Episode 4: Christine Wenk-Harrison: One-Jam Harvest

August 31 Open Mic To participate in the August 31st open mic bonus episode, click this link: https://anchor.fm/culinarysaijiki/message


  • Each poet is limited to two haiku
  • Before reading your haiku, please say your name or pen name and, if comfortable, where you’re writing from
  • Please read each haiku twice
  • Haiku should mention food, and connect to the transitional aspect of seasons, with an emphasis on autumn
  • Submissions that do not follow these guidelines will be disqualified

In Gratitude Thanks to the anonymous doner who bought me three coffees this weekend! They donated after I sent the podcast to be mixed and edited, so I couldn’t thank them at the top of the episode, but I will for the next one!

I forgot to mention in the intro, but this month, project supporters will get a recipe for Christine’s Mango Trio Pie. 

You can support the project at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/culinarysaijiki

More work by Christine Wenk-Harrison Three haiku at Miriam’s Well: https://miriamswell.wordpress.com/2020/11/29/3-haiku-by-christine-wenk-harrison-from-100-thousand-poets-for-change-reading/

Christine’s “Hill Country Tastes” column from November 18, 2011: https://northshorebeacon.com/hill-country-tastes-by-christine-wenkharrison-p272-135.htm Christine’s “Hill Country Tastes” column from October 10, 2012: https://northshorebeacon.com/celebrating-german-day-the-old-way-p936-135.htm

On the blog Visit https://culinarysaijiki.com/ for long-form essays and commentary on food haiku. The most recent post is about debatable food season words. Please join the conversation and offer your insight!

Join the conversation I’m excited about the requests coming in to join the podcast! If you want to record a conversation, go to the form on the website: https://culinarysaijiki.com/join-the-conversation/

Debatable summer haiku

Just as there isn’t always a clear distinction between one season and the next, sometimes a haiku feels seasonal without having a clear seasonal referent. I’m not talking about haiku that completely lack a kigo. Rather, I’m thinking about haiku that seem to have a kigo, yet are not clearly grounded in an identifiable season.

There are a few reasons why a seasonal referent might not be clear:

  • The word that is ostensibly a kigo could plausibly fit into more than one season;
  • The reader’s interpretation of the potential kigo might be influenced by where they have lived;
  • As a whole, the haiku suggests a different season than a single word might imply

Below, I have some haiku that are currently in my summer collection, but that I’m not entirely sure about. Some of them might belong to spring or autumn, or might be better placed in the All Year category. I welcome your thoughts in the comments!

a person holding orange and red bell pepper
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

farmers’ market
the queen bee
makes her appearance

Victor Ortiz, bottle rockets #46

I initially placed Victor Ortiz’s haiku in the summer category because summer is peak time for farmer’s markets and fresh produce. However, markets can easily last well into the fall, with root vegetables and cruciferous greens making an appearance. When I lived in Austin, farmer’s markets would last year-round, only skipping weekends from the most inclement weather. In addition, some cities in more temperate climates have covered markets year-round.

I’m also not sure how to treat the phrase “queen bee” as a kigo. In Haiku World, “bee” is listed as a spring kigo. Jane Reichold also listed “bee” as a spring kigo in A Dictionary of Haiku Classified by Season Words with Traditional and Modern Methods. I cannot find a reference to bees in Yamamoto Kenkichi’s The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words. Honeybee mating season also begins in the spring. In Ortiz’s haiku, I interpret “queen bee” metaphorically, referring to a particular type of woman making an appearance, but taking the word more literally, it could refer to spring. As a result, I’m not 100% certain whether I should keep this poem in summer or move it to spring.

red raspberries
Photo by Wahid Hacene on Pexels.com

a month of Sundays . . .
berries rotting
on the vine

Julie Schrein, First Frost #1

While berries are a summer kigo, in Julie Schrein’s haiku, we see them rotting. In addition, the opening line illustrates the passage of time. That the berries are rotting does not inherently mean that autumn has arrived. Berries that are ready earlier in the summer can rot before autumn arrives. However, autumn is the season of decay, and the clear passage of time suggests that even if autumn hasn’t fully arrived, we’re in a transitional state. I’m tempted to move this haiku to autumn, but the word “berries” is such a classic kigo that I still have it in the summer.

