Shamrock No 36 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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Shamrock Haiku Journal Readers' Choice Awards 2016


Ten haiku have been nominated as the best of the year by our readers and contributors. The following pieces that appeared in our No. 35 was voted the best haiku published in Shamrock Haiku Journal in 2015: 

after the fighter
a goldfinch recaptures
the sky

-- Brad Bennett (USA)

The following haiku were the runners-up (in alphabetical order): 

old goat
climbing into a greater

-- Anatoly Kudryavitsky (Ireland) # 34

that moment between
dead brown leaf
and butterfly

-- Earl Livings (Australia) #35


Seven senryu have been nominated as the best of the year by our readers and contributors. The following piece that was initially published in our No. 35 became the winner in the best senryu category:

farmers' market
the honey vendor
swats a bee

-- Ann Magyar (USA)

And the runners-up were the following pieces (in alphabetical order): 

drought –
the farmer's frown
and that of a pumpkin

-- Adjei Agyei-Baah (Ghana)

insomnia –
the skipping stone
skips forever

-- Rajandeep Garg (India)
# 34

We congratulate the worthy winners, and express our sincere gratitude to each and every reader who cast a vote.

Irish Haiku Society International Haiku Competition 2016

The prize-winning haiku from this competition are available for viewing here:

There are excellent poems aplenty on that page; check them out!

haloed moon
the tyre-swing hanging
from a gum branch

morning drizzle
a wagtail shimmies
on the gatepost

night rain
thunder rolls from valley
to valley

summer sunset
the palomino mare's hide
of deepening gold

-- Gavin Austin (Australia)

garden visit –
a nose-full
of evening primrose

sunset –
the cow's tail
conducting flies

fire exit –
fourteen steps
gathering leaves

snowdrop huddle –
beads of rain-light
on the weeping birch

-- Hugh O'Donnell (Ireland)

autumn chill
a rustle of leaves
in my chest

winter wind
the steadiness
of electric candles

-- Ben Moeller-Gaa (USA)

shallow footprints

a sudden head-thump
lesson from
the metal pole

-- Ayaz Daryl Nielsen (USA)

morning fog
jack-o-lanterns grin
from the compost pile

first snow
the steam
off homemade soup

-- Joshua Gage (USA)

afternoon lull –
a tiny blue butterfly
braids the sky

winter gust –
how a willow bends
the night

-- Theresa Cancro (USA)

beneath the high autumn sky
a field
of solar panels

on the wind
the yellow fragrance
of katsura

-- Beverly Acuff Momoi (USA)

not so cold
when you take my hand
the seaside cave

-- Michael Dylan Welch (USA)

tidal pool currents
the constant sway
of the sea anemone

-- Jay Friedenberg (USA)

hail storm
the incense
of muddled mint

-- Alanna C. Burke (USA)

snow-covered pines
a coydog's breath
fills the darkness

-- Anna Cates (USA)

mosquito netting
the swallows fledge
a second brood

-- Aron Rothstein (USA)

first snow
full moon floating
on a ghost tree

-- Jennifer Hambrick (USA)

midnight moth
the moons of Jupiter
mapped on her wings

-- Stuart Bartow (USA)

Yule tide
the glitter of candlelight
in a child's eye

-- Mike Flanagan (USA)

summer day
on the dead tomato plant
one small red tomato

-- David Oates (USA)

long winter –
the stray dog's shadow
grows thin

-- Bryan Rickert (USA)

webs of rain connect
the thistles

-- Debbie Strange (Canada)

nursery school
wheat seeds in cotton wool
starting to sprout

-- Jan Dobb (Australia)

balmy evening
fields of rapeseed
oozing oil

-- Teresa O'Neill (Ireland)

morning train
I invite a little girl
into my colouring book

-- Mercy Ikuri (Kenya)

daytime moon
a beggar's bowl
full of dreams

-- Rajandeep Garg (India)

Ryuta Iida



Ryuta Iida photograph

Ten years ago the haiku world lost one of its best poets, Ryuta Iida. Born in the Yamanashi Prefecture, he was the fourth son of the well-known haiku poet Iida Dakotsu who was, in his turn, a son and a grandson of prominent writers of haiku. Ryuta Iida’s brothers died in their childhood. He graduated from university in 1947, having conducted research into the works of Matsuo Basho. Since 1951 he worked at the library of Yamanashi prefecture in Kofu city and took an active part in the so-called Modern Haiku Movement. In 1954 he published his first collection of haiku and went on to publish many more. His father Dakotsu died in 1962, and Ryuta Iida, in his turn, became one of the best-known Japanese haijin. He edited the notable haiku magazine, Unmo. He will be sorely missed by all the lovers of haiku but his legacy – and his poems - will live.


flying over
the small village,
a solitary kite


a child returns
to watch his parents
winter ploughing


mothering …
Bengalese finch
and a sleeping flower


after the spring
of strange dreams
all the green onions pulled


after viewing
white plum blossoms
the sky the colour of red ones


man enters the house –
a build-up
of cool breeze


in the morning, spring breeze
in each corner of the house –
housewife's wisdom


no darkness as dark
as the Kana mountain's shadow
in late summer


hoarfrost –
a sparrow takes a fun walk
on the corrugated iron roof


at sunset
the rear of the Gokoku shrine
so restful


the sun sets into snow –
the letter read
and reread


vernal equinox –
my white towel
sinks into the bathtub


under the tranquil sky,
the scent of silkworms and mulberries
from every house


sending heat
to distant clouds...
blue saury fish


a pond-skater glides
across autumnal equinox


the infant head
of a red mushroom...
family graveyard


the shadow of a hoe –
its interplay with
the warm soil


from the gardens
of konnyaku potatoes
birds return to the evening sky


swallow's nest
in the rain-soaked birch –
its soft smell

一月の川 一月の谷の中

river of January
cutting through the valley
of January


starry moonlit night –
my algae-like
drifting mood

Translated from the Japanese by Anatoly Kudryavitsky

The translator wishes to gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the author and academic Sally Ito of Canada in the preparation of this haiku selection.


