Haiku Kukai 04 Favorites

Global Haiku • Millikin University • Fall 202

Growing Pains


I finally made it
though I wish
I could say “we”

Tanner Essex (9)

This poem stirs an ever-present ache within me, something that I’m not always aware of or can easily ignore, but definitely flares up from time to time if I think too hard about what could have been — rather, what I had hoped would be. I had a friend group in high school that I absolutely adored and would have done anything for (and oftentimes, I did do anything for at the drop of a hat). I’ve always had a really hard time making friends, and so when I had them, I latched on hard. But as we all got older, graduated from high school, and started college at different times, I became very aware of how different we all were, and how things would change. It all came to a head my sophomore year of college, and I distinctly remember how this brief fight spiraled into something so big and dramatic that we all had stopped talking to each other. I didn’t speak to a single person in that group for months except for one girl who made it a point to only speak to me when she was sad or needed something. I was more than happy to provide, and that took a horrible toll on my mental health. I don’t speak to most of them anymore and have grown a lot since that time. But I can still look back on the days when I was happy with them, and we were all just a bunch of dumb kids goofing off. I miss them, and I wish I could have seen our friendships through to their proper end- we all talked about a full-circle moment with graduating and watching each other receive our diplomas again —but I know that I am better off without them and have new relationships to see me through to my graduation in the spring. Skylyr Choe, Fall 2023


fog breath around the bench
I laugh away
winters with you


thunder thighs, they sneered
as I trace silvery lightning
on my skin

Sky Choe (10)

This haiku gives me validation for my own thighs. I see this as such a positive and beautiful way of seeing my big thighs. Either I have been made fun of for my thighs, or men have sexualized my thighs. I have never really seen my thighs as beautiful until I met my now boyfriend, and I have a larger appreciation for my thighs after reading this haiku. Although my thighs are big and littered with bits of cellulite, seeing all of the marks on my thighs as “silvery lighting” makes them seem so much more beautiful. Anna Quick, Fall 2023

This reminds me of my own legs as I have any stretch marks. In some cultures, stretch marks are signified as beauty as they are due to growth of the muscles and tissues of your body. Thus, I have always endured this saying as much as I view them as beauty marks rather than imperfections. Mary Grace Gallagher, Fall 2023

This makes me imagine when I was younger. I started lifting and working out at a young age which caused me to get stretch marks before many other girls did from rapid muscle gain and even my friends would say things about it and make me feel so secluded and unhappy with my body. Growing up and seeing how normal they are and how many people actually have them makes me wish I never let those people get to me in the first place.  Elly Hermanson, Fall 2023


parent's divorce
brother cries it's all my fault
I carve into my skin

Sky Choe

This was not a haiku I marked as a favorite and was also not discussed in class. This haiku was hard for me to read, I think because it is so raw and somewhat disturbing. It’s not a subject I’d personally feel comfortable bringing up in class, but the haiku is impactful due to this. I had close family friends whose parents got divorced after over 20 years of marriage about a year and a half ago. It was a nasty divorce, and I remember the kids, who are around mine and my siblings ages, taking it really hard. There was lots of picking sides and one parent pitting the kids against the other parent, and it was truly hard to hear about, especially because I was close with all of them and loved them like my own family. My dad is the ex husbands best friend, and I remember my dad disclosing to me that their son had started self harming due to the stress caused by the divorce. Thankfully he was able to receive help, but it’s devastating to know that the amount of stress he went through led him to that point. Leah Flint, Fall 2023


butterfly kisses
lullabies about a little star
old bedtime ritual

Bella Birdsley

This haiku favorite wasn’t mentioned in class, so I thought I’d let it be born here! I often recall my parents singing me to sleep as a child, because I was very fussy and full of energy, so bedtime was quite difficult! I’ve always loved music, and I vividly remember my Dad sitting in the rocking chair in my room (when I was still in a crib), and singing special songs to me that he would make up. Sometimes they would come over to my crib and rub my back as they sang me to sleep, which was always very relaxing, but I hold very fond memories of that time in my childhood. Leah Flint, Fall 2023



kids selling lemonade
on the corner I used to
I fish for change

Bella Birdsley (7)

