
a fallen silver beech
almost azure

A well-travelled Dubliner who still resides in Ireland (how many of those would you find only fifty years ago?), he gives us his account of what he has seen or experienced in various countries. E.g. in Japan:

cold morning
the bamboo grove

or in Romania:

a cat sniffs
a bullet hole

or in Ireland:

Bull Island fog
hearing the fog horn's

His observations are always concise and refined.

white plum tree
its blossoms
touching stars

Sean O'Connor has a particular liking for nature and a keen eye for its peculiarities, which every haiku practitioner never fails to record, sometimes in his mind, and collect.

mountain thunder
a thousand cicadas

The poet is equally masterful when he writes senryu:

her dementia…
every day she meets me
for the first time

Of his haibun, the best is the one called Mary; it takes the reader through the whole range of emotions that come with another person's dying. The only minor fault with this nearly perfect piece is that two words, 'breath' and 'lamb', are present in both the prosaic part and haiku, which shouldn't be the case.

Another haibun titled Bow has been written in memoriam and is homage to the late and sadly missed Welsh haiku poet Ken Jones. Yet another one, A Huge Firework, is a long memoir-like piece, a melancholic story interspersed with haiku. I've seen plenty of long haibun, some of them convincing, like this one, some others less so. The question is, how long should be a perfect haibun? Of course, this is debatable, and I don't know the answer to that. I wonder if anybody does... 

Of course, a haibun still has to be poetic prose mixed with haiku, and Sean O'Connor delivers exactly that. Some other writers' recent attempts to insert haiku in pieces written like newspaper articles and pass them for haibun are utterly regrettable: take poetry out of haibun – and it ceases to be a haibun.

This collection comes highly recommended and will be a welcome addition to anyone's haiku library.

Anatoly Kudryavitsky

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