The HyperTexts

Original Haiku and Tanka
by Michael R. Burch

These are original haiku and tanka written by Michael R. Burch, along with haiku-like and tanka-like poems inspired by the forms but not necessarily abiding by all the rules. There are links at the bottom of this page to Burch's translations of Oriental masters of the forms such as Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson and Kobayashi Issa.

Mightier than Atlas,
she shoulders the weight
of one fallen star.
Michael R. Burch, "Childless"

Dark-bosomed clouds
pregnant with heavy thunder ...
the water breaks
Michael R. Burch

one pillow ...
our dreams
Michael R. Burch

She bathes in silver,
~~~~ afloat ~~~~
on her reflections...
Michael R. Burch

Celebrate the New Year?
The cat is not impressed,
the dogs shiver.
Michael R. Burch

Cats are seldom impressed by human accomplishments, while the canine members of our family have always hated fireworks and other unexpected loud noises.

Crushed grapes
surrender such sweetness!
A mother’s compassion.
Michael R. Burch

My footprints
so faint in the snow?
Ah yes, you lifted me.
Michael R. Burch

An emu feather
still falling?
So quickly you rushed to my rescue.
Michael R. Burch

The eagle sees farther
from its greater height—
our ancestors’ wisdom
Michael R. Burch

The ability
to disagree agreeably—
Michael R. Burch

The sun warms
a solitary stone.
Let us abandon no one.
Michael R. Burch

You astound me,
your name
unpronounceable on my lips.
Michael R. Burch

You astound me;
your name on my lips
remains unpronounceable.
Michael R. Burch

Born into the delicate autumn,
too late to mature,
pale petal ...
Michael R. Burch

Soft as daffodils fall
all the lamentations
of life’s smallest victims,
unheard ...
Michael R. Burch

Elderly sunflowers:
bees trimming their beards.
Michael R. Burch

thinking to illuminate the darkness?
Michael R. Burch

You rise with the sun,
mysteriously warm,
also scattering sunbeams.
Michael R. Burch

As springs’ budding blossoms emerge
the raptors glide mercilessly.
Michael R. Burch

Iffy Coronavirus Haiku

yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #1
by michael r. burch

plagued by the Plague
i plague the goldfish
with my verse

yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #2
by michael r. burch

hang their heads
embarrassed by their coronas

I wrote this poem after having a sunflower arrangement delivered to my mother, who is in an assisted living center and can’t have visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic. I have been informed the poem breaks haiku rules about personification, etc.

homework: yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #3
by michael r. burch

dim bulb overhead,
my silent companion:
still imitating the noonday sun?

yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #4
by michael r. burch

Spring fling—
children string flowers
into their face masks

yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #5
by michael r. burch

the Thought counts:
our lips and fingers
insulated by plexiglass ...

yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #6
by michael r. burch

masks, masks
and not a straw to drink ...

Dark Cloud, Silver Lining
by Michael R. Burch

Every corona has a silver lining:
I’m too far away to hear your whining,
and despite my stormy demeanor,
my hands have never been cleaner!

New World Order (last in a series and perhaps of a species)
by Michael R. Burch

The days of the dandelions dawn ...
soon man will be gone:

The Original Sin: Rhyming Haiku!

should never rhyme:
it’s a crime!
Michael R. Burch

The herons stand,
sentry-like, at attention ...
rigid observers of some unknown command.
Michael R. Burch

the golden leaves turn black underfoot:
Michael R. Burch

Dry leaf flung awry:
bright butterfly,
Michael R. Burch

A snake in the grass
lies, hissing
Michael R. Burch

blesses my knuckle
with affectionate dew
Michael R. Burch

My nose nuzzles
sweet nothings
Michael R. Burch

The day’s eyes were blue
until you appeared
and they wept at your beauty.
Michael R. Burch

The sky was blue
until you appeared
and it wept at your beauty.