I love the nostalgia of this haiku because its such a common memory for people to go back to their childhood lemonade stands. I know I used to to lemonade stands all the time as a kid, and I would be so excited for people to stop and buy lemonade from me. So now, when I see lemonade stands, I think about those memories and how I’m now the adult going to buy lemonade from the kids. Tanner Essex, Fall 2023


december air
school bus gossip
red suited epiphany

Bella Birdsley (5)

This haiku makes me feel nostalgic and reminisce on the good old days. Childhood memories are something I like to hold on to. This brought me back to the feeling of being young and not having to worry about huge responsibilities. Christmas time in elementary school was always exciting and filled with creative activities. Kailyn Coates, Fall 2023


folding his hand-me-downs
I wonder how
mom is doing


quarterback's mug shot on the news
oh, how the mighty

Sky Choe (14)

This haiku makes me laugh and reminisce. The word “quarterback” doesn’t really make me think of a football player, I see more of a person in high school who thought they were cool enough to fit the “quarterback”/”popular” stereotype. Speaking of those stereotypes, there was this one girl I knew in high school, and she tried her hardest to fit into those stereotypes but she also had a weird “you can’t touch me” god complex. This girl thought she could do whatever she wanted… until she got pulled over last year and was given a DUI. It’s fun to think about that situation because it makes me realize that this “cool” girl quite obviously peaked in high school and thought that drinking and driving is cool. But the part that really irks me is the fact that she still doesn’t completely understand the weight of the DUI, it’s not something to joke about . . . and yet she does. She hasn’t grown up nor has she left her high school mindset behind. This haiku radiates the same energy of the girl I knew who thought she was invincible and got a DUI. Anna Quick, Fall 2023

I like this haiku because it puts into perspective how even the people who seem to have it all and the stereotypical “perfect people” make mistakes. It makes me imagine of the saying “peek in highschool” I know a lot of people who seemed to be the shit in highschool and they were basically just handed everything. Now I hear about what they are doing and it seems their lives are just falling apart because they do not know how to deal with the hardships that most people have already learned how to. They are stuck in the same time period and think they deserve everything automatically. Elly Hermanson, Fall 2023


1 paper cut
       3 trickles of dark red blood
             my growing pain


comfy bed and pillow
silky light purple sheets
grandma’s cuddles . . .

Ny Scott

Just the other day my grandma texted me a flashback picture from 11 years ago. It was a picture of me in her bed, with my snuggie, and my favorite stuffed animal. This haiku just reminds me of sleepovers at my grandma’s house. Growing up, those were always way cooler to me than sleepovers with friends. Hannah Smith, Fall 2023


early morning phone call
can’t catch my breath
growing pains


mom friend
who will take care
of me?

Maddie Alger (9)

As I’ve mentioned in class, I am the oldest of three siblings, so I’ve always felt a sense of being the mini-mom. I consider myself a natural caretaker, and it’s within my personality to constantly be looking out for other people and making sure they’re taken care of. I often sacrifice my wants and needs for other people because being in service of others makes me happy. In high school, and even into college, I have been the friend people go to when they have homework questions, need a ride, money, someone to vent to, etc. I love helping others, but, especially in partnerships, I feel that I will never find someone who is as good at taking care of me as I am of taking care of them. I am consistently thinking about what I can do for others, and I often wonder if there is someone out there who would do that for me, other than my own parents. Leah Flint, Fall 2023

I’ve never been the mom friend, but I heavily rely on the mom friend all the time. It’s so nice to have someone near who you can talk to and love unconditionally, but its jarring to wonder if they feel loved by you the same way you feel loved by them. They give everything they have to their friends to make sure that they are taken care of, but you often don’t stop to make sure that they feel taken care of too. Tanner Essex, Fall 2023


belly fat
more hair
just growing up

Mary Grace Gallagher (3)




second best friend
apex of the sidewalk triangle
falls further behind

Kaia Garbacz (10)


he makes love potions
then claims a witch-hunt;
King Midas


forehead kisses and
embarrassing secrets
locked in my mind


cutting a low carb pizza
she licks the cutter
after each slice

Kaia Garbacz (8)


overworked mother 
eldest daughter 
takes the wheel

Madelyn Letourneau (11)

