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.

Haiku For Spring 2020

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Spring arrived early
splashing against my window
dreams interrupted

by Lynn McDonald (Ogden 2004)

Spring officially arrived this past week. So did COVID-19. And with it, a new normal has taken over everywhere with schools and businesses closing, social distancing, working remotely while sequestered to our homes in self-quarantine. A troubling disruption, with its own uncertainties, to say the least.

Spring snow–heavy, wet
downing tree limbs, power lines,
darkening our hearts

by Robert Stone (Baldwinsville 2015)

At this point, it might be hard to imagine how reading or writing haiku might make a difference to what’s going on. Reading poetry, prose, or even a good book, offers an escape from our daily worries as well as a chance to see new perspectives outside ourselves. Besides making us feel better, writing–whether you’re writing poetry, prose or journaling–can give us a sense of control and purpose and can help us make sense of difficult times. Writing also offers us an opportunity to reflect on all the things we love. It’s a place where we can freely express our thoughts and feelings, observations and experiences.

Red brick, gray concrete
plant pushes up through the gap
life blooms overnight

by Peter Allen (Syracuse 2016)

Our featured haiku poster is from our 2018 Series. A wonderful reflection of Spring, Sean Conrey (Syracuse 2015) crafted his noteworthy haiku while observing: “We’re always waiting for that moment for spring to begin; a leaf coming out, one little bud, it’s going to happen at some point.” Beautifully illustrated by former Syracuse University Illustration student, Jake Penman, who chose this haiku “…. because I feel like it speaks to the kind of person I am, or at least the kind of tonality that I like to illustrate in my work. I really enjoy drawing trees, life, and images of nature. A lot of the work I do is in pen and ink, and a lot of natural structures—branches, roots, and trunks—do very well in pen and ink. I feel like the complexity of the roots is visually similar to cardiac vessels or streams running through hills. It’s just the way the line moves between, like if you’re following a river downstream, or if you’re following a tree branch from a trunk’s base—it’s very similar. Whatever is causing that similarity is what I try to get at, not just visually, but emotionally.”

A spring breeze still cold / All nerves beneath the black oak / A new leaf unfurls

We hope these few reflections on the arrival of Spring have cheered you and given you some food for thought. Unlike the unsettling throes of a pandemic, Spring is certainly one constant we can depend on year in and year out. The interesting thing is, what kind of Spring will it be?

March into April,
Shed the outer cloak, breathe and
Take the umbrella….

by Michelle M. Miles (Israel 2016)

Wishing you well — stay safe!

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Haiku: Setting the Stage for Halloween

It’s the last week of October and Halloween is just about here! Costumes are at the ready and the candy bowl sits waiting for trick-or-treaters. But first, let’s set the scene. October days have grown shorter, with mornings chilly and foggy; its nights are crisp and long:

Trees stand silently
In morning’s Autumn darkness
Soon bright with sunlight

by Anonymous (2019)

Most trees stand bare now, too, with Autumn leaves piled high or blanketing the yard. Yet, here and there, the striking beauty of a Burning Bush or a tall Oak tree still garners a “wow”:

The mighty oak tree,
last to lose its leaves in Fall
see the red colors!

by Nanette Scogin (Watkins Glen 2019)

Now, listen to the cackle of crows as they roost in those bare treetops. What a mood they set:

“Ha!” Crow says, airing
wings atop the dead maple
creaking in the wind

by Jay Cox (Pompey 2007)

And, as dry leaves rustle and fly in the wind, look for ghosts roaming the
shadows of Syracuse:

Walking on Water
Ghosts of ancient barges pass
Soaked in history

by Evelyn Ayers-Marsh (Syracuse 2006)

Our featured haiku poster is from our 2018 Series and fits well with the revelry of Halloween! Poet, Mary Huling, and former Syracuse University Illustration Student, Elise Beauchamp – now a Los Angeles-based Illustrator – have created a perfectly spooky theme for Halloween using their love of Autumn’s colorful fire and light!

Season of color / Scraping out seeds within /Lighted orange smile

And, at last, as Pumpkins are carved and lit, the stage is set for a ghoulish Halloween night:

Jack O’Lanterns grin,
Skeletons jangle and roll
Halloween is here!

by Rosalyn M. Carroll (Manlius 2009)

Happy Haunting!

Haiku For The Start of Autumn

The Autumn Equinox arrived quietly last week, and as if on cue, end-of-September days have become cooler and starry nights, longer.  From the Syracuse Poster Project archives, our haiku contributors have found interesting ways to describe Summer’s prelude to Autumn.

Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Maggie Iribarne (DeWitt 2012) observes this seasonal passage of time with her evocative haiku:

Green gorge glimmering
Summer’s last cold splash summons
Fall’s red-gold promise

And, Sharon Rorer (Syracuse 2007) gently describes how the days following the Equinox tend to be around here:

Single Leaves flutter
on delicate air currents
still feels like Summer

Meanwhile, Deirdre Tait’s (Syracuse 2013) haiku vividly describes what many of us look forward to with the coming of Autumn: 

Rolling hills surround
orchards hold the gift of Fall
crisp, juicy goodness

Our featured haiku poster is from the 2019 Series.  Illustrated by CNY Artist, Steven Peters, the poster beautifully complements the colorful haiku written by frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Sherry Chayat.

Hurled from their branches / Golden leaves swirl everywhere / Onondaga wind

Summer days are tough to leave behind, but as Mary Cappelli (Syracuse 2013) writes, there is beauty in the leaving:

a new slant of light
butterflies flit in gold leaves–
So long, sweet Summer!

Did you notice this year’s late arrival of the Autumn Equinox? Are you able to put your experience with a change of season into a haiku? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below–we’d love to hear from you!

Happy Autumn!

Haiku for a Rainy Spring

To the chagrin of many, rain has predominated the weather this Spring. In fact, it’s hard to believe it’s mid-June already, what with Summer officially beginning in a few days! One has to ask, where, oh where, is the sun?

To cheer you up, we’ve dug out some haiku dedicated to Rain…yes, Rain…

From Jeanne Viggiano (Syracuse, 2009) comes a haiku which perfectly describes a rainy workday and the promise of a dry, sunny evening!

Rain pelts the sidewalks.
Lunch hour is a duck and dash.
Forecast: sun by five.

You’ve heard that phrase, “We need the rain”? Well, one benefit of all the rain this Spring has been the lush greens and gorgeous colors of its slow-blooming flowers. Renee-Noelle Felice (Syracuse 2011) says it well in her haiku:

After weeks of rain,
hollyhocks–deep pink and red–
big as salad plates

Have you ever just sat and listened to the rain falling? Frequent haiku contributor, Anne Mackenzie (Skaneateles, 2014), hears something beautiful:

woodland canopy
raindrops tap-dancing on leaves
ageless lullaby

Listening to the rain takes another shape in this delightful haiku by poet, Nicholas Petrone (Syracuse, 2010):

wooden boards beneath
Ruskin front porch rocker creak
steady rain keeps time

Our featured haiku poster is from our 2004 Series. The bright haiku was written by long-time contributor, Marilyn Shelton; the illustration colorfully created by former Syracuse University
student, Marlene Heuer.

silver drops of rain / suddenly, a bright garden / of umbrellas blooms

Of course, when all else fails, there’s nothing like getting your Gene Kelly on, like Rosalyn Carroll (Manlius, 2016) does in her haiku:

With a steady beat,
rain strikes my umbrella—I’m
dancin’ in the rain

Stay dry! And, as the old song goes, “let a smile be your umbrella”!

Posted by Rosalyn M. Carroll for the Syracuse Poster Project


Haiku For A Winter’s Day

Ice and snow and howling winds — oh, my! Just when the sun peeks out for a day or two, Winter strikes back for one more round of cold, grey days. We’ve written here before of Winter’s many faces and while daylight is lasting longer–thank goodness–this singular season is anything but over! So, before we bid adieu to February blizzards, black ice, wind chill, freak rain storms, thick fog and ice tsunamis, here is one more wintry blog to enjoy.

From our archives of submitted haiku:

With Jean Fahey’s (Syracuse 2017) haiku, the brilliant warmth of a Winter sun on a crisp and clear morning after days of snow is wonderful—-take out your sunglasses!

the dazzling sunlight
after snowstorm is over
makes diamonds of snow

If you have little kids, you’ll know that by wearing one’s pj’s inside out all snowy night long, there’s a good chance of a sensational snow-day tomorrow…you can almost hear the groans of disappointment in Erin McConnell’s (LaFayette 2010) haiku:

Up early for school.
Snowplow rumbles on the road.
No snow-day today.

A cold, wintry scene is set in Marsha Egan’s (Cicero 2009) dramatic haiku:

Snow blankets the earth:
the brittle silence is broken
by passing footsteps.

Winter storms aren’t complete without a little wind howling through bare trees and underneath the roof eaves! Rosalyn Carroll (Manlius 2019) wrote this haiku during one such storm:

Wild winter winds crashed
through the trees knocked on my door
Delivered fresh snow

Our featured haiku poster—-from our 2012 Series—-says it all on a cold, snowy day in late February! The poem was written by our frequent haiku contributor, Michele Reed, and illustrated by former Syracuse University illustration student, Anna Rettberg, now a busy and successful illustrator living in Seattle. See more of her wonderful work here.