purple petal flowers focus photograph
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

her scent on my fingers
lavender harvest

Robert Piotrowski, First Frost #2

When I think of lavender ready for harvest, I think of Blanco, Texas, which hosts an annual festival where visitors can travel to farms to harvest their own lavender. The festival takes place in May, which is early summer in the Lunar calendar, and late spring in the Gregorian calendar (however, in Texas, it’s definitely feeling like summer already). In addition, different varieties of lavender bloom throughout the year, with some in early spring, and others late in the summer (Gregorian)/early fall (Lunar). I haven’t moved this haiku out of the summer category yet, but I wonder if lavender isn’t best specified by the type it is (True/Common, Spanish/Butterfly, Fringed/French) in order to best place it in a specific season. That being said, given the minimalist tendencies in English-language haiku, poets might not want to add an additional modifying word . . . though if they’re aiming to be as specific as possible, that might be the most pragmatic choice.

slice cake
Photo by Elli on Pexels.com

finishing dessert . . .
one last smear
of sunset

Tony Williams, Failed Haiku #70

“Sunset” is listed as an all-year kigo in Haiku World, but appears as a summer kigo in A Dictionary of Haiku Classified by Season Words with Traditional and Modern Methods. (I can’t find reference to it in The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words.) By that logic, I should move Tony Williams’ haiku to the spring section. However, dining outdoors reminds me more of summer than of spring, when the late nights and dry weather are more conducive to outdoor dining. I think this is an example in which the whole of the haiku creates the season, rather than a specific word.

rose wine splashing from a wine glass
Photo by solod_sha on Pexels.com

sunset . . .
uncorking a bottle
of rose wine

Joe Sebastian, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 6

As mentioned above, in the established saijiki I’m working with, “sunset” is either an all-year kigo or a spring kigo. However, I associate rose wine with summer, especially because frose (frozen rose) was a trendy summer millennial drink a few years ago. While “sunset” as a kigo might be ambiguous, to me, “rose” is not . . . However, that might be my own biases and preferences talking.

I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions! Even if you disagree with me, I hope the explanation of my thought process has been interesting.

Episode 3: Claire Vogel Camargo: My Best Burger

A burger with bacon, cheese, lettuce, and onion, with a side of sweet potato tater tots
A burger and sweet potato tater tots from The Shack restaurant

In my penultimate Austin recording, I sat down with Claire Vogel Camargo at her home in Austin, Texas. We met after my final meeting with the Austin Haiku Study group. Claire and I talked at length about how food connects us to family, and her haiku brought up memories that led to fund stories and digressions. I hope you enjoy our rambling, free-form conversation. 

More of Claire’s work

Support the podcast

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Read the saijiki

For long-form essays about food, the seasons, and haiku, visit https://culinarysaijiki.com/

An Assortment of Summer Produce

This month, I wanted to do something more in line with a saijiki such as William J. Higginson’s Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac. While in many posts I’ve been listing all the seasons in sections, this time, I want to just focus on summer food kigo. Summer is one of the peak times for produce, and that really comes through in the haiku I’ve collected so far.


All. Depending on where you live, tomatoes can start fruiting as early as May (early summer in the Lunar calendar, late spring in the Gregorian calendar) and last until October. Heirloom or conventional, green or red, tomatoes are a staple summer food.

tomato plant
green on green
the hornworm

Christa Pandey, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 6
A meme with a halved tomato and a whole tomato that reads, "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. Philosophy is wondering if that means ketchup is a smoothie."

at summer’s end
green tomatoes . . .
heating the frying pan

Kathleen Tice, [poetry pea]


Mid-Late. Berry brambles tend to start fruiting in June, and depending on the berry and geography, peak in July or August. If you’re trying to forage for wild berries, you have to check caches regularly. It’s a waiting game, but once they’re finally ready to harvest, the season seems all too fleeting. When foraging for wild berries in Illinois, my partner and I have occasionally missed the peak harvest by a matter of days.

