Haiku Kukai 03

Global Haiku • Millikin University • Fall 2021


blind soggy feet
over the garden wall
a quiet sob


flying across the room
in a shimmering dance
all pointed toes

Paul Cushman

The image that this haiku draws to mind for me is sitting in a dance class, watching everyone perfectly execute a combo that we have all been struggling on. I’m not a “dancer first” but there’s something so beautiful to me about watching everyone fly across the floor. Daniel Clear, Fall 2021


sunset steps out
your taut face
in the doorframe


how many worlds
can we not see

Shay Buchanan (2)


open field
no one around
wanting to be lost


leftover pizza
for a whole week
still good


stripping bed sheets
one stray sock
parachutes to the floor


an unfamiliar name
signed on the tag
my new jeans


late night argument
pasta water
boils over

Barrett Van (14)

The wording in this haiku is so simple and to the point, yet meaningful. I can picture a couple without kids and living together cooking dinner with one another. As their voices begin to raise they forget about the boiling pot of water on the stove. This is a very common scenario and is therefore very relatable to the reader. Their perfect, calming dinner night is not only distributed by the pot, but also by the pot boiling over and awkwardness and frustration in the room. I also think this haiku is very clever in the sense that their argument gets extremely heated, as well as the boiling pot of water to the point it overflows and spills everywhere. Reece Brown, Fall 2021

This haiku has great juxtaposition. Boiling over is a term used for expressing anger. However, when paired with pasta, it becomes quite literal. Also, pasta is a great word choice, as pasta is a very stereotypical date night food. I picture a couple making pasta together, trying to have a romantic night in, when an argument erupts. As they’re fighting, they forget about the pasta until they hear the sizzle of the water boiling over on the stove. Trinity Pesko, Fall 2021


an owl hoos
late afternoon
left my watch at home

Emily Nicholas

I liked this piece because it told a very specific story in my head: I thought of a person out at a friend’s house. It’s somewhere around 3:00-4:00 PM, and they hear an owl. They think to themselves, “it’s pretty early for owls to be out…” and check their watch, which isn’t there. It’s just a very relatable feeling of “damn… left that at home.” Nathan Gallop, Fall 2021


empty class space
a few breaths of quiet
alone for once

Emily Nicholas

I relate to this one as, if I’m the first one in the classroom, the next person to walk in absolutely ruins my mood. I can imagine being completely alone and just imagining something, but someone walking in takes me out of it. I can no longer seem to zone out as well if someone is in the room with me, even if they’re far away and say nothing. I hate that feeling, especially when I’ve had to be around people all day. Shay Buchanan, Fall 2021


family supper, laughing
my eyes drift from yours
and catch gray hairs

Emily Nicholas

I have always had older parents, and it’s always a very weird culture shock to come home and see on their face and in their hair how much age has changed their appearance. My mom is 62, my dad 71, and I have always been very scared but very accepting of their inevitable death. That’s morbid, but it’s true, so this one really hit home a bit for me. It’s a beautiful image, and age isn’t something that is necessarily scary or with bad connotation, it just can be a perspective shift seeing it in the people you care about. Bailey Banks, Fall 2021


your eyes
in the corners of my mouth

Maya Gomez (7)


how do I know
won’t do what he did

Maya Gomez (8)


it’s easy as
1, 2, 4 I hate 3s

Maya Gomez (12)

As somebody who has had to deal with OCD in my daily life, I can definitely relate to counting as part of the compulsive aspect. I used to count the number of words in my sentences, and if it didn’t end up as a multiple of 8, I would mumble words under my breath until it did. Mason Hoyt, Fall 2021


curved glass
the graveyard of
a thousand insects

TRinity Pesko

This sets a very specific and almost cartoonish image. I remember seeing in kids' shows or reading in books about people holding up magnifying glasses to ant hills and watching the ants burn. I think I even, in a fit of childhood rage, did the same. It is a very interesting display of science watching the light rays from the sun pass through the glass and burn the insects. The event is almost satisfying in a morbid way. This particular glass being “the graveyard of a thousand insects” brings into question the character of this child. They seem to have some inner demons that they don't know how to express properly. They could also just have an insatiable bloodlust, and the burning of insects is the only way to channel these feelings without going to jail. We will never know. Barrett Van, Fall 2021


maybe if I pirouette
one more time
my body will listen


he raises his voice
the skin near my nail
begins to bleed

Trinity Pesko (10)