Michael R. Burch

The moon in decline
like my lover’s heart
lies far beyond mine
Michael R. Burch

My mother’s eyes
acknowledging my imperfection:
Michael R. Burch

The sun sets
the moon fails to rise
we avoid each other’s eyes
Michael R. Burch

bright leaf flung awry ~
butterfly, goodbye!
Michael R. Burch

leaf flutters in flight ~
bright, O and endeavoring butterfly,
Michael R. Burch

a soaring kite flits
into the heart of the sun?
Butterfly & Chrysanthemum
Michael R. Burch

The whore with the pallid lips
into something more comfortable
Michael R. Burch

I am a traveler
going nowhere—
but my how the gawking bystanders stare!
Michael R. Burch

This is a poem composed of haiku-like stanzas:

Lift up your head
hear spring roar!

How will you tidy your hair
this near

Leave to each still night
your lightest affliction,

Soon you will free yourself:
one shake
of your white mane.

Now there are worlds
into which you appear
and disappear

seemingly at will
but invariably blown—
wildly, then still.

Gasp at the bright chill
of winter.

Icicles splinter;
sleep still an hour,
till, resurrected in power,

you lift up your head,
Hear spring roar!
Michael R. Burch

Variations on Fall

Farewells like
so many sad goodbyes.
Michael R. Burch

Falling leaves
brittle hearts
whisper farewells
Michael R. Burch

Autumn leaves
soft farewells
falling ...
falling ...
falling ...
Michael R. Burch

Autumn leaves
Fall’s farewells
Whispered goodbyes
Michael R. Burch

Variations on the Seasons
by Michael R. Burch

Mother earth
prepares her nurseries:
spring greening

The trees become
coy behind fans


Wobbly fawns
have become the fleetest athletes:


Dry leaves
scuttle like crabs:


The sky

translucent flake
lighter than eiderdown

the entire town entombed
but not in gloom,

Variations on Night

ice and darkness
conspire against human warmth
Michael R. Burch

Night and the Stars
conspire against me:
Michael R. Burch

in the ice-cold cathedral
prayer candles ablaze
flicker warmthlessly
michael r. burch

Variations on the Arts
by Michael R. Burch

Paint peeling:
the novel's
novelty wears off ...

The autumn marigold's
former glory:

Human arias?
The nightingale frowns, perplexed.
Tone deaf!

Where do cynics
finally retire?

All the world’s
a stage
unless it’s a cage.

To write an epigram,
If you lack wit, scram.

should never rhyme:
it’s a crime!

dumped the boob tube
for YouTube.

can rap:
just write rhythmic crap!

Variations on Lingerie
by Michael R. Burch

Were you just a delusion?
The black negligee you left
now merest illusion.

The clothesline
ripe with unmentionables.

The clothesline quivers:
or ghosts?

Variations on Love and Wisdom
by Michael R. Burch

Wise old owls
stare myopically at the moon,
hooting as the hart escapes.

Myopic moon-hooting owls
hoot as the hart escapes

The myopic owl,
moon-intent, scowls;
my rabbit heart thunders ...
Peace, wise fowl!


All the wild energies
of electric youth
captured in the monochromes
of an ancient photobooth
like zigzagging lightning.
Michael R. Burch

The plums were sweet,
icy and delicious.
To eat them all
was perhaps malicious.
But I vastly prefer your kisses!
Michael R. Burch

A child waving ...
The train groans slowly away ...
               Loneliness ...
Somewhere in the distance gusts
scatter the stray unharvested hay ...
Michael R. Burch

How vaguely I knew you
though I held you close ...
your heart’s muffled thunder,
your breath the wind—
rising and dying.
Michael R. Burch


by Michael R. Burch

Mightier than Atlas,
she shoulders the weight
of one fallen star.

Ascendance Transcendence
by Michael R. Burch

Breaching the summit
I reach
the horizon’s last rays.


