Winter 2019 Showcase

Uncharted territory…

You should all know by now that although the haiku is a very short form of poetry (if it is poetry), there are more words expended on debating what it is and what it is not, proportionally, than to any other form (?) of poetry (?). We are often in danger of disappearing up our own arguments. As the bard of Salford, John Cooper Clarke, once put it:

catching the moment
in seventeen syllables
is very diffic

and he said a bundle there! I started the zen space after two such arguments in which I took full part, and I readily admit I should have known better, all about whether something of mine was going to be published! In a fit of pique I thought – I’ll bloody well start an e-zine of my own. This is it. It’s on the 30th Showcase, and shows no sign of flagging. It’s funny, this business of cause-and-effect. One effect is, of course, that this e-zine carries none of my own poetry. It’s not that much of an ego-trip…

As I write this editorial, with less than a day to go till publication date. I have no idea whose material I’m going to put into this Showcase. Except I have to choose from some interesting English/French haiku by Richard Vallance, former editor of Canadian Zen Haiku, of which I was once associate editor, something by another contributor in English/Magyar, and a lot of material that is un-haiku. I think, although I’m not too sure at this moment, that I invited Daniel Marshall to be guest editor for the Spring 2019 Showcase. I’m enjoying being a little disorganized – it’s sort of a New Year’s Resolution. Let’s wander into uncharted territory…

Marie Marshall
the zen space1

P.S. The illustrations this time are from an unusual source – Violet’s Vegan Comics – well worth checking out, to see her anti-vivisection stories for young readers. As always, illustrations here are meant to jar with the other contents, setting up a tension…


Ray Sharp


枯山水 (karesansui)

yellow daisy painted on a smooth rock

3 rocks
arranged in a flower garden
always form a triangle

a rock in a meadow
turned up by a glacier
then covered again by new snow

the rock you don’t see


Richard Vallance


common loons
phantom howlers
pierce the moon

plongeons huards
fantômes qui hurlent
percent la lune


snow tumbling
off lamp posts in the lane –
fading footfalls

neige en chute
des réverbères dans l’allée –
pas passes


listening for
Canadian spirit voices –
loons in flight

à l’écoute des voix
des esprits canadiens –
huards en vol


in the snowfall
the lynx leaps in bounds –
home run

dans la chute de neige
le lynx bondit –
coup de circuit


spider web
on frosty grapes –
filigree lace

toile d’araignée
sur les raisins givres

– dentelle delicate.




Pablo Cuzco

[Inspired by seeing Daniel Marshall’s work here, Pablo has sent me ‘Five Pieces of Zen’, of which he says “They are not haiku. Instead they reflect the dream state often associated with meditation.” As they are longer works, I am going to publish them over several Showcases. The first two follow. I have included their meandering layout, which is part of the effect MM.]



a part of the park
……..I’ve never seen! from the Gazebo

……………..past the stone steps
……..of the walkway
the secluded row of azalea

……..the stone wall that rounds lawn
…………….to the right
……………………..a soft slope

…………….and winding twists
………of tree limb and trunk
branches of bright yellow
………sugar maple
…………… a cycle of death to rebirth
—the Fall

………soft green juniper in the foreground
……………..dwarf white pine and Japanese laurel
……………………..roll down to a flaming elm
…………………………….that hides cars passing
……………………………………on the street below



the bird must be ready
before it can fly
wings strong
fixed right, muscles tuned

feathers dry
—skin tight, flexed
bold, unafraid

………a little push
………………..(a nudge from the nest)

………sends it to flail
……………….—a frightened struggle

………to gain attitude,

heart pounding

wings catch air


with strength
……….to soar on the currents




László Aranyi



Asshole the mouth, dick
the nose and the bald skull
the abdominal cavity.


Segglyuk a száj, pöcs
az orr, s a tar koponya
az a hasüreg.


..At night, behind the consuming moon

Root-sleeved. Spasm
grimace: seal head branch.
The ear leaf.

..Éjszaka, fogyó hold fátyla mogul

Gyökér-ujjú. Görcs
grimasz: fókafejű ág.
A fül falevél.


