Haiku Kukai 01 Favorites

Global Haiku • Millikin University • Fall 2023


garage sale 
my eyes wander 
to boxes of books


father and son
talk about the future
bitter-sweet snack

Tanner Essex

I really liked this haiku, but not as much because it pertains to me, but because I am the oldest sister of 2 brothers. This really helped me imagine the talks that they always have with my father about their future. I have always been academically blessed with good grades and high achievements, but my brothers have always struggled. When I read this, I imagined how my dad might talk to them about their future, since neither of them plan to attend college. I imagine it to be very bittersweet in the sense that he isn't mad at them, but regardless he will always relate them to me, and my achievements, when they have capabilities to be great at something that isn't school/college. Madelyn Letourneau, Fall 2023

For some reason, I imagine this taking place at Common Grounds, maybe because that's where I have snacks and make deep conversations with the people I am close to. I picture both people drinking come coffee and having some food. The "bittersweet snack" refers to both the literal food and the subject of the conversation. While we as young people hope and prepare for future careers and families, we also are uniquely aware of the struggles of the world and really struggle with depression sometimes. I see this as both the hopes and dreams of the son being shared, with the hidden knowledge of the father's struggles with those same dreams. Kaia Garbacz, Fall 2023


boxes lining the hallway
an empty room
work to do

Tanner Essex

This immediately made me think of moving into a new house, dorm or apartment. Again, it is a period of change for me, so I think about it often. I like the idea of all the filled boxes but an empty room. Cami Jones, Fall 2023


first day back 
I stop. 
and stare at campus

Madelyn Letourneau

This haiku truly hit me as I experienced this, this year. I took a huge deep breath as I did this, because all the memories, painful or happy, flashed before my eyes. As hard as last year was, that deep breath relieved me for this upcoming year ahead. I finally felt comfortable at college again. Mary Grace Gallagher, Fall 2023

From this haiku, I learned that I wasn’t alone in my emotions at being in college. However, the poem is open-ended and allows interpretation for other thoughts. My take on this haiku was that the speaker was hesitating to accept how quickly school starts again and that they’re really on campus for another year. The “i” capitalization and period in the second line both impact the rest of the poem. It allows you to pause and reconnect. It puts you in the moment and forces you to “move on,” much like the meaning of the poem itself. Eden Niebrugge, Fall 2023


green grass on the quad 
the last of the summer sun


floral dress and curls
first day fit 
day 2 sweatpants

Hannah Smith

I was and am that girl who went to sleep early to get up early and do a whole routine for the first day. My clothes were already picked, jewelry laid out, leave in conditioner cooking in my hair, the works. It was all a performance to prove to me and everyone my standing and confidence in life. After that who cares i have a paper to do and want to be comfy. Elijah Jamison, Fall 2023

I like how relatable this haiku is. I wore a dress on the first day of school and the next day I was back to wearing my regular athletic clothes that I wear all the time. I’ve always been excited about meeting new people on the first day, but by the second day I am back in routine and less worried about making good first impressions. I also tried to curl my hair for the first day of school, but it was so humid and hot outside that the moment I stepped out the front door my hair went flat. Maddie Alger, Fall 2023


autumn in full swing
he picks her up after school
a father and daughter

Cami Jones

This took me back to leaving my elementary school on Fridays with my dad and getting into the car with giddy excitement to go on a little road trip. It was the middle of fall, football season. We would leave to go watch my brother play in a game 3 hours away. Bella Birdsley, Fall 2023

This haiku makes me think of the few times that my father got to pick me up from school before I was old enough to drive. My dad worked many overtime hours when I was younger so it was infrequent that I got to see him on school nights. This haiku depicts a perfect image of the time of year it takes place and what kinds of conversation can follow. Kailyn Coates, Fall 2023


boxed pancake batter 
all I have left 
of you

Hannah Smith

This was my favorite haiku of Kukai 01 because it really fits in with my theme of taking small insignificant moments and shining a new light on it by basking in the senses of it. I have a lot of memories making Bisquick pancakes with my dad on Sunday mornings, so this haiku really hit me hard in a great way. Although I can’t relate to the theme of loss that this evokes, I can relate to the feeling of my dad being connected to pancake batter when I make pancakes at school. Pancake batter may be an insignificant item to some people, but for others it hold memories of Sunday morning breakfast with loved ones. Tanner Essex, Fall 2023