I love how I can relate to this haiku because of anxious picking. It’s something I struggle with and it does feel like this—someone will just say something or I’ll catch a bad vibe and I’ll look down and my finger will just be bleeding or I’ll have subconsciously torn off so much of my nail that I’m startled. I like how this haiku captures that moment of realization.  Daniel Clear, Fall 2021


the songs I hate
stuck in my head
singing them aloud anyways

Allison Durham (5)


only time I feel safe
walking on campus


you said you liked
my constellation
of moles


gas station rose
bag of swedish fish
your guilty conscious cleared

Bailey Banks (9)

Abusive people suck. Like I completely understand this feeling of “oh . . . I’m supposed to forgive you now” after they give some half-baked apology. But the important thing to them is that they did do something, even if it means absolutely nothing. Nathan Gallop, Fall 2021


our favorite song
i reinvent
with sun salutations


framed photo
at my bedside
your eyes crossed out

Bailey Banks

This one wasn’t discussed with class, which is a shame because it’s definitely one of the most visceral ones that was shared. That idea that you have a picture near you, serving as a constant reminder of something you’re either angry about or ashamed of, is heartbreaking, and definitely speaks to the idea that this person is deeply hurt and needs a lot of support. They obviously haven’t been able to work through their turmoil, and they feel the need to remind themselves of that fact at the start and end of every day. Mason Hoyt, Fall 2021


about new things
because you do

Nathan Gallop

This haiku reminds me of the start of a relationship. You are learning everything there is to know about this new person that you are interested in, and if you really like them their interests start to become your interests and vice versa. You find yourself googling stats about their favorite sports teams or the history of blues or how to oil paint just because they are interested in those things and you want to seem knowledgable about their interests. It is so sweet to me when this happens at the start of a relationship because while it is infatuation with a new person, it is cute when people just like each other a lot. Especially right at the beginning because it’s all so new and fresh and exciting. India Guerrero, Fall 2021


8:00 alarm
8:10 alarm
8:20 alarm

Nathan Gallop (7)


planner filled
and calendar overbooked
nap time

Nathan Gallop (6)


the same routine
wake up, overthink
cry, eat Taco Bell

Diana Hernandez (6)


why eat a pretzel
when she can just
become one

Diana Hernandez (9)


the lights flicker in the shower
Hello? Mr. Ghost
can I get dressed before I die?

Diana Hernandez (9)


coffee gone cold
that I still finish
I paid for it

Priscilla Sabourin

This one also wasn’t discussed, but I definitely relate to that feeling of finishing a meal or a drink more out of spite than anything else. There’s definitely a sense of “I know I’m not enjoying this, I know, and I like that!!!” I’ve definitely eaten spite meals where I didn’t enjoy them, but I didn’t want to waste them. Mason Hoyt, Fall 2021


one vertebrae
on top of the other


looking at my poor body
with eyes like
funhouse mirrors

Priscilla Sabourin (10)

I resonate deeply with this poem. When I was in middle school, my mom started shaming the volume and nutrition of what I was eating and reminding me to suck in my stomach. As a result, I began hating my body at a time when I had just broken one hundred pounds. It also didn’t help that at my dance studio, I was one of the taller (5’6”) and more weighted dancers on my team. My vision of myself was so distorted and damaged that I tried making myself sick, ran on every cardio machine at the gym for hours, and tracked each crumb I ate until I’d binged late at night. It wasn’t until I got to college that someone looked at me and complimented how tiny I was, but even then, I didn’t know how to feel about it because of this idea I had of myself. Throughout my college experience, especially with my sorority’s philanthropy, I have grown to love my body more, but the process is hard. People become so hyper-fixated on their features to the point where they cannot find the beauty anymore, and this poem captures that so well with its imagery. Allison Durham, Fall 2021

This haiku is extremely powerful in this current generation. I pictured a girl staring at herself in the mirror completely in tears because she doesn’t fit the standards of photoshopped instagram models. Our current generation is so technologically advanced but that comes at the cost of young teens self deprecating their bodys due to the constant comparison of fictional bodies. At a young age children start to restrict their diet and wear makeup in order to feel worthy of themselves based on the amount of likes they get. The use of “funhouse” further emphasizes this point. As children funhouses are actually fun and enjoyable but as we grow up funhouses tend to teach us as we stare at the distorted version of ourselves. Diana Hernandez, Fall 2021

