“A Few Haiku & Senryu (56)”

(c) 2023 by Michael L. Utley


dusty stew pot
her memory lingers by
the cold hearth



a tiny sun
in this cold dark hell
golden suisen



strings of koto
from beyond the bamboo grove
my heart breaks again



don’t look at me, moon
I’m not who you think I am
dark night of the soul



from my window
the mountain; from the mountain



green silence
and the end of all things
sea of trees

(Note: A bit of a title change for this series. I’ve been writing senryu almost as long as haiku and I figured it was time to clarify that these little collections contain both. Haiku pertain to nature and seasons, while senryu address the human condition. The formats are virtually identical; the subject matter differs.)

“A Few Haiku (55)”

(c) 2023 by Michael L. Utley


to write is to breathe
and I am suffocating
in silence



speak again of joy
and the warmth of summer days
your lies are comforting



pond ice
stretched thin as hope
and equally deceptive



some write of joy
I write of experience
would they were the same



pardon my sorrow
and forgive my weeping soul
a poet’s lament



hope comes and goes
and lasts for but a season
winter snow

“A Few Haiku (47)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley


my soul’s tourniquet
staunches words but not the pain
I weep in silence



strip me of my layers
to my core of nothingness
then you’ll understand



an errant snowflake
drifts through my paneless window
and freezes my heart



yuki no hana
coldness blossoms in my heart
my endless winter



I am not afraid
to say I am terrified
of what lies ahead



I am shamed by fear
my coward’s heart quails in the
shadows of my soul

“A Few Haiku (32)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley


the forsaken vase
still stands where you left it
waiting for your flower



in the end
my heaven could not redeem
your hell



memories of you
litter the oak-shadowed grass
I tread carefully



coy spring tarries
just beyond my winter heart
how I yearn for her



strawberry spring
the false hope of redemption
as the storm draws nigh



my destitute mind
is as barren as my heart
all the words have gone

“A Few Haiku (31)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley


three chickadees…
winter’s ellipsis as earth
pauses in thought



winter cattails
frozen tiki torches glow
in silver moon-fire



in night’s cold silence
old snow-laden branch succumbs
too many winters



warmth and light and love
all the world’s hope resides
in my glowing hearth



messenger moon
conveys hope to my lost love
through the years and tears



light in the darkness
dawn of hope or setting sun
I cannot decide

“Thus the Evening’s Stillness Deepens”

“Thus the Evening’s Stillness Deepens”
(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

I don’t want to break the peaceful
stillness of this winter evening
as the gloaming deepens and the
shadows freeze upon the hills

I don’t want to leave my footprints
on the pristine frozen fields
where the haggard cornstalks gather
contemplating harvests past

I don’t want to burden forests
slumbering in hiemal stasis
dreaming of the coming springtime
and the warmth of summer sun

so I’ll tell the moon my secrets
shed my tears in silent prayers
rest my head on silver shoulders
close my eyes and bare my soul

there’s so much to say this evening
as I wait in darkling meadow
for the object of my fondness
as she peeks between the trees

she has never kept me waiting
she has never left me wanting
she has never sent me reeling
in the throes of winter’s woes

I can hear her humming softly
as the stars begin to sing in
perfect cosmic harmony an
airy astral aria

gathering her scarf and mantle
she ascends as alpenglow paints
roseate blush on pale cheekbones
crimson tincture on her lips

as she rises I stand helpless
in this chilly empty clearing
I am powerless against her
I surrender to her glow

there’s a kindness in her visage
as she turns her gaze upon me
there’s compassion as she wraps me
in her shimmering embrace

thus the evening’s stillness deepens
thus the frozen fields glimmer
thus the forests drift in slumber
thus my damaged soul renewed

“A Tanka Trio (11)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley


my exhausted faith
flows just as the drift ice flows
breaks and melts away
heaven’s reflection blurring
in the sea’s saltwater tears



I catch the water
dripping from the icicles
in a mason jar
as a gentle reminder
that I do not weep alone



moon paints snow angels
on forgotten midnight fields
only clouds can see
sleeping souls oblivious
to shy winter’s artistry

“January’s Scion”

“January’s Scion”
(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

January’s scion, born of winter
messenger of midnight’s dark domain
harbinger of fearful futures
herald of the past’s persistence
bearer of remembrances of
what shall surely be

I’ve succumbed to January’s Janus
peering ever forward and behind
frozen firmly on the threshold
of what was and what may soon be
doomed to bear the weight of all things
for eternity

there are reasons January haunts me
memories unmeltable come spring
anguished glacial recollections
nurse at doleful mountain’s bosom
hiemal tempest screams its sinful
arctic lullaby

blizzards pummel me across the decades
breath sucked from my lungs I cannot scream
woeful winters resurrected
stain the present, tinge the future
I cannot let go, my tired
mind encased in ice

mountain path from past to future voided
bone-white drifts of January’s wrath
stalk the trail in hulking silence
passage is impossible here
miles of dead denuded forest
bar my way ahead

I can’t scry the future in the darkness
terrifying in obscurity
thrumming rumbling shakes the earth as
cloying caustic vapors fester
sulfur-scented volcanism
lies ahead for me

close my eyes and I can see the carnage
close my ears and I can hear the cries
spewing peaks of raining cinders
fire-bomb the desolation
I can sense the future tremble
in uncertainty

memories entombed in frigid white flakes
worries of the future caked with ash
undead past alive and raging
unseen future salivating
waiting restlessly for me as
time moves ever on

“A Few Haiku (30)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley


the burning earth
raging sea and starless sky
nature’s broken heart



the blowing snow
winter’s children play hopscotch
on frozen fields



nine thousand miles
and years of pain lie between
my heart and my soul



does she remember
in her tropical winter
my world of snow



drafts have stilled the hearth
killed the fire in my soul
endless winter night



ice in wash basin
fingers too frigid to wash
cold thoughts from my mind

“A Few Haiku (29)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley


my unsettled thoughts
blanket my winter world
in restless stasis



winter’s bitter dirge
prelude to spring’s soliloquy
hope waits in the wings



from womb to tomb
winter’s ever-present shroud
white cloak of despair



heaven’s secrets
whispered in the hiss of rain
on elm leaves



to those whose stories
go unheard by dearth of care
nature lends her ear



all hope is not lost
though harsh winter batters me
the golden suisen