This haiku made me sad. I imagine the person who wrote this haiku has lost a loved one whether it was someone through death or a breakup or even just growing apart. They may have bought a whole new box of pancake batter and use that one now, even though the one that reminds them of their loved one still has batter left in it. This item being so simple is something I also really like because it’s something everyone has, but it has a special meaning to the author of this poem. Maddie Alger, Fall 2023


empty studios . . .
retracing the footsteps of
the ghosts of Kirkland

Sky Choe


long roads lined with trees 
slowly turn into mountains 
out of nowhere, corn

Hannah Smith

This put me back on the 14 hour drive to school from Texas. Once I got out of the flat dry land, the highways were lined with tall green trees and occasionally bodies of water, giving me lots of scenery on the drive. As soon As we reach central Illinios, specifically the small towns before Decatur where its just cornfields and dust. Bella Birdsley, Fall 2023

This haiku brings me to the entrance of Allerton Park. Having grown up in Monticello, Allerton was a place my family and I would frequent. The entrance to Allerton is lined with trees. I can recall sitting in the back seat of my mother's car staring at the trees we pass by. But as we get farther into the park, I let my imagination run wild, imagining mountains and things that are much more interesting than what is actually in front of me. But then I am snapped back into reality and see the typical corn fields I am used to. This haiku gives me a childlike vibe, and I really enjoy it! Anna Quick, Fall 2023


cucumbers drizzled in balsamic
neat on the plate
the sun blazes on


gloom blue
to bright yellow-orange colors
5 clouds and 10 stars

Ny Scott

I’ve always kind of romanticized the concept of watching the sun rise, which makes it a little hard to connect with. But like I said in class, I remember sleeping over at a friend’s house and getting up stupid early to go sit by the gross little lake that was a decent trek from her house and talk about nothing until the sun came up. It was still dark enough to see a few stars through the sparse clouds while we sat on the beach, and then across the water we could just make out the pale beginnings of a yellow-ish sun reflecting over the stillness of the lake. We sat there until the color of the sky was a bright, warm gold before changing into a deep orange, magenta, then all the way back to the early morning sky blue that can only follow the rising sun. Skylyr Choe, Fall 2023


pressing into the pedal 
on the right 
from yellow to red




eyelashes touch and
hold themselves together 
in darkness

Grace Brixa


may to august
you and me together again
right where we left off

Maddie Alger

This Haiku reminds me so much of the show “The Summer I Turned Pretty.” Summer break in college means returning to your old life and noticing all the changes. Sometimes people come in and out of our lives during these periods where we return home. Sometimes we have friends that we only see during the summer and we can only hope that we can pick up where we left off next time. To me, this piece tells the story of a summer romance that was cut short by the coming of fall.  However, the two people revisit their romance the next summer and discover that they spark is still very much alive. Tanner Essex, Fall 2023

In this haiku, I feel like I can totally relate to it! Whether this may be about a relationship or friendship I get the same vibe from this author. This reminds me of sevearl of my college friends as I went those months without seeing them. I feel that these friendships are truly the strongestas they've been tested through distance. Mary Grace Gallagher, Fall 2023

When I first read this haiku I could only think of one thing. That is a relationship that I had with someone towards the end of freshman year and picked up again once the new school year began. It can be hard being close to someone only to move away for the summer five hours away from them. This was the perfect explanation for college friends who get separated over the summer months. Kailyn Coates, Fall 2023

I liked this Haiku because it reminds me of two different people, both my best friends. One of these friends I am convinced of is my platonic soulmate. She is one of the best people I have ever met, and even though we live a state away, we always pick right back up where we left off. On the other hand, my other best friend and I are very similar in the fact that we are very close, but there are some unspoken, but known, feelings for each other that always seem to pick back up when him and I are together, regardless of how much time or space is between us. Madelyn Letourneau, Fall 2023

