New | Poetry | Five Tanka, One Sequence, One Haiku and A Short Note on the Art of Writing Haiku | Dr. Randy Brooks

Buddha the Winner, Nicholas Roerich, Wikimedia Commons

all the way

to the heart

of this labyrinth

my companion

a sweat bee



chill wind

through the ribs

of Picasso’s horse

my faith

she will show up


 drying off

after my shower

the old chihuahua

gets a few

licks in



grandpa’s cactus

re-rooted after rolling

down the hill

it only looks




heaven on earth

she rubs

both shoulders

smoothing my wings

back down


little Buddha stinks

his turn to change

the diaper


my wife’s swollen

pregnant breasts

so Buddhaful


a laughing Buddha?

her track team friends

like me

a couple of Buddhas

cross-legged in the woods

a girl with child


soft peach

a little Buddha worm

at home inside


a Buddha

emerges from the deep

and spouts off


baby Buddha

asleep at last

curled up on my lap


patio dance

he rests in the daffodils

a stone Buddha


the Buddha sings

ku-ku  ka-chu

I am the walrus



all the kids asleep 

Buddha in the top bunk


seven pentacles . . .


the perfect wave


The Transactional Gift of Haiku: The Collaborative Art of Being Alive


As a writer, editor, scholar and publisher of haiku since 1976, I have been an active member of the haiku community for several decades. Throughout these years, I have never ceased to be amazed by the blessings of this literary tradition.


First, and foremost, there is the gift each haiku offers if you give it a full imagined reading—if you let yourself enter into its space of perceptions—if you are open to its insight and feel the emotional significance of its moment—if you let it touch your own life, memories and associations—if you let it come alive and if you let yourself come alive while holding it in your heart and mind for a moment.


spring breeze—

the pull of her hand

as we near the pet store


Michael Dylan Welch, The Haiku Anthology, 270


Second, as you read more haiku and improve at the art of reading haiku, you become more aware of your inner and outer surroundings. You start noticing feelings and things that you missed before. You stop to fully feel and perceive the moments you are living. You also notice the difference one word makes and the importance of the things unsaid in the silent pause common within most haiku.


The sun coming up

five eggs

in the iron skillet


- James Tipton


As some of my students say, when you immerse yourself in this tradition, you get your “haiku eyes” and begin seeing and feeling things you missed before. You become more fully aware of the value of being alive, and, being a human, you get the urge to record those moments of perception and insight as new haiku.


Third, the haiku tradition is very social—it is inevitable that when a haiku touches us, we want to share our response with others, and when we write a haiku, a moment of significant perception, we are eager to offer the gift of that haiku to others for their enjoyment and response. When groups of people share their lives and insights through this way, they are drawn together into a community that values the art of reading and writing haiku.


Graduation day—

my son & I side by side

knotting our ties


Lee Gurga, Fresh Scent, 110


Although students who study the art of reading and writing haiku will learn to be more concise, and they will learn about the power of images in their writing, the main value of haiku is learning that all art, including literary art, is a transactional, co-creator process. The writer starts something that the readers finish. The question is NOT what is haiku? The question is what haiku does for the readers and how we can play with the haiku tradition as writers. The question is how this art engages writers and readers into a collaboration of finding significance in our art and even more so, in our lives.


One of the Japanese traditions I have adopted for teaching haiku is the distinction between editing workshops versus the celebratory enjoyment of discovering excellent new works to be admired. The Japanese usually have small groups of haiku friends who engage in editing sessions with each other, but when there are more public, social gatherings, they engage in kukai. In traditional kukai, original haiku are submitted to the organizer who selects the best attempts for inclusion in the competition. These are placed on a page with no names, then read and enjoyed by everyone at the gathering. Each person selects a few favorites. Favorite haiku are noted and read out loud, then everyone can talk about what they love about that haiku. Kukai is not an editing session, so edit suggestions or comments about why someone does not like a haiku are not allowed. The point of kukai is to find haiku that are loved. The Japanese say that when the haiku finds a reader who loves it, that is the moment it is born. And after everyone has talked about why they like that haiku, a vote is taken to determine how many chose that haiku as a favorite. After the haiku is born, and only then, do we ask who wrote the haiku. When the newborn haiku is claimed by its author, there is applause (or snapping of fingers or tapping of pencils) to thank the writer for their gift. Then the group looks for another haiku waiting to be born. Authors of favorite haiku with the most votes receive awards of haiku books or magazines. Through kukai, you can experience the social nature of haiku.


The significance or meaning exists not within the poem, but within those who take it to heart and imagine it and connect it to their own memories, associations, and feelings of being alive.



Dr. Randy Brooks is Professor of English Emeritus at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, where he teaches courses on haiku and Japanese poetics. He and his wife, Shirley Brooks, are publishers of Brooks Books and co-editors of Mayfly haiku magazine. His most recent books include Walking the Fence: Selected Tanka and The Art of Reading and Writing Haiku: A Reader Response Approach.

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