George Swede, Joy in Me Still: Haiku: Michael Dylan Welch

Helen Buckingham, Armadillo Basket: Liam Wilkinson

Tomislav Maretić, Leptir nad pučinom (Butterfly over the Open Sea): Dubravko Marijanović

Dragan Ј. Ristić, Ђавоља варош / Devils’ Town / Die Teufelstadt / La Ville du Diable: Dr Rajna Begović and Branislav Brzaković


Vol. 8, No. 14, Summer 2011

Helen Buckingham, Christmas City: A Haiku Sequence: Anatoly Kudryavitsky

Zlata Bogović, Pjesma slavuja / Nightingale's Song: Vladimir Devidé, Vasile Moldovan, Đurđa Vukelić-Rožić, Zvonko Petrović

Petar Tchouhov, Safety Pins: Morelle Smith

Slavko J. Sedlar, Таквост 3 (Suchness 3): Mileta AĆIMOVIĆ IVKOV, Nadja Brankov, Zoran Raonić

Ljubomir Dragović, Uska staza/A Narrow Road: Vladimir Devidé, Mileta Aćimović Ivkov, Dragan Jovanović Danilov, Dimitar Anakiev



Robert D. Wilson, Philippines


Ljubomir Dragović, Uska staza/ A Narrow Road; translated by Saša Važić; Liber, Belgrade; ©2011; ISBN 978-86-6133-055-1.








Having edited Simply Haiku for 8 years, I‘ve read haiku submissions from every corner of the earth. Some of them are good, most display a lack of understanding of the genre, and very few merit inclusion in our journal, let alone a showcase. It’s the same with haiku collections and anthologies. Most are self-published in conjunction with a small press who assembles the book, does the prep and footwork, then sends it to “Lulu” or another pay-as-you-order publishing firm. Most poets today pay to have their books published as Anglo-American English-language haiku and tanka books are not marketable products for publishing houses. One haiku publisher told me that a book selling three hundred copies is considered a best seller. Three hundred copies is a drop in the bucket. The majority of these haiku poets are lucky to sell between 50 to 100 copies. Why do the majority of Anglo-Western haiku books sell so little compared to other genres of poetry? It’s been said that haiku is a popular literary art form in North America. Sales of haiku books say differently. What gives, and why does an ever-growing number of top haiku poets come from former communist countries in Eastern Europe?

Mirisi proljeća.           
Rogove mladog bika   
zaoštrio mjesec.  

odors of spring . . .
a young bull's horns
sharpened by the moon

odors of spring: odors are not tangible objects. They are fluid, impossible to touch, their source not always ascertainable. Certain odors are season specific. The source of the odor is not stated. It could be the feces of a young bull, or the scent of blossoms, fresh air, and mowed grass.

The Croatian poet, Ljubomir Dragović, hints at and suggests, telling enough to lure the reader into his haiku, without telling all.

a young bull’s horns sharpened by the moon:  It’s not possible for a bull, young or old, to sharpen his horns by the moon. The haiku’s final line, which is the line that can make or break a haiku is obviously metaphorical or is it? Maybe it’s the positioning of the bull and the slant on top of a hill that gives the appearance of a bull sharpening his horns with the moon.

The use of juxtaposition between line one and lines two and three is an interesting combination, a combination that, prior to Basho, would have been called crass and not suited for use in a serious literary genre. Basho took poetry to the masses, freeing it from the confines of the Japanese Imperial Court.

Dragović’s haiku is activity-biased, focused on a process instead of on an object or objects. He knows that a kigo isn’t a nature reference per se to use in a poem in order to call it a haiku.

Dragović’s haiku aren’t about objects and subjectivity. To him a kigo isn’t chocolate syrup on an ice cream sundae. The use of a kigo in his haiku represents a wedding between the creative power of nature and the poet’s mindset. Spring stands for newness, the birthing of calves, the unveiling of blossoms, unsullied air, an oil painting that takes forever to dry, the poet’s quill, a brush painting, repainting in a continuous cycle. This is a thinking person’s haiku. The depth of this haiku could not take place without Dragović’s skilled use of Japanese aesthetic styles (ma, yugen, makoto) coupled with an intuitive skill for combining opposites, turns the poem into a puzzle of sorts . . . challenging each reader to step inside the haiku to interpret it.

Read the following haiku excerpted from Dragović’s book The Narrow Road. It’s easy to tell the poet has great admiration for Matsuo Basho, by the book’s title, and by the poet’s use of kigo.

Read each haiku slowly once, then again a second time. What is each haiku saying to you?  It doesn’t matter what the poet was thinking. This is your intimate moment with the haiku. And remember, see each poem through your eyes and the zoka’s eyes. Don’t be in a hurry. Study them multi-dimensionally, and take notes.

Stiglo proljeće.          
Uska se staza skrila          
pod rep fazana.  

arrival of spring  —
a narrow road hidden
under the pheasant's tail

Visoka trava.          
Poljski mrav presječen
dugim sjenkama.  

tall grass —
a field ant cut by
long shadows


Noćna svježina.  
Perači ulice gaze  
oprane zvijezde. 

night freshness . . .
street cleaners stamp down
the washed stars


Prenut tišinom,          
iz čapljinog gnijezda          
diže se mjesec.                

silence . . .
the moon rises from
a heron's nest


Ljetna oseka.  
Hod usoljenog ježa  
u dublje more.

summer ebb tide —
an urchin’s pace into
the deeper sea



Republished from Simply Haiku, Summer 2011, Vol 8 No. 2, by the author’s permission.