Sunday, 31 December 2017

Friday, 29 December 2017

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Monday, 18 December 2017

opening the book

memories fall to the floor

boarding pass bookmark

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Monday, 4 December 2017

Friday, 1 December 2017

on silent hooves

white horses gallop home

from the turbulent sea 

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Monday, 13 November 2017

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Friday, 10 November 2017

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Friday, 3 November 2017

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

the ploughman
his thoughts mingle
with the gulls

Published (2018) in Blithe Spirit (Journal of the British Haiku Society) Volume 28, Number 1, page 19.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Friday, 13 October 2017

Monday, 2 October 2017

Sunday, 1 October 2017

damp Autumn morning

beechnuts crushed underfoot

running joyfully

Friday, 29 September 2017

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Friday, 22 September 2017

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Thursday, 14 September 2017

another drink please

alcohol inshpired haiku

are alwaysh the besht

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

azure and pink streaked sky
one final pigeon
finds its way home

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The seven deadly sins

the dogs have sex
and stop our car

one cat
two bowls
he eats them both

the time?
flash of expensive watch
one of many

the cat watches the mouse
but does nothing

the prisoner
is summarily executed

the young lion
watches the old lion
and attacks

the obstacle
not seen
before falling

security light

shows Mr Fox

the way to my bins

Monday, 11 September 2017

silent shredder
of all my thoughts

Haiku resources page

This page, which continues to evolve,
gathers together some useful online resources on haiku

British Haiku Society

Blithe Spirit (Journal of the British Haiku Society)

See also anotherkindofpoetry

Haiku Society of America

Frogpond (The Journal of the Haiku Society of America)

World Haiku Review

The Official Magazine of The World Haiku Club

The Heron's Nest

The Heron's Nest, founded in 1999, is a quarterly online journal. A new edition is published during the first week of March, June, September, and December. We publish multiple pages of fine haiku in each issue, plus three Editors' Choice Haiku; one of which is presented with the Heron's Nest Award, and receives special commentary. The Heron's Nest also appears in a single annual paper edition anthology each April.

Kigo words

Haiku: The Poetry of Focus with Scott Mason (this is an excellent lecture on Vimeo)

modern Haiku

modern Haiku describes itself as: An Independent Journal of Haiku and Haiku Studies. A great deal of free content is available and a great description of that a good haiku and senryu should be like:

Haiku is a brief verse that epitomizes a single moment. It uses the juxtaposition of two concrete images, often a universal condition of nature and a particular aspect of human experience, in a way that prompts the reader to make an insightful connection between the two. The best haiku allude to the appropriate season of the year. Good haiku avoid subjectivity; intrusions of the poet’s ego, views, or values; and displays of intellect, wit, and facility with words.
The above is a normative definition, and haiku of various kinds not squaring with this definition can be easily found, even in the pages of our journal.

Senryu is a verse in the haiku form that focuses on human nature. Although Modern Haiku has a best-senryu-of-issue award, separate sections for haiku and senryu have been discontinued because we find it is impossible to draw a sharp line between the two in English-language verse.
The editors of Modern Haiku use the term "haiku" inclusively (and loosely) for both haiku and senyru and consider both for publication on an equal footing.

Speculations of Robert Spiess, the long-time editor of Modern Haiku

A Hundred Gourds

A quarterly online (free to access) journal of haiku and other forms such as tanka and haiga

Poetry Pea
A website for those who love to read, write and listen to Haiku. An especially nice feature of this webpage is the regular podcasts by Patricia McGuire and her efforts to write a daily haiku.

The Haiku Foundation

Daily email with one book to download weekly and some really good pages of haiku; subscribe (free) here

Mission Statement

The Haiku Foundation has two primary missions:

1) to archive our first century of English-language haiku,
2) to expand possibilities for our second.

All other haiku groups—from journals to societies to conferences—have been created to help the individual poet realize his or her creative dream, be it education, publication or social contact. The Haiku Foundation does not follow this model. THF instead is a series of projects organized not for poets per se, but for haiku itself. The realization of these projects will in due course help all haiku poets. The Haiku Foundation is where poets go when they want to give back.