sheer green stockings
queer green beer
St. Patrick's Day!
michael r. burch

cicadas chirping everywhere
singing to beat the band—
surround sound
michael r. burch

Regal, upright,
clad in royal purple:
michael r. burch

Love is a surreal sweetness
in a world where trampled grapes
become wine.
michael r. burch

although meant for market
a pail full of strawberries
invites indulgence
michael r. burch

late November;
skeptics scoff
but the geese no longer migrate
michael r. burch

as the butterfly hunts nectar
the generous iris
continues to bloom
michael r. burch

You rise with the sun,
mysteriously warm,
also scattering sunbeams.
—Michael R. Burch

As springs’ budding blossoms emerge
the raptors glide mercilessly.
—Michael R. Burch

I wrote the haiku-like poem above on 3-27-2023 after the Nashville Covenant school massacre.—Michael R. Burch

by Michael R. Burch

“Slain” — an impossible word to comprehend.
The male lion murders cubs,
licks his lips, devours them.

Her sky-high promises:
midday moon
—Michael R. Burch

The north wind’s refrain,
a southbound train ...
—Michael R. Burch

The north wind’s refrain,
the receding strain
of a southbound train ...
—Michael R. Burch

The moon blushed
then fled behind a cloud:
her stolen kiss.
—Michael R. Burch

Elderly sunflowers:
bees trimming their beards.
—Michael R. Burch


The evening grass
accumulates dew,
roots in corpses.
—Michael R. Burch

church bells
seem more cacophonous...
—Michael R. Burch

Coyotes yip at wolves,
their offspring endangered:
—Michael R. Burch

Can eagles soar,
—Michael R. Burch

Brittle autumn leaf,
no one informed me
you were my life!
—Michael R. Burch

Valentine Haiku #1
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

A leaf brushes my cheek:
a subtle lover’s
gentlest caress.

Valentine Haiku #2
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Teach me to love:
to fly beyond sterile Mars
to percolating Venus.

The Ultimate Haiku Against God
by Michael R. Burch

Because you made a world
where nothing matters,
our hearts lie in tatters.

Early robins
get the worms,
cats waiting to pounce.
—Michael R. Burch

I recite my haiku
to the inattentive lilies.
—Michael R. Burch

Am I really this old,
so many ghosts
—Michael R. Burch

The sky tries to assume
your eyes’ azure
but can’t quite pull it off.
—Michael R. Burch

The sky tries to assume
your eyes’ arresting blue
but can’t quite pull it off.
—Michael R. Burch

Two bullheaded frogs
croaking belligerently:
election season.
—Michael R. Burch

An enterprising cricket
serenades the sunrise:
—Michael R. Burch

A single cricket
serenades the sunrise:
solo violinist.
—Michael R. Burch

Haiku Rules, Dos and Don'ts

Are there rules for writing haiku? Even the experts, many of them self-appointed, don't agree. While I don't claim to be an "expert," I will offer my opinions, which can be taken with a grain of salt, and surely will be, by the traditionalists and purists.—MRB

The 5-7-5 syllable rule: I don't think this rule has ever made much sense in English language haiku, since no rhythm is achieved by counting syllables. In English poetry, rhythm is created via patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables. When meter is absent, poetic devices such as alliteration, assonance and consonance may be employed. Or haiku can be pure free verse without poetic devices. But in any case, I see nothing to be gained via the 5-7-5 form. I ignore the rule myself.

The three line rule: While most haiku have three lines, I see no reason haiku can't have fewer or more lines. I sometimes employ fewer or more lines, when the logic of what is being said seems to work more naturally that way.

The nature and season rules: The great Oriental masters of the form did not write strictly about nature or the seasons, so I ignore these rules.

The "cut" rule: I have heard variations of a "cut" rule in which two lines have to be about one thing only, with those two lines "cutting" over to the third line. While this is fine if poets want to do it, I see no reason to make it a hard-and-fast rule.

So what are my personal rules for haiku? I don't care much for rules myself, so I will use the term "guidelines" instead. I am more concerned about what haiku should do, than I am with creating arbitrary "don'ts" that just get in the way and clog up the works. For me, the essential attributes of haiku are minimalism, epiphany, and being a sort of poetic or "zen" snapshot. I would much rather bend or break the rules and produce an epiphany, than adhere to the rules and have the poem fall flat. Therefore, my guidelines are simple and flexible:

(1) Minimalism: A haiku is a brief poem constructed usually (but not always) of three short lines.
