International Women’s Haiku Festival: Three Haiku by Martha Magenta

makou0629 - fallen petals
Photo: makou0629/Creative Commons/Flickr

British poet Martha Magenta gives voice to the reprehensibility of sexual harassment, the after-effects of a mastectomy, and fleeting fertility in three beautiful haiku.

the depth
of pollution

What prompts one to think it acceptable to make implicit or explicit sexual demands of someone else? The impulse may or may not be akin to the one that prompts the polluting of a beautiful landscape with an empty potato chip bag, but the results are similar: both victims are left to drown in the filthy residue left behind by those who violate them.


last rose of summer –
the loneliness
of a single breast

In the normal course of things, we shed cells throughout our entire lives, such that every several years we effectively have entirely new bodies. So why should it surprise us when a part of our bodies must be removed all at once? It surprises us, of course, because we are gifted with the propensity to envision only our springtime and summers, not our autumns and (heaven forbid) our winters. A lone breast shares this lovely haiku with a late-blooming rose, offering the gentlest possible reminder both of our mortality and of its place, and its special kind of beauty, in the natural order.


falling sakura . . .
her yearning
to conceive

What image better conveys the yearning for new life than the sakura – the cherry blossom – that timeless Japanese symbol of the fragility of life? In this poem, the biological clock measures time in cherry petals let loose from the tree, even as the poem’s subject likely marks time in monthly cycles, in squares on the calendar, and in temperature readings. This, too, is life.

Martha Magenta lives in Bristol, England, UK. Her haiku, haibun, senryu, and tanka have appeared in a number of journals, magazines, and anthologies. She was awarded Honourable Mentions for her haiku in The Fifth Annual Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku Awards, 2017, and the 71st Basho Memorial English Haiku Contest, 2017, and for her tanka in UHTS “Fleeting Words” Tanka Contest 2017. She is listed on The European Top 100 haiku authors, 2017.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Two Haiku by John Hawkhead

Ronnie Robertson - moonlight
Photo: Ronnie Robertson/Creative Commons/Flickr

Vivid imagery and brilliant understatement are at work in British poet John Hawkhead’s “Spring moon” and “ink of night” haiku.

Aided by the white light of the moon – that feminine celestial presence – the poetic speaker goes beyond viewing the implied aftereffects of a woman’s lumpectomy or mastectomy and “explores” the “trail” these scars have left on her body. Against the backdrop of spring – the season of renewal and freshness – the chiaroscuro of the moon’s spotlight beaming through dark of night surrounds the telltale signs of a deadly disease. Hawkhead’s “Spring moon” is imbued with life and death, light and darkness. It is a snapshot of the cycle of life itself, every moment at once new and dying.

Spring moon
I explore the lustrous trail
of her breast scars


This poem’s opening line – not the typical “dark of night,” but instead “ink of night” – suggests police fingerprint ink and a grim scene leading up to it. Under the nails of the poem’s subject is “the evidence” of some crime. We might assume the woman is a victim who fought back against her attacker, but is that too facile? Hawkhead’s poem leaves just enough room for interpretation to make it tantalizing.

ink of night
under her nails
the evidence

John Hawkhead is a writer and illustrator from the South West of England. His haiku and senryu have been published all over the world and his book, Small Shadows, is available from Alba Publishing.