..Exiled master

Dead cloud,
Baby-faced. Winter
blind, summer is deaf.

..A száműzött tanító

csecsemőarcú. A tél
vak, a nyár süket.


..Absurd idyll

Our cat is the threshold.
There is no door. Our hut: broken tooth
in open mouth.

..Abszurd idill

Macskánk a küszöb.
Ajtó nincs. Kunyhónk odvas
fog tátott szájban.




Radostina A. Dragostinova


every leaf
post stamp from summer


falling leaves
the hiking trails
of your mind


autumn wind
your farewell steps
fade away


deep in the forest


Colin James


Who have you been mistaken for?
I asked Jeff the dog.
He replied neither squirrels nor
beavers that frequent Connant Pond.
Certainly not that heron
standing statuesquely still
then gobbling up the toads that
mistakenly risk a swim.
Not the canoes that fade away
always heading further from.
Not the deer that come to drink
then mysteriously disappear.
I guess I am sort of unique. I am
me and you are you, thank God.




Dan Cardoza

[The following item is unusal, inasmuch as rather than poetry, it is a prose meditation on zen master Kodo Sawaki. MM.]


The Lesson

The first writing ink was invented in 2500 B. C. by the Egyptians and the Chinese. It is believed that this ink was made by mixing carbon with gum.

Writing, yet birthed, uncompromised, each & every word a dark flame; carbon & gum. It is born on exquisitely crafted onion skinned paper waiting for the calligrapher’s blade, patiently for the first dark cut.

It would be Kodo’s intent to point the way for the promising poet, Matsuo, toward the enlightened path. It would be his intent, to snatch the roar from the lion, or even more exquisitely, the lion from the roar.

Kodo Sawaki was born in Tsu, Mie, and was one of six children. He was orphaned at a very you age, losing his parents. Kodo lost his mother when he was only four and unfortunately, lost his father three years later. Some say that loss and loneliness sow seeds that seldom grow. Young Kodo would approach the meaning of departure for most of his adult life.

From an early age, Kodo contemplated if you can ever give the things away you never possessed? And questioned if you can depart from somewhere you never were. With his yearning for meaning, Kodo ran away from his home at the age of 16, never to return. His mind slowly became comfortable, with the meaningless of beginnings and ends.

His life’s mission was to teach this to his students of Zen and life. As he continued his travels, not having the responsibility for any particular Temple, he would soon become known as the Homeless Kodo. He loved teaching the most difficult students what he called his “wonderfully useless” Zen. For the layperson, to believe this, in fact, would be entirely naïve.

Matsuo would prove to be a difficult student in particular. He was highly intelligent, but stubborn, infused with a sense of curiosity and wanderlust. One might entertain the thought, that perhaps his habits of self were not that dissimilar to those of his master in youth.

Kodo accidentally spilled the bottle of ink on his prized student’s paper. A shiny, inky ocean dried black to Shiro (white) shores, not unlike the ring of light in a full eclipse of the sun. The brilliant student waited impatiently for his dark ocean to dry, then slowly begin to turn its corona, crafting the most exquisite Haiku’s, in the white margins circular shore. When complete, as instructed, he cut out his black ocean moon, slowly & deliberately, with his master’s ancient scissors. Once removed, he turned his sea shore slowly in a circle, reciting his poems. Holding his ocean in one hand; seashore in the other he beamed. Suddenly the master lunged, snapping up his elipictal ocean and tossed it straight into the blazing furnace, slamming the heavy cast iron door shut. Matsuo stood, and angrily grinned defiantly, “I still have my poems.” Kodo Sawaki smiled; spoke softly, “Your poem is on fire.”


Available now! Contemporary Haibun Online 14:4.

Also available now! whisper me free – the twentieth edition of the cherita.

The next Showcase at the zen space will be Spring 2019 which will be released, subject to karma, on 1st April 2019. As always, the editor is looking for haiku, short poetry, in-the-moment bursts of language, and original illustrations. New ‘names’ are especially welcome.

Please note that the copyright of all written work and images used in this Showcase and elsewhere in the zen space is held by the creating author/artist, even when not explicitly stated, and may not be used elsewhere without permission.


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