When I first read this, I imagined myself learning to drive from my mom as she was the one who taught me. My mom has always worked very long and hard as she has taught us to be independent daughters when we are older. However, when I heard it in class, I felt as if this was a perfect haiku that put the perspective of ‘haikus are imagined differently by each and every reader’ into perspective. I couldn’t imagine having to raise my younger siblings and be accountable for them as well as myself due to my mom working too many jobs. THis was very eye-opening for how lucky I grew up. Mary Grace Gallagher, Fall 2023


at a performing-arts school,
with near-perfect attendance,
call me dramatic again


turning back
my childhood bedroom

Kailyn Coates (7)


nighttime blues
text from mom
at the perfect time

Leah Flint (14)

I really like this haiku because it was comforting to me. Especially last year, when I could easily be upset at night when I was all alone, because I was so far from home, it was eerie how my mom will just text me at the right time. It shows the relationship that mothers can have with their daughters. The closeness for her to just possibly sent something and just text me would always cure the blues. This is just a reminder to never take people for granted that are in my life. Grace Brixa, Fall 2023

I always feel like my mom knows when I’m struggling because she happens to text at that exact time. She calls this the ‘mom instinct’ as she always can sense when something is wrong with either of her kids. I believe that this is a true gift she entails and these texts immediately make me feel better after a long or hard day. Mary Grace Gallagher, Fall 2023

I like this haiku because I relate to it. My mom always knows the right place and time to call. I could be having the worst day or my life, and without even seeing or speaking ot my mom, she somehow knows, and always makes my day better. As basic as it it is to say, my mom is one of my best friends, and she will always know when I am upset, and just how to make me feel better. Madelyn Letourneau, Fall 2023

When I feel down and out of it my mom is always there to lend a helping hand. She never fails to help me through my struggles and knows how to give advice when it is needed. This haiku made me think about the times when she helped me the most and never failed to bring up the positives in negative situations. Kailyn Coates, Fall 2023

This makes me imagine my mom when I lived at home. I could walk in and she could automatically tell if something was wrong with me even if I didn’t say anything. She would also always walk into my room at the perfect times to sit down and talk to me when I was going through something or upset about something.  Elly Hermanson, Fall 2023

This haiku took me to my own experience that happened this week. I fell asleep on the couch we have at pi phi for the first time because I was very tired from the day. That was something I would do a lot after coming home from high school: take a nap on the couch while my mom was cooking dinner behind me. I woke up missing home and when I picked up my phone to check the time, my mom had sent me a picture of the new pillows she got for our couch and said she thought of me because I would always nap there. It was perfect timing and made me smile. Bella Birdsley, Fall 2023


playground after dark
she mourns
her childhood

Leah Flint (7)

For some reason this reminds me of all the playground scenes in Harry Potter. It brings back all the times I went to playgrounds with my high school friends and we played on the equipment, letting our child selves out and reliving the best days. This haiku seems to be mourning those days, either because they were over or because they never had a chance to experience them fully. Kaia Garbacz, Fall 2023

There is something so mysterious about a playground after dark. It feels like a place where things end. I envision someone taking a walk at night and seeing this playground and just missing the days you could just play. Playgrounds after dark also have a negative connotation to it. Nothing good happens there, so you really can’t just go play after dark and it’d be weird to do it in the day. Hannah Smith, Fall 2023

I like that when reading this instead of the dread of watching the childhood slip by i have the urge to just run towards it and hop on a swing while i’m still all alone. We can still play even if it’s only by ourselves to capture those lost moments. Elijah Jamison, Fall 2023


beg my parents to
watch a movie
I fall asleep before the end

Leah Flint (4)