I love the way this haiku celebrates friendship for me. I have some friends here that when we part ways for the summer and reunite, it feels like no time has passed. It feels like we just fit back into each other's lives so easily, even though months have gone by. I also liked the way this haiku reminded me of my long distance relationship. We don’t get to see each other very often throughout the year, but from May to August, we get to pick up where we last saw each other. Hannah Smith, Fall 2023

This reminds me that everyone in college has two different lives. When you are dividing your time between different locations, it can feel like you are pressing pause on one and going to live the other, or vice versa. For me, this haiku brought me positive memories, and how exciting it can be to come back and pick up where you left off. Grace Brixa, Fall 2023


juicy pink starburst
. . . I just popped out
my new filling

Sky Choe


snowflakes tap the window pane
cookies and milk
under the tree


blue ring
in my jewelry box
I give it away

Leah Flint

This haiku gives me an awful feeling of sadness. I see a woman admiring a blue ring, but something isn’t right. She has gone through a falling out with the person who has gifted it to her. So she gives it away without a thought, but she has some regrets. Giving away the blue ring could symbolize something to the woman, maybe she has an attachment to it, but the person who gifted it to her must have wronged her an immense amount so she ends up getting rid of it. The last line breaks my heart because I have a hard time giving up valuable objects, and the woman is so quick to do so. Anna Quick, Fall 2023


a deep breath
I look down to blue flowers
on my laces

Leah Flint


freshmen fill rooms
that were once

Kailyn Coates

I really enjoy this haiku and the way it helps cultivate some nostalgia. While I was a freshman not too long ago, I find myself with each new class thinking about when those rooms and classes were mine. I think about the feelings that I was feeling and the things I was going through while I went through those classes, and it just makes me proud of where I have come. Hannah Smith, Fall 2023

Also said in class, but it’s really surreal to watch people move into a space that you once occupied and so thoroughly came to associate as just yours. Being a SEA especially allows me to take in that state of change and how bizarre it really is when I help people move their things into my old dorm room. I wonder how they will decorate the space, or what color their sheets and furniture or rugs will be- if they even brought furniture or a rug like I did. It marks a transitional period, and fills me both with excitement for them to make memories and enjoy their time like I did, but also a sense of melancholy for how that part of my life is over because I can so clearly picture how I used that space. Skylyr Choe, Fall 2023


I was underage
and would drive everyone home
now I’ll have a drink

Sean House


innocent eyes wander
boy ponders
grey skies cover yonder


new year
same old same old
constant confusion 

Mary Grace Gallagher

Again, about the change. The older I get, the more I am confused about myself and life. This felt like it captured that for me. I also enjoyed the second line because it felt like I could relate it to the end of summer, the beginning of school, and even the audition week I just went through. Cami Jones, Fall 2023


LEGO brick by brick
tornado isn’t so bad

Sean House


feet running through the house 
the clock ticks  
waiting to be obeyed

Cami Jones

This haiku brings up less of a cohesive image or memory as much as it does a "live photo" of sorts- a boomerang image in my mind. The young people run throughout the house, creaking the wood floors and stairs. The hand of the clock moves, ticking closer and closer to the starting point of whatever even they are attending. I could see this applying to both small children playing in the house, and also to a sorority, where members are rushing to get ready in the morning. Kaia Garbacz, Fall 2023



bags are packed
bells ring
days begin to shorten

Elly Hermanson

I really like this haiku because it reminds me of fall, and school season starting up. As soon as classes start, I am immediately waiting for the cool weather and the shorter days. I can imagine walking on campus, wearing shorts and a sweatshirt as the weather gets colder, the leaves start falling and a slight breeze picks up. Madelyn Letourneau, Fall 2023

