Haiku for a Pandemic

Early April snow flurries are keeping many of us indoors this Spring. So has COVID-19. With “stay-at-home” and “social distancing” directives, the imposed quarantine on all but essential workers and businesses has created more than uncertainty and fear — it has created a new normal.

on empty roads at
rush hour, no ribbons of lights…
just the rising moon

by Rosalyn M. Carroll (Manlius 2020)

When news of the Coronavirus first came to us from China, followed by reports of its rapid spread through Italy and Europe, we were horrified by its crushing destruction of life.

A thief in the night,
Preying on vulnerables.
Who is this creature?

by Patricia Rickard (Syracuse, 2020)

As we were waiting for any good news about the virus slowing down overseas, the pandemic slammed our shores with a fury all its own. A number of stressful decisions had to be made rather quickly to meet the unknown ramifications of the virus. Spring vacations and long-awaited events were cancelled indefinitely; schools and universities suspended classes and scrambled to find a way to reach students online; grocery store shelves were stripped bare by anxious citizens; and small businesses were left stranded.

Syracusans pause —
Flightless birds upon a wire —
Waiting for the Spring

by Donald Sheridan (Syracuse, 2020)

Since the end of March, we’ve all worked hard to find new ways to go grocery shopping, conduct businesses, teach or work remotely, exercise, and stay connected. Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp and YouTube have become the go-to platforms for many of us to gather around.

University
Fair in our hearts and minds
Evermore, Zoom U

by Travis Hayden (Manlius, 2020)

And, while Spring hasn’t stopped blooming–despite the constant wind, rain and snow–neither has COVID-19 stopped the squirrels from playing tag or the birds from gathering at the birdfeeder! Nor has it kept us from creating, reflecting or finding new ways to connect with one another.

With free reign of house
and windowsills, indoor cats
know no quarantine

by Wendy E. Kaplan (Villas, N.J., 2020)

With Spring as the one constant we can depend on right now, our featured poster, from our 2019 Series, seems to fit these past few weeks of April, 2020 pretty well. The gorgeous illustration was created by Marianne Smith Dalton, a Fine Artist, Curator and Archivist whose other works can be found here. Thoughtfully written by frequent haiku contributor, Marilyn Shelton, her haiku reflection parallels our stay-at-home status and inspires us to be hopeful: “….To me, the Lily of the Valley is such a tiny thing to have strength, even when hibernating, to overcome harsh winters to be reborn….[and] holds the full sensual promise of the approaching Spring.”

Snow melts to lilies / Of the sweet valley, reborn / In sensuous spring

Among the many events cancelled this Spring is our annual Poster Series unveiling event. As much as we like the festive togetherness of this traditional treat, we’re doing our part to “flatten the curve” by hosting the event online. Please join us Thursday, April 23 at 6 p.m. for a virtual evening of fun on YouTube where our our newest haiku posters will be featured along with video clips submitted by the poets and artists talking about their work. There is also a chance for you to participate: during the premiere, you’ll be able to comment by chat and we’ll be able to chat back. The video and chat stream will then be archived on our YouTube channel where you can see it again and share with your family and friends. You can check out and subscribe to our channel here.

In the meantime, we hope you are taking some time for peaceful reflection, long invigorating walks and finding ways to take care of yourself emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically. Be sure to breathe in the beauty of Spring blooms and listen to the beautiful voices of nature all around us. Most importantly, have patience–we are, each of us, in this together.

Wishing you well — stay safe!

If you’d like to submit a haiku with your own reflections on COVID-19, please add them to the comments below or email them to us, c/o Jim Emmons at jim@posterproject.org.

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