Shamrock No 38 Haiku from Ireland and
the rest of the world

An international online journal that publishes quality haiku, senryu and haibun in English

(not for submissions)

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IHS International Haiku Competition 2017 announced!

The Irish Haiku Society International Haiku Competition 2017 offers prizes of Euro 150, Euro 50 and Euro 30 for unpublished haiku/senryu in English.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 2017.

Good luck to all!

World Children's Haiku Contest 2017-2018

A call for Irish entries for the World Children's Haiku Contest 2017/2018 (one three-line haiku + an artwork per child from the island of Ireland who is under 15 years of age on 15th January 2018) organised by JAL Foundation (Japan) in co-operation with the Irish Haiku Society. The winning haiku will be published in the anthology "Haiku by World Children".

The Ireland Section: rules, the entry form and more information can be found on the Irish Haiku Society website:

All the entries shall be postmarked by 15th January 2018.

Shamrock Haiku Journal Readers' Choice Awards 

We invite all the readers of Shamrock Haiku Journal to vote for the best haiku/senryu poem published in 2017, i.e. in the issues THIRTY-SIX to THIRTY-EIGHT (you cannot vote for your own poem, though). 

To vote, send an e-mail to irishhaikusociety[at] with "Best haiku of 2017" or "Best senryu of 2017" in the subject line. Please insert the full text of the poem you vote for (only ONE poem in each category) plus the name of its author in the body of your e-mail. The deadline for vote is 28th February, 2018. The best poems will be named in the next issue of Shamrock Haiku Journal.

honeysuckle the scent of summer passing

drizzle-wet trees
a nettle leaf flicks
within the stillness

closer to dusk
the herb-robert
one petal less

back in the shallows
of a bog pool
golden birch leaves

from autumn's debris
the clarity
of a robin's song

-- Thomas Powell (Northern Ireland)

waterlily lake
a dragonfly
at each dazzle point

surface tension –
a tangle of sea snakes

quickening pulse –
a swarm of butterflies
in the buddleia

-- Lorin Ford (Australia)

evening chill
the glimmer of foam
on moon-lit sand

rust-colored clouds
wood smoke hangs heavy
over russet fields

marsh hollow
the skeletal stubs
of blackened birches

-- Jay Friedenberg (USA)

old wound
peonies droop
from the weight of rain

sand fiddlers
the lengthening arc
of the sun

blood moon
the subtle scent
of citronella

-- Jennifer Hambrick (USA)

midday sun
the passing shadows
of egrets

evening calm
the heron and I
still in the breeze

-- Ben Moeller-Gaa (USA)

his little hat
of snow

spring snow –
taking the soup bowl
with both hands

-- Bryan Rickert (USA)

keening gull
the sea's song trapped
inside a shell

currawong calls
in the fig
gathering darkness

-- Gavin Austin (Australia)

hard frost overnight
the bare maple
in its yellow pool

after the wedding
legs of the gazebo

-- Paul Bregazzi (Ireland)

winter hills –
clinging to craggy rocks
an ice fall

-- Adelaide Shaw (USA)

prairie sky –
the sudden spray
from a peeled mandarin

-- Michael Dylan Welch (USA)

washed out pier –
a pelican perched
on every pylon

-- Melissa Watkins Starr (USA)

Navajo loom
a bat weaves
dusk into night

-- Frank Hooven (USA)

rising sun
a hawk races its shadow
across the lake

-- Greg Schwartz (USA)

no leaves
to hide its nakedness
winter moon

-- Dottie Piet (USA)

wisps of fog
in the valley
swans in flight

-- Joanna M. Weston (Canada)

limestone cliffs
eroding to powder
a scent of the sea

-- John Hawkhead (England)

hushing a rock
to sleep

-- Sharon Verrall (Ireland)

late spring –
beneath the rainbow
a scarecrow aflutter

-- Tim Murphy (Ireland/Spain)

summer eve
the warmth of
grandpa's garden bench

-- Christof Blumentrath (Germany)

autumn painting –
the quenched cry
of sleeping flowers

the sky's
blue blood –
the stars bloom in it

acacia bursts
into blossom –
roaring buds

-- Florentin Smaradache (Romania; translated from Romanian by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

All that Remains

by Derek Ross (Scotland)