I like this haiku a lot because of the connection of insecurity to funhouse mirrors. It is a clear connection that you can visualize and compare. I like the physical version of insecurity in that image. I think the word choice behind “poor” is really interesting. It implies they feel sorry for their body and that it is being treated poorly by their insecurities. Maya Gomez, Fall 2021


vine we miss you
musical.ly we hate you
tiktok we thank you


late at night
is the only time for myself
so I don’t sleep

Reece Brown (3)


even if heaven
had cell service
it wouldn’t be enough

Reece Brown (7)


howler monkey
am i coming on
too strong

Mason Hoyt

I love haiku that I don't fully understand. I think they leave so much room for interpretation when they don't totally make sense. The howler monkey is such a strong starter for this haiku. It almost sounds like the author is hitting on the howler monkey and is asking if they need to back off, which is hilarious. They are probably comparing themselves to a howler monkey though. Maybe their laugh is loud, or they just have a strong personality, and this person is not used to it. I do get romantic vibes from this. It seems like somebody is hitting on someone else. The howler monkey is just such a strange and specific animal to compare yourself to. It is a very bold choice. Barrett Van, Fall 2021


midnight shower
a little bit of rain
never hurt nobody


blown out speaker cone
i've unplugged you seven times
but still see sparks


in a room full of people
I scan it
in fear of you

Katie Curtis (11)

This haiku immediately has a sense of dread. My mind immediately assumed this haiku was about domestic abuse but it could also be applied to less serious topics of merely avoiding someone you dislike. Once a person faces domestic abuse they may always be paranoid when out in public in fear of seeing their abuser again. Victims are never the same when someone they loved or cared for completely broke their trust and resorted to violence. I imagined a woman trying to move on from the past and enjoy a gathering but her bands begin to tremble as she scans the room for the hundredth time to make sure he isn’t there. This haiku doesn’t mention abuse but gives the very powerful image of someone trying to persevere and feel safe once again in the presence of others. Diana Hernandez, Fall 2021

I like this haiku because it evokes a very relatable feeling. “You” is unnamed, but we all have a “you” that is unique to us. I think everyone has experienced this feeling, making it a very universal haiku. I like the juxtaposition of the room full of people compared to one person. I also like the word choice behind “fear”. It’s not nervous, scared, or anxious. It is a fear. Maya Gomez, Fall 2021

This haiku is very relatable for many people to various degrees. I imagine people with undealt trauma experience this a lot when their abuser is in public at the same time as them. Or, people who are on bad terms with other people. Pretty much, this Haiku encapsulates the feeling of being uncomfortable with even the idea of being near someone they are uneasy with. Nico Velazquez, Fall 2021

The first two lines of this poem made me think that the person was scanning the room because they were looking for someone that they wanted to see. The third line completely changed that for me. This is a relatable haiku and I am sure that everyone has that one person that they hope that they never see again, for whatever reason being. I imagine a girl at a party that just recently showed up. She is standing by the door, just after entering, and has a slightly panicked look in her eyes but is covering it up by making small talk with friends and pretending to have a great time. Reece Brown, Fall 2021


if only an apple a day 
keeps the diet culture 


refrigerator full
of frozen pizzas 
and withering spinach


worn cupboards
I reach for anything
she will eat

Nico Velazquez

This haiku made me imagine two scenarios. The first scenario is of a mom struggling to make ends meet to provide any food for her daughter to eat. Unfortunately, it is extremely common for parents to work minimum wage jobs that aren't enough to provide for their children. I get the sense of stress and worry from the mom frantically looking through the cupboards. I also imagine the daughter is a bit sad due to the hunger she constantly has. The other scenario I picture is a partner trying their best to give any food for their girlfriend that struggles with an eating disorder. Sometimes people with eating disorders need constant reminders and support to get the strength to eat. Having their significant other gradually and safely incorporate food to their daily lives is an effective method to overcome eating disorders and feel comfortable with eating food again. Diana Hernandez, Fall 2021


water break with the guys
I try to laugh
disease permeates my mind

Nico Velazquez (3)


for every smile you 
take away
I eat more beans

Nico Velazquez (15)

I love this haiku so much. For being a “throw away poem,” this haiku’s structure is genius. Its setup allows for the reader to think that the final line will be packed with emotion and sadness, so once the reader sees “I eat more beans,” they are thrown for a loop (I certainly know that I was). Additionally, I love the fact that the food selected was beans: very random and versatile. How are the beans prepared? That’s up to the reader’s imagination, so personally, I imagined someone eating from a comically large bowl of refried beans. A hilarious poem AND a new coping mechanism? Well done, Nico! Allison Durham, Fall 2021

Every night my roommates and I have family dinners. One night we had hamburgers and picnic sides, so I decided to make four-bean salad. As it turned out, nobody liked my four-bean salad, so I was the only one eating it. This haiku made me think of how I passive aggressively ate my beans for every smile they took away. Trinity Pesko, Fall 2021

