Selected Haiku and senryu
from Woodnotes

From 1989 to 1997, in various capacities, I edited or helped to edit Woodnotes, the quarterly journal of the Haiku Poets of Northern California. It ran for 31 issues and became an independent journal in 1996, starting with issue #27. The following are my selections of favourite haiku and senryu from each issue (Woodnotes also published tanka, haibun, rengay, news, reports, essays, reviews, and other content). I do not include tanka, nor any of my own poems here (for the latter, please see “My Poems in Woodnotes). I selected the following poems from a total of 2,537 haiku and senryu (not counting tanka or poems in rengay or other linked forms) published in 1,116 pages over the journal’s eight-year history. It is gratifying to see that some of these haiku and senryu are among the best signature poems written by these poets. I’ve no doubt omitted many additional notable poems. For commentary on sixteen of these poems, see Woodnotes Triveni Spotlight.” See also “Selected Tanka from Woodnotes.”

#1, Spring 1989



a hearse passes

the lily pond

             Jerry Kilbride (in memory of Nick Virgilio)



#2, Summer 1989


Bald tire

still getting good mileage . . .

                        as a tree swing

             Garry Gay



#3, Autumn 1989


Summer twilight—

a woman’s song

mingles with the bath water

             Patricia Donegan



high in the cherry tree

        a boy singing

        with his mouth full

             Francine Porad



no sound to this

spring rain—

but the rocks darken

             Anita Virgil



#4, Winter 1990


my father’s winter

      coats still hang

           in the closet

             Tom Clausen



firefly there

  not there


             Mary Lou Bittle-DeLapa



A wounded bird:

    My hands become an empty nest

When it flies away.

             James Luguri



#5, Spring 1990


Saying the Pledge of Allegiance,

she feels her breast

for lumps.

             Alexis Rotella



summer night:

Orion at the tips

of Daddy’s fingers

             Adele Kenny



#6, Summer 1990


After the storm

the child pulling a wagon

of rain

             Marlina Rinzen



sidewalk sale—

wind twists a lifetime

      guarantee tag

             Tom Clausen



Plum rain—

the young prostitute

washes her underwear.

             Pat Donegan



#7, Autumn 1990


power restored . . .

around the switch

smudged fingerprints

             Peggy Willis Lyles



the sky’s

whole silence

in the owl’s wings

             June Moreau



Moonlit night

—aroma of yams

crossing the marsh

             Matthew Louvière



#8, Winter 1991


a city parking space

appears and disappears

in fog

             Marianne Monaco



as we drive past

his eyes

             Sharon Lee Shafii



pesky fly

in the polling booth

also undecided

             Ruth Holter



raking aside leaves

on the backyard pool

I release the moon

             H. F. Noyes



#9, Spring/Summer 1991


from the poet

from the flute—


             Sister Mary Thomas Eulberg



Billie Holiday’s voice

      light glints off courting


             Phyllis Walsh



       winter into spring—

each day a little more song

   spills through the trees

             John Thompson



spring shower . . .

the robin returns

to the fallen oak

             Lee Gurga



old friend . . .

a surreptitious glance

          at the name tag

             George Ralph



mother’s finger

    star by star

 the big dipper

             Ebba Story



alone in the waiting room

      checking the plant

             for reality

             Tom Clausen



         which is the way?

the fallen pine needles point

          in all directions

             John Thompson



#10, Autumn 1991


Passing through the crowd

     as the Blue Angels perform

          monarch butterfly

             Tom Tico



bright moonlight

suddenly he sees

her wedding ring

             Margaret Molarsky



roller coaster—

my Hindu friend riding

again and again

             Christopher Herold



#11, Winter 1991


she lifts the broom

as if to sweep

—a gust of wind

             Matthew Louvière



windows filled with light

at the home for the blind,

christmas night

             Jerry Kilbride



looking at the air

where the bear passed

last night

             Paul O. Williams



blackberry brambles

propped by the barn

or vice versa

             Francine Porad



retired racehorse

running the pasture


             Marianne Monaco



first frost

one puddle frozen

the size of my skate

             Kimberly Cortner



#12, Spring 1992


brushing my old dog—

     a house wren waits

          to line her nest

             Hank Dunlap



     upon reflection

only myself

        in the pool

             Laura Bell



spray from the hose—

my home

at the rainbow’s end

             Barbara Herold



the thin soles

of old sandals:

summer’s end

             Peggy Willis Lyles



sixteen floors up

on the window ledge

a grasshopper

             Marianne Monaco



immigrant graveyard

tombstones lean east

lean west

             Jerry Kilbride



strangers claim

the pup we found

my daughter’s tears

             J. Ervin



#13, Summer 1992


            morning breeze

pulsing in the Buddha’s palm

               a spider web

             Ebba Story



I shake the vase—

a bouquet of red roses

finds its shape

             Peggy Willis Lyles



where the scarecrow

used to stand

                         a snowman

             Mark Arvid White



Plow scraping

       the road            sparks

shoot through the falling snow

             David Elliott



No matter

where I stand

barbecue smoke

             Garry Gay



haiku reading

the frog

in his throat

             Laura Bell



#14, Autumn 1992


still     in my headlights     the deer

             Brian Tasker



Frosty morning

—a horse leaves its breath

on the hitching post

             Matthew Louvière



so still

snow settles

on a chickadee

             J. Ervin



all the birds

suddenly quiet . . .

first drops of rain

             Jim Kacian



           sound of shading . . .

the edge of his palm darkens

           with the sketch

             Ebba Story



rainy day—

sharing my bread

with a peg-leg grackle

             Kay F. Anderson



home again—

the terminal cancer patient

plants another tree

             Mark Arvid White



from earth to moon

       in one jump


             David E. LeCount



sunrise . . .

      a fireworks wrapper

            tumbles down the street

             Ebba Story



#15, Winter 1992


the slow dewdrop

down a length of leaf

bumps the snail

             Elizabeth St Jacques



Silencing the cricket,

silenced by it

—the night stars

             vincent tripi



                  new widow

turns the chipped side of the cup

                   to the wall

             Lequita Vance



one more ride

with the top down—

winter stars

             Yvonne Hardenbrook

#16, Spring 1993


morning walk

warbler’s song

changes my route

             Naomi Y. Brown



such a small pebble . . .

the big dipper wobbles

in a mud puddle

             Christopher Herold




in the sword’s blade

soft summer clouds

             Garry Gay



the touch of the air

     just before

          the touch of your paw

             Regina F. Smith



evening silence;

beneath the street lamp

rain becomes snow

             Ce Rosenow



a warm bus seat—

my breath clouds initials

left on the window

             Ebba Story

#17, Summer 1993


fields flooded—

beneath the surface, somewhere,

the river bends

             Christopher Herold



Summer dusk


where the melons were

             Matthew Louvière



afternoon heat—

caught in the semi’s slipstream

a butterfly

             Gene Doty



Through the voices

of carolers

falling snow.

             Alexis Rotella



peeping . . . peeping

        the lost duckling’s wake

                through evening shadows

             Ebba Story



#18, Autumn 1993


November mist—

wood smoke scents

the jogger’s way

             Peggy Willis Lyles



autumn mist

taking its color

from distant hills

             Patricia Neubauer



first sumi-e lesson—

what I need

is the teacher’s brush

             Kay F. Anderson



rain . . .

a book left behind

on the café table

             Jerry Kilbride



#19, Winter 1993


falling snow

white envelopes drop

through the mail slot

             Winona Baker



snowman finished . . .

thought the carrot they begged

was to be his nose!

             Patricia Neubauer



wren eggs!

         my foot

                  in mid-air

             Marian Olson



snapped line—

the salmon’s full length

in the air

             Francine Porad



#20, Spring 1994


knocking on the hive—

the hum of winter bees

rises a moment

             Paul O. Williams



Spring wind


the snow-covered bell

             Matthew Louvière



deep woods

rain runs off the ancient fir

down my forehead

             Jean Jorgensen


on a telephone pole

the wind-torn picture of a girl

missing for a year

             Dick Holmes

early snow—

he shakes the dust

from the sleigh bells

             Lois Gregory

new snow . . .

waxing the toboggan

with a hollyberry candle

             Evelyn Lang



#21, Summer 1994


nursing a friend with AIDS

I close the window

against rain

             Jerry Kilbride



this bad T.V. news

just like that commercial

keeps going, and going . . .

             Mark Arvid White



reaching for berries

the tip of my nose

in thrush song

             H. F. Noyes

A father’s stare

—the nurse leaving

with his stillborn son

             Matthew Louvière

    light spring rain

the sound of an airplane

    circling above the clouds

             Jeff Witkin

window almost closed

one tendril of ivy

creeps into my room

             Margaret Molarsky



#22, Autumn 1994


hand to hand

the unframed photos

of her life

             Gary Hotham



Along the way

an old oak branch

becomes a walking stick

             Garry Gay



featherless chick—

the yellow jacket crawls in

a hollow eye socket

             B. H. Feingold



five years

in the wrong window;

the violet’s first bloom

             Kay F. Anderson



#23, Winter 1994



curve of the winter hills

         in moonlight

             Cherie Hunter Day




?   ?            /\/\

     ?          (cat)



     a a        a a

    t   t      t   t

             Carlos Colón



end of a long day

the old bartender’s feet

take the floorboards home

             Jerry Kilbride



white sail . . .

whiter still

under my shading hand

             Kohjin Sakamoto



#24, Spring 1995


little woodsflower

I almost stepped on

taller today

             H. F. Noyes



votive candles—

so much movement

in the empty church

             Richard Goring



after his death—

snow falling, falling

in the paperweight

             Mark Arvid White



#25, Summer 1995



from the bread truck’s roof

frost swirls

             Tom Clausen



foggy park—

toy dump truck

loaded with leaves

             Tom Lynch



The deep shade

of the ancient oak

quiets the wind

             Dave Sutter


From pitcher’s mound

               to home plate

                                slushy snowball

             Carol Purington



#26, Autumn 1995


fresh-fallen snow—

footprints leading away

from the grave

             Mark Arvid White



combing the last tangle

from my hair, I remember

our one night together

             Jenniffer L. Lesh



Christmas morning—

misty breath of cows

rising where they lie

             Randy Brooks



before the sled moves

the little girls already


             Ruth Yarrow


antique train

kids line up

to view the privy

             Jocelyn A. Conway


First day of spring—

me and the teakettle

both whistling



#27, Winter 1995


toy shop window

a tiny sleigh waits

at the doll house door

             Patricia Neubauer



December mist

where he buried bones

burying our dog

             R. A. Stefanac


the frayed shoestring


             Peggy Willis Lyles



scenic viewpoint—

we gaze

into fog

             Tom Lynch



#28, Spring 1996


for a moment

in the nearby air

the hummingbird’s eye

             Paul O. Williams










             John Stevenson



at the church door

a man flicks his cigarette

into the snow

             John Hudak



#29, Summer 1996


staff lounge chess game—

a pawn on the verge

of promotion

             Carlos Calón



Snowflakes fall

into the darkness

of the tuba

             Garry Gay




in the dead fox’s fur

first snow

             Grant Savage




I put my foot in the stream

a second time




#30, Autumn 1996



in rush hour traffic

 turns its lights off

             Timothy Russell



graduation day—

my son & I side by side

knotting our ties

             Lee Gurga



out of

the fog


             Barry Goodmann



     missing the turn sign

missing the turn

              —wild lilies

             Ellen Compton 



on the log

   the log

             George Ralph



#31, Autumn 1997

[published after a delay]


with the numbers

my daughter knows—

the stars counted

             Gary Hotham



just a minnow

      the granite mountain wobbles

      on the lake

             Christopher Herold



Old retriever;

   he opens one eye

      at the tossed stick

             Garry Gay




             John Sheirer



old lab licks my hand

after watching me

dig her grave

             Diane Tomczak



last bale of hay—

we sit down on it

and watch the moon

             Lee Gurga