This one made me giggle because every time my family watches a movie, my sister and my dad fall asleep like twenty minutes in.  We often feel so comfortable and at ease with our family or people we love that we fall asleep around them. These moments are so tender and loving because we can’t help but fall asleep. Tanner Essex, Fall 2023

I like this haiku because it is so me as a child. I can imagine begging my mom and dad to let me stay up a little longer to watch a movie. As a kid I was always so desperate for their attention and would try to get it in any way possible. However, I was also just a kid, and as a kid, I was ALWAYS exhausted. I can imagine my excitement after they say yes to a movie, only to fall asleep shortly after it started on the couch. Madelyn Letourneau, Fall 2023

I like this haiku because it is exactly what I was like when I lived at home. We would have family movie nights all the time, but I would always fall asleep around ¾ of the way into the movie, especially if I had seen it before. I think it is sweet that my parents still liked to spend that time with me even if I did fall asleep every time. Maddie Alger, Fall 2023


spend my money
on clothes and makeup
nothing will make me cool enough

Kailyn Coates (3)

I can so clearly think back to my middle school days, when I slowly came to the realization that I was growing up and my friends were, too. I was always kind of a loner, or a “weird” kid in that I watched a lot of YouTube and drew whereas my friends were going out and being active outside of school. When I first came to understand that I was in a different league from them, I was acutely aware of the clothes I was wearing in comparison to them, and it embarrassed me that I didn’t look as nice as they did- I have always been very driven by what is comfortable to wear, as opposed to what makes me look more put-together and, at the time, “adult-like.” I wore sweatpants and loungewear, and often wore pajamas to school (not like sets, but maybe a loose shirt or some fuzzy bottoms because I get cold very easily), and my friends wore frilly tops, layers, jeans and nice shoes, and often accessorized with jewelry. I was an outcast solely in the choices I made to wear. I also didn’t start wearing make-up until 8th grade, simply because my mom forbade it. So coming into my first drug-store trip, I had no idea what made me cool or what I could wear that would make my face look good. I watched so many make-up tutorials and tried my hardest to look presentable or cool, but my chunky black eyeliner and poorly filled in brows didn’t help me do anything but look like a little kid who got into their mom’s makeup bag and played around. I was never cool enough for the popular kids, and throughout middle school I drifted apart from my friends because of it, and this haiku just brings me back to those days of crying in my bedroom as I scrubbed at my eye for the 7th time trying to erase my crooked black line because it just wasn’t right. Skylyr Choe, Fall 2023


I slowly release his hand
sometimes faith has 
growing pains 

Grace Brixa (6)


sharp slice down my leg
mom says
it’s just growing pains


a quick prick
I wish it were growing pains


inside of my own skin 

Hannah Smith (8)


feel it all 
around me
teenage ache 

Hannah Smith (3)


closet of shoes 
that got not enough 


staring at the ceiling
my legs complaining
about growing pains

Bella Birdsley (4)


Athena springs
from Zeus’s forehead
his growing pains


will I ever
get another day
to just play

Elly Hermanson (19)

I relate to this haiku so much. I can’t even say how many times I have thought “what I would give to be a kid for just one more day.” This haiku has a desperation to it that I feel deep in my bones. I don’t think anyone wants to grow up, but I think people around our age are desperately clinging to the small bit of childhood we have left. College has been kicking my butt this semester, and I have thought this more times than I can count. Growing up is not fun, and I think we all deserve just one more day to play on a playground. Anna Quick, Fall 2023

Recently I have been really needing a break. Just a day where I can sit and do nothing and have a whole day for just me without the lingering feeling of what I have to get done in the future. We take this feeling for granted as kids and I love the way this haiku is so simple and captures the simplicity of just playing as kids without a worry in the world. Maddie Alger, Fall 2023

Like I said this is just heartbreaking. I get in trouble with my family because I take everything as a joke in order to not make life as serious as it can be. I prefer to be lighthearted and oblivious than heavy in reality. I have been getting hits back to back with the crushing realities of life and i just think from time to time, Can’t the future just wait. Elijah Jamison, Fall 2023


the machines don’t stop for death

Bella Birdsley (6)