Beans make me happy. Something about them just calls to my soul. I would probably give an automatic five stars to any haiku mentioning beans. This one is especially funny knowing now that this was a random throw-away poem. The author simply didn't have anything better or profound for the third line. I think that is perfect though. That is the energy this poem has. Whenever you hurt me, I won't be that upset. I'll just go eat some beans. Maybe this person is actually hurt and is eating their feelings. That could be another interpretation. Either way it is a bit amusing to think of such a funny food item as a comfort system. Barrett Van, Fall 2021


bringing the groceries in
forgot bread

India Guerrero (10)


cracking and popping
fingers touch toes
has it been that long?


grass under my feet
but not quite

India Guerrero

For this one, I imagine walking through the grass after my run at Fairview. I had just finished a run and looked up at this big hill with the urge to climb it. It wasn’t for practice or anything, and it hit me I’m an adult so I can do whatever I want. So I walked up the hill and looked around at all the grass and trees. It brought me this great sense of joy to only be able to see grass and trees and absolutely nothing else. For those 15-20 minutes of exploring this small, isolated section of the park, I felt like I was in another world. Shay Buchanan, Fall 2021


morning multivitamin pills
making choices on which to take
Keanu Reeves


climbing the stairway
sometimes stepping down
is stepping up


the best me
revealed when working
for an even better you

Gabe Henderson

I just think this is very sweet! There is an element of codependency here that I am likely projecting onto this haiku, but the ideology that we, as humans, find purpose in how we can best serve other people, is a martyrdom that can become incredible self-sacrificial. It’s a beautiful sentiment, sure, but above everything else, it’s a tightrope that is dangerous to walk. Bailey Banks, Fall 2021


plastic Barbie torn 
wig missing hand no accessories 
you’re still mine.


to the fridge

Daniel Clear (5)


picket lines to pay for
no more lattes


eyes locked
on me,
the only girl at the gym

Allison Durham (8)

I know the exact feeling of this haiku. I don’t go as much anymore, but I used to go to the DISC 4-5 times a week to lift, and every single time I walked in without fail every man in the gym would turn to stare at me. Whenever I go, I purposely put my headphones in before I ever walk in, and keep my eyes down as I walk to the machine I want just so I don’t have to speak to or make eye contact with anyone. It is honestly the most alienating feeling ever to walk in and immediately be stared at by 5-10 men. God forbid someone comes up to you and tries to talk to you until you are forced to take your headphones out at which point they ask if you need help lifting — I don’t need help, I know how to do a deadlift. Thanks a lot. India Guerrero, Fall 2021


months and months
of crunches for
slightly visible abs


never quite knowing
how to react to
the number on the scale


eating cheese sticks
on the kitchen floor
I love you


I’m too sexy
to walk into traffic today
Millikin affirmations

Barrett Van (12)

This haiku is SO funny. I absolutely love it. First of all, it is extremely relatable. I don’t want to go walking into Millikin traffic a lot of the time, and sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t have to. Especially crossing the street from the Pi Phi house to campus, cars can be really rude and not wait for you, even if you look amazing heading to class. Maya Gomez, Fall 2021 


train horn blares
falling out of bed
I run to class


like a haiku
yet to be born


at the bench press
dad uses my max
to warm up

Priscilla Sabourin

My dad taught me how to do benchpress in middle school in an attempt to make me a better swimmer, and I always felt like garbage seeing how much he could do compare to my wimpy use of just the bar or just the bar with 2.5’s on each side. He’d often joke that the weight I was doing was slightly less than what he’d normally warm up with. I didn’t move up much in weight in my time working with him either. Shay Buchanan, Fall 2021


the goodbye i
never got to say
stuck in my throat

Priscilla Sabourin (9)


cupped hands
scooped up cheeks
your banana split smile

Paul Cushman (5)


committing to memory
softly spoken sonnets
evening's dark

Paul Cushman

I see someone in the prime developmental years of their life sitting under a tree before sunset repeating poems to themself to understand themselves and the world a little better. I appreciate this haiku for making me hear crickets in the background. I also liked the idea that there might be a set amount of time before they have to leave or else it’ll get too dark. Nico Velazquez, Fall 2021


stoned at the library
Shirley Jackson slings
a wide green grin

Paul Cushman (6)


pitch black ozone
the longer you look
the bluer it gets


self help shelf
i fall asleep
corpse pose


golden city
apollo hides behind
cinder block silhouettes

Bailey Banks (9)


the lecture fades
to white noise
as you invade my thoughts

India Guerrero

What I really love about this haiku is how the feeling it invokes is not 100% dependent on “you” being the subject. You could replace the word “you” with any number of things, and this feeling of zoning out and not being present is still invoked. It’s clever and makes it relatable to a number of different audiences. I loved it. Bailey Banks, Fall 2021


swipe right
swipe left
are you the one?


waiting for a text
he loves me
he loves me not


open the door 
take two steps 
breathing is easier now

Daniel Clear (2)


“excuses are pathetic
 excuses are for the weak”
says her mind as she put down the cookie.

