Haiku on the Run


Winter sunlight glows through morning mist backlighting royal palms and flower beds. In the hibiscus, birds chirp. There is the thump, thump, thump of running shoes on the pavement, followed by silent running on grass. Jennie is thinking about a topic for her next poetry podcast, “Haiku Time.” She stops momentarily to record a haiku into her smartwatch: “winter thoughts, like ocean waves, whoosh, they’re gone,” she says. 

She is becoming obsessed with haiku; she’d be the first to admit it. She finds herself composing haiku all the time, everywhere, parsing words for their haiku potential. Jotting down haiku on paper scraps and sticky notes, before dental appointments, in grocery store lines, at stop lights. Seeing haiku’s 5-7-5 syllable structure everywhere. Last night she dreamt in haiku. Jennie wonders, offhandedly, if she is becoming a “haiku junkie.”   

Recently, she has even started composing haiku on her smartwatch as she jogs around the neighborhood–like today, which happens to be fair and warm after a stormy week. She turns a corner and enters a local park where the sidewalk snakes through a wildlife reserve before opening into a meadow. Jennie stops running and whispers into her watch: 

“time’s passing tamed, last night’s weather corralled, lions and lambs nap.”  

She starts off again, and as she rounds a corner she spots an egret near a lake. The bird is watching the water, waiting motionlessly, its long sinuous neck an S-curve of patience.  

“Egret sees itself, lake water’s fickle mirror, still life within.”  

She forges on past tranquil ponds, slowing down as she enters a section of dense woods. Here the trail is bordered by mature oaks and slash pines, and thick undergrowth serves as a home for wildlife she can hear rustling but seldom sees. Around a bend comes another straight stretch, then the narrow trail opens onto a sun-washed clearing of palmetto and sawgrass, and off in the distance, a tree line — the air seems alive with possibility. She pauses, enthralled: “electrons, atmospheric confetti, Big Bang fossilized.”  

To her right, something scarlet darts through a gap in a row of loblolly pines. A stuttering flash of bright red flits through the greenery. She hesitates, considering, then remembers the bike path winding through the woods: “Cardinal winging it? Tall pines its cathedral? No, biker’s helmet!” 

Soon she is jogging onto a boardwalk, zigzagging through swampland, then rejoins the walking trail where the running is easier, despite the scattering of pet walkers with their charges. Ahead, a low-slung dog struts imperiously at its owner’s feet. “Leashed but unbowed, a strutting basset hound, walking its master.”  

Further on, a couple appears with a toy poodle –the little dog yipping at her as she approaches. Not breaking stride, she skirts past, grumbling into her watch. “Faux ferocity, attitude is everything, the wolf in him found.”  

Now rounding a bend and heading for home, Jennie enters a tree-shaded street of bungalows. Acorn debris dusts the road and rises in saffron plumes at each footfall. “Shifting autumn winds, rustling leaf remains, last year’s wind chimes,” she exclaims, startling a pair of mourning doves on the sidewalk; they flutter off, cooing. She tosses them an apology with a swish of her hand.  

Jennie reaches her front door and checks her jacket pocket for her house keys—nothing there. Then she remembers: she’d left the keys on the kitchen table, impatient for her run. “My empty pockets, forgetfulness echoes, what a bummer…”. Resigned, she searches in her garden for the flowerpot where she had squirreled away a spare key.  

“Winter treasures, memories’ forgotten paths, life’s rusty key.” 


Haiku from
Haiku on the Run

winter thoughts
like ocean waves,
whoosh, they’re gone

time’s passing tamed
last night’s weather corralled
lions and lambs nap

egret sees itself
lake water’s fickle mirror
still life within

atmospheric confetti:
Big Bang fossilized

Cardinal on the wing?
Tall pines its cathedral?
No, biker’s helmet!

leashed but unbowed
a strutting basset hound
walking its master

faux ferocity
attitude is everything,
the wolf in him found

shifting autumn winds
rustling leaf remains
last year’s wind chimes

my empty pockets
forgetfulness echoes,
what a bummer…

winter treasures
memories’ forgotten path
life’s rusty key

Margaret Ryan

And for those indulging in a summer run……

Sweltering sunshine
Purple thunderheads bursting
Drenched yet still warm skin

Janet Bergeron

Final Thoughts in Haiku
Marilyn Myerson

Wrinkles greying hair
Merit badges of aging
Hope for wisdom too

Red flash through the trees
A cardinal rejoices
The wide sky his home

Skies are inviting
The birds rejoice to fly free
All others pay cash

Lonesome train whistle
In the darkness of my night
Plaintive song of yore

Future yet untold
Will there be rainbows in flight?
Caterpillar dreams

Yellow daffodils
Flowers of my youth
I long for your joy

Have no attachment
Says the Buddha with a grin
Meanwhile one hand claps

The fields lie fallow
The farmer surveys her land
Next year will blossom

Margaret Ryan has taken many OLLI-USF courses over the last several years including classes in history, science, politics, short stories, poetry, and travel. She wrote her first haiku in high school, then went decades where most of the writing she did was work-related and technical. She rediscovered her interest in fiction and verse after taking an imaginative writing class and a poetry seminar through OLLI.

Janet Bergeron is a former librarian and educator.  She has been enjoying OLLI classes since retirement, especially improving her Spanish and French, and, most recently, dabbling in creative writing. 

Marilyn Myerson, PhD Philosophy, has learned to take nothing for granted and to have fun. She retired from USF after 38 years of teaching, learning and kicking up her heels in Women’s and Gender Studies. Marilyn was the first outside hire in W(G)S, starting in 1973, when the department was just one year old. She was an administrator at various departmental and dean’s levels, including a stint as W(G)S Chair before her retirement as Emeritus faculty in 2010. She shepherded the Human Sexual Behavior class through its many incarnations, developed the original women’s health classes, and taught feminist research methodology. She is currently in three writing groups, and happily involved with OLLI-USF, taking art and writing classes. She created and teaches OLLI Imaginative Writing classes and facilitates writing groups.

6 Replies to “Haiku on the Run”

  1. I usually teach Science and History related classes but this post reminded me of a link from few years ago connecting Science and Haiku. Here is the link https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/a-haiku-for-every-element-in-the-periodic-table/
    This refutes the well-known quote from physicist C. P. Snow about two cultures
    I hope Dr. Myerson some day would offer a class in Philosophy. The very first OLLI class I attended was a book discussion “The Swerve” about a lost Lucretius book. My weird synapses lean more towards limericks by Ogden Nash compared to Haiku but even I enjoyed the post!

  2. Thank you Margaret, Janet and Marilyn for your inspiring haiku poems in all their variations. I enjoyed them all.

    The poetry series was excellent – the contributors are so talented. The OLLI connects editors did an awesome job showcasing the talented OLLI contributors.

  3. I’m impressed. I usually don’t read poetry, as I find so much of it obscure. This was lean and to the point. Every word counts. I loved it all!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights