New Zealand

  • Svetlana Marisova

    Let There Be


    Yes I do not know who I am sleeping and my breathing in and out with sand flowing from my fingers and toes into the air like the incense I like the smell of after benediction and the footsteps that take me into the ocean that absorbs all sound when my feet find the wet sand sinking through my toes with the pull of the sea not cold but the coolness of this vastness rippling around my thighs lapping against my maidenhead and goosebumps expecting what revelation will come with this breath sounds somewhere in and around me oh yes
    Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
    after dark -
    the glossolalia
    of the sea
    yes I am the Samaritan lady at the well with the middle eastern sun and sand the man asks me to draw water for him his eyes not undressing me like men do since I began to shape into a woman but he yes he sees me and asks me yes for water yet he asks me to see who he is that I if I ask he will give me living water and I am not just a sinner but a creature in a desert thirsting and this man is offering me water that will never stop like a spring welling up like this quickening that loosens in me yes
    Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
    autumn night
    unfolding before my eyes
    from nothing
    but God is silent existing only in an unapproachable light on the other side of all that is outside of the vastness of space and the billion upon billions of years of time when change first began the way my heart burns within me and the quickening I feel like it must feel to have a baby growing inside my womb if I put frangipani flowers in my hair or jasmine like the other girls and wear a pretty yes and welcome his kiss in a shady grove and I am wanting him more than any other and then I ask him with my eyes to find me and yes he would seek and yes I would
    Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
    frogpond -
    the forgotten silence
    of tadpoles
    closer to me than I am myself filling my innermost self knowing my weaknesses and aches in ways that are too big for me to grasp for when I think I know it flits by yes he is in all I know from the light of stars long long gone to the edge of swelling space from the seed of my birth to the void of my death in every fold of my body every beat of my heart every stirring of my mind and yes again parting the petals of my lips and yes my light my arms around and yes drawing him down to my breasts all yielding yes
    Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
    in the wind
    what might have been...
    sleepless moon
    yes the emptiness not even lightning can illuminate parts for me and I hear breathing as of some long forgotten coupling while a dark wind broods with warm breast and with yes bright wings
    first light...
    for a moment all colour
    is this
  • Adjei Agyei-Baah

    borrowed book
    I bring Bashō
    to my garden

  • Adjei Agyei-Baah

    my son asks
    if heaven could catch fire

    Frogpond #42.2 - 2019

  • Andre Surridge

    at the gates
    of a Russian orphanage
    the little girl says
    if you take me home I'll sing
    and dance for you forever

    cold winds
    rip bright blossom
    from the cherry...
    she hasn't left yet,
    the winter witch

    each one
    on a different leaf
    we count
    five tiny white eggs
    on the swan plant


  • Andre Surridge

    the doctor takes my pulse
    can she feel
    the steady beat
    of tanka in my blood

    so often
    I fall into the trap
    of generalising...
    the digits on this hand
    each one different

  • Featured Haiku Poet: Svetlana Marisova

    by Robert D. Wilson

    It’s my practice to feature five of a given poet’s haiku in the haiku section of Simply Haiku, in order for you to get a feeling of a poet’s style and vision. Displaying one or two of a poet’s haiku in a journal is standard procedure, yet it robs the reader from being able to get a handle on and to learn from the poet. Writing haiku is not a hobby, it’s a path to be taken seriously. When I read the haiku in online publications, most are weak, not memorable, and say little.

    It amazes me that some of the same haiku poets, after only one year of off and on again practice, feel they are ready to self-publish a book of haiku. Either they are savants or have been led to think they are top poets deserving of a broader fan base. Haiku is not mastered in a few short months, let alone a year or two or three. Imagine a person taking beginning painting lessons and feeling he or she is good enough to have a show of their own, and while preparing for the show, sending out photographs of their paintings to various galleries to be considered for future showings; or a teenager who takes weekly guitar lessons for a year and sends recordings to music companies feeling he is ready to become a recording star.

    Art is the product of hard work, practice, study, and the paying of one’s dues. Serious literary journals are not a showcase for amateurs. When they become one, they lose their relevance, and become another run-of-the-mill publication under the heading: Seen one, seen all . . . Perhaps this is why most publications feature only one or two of a poet’s haiku.

    I will not sacrifice quality for quantity. Speaking of which, Svetlana Marisova, Simply Haiku’s new Tanka Editor and Webmaster, is a haiku poet worthy of broader attention. She takes her art seriously, reading, studying, writing, editing, re-writing, hungry to grow as a poet, and never satisfied with her finished poems. She’s not a member of the herd, following the leader, mesmerized by the Pied Piper’s off key flute. Hers is a fresh voice, one refreshingly in tune with the zoka. Once again she submitted several haiku. With few exceptions, most were worthy to be showcased. After discussing this with Sasa Vazic, my fellow co-owner and co-managing editor, we decided to make an exception regarding our five haiku per showcase rule, and showcase Marisova’s haiku.

    Read Svetlana Marisova’s haiku. Her haiku is a vivid example of the quality of haiku Simply Haiku publishes.

    floating downstream -                4 syllables (short)
    the burden of my shadow          7 syllables (long)
    on a mayfly                                4 syllables (short)

    floating:                                     an action verb
    downstream:                            an involuntary movement and descriptive modifier; the product of the zoka
    the burden:                              a descriptive modifier
    of my shadow:                         shadows aren’t objects.They are brushstrokes painted by the zoka.

    Marisova’s short poem is an activity (process)-biased haiku, in line with Basho’s teachings. It’s not object-biased, or subjective. Marisova makes good use of yugen, hinting at and suggesting, versus "telling all." Likewise, the poet uses ma (dreaming room). These two aesthetic styles play an important role in bringing to surface the unsaid. It is the un-said’s dance with the said combined with a haiku to make room for multiple interpretations. Marisova makes excellent use of the Japanese styles (aesthetic tools) that transforms haiku into a medium that says much with little, with its ability to suggest, hint at, coupled with a proper understanding of kigo.

    Wrote the artist (1617-1691) Tosa Mituoki in regards to painting, which applies to haiku as well:

    “Do not fill up the whole picture with lines; also apply colors with a light touch. Some imperfection in design is desirable. You should not fill in more than a third of the background. Just as you would if you were writing poetry, take care to hold something back. The viewer, too, must bring something into it. If one includes some empty space along with an image, then the mind will fill it in.”

    Look carefully at Marisova’s haiku. She doesn’t tell all, encouraging readers to interpret her haiku, to explore the correlation between her words and the Dao (path).

    swan song...
    the limb-loosening rush
    of dark feathers

    swan song: a swan is a living object but, in the context Marisova uses the word. It’s not a noun but a descriptive modifier for the word “song.” Knowing the source of the song is pertinent to the rest of her haiku, as every bird has distinct behavioral patterns, flight patterns, and songs.

    the limb-loosening rush: rush is a verb indicating speed. The two words prior “limb–loosening" serve as descriptive modifiers to give breath and definition to “rush.”

    of dark feathers: dark appears to be a metaphor for night or an actual predator with dark feathers (nouns).

    Marisova’s use of juxtaposition is creative, and well thought out, leaving readers with a mystery to interpret according to their own experiential-based cultural memory, education, parental upbringing, etc. Why the rush? Is this a white swan attacked by a black-feathered predator? Is the swan a rare black swan, and if so, what is the cause of her rush? Her use of  “swan song” to begin the haiku adds further depth to the haiku. Although a “swan song” is usually associated with poetic serenity, an effective juxtaposition will place opposites together in order to stimulate thought that can form an entirely different picture.

    Only a properly written haiku using aesthetic tools can express so much with so little. Svetlana Marisova puts these tools to good use. The zoka, nature’s creative power, sculpts everything that isn’t human-made. It’s unpredictable, never static, capable of an infinite number of variables.

    It’s your turn now. Read each haiku once. Then re-read each one a second time. What does each haiku tell you? Remember, your job isn’t to figure out what Marisova’s interpretation is. You interpret it, finish her haiku with your interpretations. By doing so, each haiku becomes a living poem, without a beginning or an end, transcending the obvious, reaching deep into your synaptic endzone.

    falling leaf,
    do you forget
    your roots?