Diana Hernandez (4)


am I just numb
or did I forget
how to live without you

Diana Hernandez (4)


giant branch
the beaten path
for the tiny ant and me


night sky
full of souls 
too bright for the world

Katie Curtis (4)


clouds like the Toy Story wallpaper
suddenly aware
how alive I am


my frown
look at the sunset

Maya Gomez (6)


chemical imbalance
red lipstick

Maya Gomez (7)

This haiku brings to mind the image of a “crazy girl” like Harley Quinn, with red lipstick smeared on and a taste for vengeance. But it also reminds me that a lot of people we usually see as “crazy” or insane are suffering deeply. The red lipstick, the affect, are all ways of coping with chemical or social issues that people just don’t have the resources for. So people put on their lipstick, and they smile, and they do their best. But sometimes, they crack. Daniel Clear, Fall 2021


you used my ribs
as drumsticks
for your theme song

Maya Gomez (12)

Maya’s haiku made me disgusted in the most beautiful way. The imagery of someone ripping out another’s ribs is so visceral and gruesome. I then pictured them playing with them aimlessly as if they gave no care in the world that they were another human’s body parts. Additionally, the word drumsticks made me think of chicken drumsticks, which gave this poem some cannibal-esque subtext, which made it even more disturbing. I could not get this poem out of my head, which means it definitely was effective. Trinity Pesko, Fall 2021


open seating
I know it’s a trap but
I still sit next to you


midnight blizzard
the front door creaks open
Dad's home from school early

Nico Velazquez

I wrote this Haiku when I wrote a lot about my family for one assignment. When I read my own haiku here, I remember the countless nights my dad came home from night school. He was taking a few classes to learn how to be a drafter for designing buildings. I wrote this haiku to create a juxtaposition between the uncertainty and fear one might experience when hearing the door open in the middle of the night and the comfort of knowing it’s just your dad who’s trying to provide more for our family. Nico Velazquez, Fall 2021


orange slices
without even asking


from space
on the tennis courts

Nathan Gallop (5)


nodding along
to mumbled voices
I drown out


lips stare
eyes whisper
what do we have to lose?

Nathan Gallop

This haiku makes me imagine two people who are nervous to begin a new relationship, but are ready to do it anyways. They both have their own reasons and are scared they are going to mess up their friendship, or some other aspect of their lives. With that being said, I imagine such a romantic moment where they both long to kiss one another. I love how this haiku says that the eyes are whispering, instead of them actually speaking. This paints such an intimate picture and I can just imagine the look in their eyes. Reece Brown, Fall 2021


i mark the date
in bold red underline
cave drawings

Mason Hoyt (5)


voice in pieces
when can I be me again


a gentle kiss
that for the first time
finally felt free

Katie Curtis (7)


o father
happily clonking along
the rust settles on red

Paul Cushman (5)


waking up sore
a reminder
of just how strong you are

Reece Brown

I think this haiku can probably be read in a lot of different ways, but I am reading it from a fitness point of view. I feel like this haiku is the moment when you wake up the day after a hard work out or maybe even some time of sports competition, and you are dead sore — basically can’t move -— but the soreness reminds you of all your body is capable of. I have woken up barely being able to walk a lot of times whether it be from something with cheer or a work out or even doing something fun and active with friends, but regardless of what the activity was the soreness is a reminder of everything your body is capable of and how alive you are, and I just really love that this haiku put that into words. India Guerrero, Fall 2021

I see this going two ways. In the first, it’s a physically abusive relationship. I feel like that’s pretty apparent here. However, because one theme option was exercise, it made me think back to high school when I’d go to the gym with friends. Back then, I was so so so weak, and my friends have always been strong. Waking up the next day after working out with them was always an interesting experience. Nathan Gallop, Fall 2021


dancing in the rain
to show my brother
it’s not so scary

Reece Brown (7)


if I tap dance
I’ll reach my step goal


knees to chest
a rocking fetal position
comfort to abs


the instructor moves
like a graceful swan
you expect me to bend like that?

Shay Buchanan (6)

© 2021, Randy Brooks • Millikin University
All rights returned to authors upon publication.