our talk of the patriarchy
a buck strips a bush
of its berries

Mary Stevens, Kingfisher 3
blueberries and strawberries in white ceramic bowl
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

ripe berries . . .
the purpling
of her fingertips

Kim Klugh, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 6

going back
for more blueberries
summer sky

Brad Bennett, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 6

First strawberries
—Never taste
Like the first time

Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 10

Stone Fruits

Peaches. Mid-Late. Depending on location, peach trees usually start to fruit in June, and can last until October. They’re a popular summer dessert, whether fresh with cream, or baked into a pie. While the state of Georgia (USA) is one of the most best-known places for peaches, Illinois, Missouri, and Texas also have excellent varieties.

slicing a peach . . .
the color of
my cancer ribbon

Jason Furtak, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 6

Cherries. All. Different varieties of cherries connote different parts of the summer season. Sweet cherries tend to fruit from May to August, while tart cherries often don’t make their appearance until June. They’re another fruit that does well as a dessert, enjoyed either fresh or baked into a pie.

black cherry dewdrop full of sky

Craig Kittner, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 6
two red cherries on brown surface
Photo by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto on Pexels.com

from the same tree
my wife and sparrow
lunch cherries

Zrinko Šimunić, Haikuniverse, June 15th, 2022

Mango. All. Due to globalization, fresh mangos are often available in grocery stores year-round. The first time I ever encountered a mango was at a grocery store in Austin, in the middle of February . . . and they were on special. However, in their actual climate, mangoes fruit as early as May and usually last until August.

first bite of mango
summer flowing down
my chin

Rick Daddario, Charlotte DiGregorio’s Writer’s Blog, May 11, 2022

eating sticky rice
with mango
holiday romance

Louise Hopewell, Failed Haiku #76

Miscellaneous Produce

Basil. All. Basil is a popular herb to enjoy in the summer. It pairs nicely with the aforementioned tomatoes as part of a Caprese salad or bruschetta for a light summer meal. As it moves toward the transition stage of its life cycle, it starts to produce flowers, which need to be pinched back if you want to keep harvesting the leaves.

basil blossoms
a door closes
behind me

Eufemia Griffo, Seashores, November 2021

Melon. All. As with much of the other produce mentioned here, when specific melons are in season depends on variety and geography (not to mention climate change). However, in general, a melon can be ready to harvest as early as May, and the season last through the summer into September. Watermelon is popular at summer picnics, wrapped in proscuitto as part of an antipasto spread, or blended into an agua fresca.

even here
battered by red dust
the melon’s coolness

Joshua Gage, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 6
An assortment of foraged wild mushrooms.
An assortment of foraged wild mushrooms, including porcini, chicken of the woods, and chanterelle

Mushrooms. All. Realistically, it might be better to list mushrooms as an all-year word, and use specialized names to denote the season, as mushrooms have a wide growing season, depending on variety. I initially placed mushrooms in summer because of the abundance of porcini, chicken of the woods, and chanterelle mushrooms John and I harvest in July and August. However, morels are in season in mid-late spring, and many Japanese varieties are at their best in the fall. What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

carved names
in a city tree

Deborah P. Kolodji, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 10

Wild grapes. Late. Like mushrooms, wild grapes might better be considered a multi-season kigo, with specific varieties use to specify the season. I initially chose late summer based on my own memories of seeing wild grapes fruiting and being eaten later in the summer on bird counts with the Travis Audubon Society. However, there are also varieties of grapes, both wild and domestic, that come into season during fall and winter. Again, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!

between the birds and me
the wild-grape hulls
are empty

David Oates, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 10

Zucchini. Mid-Late. Zucchini usually comes into season in June, and can fruit well into August. It’s known for being particularly abundant with relatively little effort, with households sometimes struggling to use it all up or give it away to neighbors. Zucchini bread is a popular way to use excess crop.

hidden in the foliage
another loaf

Lillian Nakamura, Stratified Layers: Haiku Canada Members’ Anthology, 2022

Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this format and would like to see more of it! In addition, if you know of someone who could help me with sound editing problems for the August 2nd podcast episode, please let me know!

Episode 2: Christa Pandey: Eggplant Abundance

Note: The theme music and transitions have changed because the ones I was using from my hosting service are suddenly no longer available. I discovered this at the proverbial 11th hour, so had to make do with new stock sounds. Hopefully that didn’t cause too much confusion. If you know of anyone who enjoys writing music and cues for podcasts, please let me know!