Hear the snow crunch / underfoot as I’m walking / I dream of the beach

We’ll leave you with this artistic point of view from Mary Taitt (Grosse Pointe Farms, 2011):

Snowflakes in simple
brushstrokes sweep over drifts, pile
in long arching curves.

Stay Warm — only 21 more days ‘til Spring!

Rosalyn M. Carroll for Syracuse Poster Project

Haiku for Autumn

A week ago, a Sunday drive through apple country revealed mostly yellow, yellow-green hillsides. Since then, following a damp and chilly October week of grey clouds and mostly rain, Autumn still lingers with plenty of reds and oranges appearing around every bend!

These autumnal changes in Central New York are given colorful definition in Mary Ellen Morgan’s (Syracuse 2011) brilliant haiku–“multiplicity”, indeed!

Green hills, Autumn leaves
Unpredictable sunshine
Multiplicity

“Unpredictable sunshine”—another unique characteristic of Autumn, but one that is sometimes tough to get used to! With Judith Friedman’s (Fayetteville 2014) lovely, sensory-driven haiku, you can practically feel October’s brilliant sun as it flickers through the trees and “shatters” on the breeze!

                                                                 October maples                                                                       Sunlight through crimson stained glass
  Glow briefly, shatter

Lest we forget, Autumn is also Baseball’s Postseason, the end of Fall Crew and of course, Football Season! Paul Goat Allen’s (Camillus 2014) Autumn haiku is as bright as it is smart!

Autumn’s golden glow
Orange football in the Dome
Tailgater’s heaven

Our featured haiku poster is from our 2017 Series. William Padgett’s (Woodstock 2008) wonderful poem “…gives just enough information for the reader to capture the moment, place, and feeling…” of an Autumn day! Former Syracuse University Illustration student, Autumn Wilson, now a freelance illustrator and designer in Southern California, warmly answers William’s haiku with her beautiful depiction!

Crisp autumn sunshine
Shadows stretch while dry leaves dance
Warm scarf pulled tightly

2017 Padgett_Wilson

A post about Autumn and the transitions going on around us would not be complete without a haiku about migratory birds. Frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Peggy Liuzzi’s (Syracuse 2011) vivid haiku is both joyful yet somewhat melancholy, isn’t it? Can you hear those mighty flocks as they fly away with Autumn?

The Autumn skyway
Sings with the high, wild sound of
Geese yearning southward

What do you love about Autumn? What moves you about Nature’s colorful transformation? Let us know in a haiku and we’ll publish it on these pages!

Happy Autumn to you!

Haiku for Columbus Day

Autumn has finally settled here in Syracuse. With its tendency towards capricious weather and warm-colored landscapes, you could say that October is the official beginning of the ‘holidaze’ season — from Columbus Day to New Year’s Day!

Speaking of Columbus Day, did you know that this October event became a national holiday in 1937? And that groundbreaking for our very own Columbus Circle–with its wonderful bronze homage to the explorer–took place on Columbus Day, 1932?!

Exploring our haiku archives, (no pun intended), Columbus and Columbus Circle have often been highlighted over the years by several Syracuse Poster Project poets and artists. What better way to celebrate today’s holiday by featuring a couple of them here!

A bronzed Columbus2006Gaurnier_Shuback
in front of the Cathedral
found by stray pigeon

The poem, by Robert Gaurnier,
contains a wonderful play on words, don’t you think? As the poet mused for this 2006 Series poster, “….Columbus….sailed a long way to find this land only to be now found by pigeons.”

The poster, created by former Syracuse University student,
Jeremy Shuback, handily “….
capture(s) one side of Syracuse and
one side of Mr. Gaurnier’s fantastic
haiku.”  (Read more about Jeremy
and what he’s been up to since his
days at SU, here.)

 

2009Miori-Merola_Ceneta

 

Roosting in bare trees
Over Columbus Circle
The crows are black leaves.

We think you’ll agree, this 2013 Series haiku poster beautifully illustrates the poet’s words.  It also highlights the strong character of Columbus Circle and its ofttimes, serene atmosphere. The artist, former Syracuse University
student, Danielle Ceneta, now a New York-based artist, has even created the feel of an “…Italian piazza…” in this poster–exactly what the original designers had hoped to achieve with this space.

Doreen Miori-Merola wrote the sensory-driven haiku and describes her experience: “…Looking around, I noticed that the trees had already lost (what I thought was) almost all of their leaves. Then there was a loud noise. I’m not even sure what it was. The sound startled this incredibly large flock of black crows that had been roosting in the bare trees around the old library. Suddenly Columbus Circle came alive with the fluttering of black feathers. It reminded me that perhaps we are never truly alone. The haiku developed in my head with that momentary sensory experience.”