Haiga is a Japanese concept for simple pictures combined with poetry, usually meaning haiku.

Shangri-La: James W. Hackett’s Life in Haiku

A fascinating article about the relationship between Haiku and Zen and the person who was James W Hackett

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

The VCBF hold an annual competition for haiku related to cherry blossom and they also have two good resource pages on About haiku and Teaching haiku.

Big Ben falls silent
at my age
will I ever hear him again?
(with thanks to Frank Skinner)

steep mountain path

I step over

the variegated leaf

we struggle uphill
how I envy
the waterfall

mountain moth

has Basho's spirit

followed me here?

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Friday, 8 September 2017

painting the shed

memories of children

just memories

Discovering haiku

watch hands
no fingers
pointing to time

This was my first published haiku in Blithe Spirit (The Journal of the British Haiku Society) in 2017. I 'discovered' haiku over twenty years ago when I picked up The Haiku Hundred in a shop in Edinburgh. I read it with interest and occasional amusement, but without much appreciation and took little further interest. But I must have shown some interest in haiku as my wife bought me Haiku Poetry Ancient & Modern a few years later, after we had moved to Hull. It was here that I learned that haiku traditionally follow a format of seventeen syllables in three lines and I 'dabbled' with a few ideas. It is as well that these are all lost now - they were terrible and I was simply trying to be amusing; the 'spirit' of haiku had not been acquired. Like many things I start I gave up, my mind swamped by work and academic writing.

Almost twenty years on something happened and I have no idea what or, specifically, where except that it was on a plane. I think I read something about haiku - a genre of poetry I had barely heard about or thought about in years and immediately started to think and to see things about me in seventeen syllables. A quick Google and I learned for the first time - although it had been explained in the preamble to Haiku Poetry Ancient & Modern that there was more to the genre than seventeen syllables; there was also a 5:7:5 arrangement. This added to the challenge but I began to arrange the 'poems' I was writing in this way and then to break these down so that they scanned and the breaks in the lines made some sense. Looking back, some of these were terrible and not haiku at all - just doggerel - but it was keeping me amused on long-haul flights and long, lonely stays in foreign countries and it helped me to reflect on my time there. I decided not to be shy about this and created this Haiku blog and started posting my haiku; I am glad to say that many of these have been deleted. I also evolved the blog such that all haiku are lower case, have no titles and have no pictures related to them. There are different views on this; I think a haiku should stand-alone, but I may change my mind.

Back home after one journey I dug out The Haiku Hundred and Haiku Poetry Ancient & Modern and packed them for my next long-haul. I read all of the haiku contained in them again and it had not struck me, until this reading, that they were not all in the 5:7:5 format. I was having fun with that format and already - in my usual arrogance - considered myself a 'traditionalist'. Looking more closely at The Haiku Hundred I noted that there was a British Haiku Society and checked it out online. I immediately joined and received the most recent issues of Blithe Spirit and a newsletter and my eyes were really opened to the spririt of haiku. Many of the haiku were brilliant: moving; amusing; inspiring, and the essays were helpful in leading me away from the constraints of the 5:7:5 format and to experiment with shorter pieces and also to begin writing haiku that seemed more like haiku. In Blithe Spirit I also discovered other related forms of poetry: tanka; haibun and senryu (in fact, most 'haiku' are senryu - and mine are certainly mostly senryu). I also learned that haiku - strictly speaking - have the specific characteristics of a word indicating the season (a 'kigo') and a cutting word (a 'kireji') which breaks the haiku into two parts. I had seen frogs - one of my favourite animals - referred to frequently in haiku and had wondered why until I learned that this indicates spring. The frog features in the most famous haiku by the acknowledged founder and foremost expert in the genre, Basho:

Old pond
leap — splash
a frog.
This haiku exists in many translations; above is my favourite and a very common one. It is short and clear. The kigo word is obvious; I still have to be clear where the kireji is in every haiku and I am not always sure but I think in the above it is 'splash'. In Blithe Spirit haiku and senryu are presented together with no distinction and, likewise, in frogpond, the Journal of the Haiku Society of America, which I also joined.