Christa’s winning poem in the 2022 Tanka Society of America Fleeting Words Tanka Contest

more than fifty years
we wandered side by side
in seeming bliss
who sees the cracks and flaws
we patched with liquid gold


Christa’s free-verse chapbooks
Southern Seasons
Maya: Glimpses of the Mahabharata
Hummingbird Wings: Karma Meditations
Who am I? Who are We?


To support the project
Buy me a coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/culinarysaijiki


Essays and commentary
Visit the blog at https://culinarysaijiki.com/


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Fill out the form at https://culinarysaijiki.com/join-the-conversation/


The Seasons of Tea

Tea is my favorite beverage, and I love the whole spectrum, from fresh, unadulterated loose-leaf tea brewed in a pot, to sweet, milky boba tea. Oolong is my favorite variety (I still remember the moment I had my first sip of ti kuan yin oolong). I was interested in the way tea shows up seasonally in haiku, and decided to make that the focus of a post.

Tea does not appear as a kigo in Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac, which is my guiding haiku text for 2022. However, there are many saijiki in the world, with different interpretations of the seasons. In The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words (PDF), available from the Haiku Foundation, there are three entries that relate to tea:

  • tea picking (late spring)
  • new tea (early summer)
  • tea flowers (early winter)

In Jane Reichhold’s A Dictionary of Haiku Classified by Season Words with Traditional and Modern Methods (PDF), also available from the Haiku Foundation, there are two entries that relate to tea:

  • tea garden (summer)
  • drinking tea (winter)

Ultimately, I don’t agree that tea-drinking should be confined to the season of winter. Just as coffee drinkers take their beverage of choice hot even in the worst of summer, many committed tea drinkers take their tea hot all year long. In the examples I’ve come across so far, tea in general seems to be an all-year word, dependent on the context of the poem to connect it to the seasons.

All Year

Tea in a vintage floral cup
Tea in one of my vintage floral cups

swish of the whisk
green foam clings
to Mum’s tea bowl

Lillian Nakamura Maguire, Haiku Canada Members’ Anthology, 2018

While personally I associate green tea with spring (thanks to a former colleague of mine who believed it was best in spring), matcha can be consumed at any time of year. Not only that, but formal Japanese tea ceremonies take place throughout the year, meaning there is no specific season in which to consume matcha. For an in-depth overview of the ways in which tea ceremony changes throughout the year, check out Kaiseki: Zen Tastes in Japanese Cooking by Tsuji Kaichi.

sipping turmeric tea
grey curtains catch
the wind

Erica E. Benson, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 6

I initially wrestled a great deal with where to place this poem. Turmeric can be grown and harvested all year in temperate zones, and it’s not clear that the turmeric tea in this poem is from a fresh root; it could be dried turmeric, and thus could be consumed at any point in the year. In addition, wind happens throughout the year. As I did not feel there was an overpowering seasonal element, I chose to place this as an all-year poem.

troubling dreams
loose tea eludes
the infuser

Brad Bennett, Failed Haiku #76

Brad Bennett’s senryu likewise doesn’t contain a clear seasonal element; tea in and of itself is not enough to serve as a kigo here. (I know that many people argue that senryu do not/should not contain seasonal words. I believe that kigo are appropriate to senryu. While they’re not mandatory, they can be a compelling element to the poem. I take a nod from Haiku World and incorporate senryu into this project, and note the seasons accordingly.)


first light. . .
I sip birdsong
with green tea

Neena Singh, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 6

At first, I was torn between placing this as a spring or summer haiku. My instinct said spring, but early morning birdsong is common in summer as well; I’m thinking of the sparrow nest outside my studio window at my previous apartment. Jane Reichhold lists the word “birdsong,” as a spring kigo, so with her backing me up, I’m following my initial instinct and placing this haiku in the spring category. Note that the tea itself isn’t necessarily seasonal; it’s the birdsong that grounds this haiku in spring.


A glass of Moroccan mint tea next to a silver teapot, on a silver tray.
Moroccan mint tea in the set that John brought me from Morocco!

you bees
may share my cup of tea
I’ll grab another

Ronald K. Craig, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 10

Bees connote summer, and thus the (presumably hot) tea is not being consumed in the winter. There’s no modifier indicating iced tea (and in the United States, at least, we’re more likely to say, “a glass of tea” when referring to the iced version of the beverage). Even the bees don’t mind hot tea on a warm day!