If you’re on our mailing list, or follow us on social media, you know that Syracuse Poster Project strives to bring our community together through art and poetry.  We are fortunate to have so many poets who use haiku as a way of confirming their affection for Syracuse and the Central New York area, its well known landmarks and festivals, its many diverse parks and neighborhoods, our wonderful music and art scene.  We hope you enjoyed this brief history guide, if you will, of our city’s tribute to Columbus!

Haiku For A Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice: a day to celebrate the first day of Summer! And with that, some of our favorite Summertime activities come alive with haiku from our archives!

From Jennifer Groff, (Lancaster 2010), a colorful haiku with great imagery and a wonderful play on words:

Freshly picked berries
Summer-stained fingers and lips–
memory preserves

So many rich Summer images in Nan Gartner’s, (Fayetteville 2011), haiku, too:

Purple Loosestrife and
Yellow Finches brighten the
Canal bikers’ path

From poet, Martin Willitts, Jr., (Syracuse 2011), an imaginative Summertime haiku with an interesting twist:

Syracuse Summer
Heid’s hot dog clouds, ominous,
digested by sun

Enjoying music and the outdoors–a favorite Summertime activity–lyrically described by Jay Cox, (Pompey, 2003):

Texas Blues drift with
the moonlight through a Summer
night in Clinton Square

From Meg Catanzarita, (Syracuse 2009), a Summer sports-themed haiku served up with another set of a rhythmic play on words:

Sedgwick Farm hosts love
Red clay courts city players
Singles anyone?

And, on the heels of the Summer Solstice, the long lazy days of Summer provide a time for reflection and pensive introspection. Our featured poster is from our 2018 Series. Wistfully written by long-time Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Omanii Abdullah, this Summer-themed poster was deliciously illustrated by Syracuse University Illustration student, Claudia Lewis.

I sold lemonade / back when times were innocent / and not bittersweet

2018 Abdullah_Lewis

As we observe the sunny arrival of the Summer Solstice, a double-edged haiku for you to ponder from first-time Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Charlie Carroll, (Manlius 2017):

Summer Solstice joy!
Alas…now the slide begins
T’wards Winter’s darkness.

Do you observe the Summer Solstice with a special tradition? What do you look forward to once Summer has arrived? Share your thoughts in a haiku in the comments below and we’ll add them to the next blog!

Cheers!

Haiku for Winter Storms

Remember that old saying, “When March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb”? Well, let’s hope it holds true this year! Since March 1, Winter storms have wreaked havoc up and down the East Coast, dropping snow, rain and sleet from Hilton Head to Connecticut to London to the French Alps; they’ve caused power failures across New York State; and broken tree limbs are strewn about everywhere one looks!  Quite a lion of a start if there ever was one!

As Michelle Miles (currently, in sunny and warm Amman, Jordan) wrote this week:

A haiku would say
that springtime is on its way–
but first, a detour!

Meanwhile, the not so melodious sounds of snow blowers, snow shovels and loud, rumbling snow plows, continue to break the sometimes eerie silence of softly falling snow! A search of our archives reveals many haiku contributed by Central New Yorkers who’ve contemplated our fierce Winter snow storms alongside the sound–and the glory–of these useful snow storm tools! Here are a few to consider as you look out your window at the falling March snow!

From Thomas Michael Duncan (East Syracuse 2011), you know it’s going to be a long day for the city’s snow plow driver:

Accumulations.
The monstrous yellow machines
remove snow–spread salt.

A beautiful image from Laura Ferrel (Skaneateles 2013):

Pre-dawn whirs and scrapes–
a community chorus
born of snowy nights

A familiar scene, aptly described by Chen Chen (Syracuse 2014) — read more about this talented A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize winning author here:

Just the front scraped clean–
our car after blizzard wears
a mullet of snow

Our featured poster is a fine tribute to Winter snow storms! It’s from our 2011 Series with the clever haiku by Jim Kenty (Syracuse 2008) and the colorful illustration by former Syracuse University Illustration student, Maura McGonagle.

Syracuse snowflakes / meet their fate on the blade of / my shovel of doom

2011_Kenty_McGonagle

Aside from waiting for Spring to arrive by mid-March, if we learn anything from late Winter snow storms, it’s learning to have patience. However, if your street doesn’t get plowed for hours, you may feel like Elizabeth Patton (Elbridge 2008), in her vivid haiku:

Armies of snowplows
Invade snowbound neighborhoods
Winter prison break

Or, rather than impatience, you may feel like Ellen Agnew (Syracuse 2005):

as snow plows lumber
through the blizzard leftovers
grateful cars make room

Here’s hoping March goes out like a lamb!