I LOVE this haiku. I think the nature of its presentation sets up the premise for a very serious tone. I spoke on this in class, but it makes me think of all of the abandoned social media accounts that are left on platforms like FaceBook, Twitter (or X, whatever you want to call it), Instagram, and so on, just because people either get bored and don’t delete their accounts so they are left to fester and rot, or you get signed or logged out because a hacker gets into your account and kicks you out, or, in the biggest relation to the single line haiku, when someone dies and their posts and social media presence come to a jarring halt. The servers are still up, and the data is still stored and backed up in the cloud, and other accounts continue to post or like things and share posts, but that person is just…gone. And they can’t come back. I think of Chadwick Boseman, and how he “suddenly passed” and the only presence on his Instagram account became that of those who were left behind to share the news of his passing with his followers. His account quickly flooded with messages of “R.I.P” and “You will be missed,” and other things of the like, but slowly that kind of interaction faded because, well, a dead man isn’t going to see those posts. The world just continues on and we are all left to move on even as the machines we surround ourselves with continue to function and hold their space, as they are programmed to, regardless of whether or not we continue to utilize said spaces. Skylyr Choe, Fall 2023

This oddly builds off the previous post because this is kind of like the prequel emotion that leads to the need of having a day to play. Life feels like we just punch in and out and you never really know if you’re having an affect so you get pent up anxiety of the unkown. It makes me feel like maybe I’m not the special star my mom made me believe I am. Elijah Jamison, Fall 2023


waiting for you
feeling like a straight guy
in Victoria's Secret

Kaia Garbacz (8)

I have never brought a gay man to Victoria’s Secret, but I do know what it is like to bring a straight man to a store like this and it is such a funny experience. They stand there not wanting to make eye contact with anything or anyone and it is funny to see how uncomfortable they get when they don’t know what to do. Maddie Alger, Fall 2023


cold fall breeze 
they drift away 
from me


my father
a broken feather


up before the sun 
let’s do it again 
growing pains


puffy eyes
mom offers me her last

Leah Flint (6)

I talked a little about it in class, but I adore my mom and she is one of my best friends. She is selfless and always there for me. This weekend alone, I called her multiple times a day because I was struggling with different things. She helped me through it all and never lost patience with me. I will always go to her first if I have an issue with something. Cami Jones, Fall 2023


empties her pockets
before the school dance
a break-up note

Kaia Garbacz (3)

This haiku just created such a scene for me in my head, a dramatic moment of discovery. It feels very hormonal, teenage angst because of the “school dance”. There is just a lot of feelings in what I imagine because in the moment before she finds this note, I envision she was all dolled up, very excited and anticipating the dance, probably going with whomever wrote this note. One thing that did make me curious was why she emptied her pockets though.  Bella Birdsley, Fall 2023

Additional Haiku


old flag waves
the wind
keeps her company

Anna Quick

I reallly like this haiku because it creates a scene of a war widow. There are celebrations and flags but she is alone with the wind. Randy Brooks, Fall 2023


the old house
memories flood

Anna Quick

This haiku makes me think about the times when you are trying to be so quiet in your house, but you know where all the creaky spots on the floor are, so you are sneaking around them. In my house personally, I know which steps creak the most, or at least how to avoid the loudest sound. This paints a picture of me and my siblings finding each other late at night downstairs, but then having to sneak back up so our parents didn’t know we were awake. It brings back very happy memories for me. Cami Jones, Fall 2023


ready to play
in the rain
expensive jewelry

Eden Niebrugge (7)

This haiku gives an interesting juxtaposition, since I view playing in the rain to be childish and having expensive jewelry to be something for adults. The meaning I find in this is about reconnecting with your child self, doing silly things like playing in the rain while still having the responsibilities and privileges of being an adult. Or, maybe this is about a parent removing all of their delicate items before going out to play with their child. Kaia Garbacz, Fall 2023

This haiku feels like a young, wealthy couple that still like to have fun. Playing in rain feels very child-like: your clothes and hair will get wet and they must be coming from somewhere fancy due to the “expensive jewelry”. Rain also always feels romantic when it has to do with a couple like The Notebook or Pride and Predjudice. Expensive jewelry is a nice touch because despite the rain, it won’t tarnish if its real gold.  Bella Birdsley, Fall 2023


hiking alone
a cold breeze
an unsteady pace


two college degrees
and The Feminist Mystique
my mom.


fingers clack
on a keyboard
watching the clock

Anna Quick

This haiku is the epiphany of college and the struggle behind getting homework done. No matter how much time I give myself to get things done it is always a race against the clock. College can be very challenging and this haiku will always remind me of that. It describes me in this exact moment. Kailyn Coates, Fall 2023


the heartbeat no longer
tech shakes head
baby girl soon to come


white sheets stained pink
the bloody culprit—
      my . . . other red sock!

Sky Choe (8)


never ending boredom
ache for school
long runs all that’s left to do


rearview mirror
catch mine

Anna Quick (10)

I really like this haiku and the way it's framed. I love that “eyes” is all by itself. I also envision friends riding in a car and someone says something funny and you catch eyes in the rearview mirror. I read this haiku as something fun and lighthearted, rather than something too serious or dramatic. Hannah Smith, Fall 2023


echos of laughter
haunt the house
she sews in remembrance


game of telephone 
everything is

Hannah Smith (9)

I like this haiku for two reasons. The first is more direct. My family always plays telephone together when we gather for bonfires. It always funny because there is always someone that messes it up on purpose trying to be funny. The other thing that is more imaginative is storytelling and gossiping. I feel like as humans who communicate with others, you can never tell the same story twice. Things will always get around the grapevine, but at the end of the day, you will never know if the story you heard is true, or is it was similar to a twisted game of telephone. Madelyn Letourneau, Fall 2023

I like this haiku, because I feel like it is a big comparison or example for something. The first line is an activity that almost anybody can relate to. It is a game known to confuse people, and to be about a lack of clarity. Then the next two lines talk about everything being twisted, which is a matter of speech for saying that something is not the exact truth, or that it has been changed from what it originally was meant to be. This comparison, or use of example of a reference that anyone will notice but is usually used to describe something innocent. But to then describe a possible situation, being completely blown out of proportion removed from the truth is very interesting to me. It almost makes me feel like somethings started innocently, and then turned into something way, bigger than it was never meant to be. Grace Brixa, Fall 2023


one city 
     nice skyline
people . . .

Ny Scott (4)


beach sunset 
a thousand footsteps 
recount the day

Elly Hermanson

My family has been lucky to go to beaches often enough that some of my fondest memories are when my family was at a beach. My mom and I always take walks, my dad always helped us build sand castles, and my siblings and I would crash through the waves together. This just reminds me of the sunset walks I would take with my whole family after dinner talking about our favorite parts of the day or what we were doing the next day. Cami Jones, Fall 2023


highest peak
I hover above
who I was below


sunset accelerates
heart racing while
I wait for him to call

Grace Brixa (4)


her curly hair wild
in the wind
country on the radio


gazing up 
ghosts of laughter 
fill the air 


missing the moon
she came back 
you didn’t 

Cami Jones (7)

There are things in our lives that are forever constant. Currently, the moon is one of them. The moon is something that we can always expect to happen. Just like the sun rising and setting. Or just like the weather eventually changing. These are all things that are constant in our lives that we just expect. The first one is interesting because it says that the person is missing something that they know all eventually come. But then, when they confirm that it came back, as it was expected to, the third line is almost a little bit heartbreaking because someone else didn’t come back. Maybe that person was expected to come back like the moon, or maybe they weren’t expected to. But I can’t help but think and wonder why the moon reminds this person of the person who didn’t come back. Grace Brixa, Fall 2023


my limit
30 mins of judge judy

Elijah Jamison (4)


free falling
the silence amplifies
my heart beat

Grace Brixa (4)

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