As of this writing, I haven’t found any examples of tea haiku that are clearly grounded in autumn. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist! Please let me know if you find any.


A cup of black tea
Black tea in one of my favorite cups.

lavender tea
before and after
the first snow

Hifsa Ashraf, First Frost #2

The mention of snow is important in this haiku. Since the tea is lavender, a reader might initially place the poem in spring or early summer, if they assumed the tea was made with fresh flowers. In Hifsa Ashraf’s haiku, lavender tea could be seasonal, but the word “snow” overrides any seasonal associations that lavender might have.

sea smoke rises
from icy harbor
I sip earl grey

Pam Joy, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 6

Although Earl Grey tea could be enjoyed at any time of year, I find that the floral aspects of the blend create a spring connotation for me. However, that’s a personal association; I don’t think Earl Grey tea is inherently seasonal. Even if it was, the image of the “icy harbor” again grounds the poem in winter, regardless of what other season the tea might or might not suggest.

froth on my green tea empty winter

Alvin B. Cruz, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 6

Once more, the explicit mention of the winter season makes the setting for this poem undeniable. As I work through the tea-related haiku that I’ve collected so far, I can’t help but feel that tea is an all-year word, unless the context of the poem indicates otherwise.

Episode 1: Agnes Eva Savich: The Redemption of the Pear

Welcome to the first episode of The Culinary Saijiki podcast! I talk with Agnes Eva Savich, leader of the Austin Haiku Study Group (among other things) about eight of her haiku. Along the way, we discuss holidays, motherhood, fruit, and the fun of Haiku North America conferences.

Agnes’ blog: https://agnesevasavich.wordpress.com/

For long-form essays and haiku commentary, visit the blog at https://culinarysaijiki.com/blog/.

If you would like to be part of the podcast, visit this URL for details: https://culinarysaijiki.com/join-the-conversation/

To support this project, buy me a coffee! Link: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/culinarysaijiki

Initial Observations Part 3: Seasonal Modifiers

In my May 10th post, I noted that I have observed three broad categories of food words in haiku:

  1. Food words that are a definite seasonal referent;
  2. Food words that are not a part of any specific season;
  3. Food words that become seasonal with an additional modifying word

In the May 10th post, I also wrote about the first category. In the May 24th post, I focused on the second category. Today, I’m wrapping up the series by discussing the third category.

As of this writing, I’ve collected 140 haiku and senryu related to food. Based on my initial collections, category #3 represents the smallest proportion of haiku I’ve collected thus far.


Ginger cookies on a metal rack
Ginger cookies fresh from the oven. One of my favorites!

So far, winter contains the highest proportion of foods that become seasonal through a modifying word. My hypothesis is that because in the northern hemisphere, winter is the holiday season, a time when we’re often making special foods (such as Christmas cookies) that otherwise might fit all year. A chocolate chip or peanut butter cookie might show up in spring or fall (and even summer if you’re willing to turn on the oven). Christmas cookies, on the other hand, tend to be more elaborate, and some people make half a dozen different kinds. And while they’re festive, when juxtaposed with the right image, they can create a sense of melancholy. In Robert Witmer’s haiku below, I get a sense of loneliness.

baking Christmas cookies
the black and white TV
snows all night

Robert Witmer, bottle rockets #46

Likewise, holidays have their own particular candy. Christmas has (among other things) candy canes. Homemade candy in the form of fudge, taffy, peanut brittle, or buckeyes is common as well. While Christa Pandey’s haiku uses the generic “holiday sweets,” I see this as a winter or Christmas poem. The second and third lines, referencing the old country, make me think of homemade confections passed down from generations. In my experience, homemade Christmas candy is a little more common than homemade Easter, Valentine’s Day, or Halloween candy.

holiday sweets
last reminders
of the old country

Christa Pandey, Failed Haiku #70


Spring holidays also have their own candy. The empty heart in the first line modifies chocolates in the second line. Chocolate could appear at any time of the year, but chocolates that come from a heart-shaped box connect to Valentine’s Day.

an empty heart
the chocolates
all gone

Line Monique Gauthier, bottle rockets #46

I admit that it was challenging for me to list a Valentine’s Day poem in spring. In the haiku calendar, Valentine’s Day falls in early spring. Certainly in Texas, where I’ve lived for 14 years, Valentine’s Day can feel like spring (Snowpocalypse 2021 aside). But in many other parts of the country (and the world!) Valentine’s Day still feels like deep winter Still, for the sake of tradition, I’m including it here.

