Bonus Post: Spring and Summer Celebrations

First, thanks to Pamela Pfautsch for buying me a coffee and supporting The Culinary Saijiki. I appreciate that people I haven’t (yet) met in person are as excited about the project as I am.

This bonus post features haiku and related forms from community readers. Thanks to everyone who sent me their work. I had fun reading it, and I plan to do more of these in the future. Look for announcements of future bonus posts in August and November.

I was also excited to have poems from across the world! I love to eat cuisines from all over (I think Korean food is my favorite . . . but it’s a tough call!), and am glad to be able to represent different traditions here.

Photo by Anna Tis on Pexels.com

Oche Akor brings us two spring haiku. While I admit that they didn’t quite touch on the holiday aspect of the prompt, I still wanted to include these two in the post because I loved them so much. (I’ve been known to be a stickler as an editor, but a poem that surprises or intrigues me can override that tendency.)

This first haiku resonated with me because I’ve had weevils infest flour and rice . . . but also am in a position where, though the waste is lamentable, I can toss out the tainted food. This haiku is a compelling reminder that not everyone has that option.

spring breeze
the taste of weevils
in my beans . . .

Oche Akor, Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria

While the spring planting season isn’t specifically a holiday, there are traditions and cultures where it’s a festive time. Planting of crops is an investment in the future, a hope for a bountiful harvest in the fall. I feel the poem below contains a sense of wariness, which, given the state of agriculture around the world, certainly makes sense. These days, it seems natural to temper optimism with something else.

corn planting . . .
footprints in the sand
Going nowhere

Oche Akor, Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria
Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

Hwaro gives us two haiku that celebrate sharing food. During COVID, my partner and I have gotten into the habit of going on picnics. It’s a way to enjoy good food outdoors, and at a distance. Hwaro’s first haiku reminded me of our picnic dates. (Also, tteokbokki is one of my most favorite foods. As I type, I’m wishing I had some!)

Gimbap roll for each
Tteokbokki to pique the tongue
and enjoy the spring breeze

Hwaro, Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

While the haiku below doesn’t explicitly mention Father’s Day, I felt a strong connection with that particular holiday. Sometimes, it feels like there’s no way to fully honor your parents and all they have done for you. Yet the act of sharing a meal together, and being totally present, can sometimes be enough.

Father, I’ve got
nothing to offer you
shall we share jjajangmeyon?

Hwaro, Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
Photo by Archana GS on Pexels.com

Pamela Pfautsch brings us a tanka-style poem that made me think of all the delightful treats that emerge in summer. Whether enjoying a cold ice cream on a hot day, or the natural sweetness of fresh berries, cherries, and peaches, summer is a season full of sweetness. Haiku Haven captures the lushness of a berry bush, or the dessert spread at a picnic.

A breezy wisp
Of honeycomb sighs
Whoosh of treats
Flutter on honeybee wings
Summer’s sweet begins.

Pamela Pfautsch, Frisco, Texas, USA
Photo by Gustavo Peres on Pexels.com

I admit that I can’t resist a good pun, and Peter Schmidt made me laugh with this haiku. Peter packs a great deal of imagery into this small poem, and the picture of fudge and melting ice cream merging makes me think about the ways in which long, hot summer days can melt into each other, with time slowing down in the heat.

Chocolate Sunday
Hot fudge sun melts ice cream breeze
Scoop of May in June

Peter Schmidt, Lexington, MA, USA
Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

Geoff Pope offers this haiku with a bit of mystical quality to it. I love coconut soup, and there are many variations; they can range from creamy white to orange or green, depending on the other ingredients. In Geoff’s poem, I picture a moon-white bowl of soup, enjoyed at night at a solstice festival. The bowl has a bit of glow to it, maybe from outdoor lights, or maybe from something a little more magical. I like the idea of being able to eat moonlight, and Geoff’s poem makes that feel like a possibility.

summer solstice—
a bowl of coconut
moonlight soup

Geoff Pope, Paducah, Kentucky, USA
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Robert Epstein was the first person to send haiku for this bonus post! These haiku invoke the delights of family. In fact, in my acceptance letter to Robert, I noted that the child in the monoku below could easily be my nephew! The word “river” invokes water, so I picture a blue-raspberry Popsicle running in rivulets, dripping onto the lawn below.

that river of popsicle down the bare-chested toddler

Robert Epstein, El Cerrito, CA, USA

While the she in this poem isn’t necessarily a child, I picture a young girl here, someone young enough to not care what someone might think about her spitting watermelon seeds on the ground. I think a child would also find it amusing to time their spitting with the show. When I read the following haiku, I can’t help but think of a girl making extra fun for herself on a summer night.

watermelon seeds—
she spits them out in concert
with the fireworks

Robert Epstein, El Cerrito, CA, USA

While Robert’s last haiku is based in memory and written from the perspective of adulthood, the wonder of childhood runs through in this haiku. Maybe the children didn’t appreciate the efforts at the time, but as an adult, you could feel a sense of reverence for the way in which your mother took the time to cut small pieces of cool melon on a hot day.

the simple way
she cut into small pieces
the cantaloupe for us

~ in memory of my mother

Robert Epstein, El Cerrito, CA, USA
Originally published in The Helping Hand Haiku Anthology, ed. Robert Epstein, 2020
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

Mary Stevens brings multisensory haiku that to me capture the quotidian essence of summer. In her first haiku, I picture someone sitting out on a porch in the evening, as the air cools down. Maybe the neighbors are cooking, maybe they’re eating, maybe they’re even arguing. You can probably hear them because the windows are open. This haiku makes me think about how everything seems open and permeable in summer (at least when it’s not so hot you have to lock yourself in with the air conditioner).

summer evening
the neighbors’
kitchen sounds

Mary Stevens, Hurley, NY, USA
Originally published in Upstate Dim Sum, 2021

Even though this poem also doesn’t name a specific holiday, the way the middle line serves as a linchpin for the first and second lines makes me want to read it over and over. This haiku not only makes me think of eating an antipasto platter on a warm evening (one of my favorite summer dinners), but it’s packed with sensuality despite being only eight words long.

pitting an olive
in my mouth
his name

Mary Stevens, Hurley, NY, USA
Original published in Modern Haiku 50.3, 2019

Mary’s final haiku incorporates music. This poem reminds me of the ways in which ice cream truck music can be jarring. Sometimes it’s one consistent tune, but other trucks will cycle through a variety of tinny renditions of old songs. The music gets stronger as the truck approaches, but then after the ice cream is purchased, the music fades away, just as summer fades into fall.

summer’s end
the counterpoint melody
of the ice cream truck

Mary Stevens, Hurley, NY, USA
Originally published in The Heron’s Nest XXII, Number 4, 2020

Thanks again to everyone who sent work for this bonus issue! In June, I’ll wrap up my series on initial observations about food and haiku. Also, be on the lookout for the podcast launch on June 21st!

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