One thing I have found very useful is sharing haiku and my Burmese friend - living in Singapore - Su Wai Hlaing has been very enthusiastic and helpful. She started by responding in kind to my early 5:7:5 'haiku' and then as we discovered more about haiku we began to adapt our styles. We have also been experimenting with renku and tanka. At the moment I think we need to improve our haiku! The cross-cultural and cross-religious aspect here has been intersting and helpful: Su Wai is Buddhist and I am a Roman Catholic. Of course, haiku has its roots in Zen Buddhism and I have to be clear, in my own mind, where I stand. My interest in Buddhism has certainly increased but my own faith has not changed. Haiku is for everyone.

Finally, I have enjoyed finding more resoures to read and where haiku can be shared such as the Facebook pages for The British Haiku Society and Sharing Haiku Knowledge. There is also, based in the United States, The Haiku Foundation who have a fun app THF Haiku where you can read haiku at random and from whom you can receive blog postings. They also offer a lot of free content such as books to be downloaded. I am building up my own library of haiku books but I will not list these as I think that would deprive you of the fun of discovering them yourself. However, I have created a Haiku resources page and here are the links to my published haiku: 'watch hands'; 'rising river steam'; 'the ploughman'. And some haiku sequences on SoundCloud: 'haiku poetry by Roger Watson'.
You can listen to this as podcast

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Tuesday, 5 September 2017


parallel speaker

with no hook

on my attention

my mind drifts

and I think of you

Sunday, 3 September 2017

'Fragrance' renku with Su Wai Hlaing - again, harder than we thought 

the signs of life
numbers on the screen

_ your Haiku made me think of loneliness so_

bored and alone
turning towards the window

even the cuckoo
is not singing any song

the first conker falls from the tree
and lies alone on the ground

the cold wind
takes away the last
rusted leave

_worried about losing my thoughts_

the thief of dementia
steals my memories

my old diaries
giving rooms for

life goes on with memories
drifted away

Friday, 1 September 2017

Attempt at a related renku - not as easy as I thought - with Su Wai Hlaing

bird droppings

on the window sill

but no cat

food scattered on the table

no sign of a mouse

TV programme

children laughing

Tom and Jerry

last night's comedy show 

audience with laughing mouths

koi fish

gaping for food 

watched by a frog

little tadpoles paddle

following the mother fish

the flotilla

sails to sea

windows wave farewell

through the curtain

rosy-fingered dawn

Homer rises

the love of Christ

drips from The Cross

with blood and water

A contrasting renku with Su Wai Hlaing


like marbles under my pillow 

steal my sleep

though blinded by stars

the gift of sleep comes

winter nights

even the lice on my cat 

are awake

yet shooting stars streak

across the summer sky

my forehead 

sparks with sweat 

in summer nights

the chill wind blowing outside

rattles the icicles on my window

sun melting snow

beyond the curtains

as I dream of sleep

Thursday, 31 August 2017

rising river steam
cathedral bells chime
out of sych

Published (2017) in Blithe Spirit, (Journal of the British Haiku Society) Volume 27, Number 4, page 18.

This haiku was edited - and improved - by Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy, the original was:

cathedral bells
chiming out of synch
river steam rising

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

early morning

dog walking

steam rising

A linked renku with Su Wai Hlaing

new life

flows inside my daughter

as mine ebbs

fresh new leaves are symbols of 

another new beginning 


the grain grows and ripens

then harvest

summer breeze carries along

smell of harvested barley


from a distance 

my late father

reminiscing my childhood 

my dad was the best singer

lullaby music

baby is listening

to silence

summer reclining

an ant

crosses my mind

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Sunday, 13 August 2017

dead alcoholic

which was the drink that killed him

probably the first

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Friday, 7 July 2017

buzzing in my ear

dreaming of the dentist's drill

woke up mosquito 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Monday, 26 June 2017

snow tipped Dolomites

vapour trails hang below me

I am not the first

Ligurian coast

thick jasmine hangs in the air

with cigarette smoke

Friday, 23 June 2017

at the next station

alight the train with no flames

my burning desire

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Saturday, 17 June 2017

late spring
opening summerhouse
hoovering up dead flies
red sand and camels
aboriginal landscape
calling me to die
tea ceremony
facing water
by the pond
looking in and staring out
Buddha and the frog

Hong Kong sequence

typhoon season
rain washed streets
wet feet

wind chasing trees
ghosts gathering ground
then silence

Star ferry
stirs up shit smelling water
fragrant harbour

with life leaving them
insects after the typhoon
wave from the pavement

listen to this as a podcast

Riyadh sequence 

Allahu Akbar
eyes stinging dusty nostrils
the camel just blinks

searing Riyadh heat
the slow pace of Ramadan
as the pigeon flies

licking gritty teeth
the call to prayer goes out
how low the sun sinks

light fading fast
words dying in darkness
still the page is turned

Arabic incense
sickly sweet in the hot air
hitting my cold face

listen to this as a podcast

business cards

my recent visit

recorded in rectangles

no mobile signal

I cannot communicate

teenage angst

summer day

stroboscope of sun through trees

train journey home

charity shop window
old clothes
my father
homeless man smiles
uriniferous dribble
walk by

Thursday, 15 June 2017

with life leaving them

insects after the typhoon

wave from the pavement

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Monday, 12 June 2017

watch hands
no fingers
pointing to time

Published (2017) in Blithe Spirit (Journal of the British Haiku Society) Volume 27, Number 3, page 55.

typhoon chasing trees

ghosts gathering ground

then silence

Star ferry

stirs up shit smelling water

fragrant harbour

encountered briefs

not mine


Saturday, 10 June 2017

Friday, 9 June 2017

searing Riyadh heat

the slow pace of Ramadan

as the pigeon flies

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Arabic incense
sickly sweet in the hot air
hitting my cold face

licking gritty teeth

the call to prayer goes out

how low the sun sinks

Monday, 5 June 2017

Allahu akbar
eyes stinging dusty nostrils
the camel just blinks

Sunday, 4 June 2017

my name is yellow
standing next to an old friend
peeing in the snow
fading light
words dying in darkness
the page is turned
dust falling around
the silence after the bomb
is speaking volumes
bullshit baffles brains
that's what he always told me
I miss my father

Friday, 2 June 2017

the life-giving rain
is puffed up in the blue sky
virtuous cycle
waving not drowning
turbine blades

sleep takes me to where
the journey will never end
dream-like or death-like
light wind and slow turn
a farm without animals
the rhythmic beating
of the train wheels on the track
is taking me home

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

they claim that he said
niihau to a grasshopper
the small Chinese man

Monday, 15 May 2017

drowned in my whisky
happy ending
a long bamboo pole
Chinese cartoon character
desperate Dan Dan
there are no more eggs
the chickens are not clucking
the old lady died
alone walking
Luzhou City
the time zone has changed
I am in my own time zone
not here and not there
the beginning of
any journey is the end
of the same journey
live life to the full
what does that mean when I can
see no space to fill
travelling is a
life well lived but where will the
journey reach its end
it eats shoots and leaves
panda bear grammar lesson
it eats, shoots and leaves
bamboo is a word
when you combine with ‘oozle’
becomes confusing
canals and milltowns
transpennine Express from Hull
industry now gone

Friday, 7 April 2017

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Saturday, 1 April 2017

train is late again
but late trains always arrive
close to the platform
(Thanks to a writer from a very old edition of New Statesman for last line)

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Friday, 17 March 2017

time to leave Hong Kong
I think of high-rise buildings
and of small people

working for decades

look how fat I have become

I am very rich

(with Su Wai Hlaing(

Thursday, 16 March 2017

death takes us away
to a place we do not know
we will all go there

Friday, 10 March 2017

haiku about rain


wind blows them away
I get off the plane
I check in for the next flight
I take off again
litter annoys me
but why should I be concerned
I make some of it
the poet thinks hard
cows wander over the field
but the grass is green
City of Culture
that is our current hashtag
a good year for Hull

hustle bustle rush

Hong Kong wakes up this morning

people everywhere

egg becomes chicken

a chicken lays another

and so on it goes

Sunday, 5 March 2017

the m lt ng snow          e  i                d                               r                               i                       ...