    first light...
    for a moment all colour
    is this

    silent dance...
    the distance between,
    pulsing in time

    autumn rain -
    the colour of birdsong

    again my dreams

    pearl diving...
    haiku and tumours
    from the depths

    in the wind
    what might have been...
    sleepless moon

    the universe
    suddenly personal...
    newborn child

  • Featured Poet - Svetlana Marisova

    With commentary by Robert D. Wilson

    Who is Svetlana Marisova?  Up until six months ago, I’d never heard of her. A young woman of Russian heritage who moved to New Zealand in her early teens, she was introduced to me via my co-owner, Sasa Vazic. She took a liking to Simply Haiku and volunteered to serve as webmaster and to donate webspace with Ted van Zutpen. That, of course, was a Godsend. The other day she submitted some haiku for consideration in this issue, and needless to say, I was both stunned and speechless. I am well known for my stance on haiku and am very selective as to what we publish. Most haiku published today deviates from the model indigenous to the genre Japan gave the world. The S/L/S metric schemata, kigo, and the use of Japanese aesthetics as tools are being replaced with an uneven, ever-changing conceptualization of short form poetry that Professor Harao Shirane from Columbia University calls "haiku-like poetry" that in many ways is Imagistic, and what Mr. Kai Hasegawa, a well-known critic and haiku sensei in Japan, calls “junk poetry.”

    Marisova’s poetry is proof that poets can write quality English-language poetry without bastardizing the genre. Her poetry is far above most of what I read today in most online and printed Japanese short form poetry journals and self-published poetry books. They are memorable and demand interpretation.

    Marisova's haiku are activity-biased versus object-biased and not influenced by Ezra Pound's Imagist manifesto or Blythian errors. Marisova values kigo, understands, intuitively, the importance of zoka; utilizes the S/L/S metric schemata, and makes adept use of Japanese aesthetic tools. She does all of this while remaining true to her own cultural identity.

    thunder...             object (thunder)
    still this birth         object (birth )

    This poem above can be understood two ways. The word “birth” can be a verb or a noun, depending on the reader’s interpretation. Either way, the haiku’s focus is neither “thunder" or “birth.” The key to interpreting this poem is via the unsaid. Why does the birth (noun or verb) continue to resonate after the crack of thunder, and what does thunder imply, for the poet to entertain, prior to the crack of thunder, the possibility that it could stop a birth from resonating emotionally or physiologically?

    Marisova’s haiku goes below the surface of the obvious, setting into play a continuum of activity, that emulates the zoka. A non-static poem is not one, one reads once, then instantly understands its meaning. Zoka is complex and defies Anglo-Western definition. An activity-biased haiku must be multifaceted, with more than one meaning. Haiku are limited to an economy of tones and rests. It is through the skilled use of Japanese aesthetic tools that the unsaid can be mined and explored. The usage of the aforementioned tools in no way negates or invalidates Anglo-Western aesthetics. The word "aesthetic" is an Anglo-Western term and, as such, its definition, when applied to the understanding and hermeneutical conceptualization of a Japanese poem, may not always be accurate. Aesthetics was taught via the German-based educational system to the Japanese using the language used to interpret and translate the Bible. The Yamato language (pure Japanese) is a language unequipped to define Anglo-Western philosophy and theology. It’s an intuitive language with multiple meanings for many words, dependent upon inflection, cultural landscape, etc.

    Language, it's been said, is the heart of the Japanese people. Aesthetics as the West defines aesthetics is not the same. To the Japanese, aesthetic terms like wabisabimayugen, etc., are styles of artistic expression. Their understanding is culturally intuitive. Many translations of Japanese poetry, therefore, have not always hit the mark in that they were interpreted through the Anglo-Western mindset, which explains, perhaps, Blyth and Yasuda’s errors as well the Anglo-Western conceptualization of what is and isn’t an English language haiku. It’s odd that Anglo-Western poets are even attempting to change haiku when they can’t even come to a universal or near universal concatenate.

    distant thunder . . .      thunder (object )
    the writer of this           writer  (object )
    haiku dead?                 Haiku  (object )

    There is mystery in this haiku. None of the objects are the focus of the poem. Why does the distant thunder cause the writer of this autobiographical haiku to think that she’s possibly dead? Marisova’s adept usage of yugen (depth and mystery) positions her poem as a stimulus for thought and perusal; Basho’s creative (zoka) again plumbing the unsaid for answers. Her poem is activity-biased, creating and recreating itself, a metaphysical journey exploring thunder, death, and the immortality of a person’s soul. What is, isn’t. What isn’t, is.

    Speaking of which, Marisova’s haiku below, is especially surreal and laced with yugen.    

    summer dreams...                dreams ( an event, not an object )
    the night heavy with                night    (an event, not an object )
    datura                                        datura   ( object )

    How can a non-object be made heavy by an object? What is the relationship between “summer dreams” and the surreal “night heavy with datura”?