Once, six thousand people lived here, but now Kayakoy, an abandoned hillside town in South West Turkey, is in ruins. The town's ethnic Greek population were forcibly removed to mainland Greece as a result of the Greco-Turkish War of 1920-21. Yet, the houses are intact enough to give an insight into the lives that were played out here. Many still have a trace of their internal colour, the odd carved icon clings to a chimney breast, here and there the fallen walls of gardens.
     I'm drawn to a house that has the remains of a doorway and door. There is no one else around, so I ignore the "Keep to the Path" signs. I only take a few careful steps inside. Rubble is everywhere, the roof has long gone but most of the walls still stand. A pigeon flees through a gaping window and startles me. I begin to feel uneasy, as if I am intruding somehow.       
     Walking back to the bus stop, I remember reading that the Turks of neighbouring villages petitioned Ankara to let their friends stay, but to no avail. As I walk on, I can hear the chatter of gossip, the laughter of children, the clatter of donkeys hooves on narrow streets.

        setting sun
        long shadows drift
        over worn cobbles

The Unattached

by Anna Cates (USA)

        a leaf of grass
        in bondage to the wind –

Ask a linguist or Jain, literary critic or philosopher, to solve the puzzle of this heterodoxy.  Speech cannot describe reality without contradiction.  Qualified speech is corollary to the doctrine of maybe.  Syad-vada. 

X is infinite denies impermanence.  Maybe x is infinite is more correct, acknowledges other possibilities:  Maybe no, maybe yes, maybe both.

Souls suffer limitation, expansion, contraction, transmigration – are classified into five categories:
Touch:  Sunlight opens the tea leaf.
Taste:  Blood seduces the flea.
Smell:  Wildflowers draw the bee.
Sight:  My fluffy cat delights me.
Sound:  Its purring soothes me.

Yes, no, or maybe ... 

Chill, man!

by Ignatius Fay (Canada)

What is it with registration and outpatient waiting rooms? They always seem to be eight or ten degrees cooler than the rest of the hospital. Do veins stand out more clearly, making the drawing of blood easier, if the patient is a little chilly? And I have no problem supplying a urine sample. No matter how little I have to drink nor how recently I've gone to the toilet, ten minutes in those waiting rooms and I have to pee. Going to hospital is already a psychologically uncomfortable experience. Do they really have to make the discomfort physical?

        August fog
        avoiding eye contact
        with other patients


by Adjei Agyei-Baah

A Haiku Collection

Red Moon Press, P.0. Box 2461, 

Winchester, VA 22604-1661 USA, 2016

104 pp, ISBN 978-1-936848-68-3

Available from

Priced at USD 15.

Haiku in English: how might we understand the power of this poetic genre? As a nature poetics, a brief epithet, a modestly imagistic dash of color? Certainly, over the last several decades there have been numerous attempts to both define and restrict this form in such ways, with often mediocre creative consequences. So it is with delight that
a new voice in haiku emerges: Adjei Agyei-Baah, hailing from Ghana and a leader in the growing haiku movement of Afriku, enriches our world in demonstrating an accomplished sense of this brief poetic form. With breathtaking range of concept and topic, Adjei presents a breadth of new possibilities for haiku in this new century, doing so with a clarity and apparent ease which belies the depth of meaning and feeling – and social consciousness – he powerfully evokes.

These works reveal a poet's passion for his world and culture, without compromise. For example, in:

drought –
the farmer digs
into his breath

A complex and powerfully kinesthetic scene arises – of a man, yet also a family; a family yet a country as well; a country yet too a climate. A lineage of work and living, yet also a question of its end: struggle and fear for the future – concerns the reader achingly feels.

Often, animal, human and natural forms relate intimately in a fluid and organic sociality which belies the term "personification," or anthropomorphic fallacy:

leafless tree
lifting a cup of nest
to the sky

We feel again the horror of drought, personified through both the image and literal reality of the dying denuded tree, beseeching the empty heavens as if in supplication or prayer, and behind this, the poet too, finding a way to speak both for humanity and the environment.

Adjei's impressive range of style is shown in haiku such as the following pair, which reveal both a sensitive heart and impressive turns of phrase:

plastic flowers –
your long gone fragrance
I nurse in pretense

night river
bringing him closer
boy on the moon

A sense of surrealism or magical realism here blends with remembrance, and nonchalance with loss and rediscovery, possessing a lightness of tone that belies the gravitas of each subject.

Haiku, we now know, has an appeal that is now burgeoning throughout the world, and being widely shared through the medium of English. If the reader wonders at this mysterious power of the haiku form, Adjei's work certainly provides an answer, as he weaves together what is most personal and local, in his life, home and culture, with a humanity of spirit that is truly universal.


Richard Gilbert
Kumamoto University, Japan

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