This haiku feels so real to me, and if I didn’t know any better, I would think I wrote it. I find myself counting down the hours and minutes until the next things I have to go to, usually class. As those hours and minutes pass, I feel my day begin to be broken down into more manageable chunks. It's just such a simple and applicable haiku, which I am finding out tends to be my favorites. Hannah Smith, Fall 2023


leaves fall
forgetting memories
of the heat

Anna Quick

I like this haiku because of the idea that specific memories are tied to different seasons. Depending on where you live, there is a general idea of what kind of memories are created within a specific season as well. When fall comes, it can be reliving to let go and even forget memories from the summer and beginning of school. Grace Brixa, Fall 2023

This made me think about the seasons changing as a lot of them did during class today. I enjoy the ones about change because they make a lot of sense to me, being in a big period of change in my life. I love the fact that forgetting memories in this poem can add to not just the heat part but for the changing of a season. Cami Jones, Fall 2023


the yolk in the sky
now burnt and 
bleeds orange

Bella Birdsley

What drew me to this haiku was the astute imagery the author used. I’m someone who loves to eat eggs for breakfast, so, to me, the word “yolk” is a really fun choice in describing how the sun looks in the sky. I also like how this poem starts in the past, describing how the sun looked before and it is “now burnt.” I love the imagery of it “bleeding” orange as well. I can really picture the sunrise or sunset with orange color dispersing out over the sky, bleeding into the other colors. Leah Flint, Fall 2023


lights on, awake
lights off, awake

Kaia Garbacz

I loved this piece because it creates an ongoing cycle. We toss and turn in the night just wanting to fall asleep, but our mind wanders continuously. However, this piece evokes a specifically hard period of time where the mind is active all day, and then continues to dwell on something during the night. This may be something more difficult than just tossing and turning, maybe the author is going through something that they ponder all day and night. Tanner Essex, Fall 2023

The repetition in this haiku made it easy for me to miss the first time, but the second time I read it, that is what made it interesting to me. The connotation of what being "awake" means each time it is written is cool because the first time, it may be considered and the second time, it represents possibly staying awake when you would rather be asleep. I know a lot of students can relate to the tirelessness too. Grace Brixa, Fall 2023

I had a heart thing recently that really made me scared to go to sleep because every night my heart would begin to beat fast and make it hard to breathe, so going to sleep was a heavy task. I used to think that i may just not wake up and how inconvenient that would be. And that staying awake was easier because at least I know i’m still in control. Now I just take medication to knock me out. Elijah Jamison, Fall 2023

I can so vividly feel this haiku in my bones - this is such a lived experience for me. I’ve always had a hard time with going to bed early or trying to fall asleep at a reasonable time, so the feeling of trying to fall asleep or go to bed, and trying so hard to just sleep but you just can’t is incredibly relatable. I can feel the bone-deep exhaustion in my body as I try turning over again under my covers, willing unconsciousness to whisk me away and growing only more frustrated as I lie awake with my eyes closed and god, why can’t I just fall asleep? Skylyr Choe, Fall 2023


popsicle resting on lips
dripping on
a college-ruled notebook

Eden Niebrugge


a charred heart
         flakes away
to breath again

Elijah Jamison

As I said in class, the descriptive words in this poem caught my eye, as well as the second line being separated from the other two. I liked the imagery of a charred heart, leading me to believe that this person’s heart has been burned, and there’s a layer of what’s been burnt that is “flaking away” as this person begins to heal. I also like the metaphor that’s hidden in there - that your heart pumps blood to your brain, which tells you to breathe, so without your heart, you wouldn’t be able to “breathe again”, like it says in the poem. Leah Flint, Fall 2023


otters swimming
how free they look
in an enclosure

Maddie Alger


choking on cotton
melancholic panic
i'll try sleeping again

Elijah Jamison

I liked the extended metaphors hidden in this poem too. When you sleep your mouth sometimes gets dry, especially if you sleep with your mouth open, thus you would wake up with “cotton mouth.” I like the juxtaposition of “melancholic panic” too, because these two words foil each other. Melancholic is pensive sadness, which is more subdued, and panic is tied to anxiety, which is a much more heightened state. The author may mean that they feel this panic so often that they’re numb to it, or it makes them sad, and they are unable to handle this so they try sleeping it off. It seems that the author may be dealing with a cyclical pattern of waking up from panic and then trying to go back to sleep, and failing. Leah Flint, Fall 2023