    Datura, commonly called "Jimson Weed", contains a narcotic alkaloid used as an hallucinogen by some North, Central, and South American tribal peoples. It is also found in India (dhatura). It’s highly toxic and lethal when the incorrect dosage is ingested. As Carlos Castaneda wrote in his book, The Teachings of Don Juan, “Don Juan was never too fond of what he called Yerba del Diablo, the ‘devil's weed.’” He told Castaneda that datura’s power was not unlike that of a woman saying:

    "She (Datura) is as powerful as the best of allies, but there is something I personally don't like about her. She distorts men. She gives them a taste of power too soon without fortifying their hearts and makes them domineering and unpredictable. She makes them weak in the middle of their great power."

    Are the dreams the poet writes of induced by the ingestion of datura? Is the reference a metaphor?

    The following is a highly unusual haiku filled with imagery. The "death-watch beetle" gets its name from the tapping sound, heard between March and June, made by beetles banging their heads against the walls of tunnels to attract mates. This insect is often found in churches, hence the association with death reflected in its name.

    in my brain . . .                      brain (object)
    a death watch beetle          beetle (object)
    marks time                           time (a continuum)

    Marisova’s use of the “death watch beetle” can have multiple meanings.

    1.   Is she pining for a mate? Is this a thought continually echoed in her mind?

    2.   Is there something eating away at her sense of serenity, perhaps a dark secret?

    3.   What is meant by “marking time?”

    This haiku is one focused on the watching of a continuum that has no end.

    The following poem is apocryphal, laced with “yugen”, with a healthy dose of “ma” to provide the dreaming room necessary to see and make meaningful this metaphor bringing to light once more the unsaid. 

    easter vigil                  ( a period of time )
    clouds                         (an intangible manifestation of air )
    eyes                            (objects)

    The haiku’s focus is not an object nor the intangible manifestation of cold air. It’s a surreal concatenation of the imaginary and thought, seeing and sensing something  during a course of time. Is it apocryphal? Our job as the reader is to interpret these haiku, not to figure out what the poet means. Each of us as individuals think differently. Our thoughts, illusions we paint in our minds, each with its own signature.

    easter vigil...
    piercing the clouds   
    with closed eyes

    Covertly there is a vast difference between object-biased haiku-like poems and event-biased haiku. This emphasis on the process and the skillful unearthing of the unsaid, is what makes Svetlana Marisova’s haiku come alive and linger in a reader’s memory.

    Svetlana Marisova was raised in Russia after the iron curtain was lowered, and moved to New Zealand in her early teens.  She spent almost two short years in a contemplative novitiate until her health made the taking of vows a foolhardy proposition.  Returning to secular life, she has given away the silence of the cloister to discover the silence behind words.  Some of her Japanese short form poems have been published in Notes from the Gean, haijinx, contemporary haibun online, Contemporary Haibun Volume 12 and The Mainichi Daily News.

  • Hansha Teki

    tattered crow 
    flying at half-mast...
    this chill wind


    eye contact...
    we breathe this mist
    in silence


    making use
    of the long drop...
    falling leaves


    the voice of God...
    Bethells Beach


    southern cross...
    ancient dreams seep
    through the gap


    spring alarm...
    dawn awakens
    before me


    waning light -
    the sea too flickers
    with fire


    in the rites of death...
    autumn dreams


    while she turns
    to view the moon...
    lapping waves


    spring tide...
    one godwit still
    in flight


    the wording
    of her epitaph...
    spring tendrils


    violent dawn...
    light slices open
    the blackbird's song


    moon viewing...
    a slit of cloud
    parts her eye

  • Kirsten Cliff

    on the morning
    of her death, I sit
    for the small differences
    between these wild finches

    why couldn't I
    have let myself love her?
    the sun's warmth
    as I sit in the graveyard
    this spring morning


    Kirsten Cliff lives in New Zealand with her hubby-to-be, and currently spends her days reading, writing, crafting, and photographing her way to wellness as she nears the end of her treatment for leukaemia. You can be part of her creative journey at Swimming in Lines of Haiku (

  • Leslie McKay

    love is history
    down the alley
    fresh graffiti


  • Maureen Sudlow

    deep blue
    the colour
    of silence


    no such sound
    as home


  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark  

    french horns
    green the ambience . . .
    forest light

    a fox hunkers down 
    by the river

    the silence
    a little deeper
    in the flow

    cicada cries intensify
    along the fault

    left within our selves
    not our stars

    like the face now
    worn smooth away
    from an ancient coin

    from the bathroom mirror
    a moment's self-effacement

    the come-down
    from the razor’s edge

    dripping the excess many
    when just the one will do

    under the streetlight  
    even the crows have
    high cholesterol


    Hansha Teki
    Clayton Beach

  • Owen Bullock

    a leaf
    I can watch for hours,
    a lover
    has to go to work, or
    another life altogether

    rise and fall
    of a cane
    down our street ---
    is it lonely
    to be blind?

