Summer Haiku

I’m enrolled on an online session writing haiku so I thought I’d better do a few warm-up exercises. I’m no expert but know the traditional ones reference a season so some of these do. The syllable count of 5-7-5 is often ignored by contemporary poets but I’ve kept to this in most cases. Haiku usually capture a moment in time, often evoke an image and describe concrete details while at the same time suggesting universal themes. Haiku should be read more than once – they are meant to be savoured like culinary delicacies.


sickle moon in blue

sipping tea in hot sunshine-

contented for now.


cat chasing shadows

while I sit in baking sun

iced tea by my side.


a hot day in June-

jumping spider on my arm

pencil in my hand.


bees and wasps buzzing

foxglove nodding in a breeze

droplets on the leaves.


after watering

droplets sparkle on a leaf –

the sun’s pouring heat.


it’s thirty degrees-

two cats hiss at each other

I watch from my deckchair.


haiku in July

sun and moon against blue sky-

it’s too much for me!


under July’s sky

distant sirens become sharp-

the temperatures rise.


how long do they live?

butterflies dancing in air –

she talks about death.


a cat crouches, still –

a feather’s twitching in the wind

a pigeon’s remains.


morning glory

reaches towards the high sun –

she collects seeds.


how vast karma is!

we walk round the pond-

water off a duck’s back.

The Joy of Birdwatching



Shibdon Pond is a reedbed pond four miles from where I live. In the summer common terns nest here and in the winter large flocks of waders congregate and feed. This week there have been hundreds of lapwing, four common sandpiper, six- eight black-tailed godwit, gadwell, redshanks, one juvenile dunlin, seven (visible) snipe and of course grey herons, cormorants, gulls and mallard. It is a place you never tire of visiting and it is only a mile or two from one of the biggest shopping centres in Europe, the dreaded Metro Centre!

A friend kindly gave me a telescope for my birthday and this has opened up another dimension (literally) to my birdwatching. If you have children who are interested in wildlife you can’t start too early; don’t give them toy binoculars or telescopes! Get them good quality optics and they will thank you for it!



two immaculate greenshank

painting their upside-down selves

in the still water

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I follow a strutting snipe

magnified forty times

its straw-brown camouflage

doesn’t fool me!

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ultramarine sky

and four hundred lapwings

shimmering in the still mirror

haiku and tanka


on the paving slab
a slug’s silvery map
sets off an apricot stone

the Arctic terns have flown south –
late August, alone in a bird hide

sitting in the sun –
a tiny insect crawls across
my poem

godwits drilling the still pond –
ripples in the universe

watching bumble bees spiral into petals
I rub lavender leaves between fingers
releasing scent
but it doesn’t ease
my throbbing head

Corbridge Chamber Music Festival

gould trio

Every August the Gould Piano Trio, plus Robert Plane (clarinetist)  fill three days (Fri – Sunday) with imaginative musical programming in the centre of Corbridge. They invite guest musicians (last year James Macmillan came) to take part in their concerts in St Andrew’s church. One of the traditions (I found out this year that it has been going for 17 yrs!) is to have tea and scones outside among the gravestones! This inspired the following two haiku of mine.

The atmosphere is informal and tickets very reasonably priced. If you like classical music and live in the NE of the UK this is a must if you’ve never been. The highlight for me was the Sunday (9 Aug) 7.30 concert which featured a rousing Septet for trumpet, piano and strings by Saint-Saens.  Benjamin Frith excelled himself with the almost frantic piano runs. Philippe Schartz was the excellent trumpeter.  Photo from left to right: Alice Neary, Lucy Gould and Benjamin Frith.

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after clarinet trills and rests

sipping wine in the cemetery

an interval between melodies

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late summer evening

savouring Gould’s liquid gold

tea among tombstones