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com

Robert Witmer’s poem connects to spring because the word blue brings to mind a robin’s egg. In fact, when I put it into my saijiki database, I wasn’t entirely sure it could be considered a cooking poem; perhaps it was simply a haiku about a robin hatching. However, when I read it, I also couldn’t stop thinking about the fresh chicken eggs I used to get from a friend’s back yard. They were typically smaller than grocery store eggs, and also came in a range of colors, including blue and green. This could be a hatching poem, a cooking poem, or both.

a small blue egg

Robert Witmer,


Photo by Tembela Bohle on Pexels.com

In Haiku World, William J. Higginson lists beer as a summer kigo. I was surprised by that, and although upon thinking about it I don’t think he’s entirely wrong, I don’t entirely agree either. There are so many styles of beer, and some are more appropriate for certain seasons than others. For example, I wouldn’t drink a port or a stout in summer—they’re too heavy, and best saved for winter. Lagers, pilsners, and shandies are best for summer. Sue Foster points to the tradition of Oktoberfest, turning beer into an autumn kigo. While I understand Higginson’s rationale (an ice-cold lager is exceptionally delicious) after a day of yard work, my opinion is that beer is an all-year term, and it requires either modifiers or specific names to ground it in a season.

fierce Texas sun beats down
Texas thirst meets iced
Oktoberfest beer

Sue Foster, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga, ed. Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell.


Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.com

Adelaide B. Shaw’s poem is perhaps my favorite example I’ve collected for this post, in part because it made me learn something new. Apples are normally an autumn kigo. I’d never heard of a windfall apple, so I looked it up. I learned that windfall apples are fruits that appear early, dropping as early as June! I realized I’d come across windfall apples already in my life, I just didn’t realize it. At my partner’s family farm, one of the apple trees was producing abundant fruit last July; I picked a fresh green one to use in my Fourth of July coleslaw. The modifying word “windfall” places this poem squarely in the summer season.

windfall apples
in my pockets
enough for a pie

Adelaide B. Shaw, bottle rockets #46

If you have any thoughts about seasonal modifiers for food, please let me know in the comments. I appreciate hearing from you! Don’t forget that the Culinary Saijiki podcast launches on June 21st!

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!

Observations Part 2: All-Year Food

Before diving in, I’d like to thank Geoff M. Pope for being the first supporter of this new project. I’m now officially making progress on my goal of covering website costs for the year. If you would like to support the Culinary Saijiki project, you can visit the Buy Me a Coffee page here: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/culinarysaijiki.

Second, don’t forget that tonight is the deadline to send your haiku and senryu for the May 31st bonus post. Note that although the deadline is 11:59 p.m. CST, I will be asleep when that passes, so if you slip your haiku in during the wee hours, I’ll still take them! You can find the submission form here: https://forms.gle/wamaaMmoYS88AjXz6

Notes on All-Year Food

In my May 10th post, I noted that I have observed three broad categories of food words in haiku:

  1. Food words that are a definite seasonal referent;
  2. Food words that are not a part of any specific season;
  3. Food words that become seasonal with an additional modifying word.

This week, I’m focused on the second category.

As of this writing, I’ve collected 125 haiku for the project. Of those, the greatest proportion are all-year words, making up 36% of the current total. Although I haven’t collected statistical data every time I add a haiku to my Scrivener file, I know that when I first started collecting, the all-year food words were an even higher percentage. As I’ve added to the collection, the proportions have evened out somewhat, though the all-year words still come up more frequently. As yet, I don’t have a hypothesis as to why that might be.