(2) Snapshot: A haiku is usually (but not always) a vivid snapshot of one thing or event, or of closely related things or events.
(3) Epiphany: A good haiku results in some sort of epiphany (a flash of insight, a feeling of déjà vu, "a sense of sudden enlightenment and illumination," a sob, a tear, a wince, a chuckle, etc.).
(4) Imagery and metaphor: Most haiku employ imagery and many involve some sort of metaphor (transference).
(5) Poetic devices: Haiku may employ (but do not require) poetic devices such as meter, rhyme, alliteration, assonance and consonance).
(6) Punctuation and capitalization: Because haiku are typically brief, and are thus generally easier to parse, punctuation and capitalization are less critical that with longer works of poetry and prose. This does not mean that some haiku will not benefit from punctuation. When a haiku might be read incorrectly otherwise, I employ punctuation. Punctuation can also help "slow down" the reading a bit, by indicating pauses to the reader. I think punctuation is optional in most haiku, but can be immensely beneficial in the proper spots. And it is never "wrong" to employ standard capitalization and punctuation.

How does one go about writing haiku? I think the first and most important step is to read the haiku of the Oriental masters, starting with grand masters like Basho, Buson, Issa and Shiki. There are, I believe, many good examples on this page. Pay particular attention to the "snapshot" and "epiphany" aspects of haiku. Then see if you can capture similar magic yourself. Don't get hung up on the rules. If you can produce an epiphany, who cares exactly how you did it? If you abide by all the rules and the poem falls flat, what has been accomplished?

The Masters of Haiku, Tanka, Waka and Related Forms

Matsuo Basho
Yosa Buson
Kobayashi Issa
Ono no Komachi
Yamaguchi Seishi
The Oriental Masters of Haiku

Related pages: The Best Sonnets, The Best Villanelles, The Best Ballads, The Best Sestinas, The Best Rondels and Roundels, The Best Kyrielles, The Best Couplets, The Best Quatrains, The Best Haiku, The Best Limericks, The Best Nonsense Verse, The Best Poems for Kids, The Best Light Verse, The Best Poem of All Time, The Best Poems Ever Written, The Best Poets, The Best of the Masters, The Most Popular Poems of All Time, The Best American Poetry, The Best Poetry Translations, The Best Ancient Greek Epigrams and Epitaphs, The Best Anglo-Saxon Riddles and Kennings, The Best Old English Poetry, The Best Lyric Poetry, The Best Free Verse, The Best Story Poems, The Best Narrative Poems, The Best Epic Poems, The Best Epigrams, The Most Beautiful Poems in the English Language, The Most Beautiful Lines in the English Language, The Most Beautiful Sonnets in the English Language, The Best Elegies, Dirges & Laments, The Best Poems about Death and Loss, The Best Holocaust Poetry, The Best Hiroshima Poetry, The Best Anti-War Poetry, The Best Religious Poetry, The Best Spiritual Poetry, The Best Heretical Poetry, The Best Thanksgiving Poems, The Best Autumnal Poems, The Best Fall/Autumn Poetry, The Best Dark Poetry, The Best Halloween Poetry, The Best Supernatural Poetry, The Best Dark Christmas Poems, The Best Vampire Poetry, The Best Love Poems, The Best Urdu Love Poetry, The Best Erotic Poems, The Best Romantic Poetry, The Best Love Songs, The Ten Greatest Poems Ever Written, The Greatest Movies of All Time, England's Greatest Artists, Visions of Beauty, What is Poetry?, The Best Abstract Poetry, The Best Antinatalist Poems and Prose, Early Poems: The Best Juvenilia, Human Perfection: Is It Possible?, The Best Book Titles of All Time, The Best Writing in the English Language, Michael R. Burch Romantic Poems, Michael R. Burch Free Verse

Individual poems and collections by Michael R. Burch: "Jessamyn's Song"

The HyperTexts