Coffee in Bucharest
by Derek Ross (Scotland)

Bucharest in the rain is a study in grey. A low leaden sky presses down on cracked, graffiti-smeared apartment blocks. The drains cannot deal with the deluge and the filthy street has become a river. Hunched figures scurry down the treacherous pavements, scarcely bothering to avoid the puddles.

Yet here I am, warm and comfortable, sitting in a new Belgian themed coffee shop. Another example of the contrasts that define Bucharest, that define Romania.

My "long" espresso arrives, it is perfect. As I sip, my eyes are drawn to the nearest window. A battered Dacia is struggling to pull out into the endless stream of traffic. A shiny black Audi patiently waits for the precious parking place. It is the contrast thing again.

The soup I also ordered arrives, it's cold, of course it is.

     sudden shower
     the city flowing down
     a dirty window

There Once Was a Time

by Adelaide B. Shaw (USA)

This is a time of joy, of pleasure in anticipation. The lights and sparkle, the fragrances and food. The snow and presents. This is a childhood Christmas.

December is the longest month in my impatient child mind. The days of Advent. Count them off – one, two, three ... days of diligently working on the embroidered pillow cases for Aunt Jo, the making of paper chains and snowflakes, of sponge painting plain tissue to use as gift wrap, of helping Mom bake cookies and fruitcake.

There are trips into town to view the decorated windows, visits to toy land and Santa. It doesn't matter that department store Santas are seldom plump and rolly-polly, but often thin and angular. We know they are stand-ins for the real Santa who is busy working in the North Pole. This is a time to accept, to believe and hope, a time to wish, to ignore the news of the dead and dying, of battles won and lost in Europe and in the Pacific, a time to not speak of Uncle Jim fighting somewhere in Italy, a time not to complain about shortages, about Dad working late, about Mom working the swing shift from four to eleven p.m.

     evening prayers
     I forget to put myself
     at the end

Small Shadows

by John Hawkhead

A Haiku and Senryu Collection

Alba Publishing, P.O. Box 266, Uxbridge,

UB9 5NX, England, 2016

106 pp, ISBN 978-1-910185-53-7

Available from

Priced at GBP 12, Euro 14, USD 15.

This collection of 102 haiku and senryu from English writer and illustrator John Hawkhead embraces an involvement with the forms over a 20-year period. This is not a writer in repose – the work here is keen-eyed, punchy and unafraid to tell life as it is. The sketch of a bird's skull on the cover (also by Hawkhead) suggests the shadows in question may relate to our mortality, and indeed, ageing and death are compelling tropes throughout. I particularly like the hauntingly moving

     an old gardener
     standing in Autumn wind
     one leaf in his hand

which deftly pulls into focus with the lightest of touches the double-edged sword of the diminishing strength and heightened wisdom of the elderly, while encouraging us to question, perhaps, the significance of the one among many. Excellent stuff. That upper case A on autumn is a slight niggle, though is a fleeting blip in a book otherwise pleasingly designed and typeset for maximum visual appeal. That bird's skull, for instance, is an arresting white-on-black, while the poems are delivered one per page. There are some interesting 'conversations' set up between work on facing pages, but there is a lack of sequential unity throughout, beginning and ending with old age, but with some jarring shifts of focus in between – more thought here might have added a greater sense of cohesion to the book as a whole.

Small Shadows isn't all about decline. There are, in particular, some exquisitely sensual moments – the crossing of thighs, 'the curve of her spine' – but there's the feeling that all is seen with an awareness of the abutment of life and death. This comes no closer than in

     deathshead hawkmoth
     in a museum cabinet –
     my breath on the glass

Here, we have a good example of Hawkhead's knack of encapsulating a whole scene in a few, brief brushstrokes, not to mention how his final lines have a robust, enduring kick – and how he modifies the form (the collection begins, radically, with a bonsai-shaped poem spiralled over eight lines, and there are some two-liners and other variations). That clever play on his own name, meanwhile, flags up Hawkhead's sharp wit; used playfully against himself, his wry humour delivers a laugh with some of those third-line surprises, as in this senryu:

     forty five today
     special treat in the bedroom
     second cup of tea

That lovely sense of contemporary domesticity reflects a comfortable use of today's linguistic currency – we encounter radiotherapy, Alzheimer's, plastic grass, 'hookers' calling cards' – but we are also anchored in timelessness by the reassuringly enduring moon, clouds, snowflakes, and some exquisitely observed animal kingdom vignettes, including my favourites, caterpillars 'climbing thin air', and gnats 'skywriting ampersands'.

In each of these evocative haiku and senryu, we enter moments of life richly lived and sharply observed. Life does, of course, have its small shadows – shadows that will inevitably grow longer, or into which we might, as 'mother' does in the final poem, 'settle down' and perhaps fail to rise again. But in the meantime, we can relish what we have: here is a lesson in not only making every word count, but also every second. It's not surprising that many of Hawkhead's haiku have won awards: they unfailingly ring true.

Dawn Gorman

Dawn Gorman is a poet and arts event facilitator
from Somerset, England

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