In Haiku World, William J. Higginson identifies the following food-related words in the All Year section of his saijiki:

  • Meal
  • Cooking
  • Beverage
  • Coffee
  • Pots and Pans

Although I have collected a range of all-season words beyond these five, as a nod to his work, in this post, I’ll discuss the haiku I’ve collected that relate to his original list. None of these appear in Haiku World; they’ve all been published recently.


Breakfast is a common meal that shows up in haiku. Morning and evening seem to be inspiring times of day for haiku poets, and if you have the luck of enjoying peaceful, leisurely breakfasts, I can see how the first meal of the day would lead to inspiration.

morning meditation;
thinking about not-thinking
. . . and breakfast

Shir Haberman, bottle rockets #46

rising early . . .
a half-finished haiku
for breakfast

Tony Williams, Failed Haiku #70

I debated whether classifying Johnette Downing’s lunch haiku as all-year or not. On the one hand, there isn’t a clear seasonal referent. On the other hand, a lunch box implies school. As school runs most of the calendar year, though, I didn’t feel right assigning this haiku to the autumn category. A lunch box could also imply summer camp. Therefore, I designated this one as all-year. If you disagree, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts! (Johnette, if you happen to see this, please do chime in about what you intended!)

lunch box
her doll
a stowaway

Johnette Downing, bottle rockets #46

The act of setting the table can be a meditative experience that can yield haiku moments. It doesn’t have to be a formal dinner arrangement; a simple home arrangement for a small family brings new moments of awareness.

table setting
for three
bun in the oven

Brittney Ritoff, Failed Haiku #70


A vintage drawing of a blonde woman, with text saying, "I'm just a girl. Standing in front of the fridge. Hoping dinner will make itself."

At present, I haven’t found much in the way of cooking-related haiku, senryu, or zappai that don’t have an additional seasonal modifier. Ronald K. Craig’s humorous poem reminds me of the pitfalls of having to cook for oneself: not wanting anything you have in the fridge, hoping dinner will cook itself, and trying to talk yourself out of takeout.

often the fridge door of opportunity opens

Ronald K. Craig, Failed Haiku #70


Tea is the most common all-year beverage I’ve collected so far, and ultimately, deserves to be a topic of its own, on par with coffee. That being said, varieties of tea can become season-specific words; a colleague of mine talked about how green tea makes her think of spring. I’m certain that tea will get a post of it’s own in the future!

teacups filled
with fallen blossoms
closing time

Shiela Sondik, tinywords 18.2

blue days
Mom pours what ifs
from her teapot

Adele Evershed, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 6

Sunday morning
head bowed, hands clasped
around my tea

Kristen Lindquist, Kristen Lindquist, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 8

In Gary Hotham’s poem below, the cup could refer to tea, coffee, or something else entirely. The presumably empty beverage vessel connects to rich memory, nostalgia, and perhaps grief. I’m also intrigued by the extent to which mothers come up in the haiku and senryu in this section.

Mom’s home
the last cup
she drank from

Gary Hotham, Rightsizing the Universe: Haiku Theory, Yiquralo Press, 2019


Coffee is one of the most popular all-season food words I’ve collected so far. I’m certain that if I went through the list of all the haiku I’ve written, coffee would be the food/beverage word that features most frequently. While coffee can be modified to reflect the season (more about that in June), a hot cup of coffee seems appropriate just about any time of the year. (And if you’re not sensitive to caffeine, it’s appropriate to any time of day!)

coffee shop date jitters

Marsh Muirhead, Failed Haiku issue 70

waiting for your call
the coffee percolator
welling up

David Gale, First Frost #1

coffee milk cloud
another day to figure
out the finances

Crystal Simone Smith, First Frost #1

hot black coffee
ad-just-ing my eye-sight
between sips

Paul Callus, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode Episode 8

Pots and Pans

As with most of the cooking-specific haiku I’ve collected so far, most of my pots-and-pans haiku have a seasonal modifier, taking them out of the all-year category. However, left to their own devices, this is definitely an all-year word. We have to cook regardless of season!

our first saucepan cooking for one

Maurice Nevile, Failed Haiku #70

silence . . .
water comes to a boil
in a silver pot

Seth Kronick, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 8

Do let me know your thoughts in the comments, and don’t forget to send me your bonus post submissions by tonight! I’m already putting it together with the work that has come in so far, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.