youth club white board reads
"love is love
lesb-ein is ok also"


overcooked ramen
and expired coffee
as the common

Eden Niebrugge


hang to dry
until next summer

Anna Quick

This takes me back to leaving all my family and friends at home sense I live so far away; it is like living two different lives. I don't get to talk to people from home often when I'm here due to the busy schedule, so my relationships back home almost feel like I'm hitting pause until I'm home again, knowing that I can pick up where I left off with them. Bella Birdsley, Fall 2023

Whenever i leave for home i feel like I’m coming and going from a bubble of shifted reality. This place isn’t everything yet it is somehow my whole life. I can’t relate to most around me but i still seek their validation. So i think i find it best to just internalize feelings and hoard them until i can express in a manner not befitting me but others. Elijah Jamison, Fall 2023

The hesitance to say the right thing at the right time or the wrong thing at the right time, only to end up saying nothing at all, is the meaning behind this poem. From this, I understood it as something you want to say to a friend or a parent, but leaving for college without expressing yourself. Eden Niebrugge, Fall 2023

I enjoy the imagery while reading this haiku. I imagine a countryside barn with a clothesline outside, but instead of clothes hanging, there are words all along the clothesline. It makes me think of a summer fling and maybe one of you or both of you go far away from home for college so you won’t be able to catch up with them or start things back up until you’re home again. Maddie Alger, Fall 2023


shampoo runs in eyes 
water drips 
thoughts about tomorrow

Elly Hermanson

This haiku fills me with an all-too-familiar feeling of dread. Shower thoughts are very real and ultimately end with me thinking about the next day ahead and all the things I have to accomplish. Whether this sounds depressing or not I usually cry in the shower and it is a good outlet for some of my built-up stress. This haiku does an amazing job of describing the struggles that some people have to face. Kailyn Coates, Fall 2023

The first line leads the reader to believe that the eyes will be irritated in the following lines; however, “water drips” feels as if the speaker turned off the shower, numb to the shampoo still in their hair. “Thoughts about tomorrow” feels like the dread and reason why the speaker is so numb to the actual shower. Eden Niebrugge, Fall 2023



my childhood
lies with tubes attached
keeping him alive

Anna Quick

This haiku is screaming hospital with a patient on life support. This author clearly had this incident with a male firgure in their life, and I can feel their hurt in these words. I felt their pain as they were so young when something this dramatic occurred. Unfortunately, this is going to be my daily life as I'm pursuing a career in nursing. I like the way the author was able to make me feel so much with so few words. Mary Grace Gallagher, Fall 2023


a knee on the ground
stands between 
a life with me 

Bella Birdsley

This haiku hits home, my boyfriend and I have been together for a little over four years at this point and we have yet to talk about marriage. This haiku is also quite sad to me. There is someone who wants so badly for someone to propose to them and promise a life with them. Although I do not equate marriage to forever, the person in the haiku does, and it is very important to them. The last line hits me right in the heart, the isolation of “a life with me” makes proposing seem like the easiest thing that this person significant other can do, but for some reason they won’t. Anna Quick, Fall 2023

This haiku brings up hopefulness, giddiness, and frustration. The author cannot wait to be proposed to but is frustrated with their partner for not doing so yet. I can uniquely relate to this, as my boyfriend and I are planning to get engaged over spring break this year. I am incredibly excited, but I am so impatient for that moment. I also like the juxtaposition between "a knee on the ground" (AKA kneeling) and "stands between" (AKA standing). Kaia Garbacz, Fall 2023


cold drink
sweaty cup
perspiration mustache


new stickers
a hot pink water bottle


involvement fair 
sign up tables 
imposter syndrome

Madelyn Letourneau

© 2023, Randy Brooks • Millikin University
All rights returned to authors upon publication.