  • Patricia Prime

    Way Back When

    In this photo I pose with two young women on the beach at Budleigh Salterton, Devon.  Friends since schooldays: always together.  I love this era of photo because it has that orangey-brown tint to it.

    That week we had come down by train from London for our annual holiday. As soon as we had unpacked we strolled into the village, where we dropped in at the pub, the “Sir Walter Raleigh”, and played darts with a couple of local lads. Even if we were without an audience, we could always find someone to take a photograph of three beautiful girls. Maybe one of the boys took the photo?

    I don’t yet know that when I returned my boyfriend of six months was going to meet me at the station. We walked along Charing Cross Road and paused to look in a jeweler’s shop window. Later that evening, while we’re having dinner at a curry restaurant, he proposed.

    sultry night
    scratch of his stubble
    on my face





    Nineteen-sixty. We felt we’d discovered it ourselves – the small island hidden by overhanging trees in the middle of the Thames at Hampton Court. My fiancé rowed us across the river for a picnic on the grassy bank. He was young then, and strong.

    Last night someone phoned from London. They said the location had been transformed.  Couldn’t see the river for tourists. Boat loads everywhere. But it’s still the same in my photo: the skiffs, the Palace, the path along the embankment, strolling lovers and families. Not a coach load of visitors in sight.

    He is still there in the photo too, holding an oar, one foot planted in the boat, one on land. His face lost in the shade. I’m nowhere to be seen. I’m beside the boathouse, adjusting the lens, taking a photo of him and the river almost fifty years ago. It seems like yesterday, a place, a person, I loved.

    fine day
    the sun reflected on water
    folding and expanding


    Patricia Prime is co-editor of Kokako, reviews editor of Takahe and Stylus, one of the editors of theTake Five Anthologies 2009 & 2010 and is assistant editor of Haibun Today. She has interviewed various poets and editors and currently has poems appearing in the World Poetry Anthology 2010 (Mongolia).

  • Patricia Prime

    I learn over and over
    that nothing
    is ever finished ---
    that nothing stops when
    you had expected it to

  • Patricia Prime

    a wind whispers
    its one note over and over
    into the willow's
    ten thousand leaves...
    the light pregnant with autumn

  • Patricia Prime

    insomnia seeps                  
    from the tangleof silk sheets            
    as midnight closes                   
    my bed a crumpled orchid   
    scattering golden petals


    impatient for sun            
    to pare fog from the dawn sky
    I glance through the blinds
    hearing the birds relentless    
    voices in the rata tree 


    Patricia Prime is co-editor of Kokako, reviews' editor of Takake, and from 2012, reviews' editor of Haibun Today. Her poetry, reviews, articles and interviews have been published world-wide.

  • Patricia Prime

    distant greeting
    over the telephone
    talk of viruses
    breaking the silence
    of the lockdown
    a lawnmower
    sunset shadows
    a circle of empty chairs
    around the table
    those in the queue
    keep their distance
  • pearls before swine

    misty moonlight—
    my love affair with a snake
    between dreams

    these arms left holding
    the skin of passion

    now flakes of bone
    a portrait in the steel
    of a rongeur

    a rat gnaws away
    at my memories

    the wheel grinds on
    whether the stars
    will it or not

    despite all
    Polycarp is baked 
    to perfection

    the play of stained light
    in wisps of incense 

    the holy glow
    of each minim mote
    the dust we are

    subtle accretions
    of harmonies intoned

    a medley
    of nacreous spheres
    in swine swill

    Clayton Beach
    Hansha Teki

  • Probing the Night

    moonlit night
    the heavy breast
    of a child prostitute

    caught in my headlight
    the prostitute lifts
    her middle finger

    low cut dress
    the aged prostitute reveals
    youthful legs

    a crucifix between
    the prostitute's breast
    distant temple bells

    evening rain...
    the prostitutes' fire
    dying out