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Peggy Willis Lyles's Haiku
(September 17, 1939 – September 3, 2010)

a cool current
where the river deepens
summer sky

gray morning
the weight of mist
in Spanish moss

crashing waves
power walkers
swing their arms

deep chords
from the practice room . . .
a bee stirs applemint

mother’s scarf
slides from my shoulder . . .
wild violets


autumn sea
a little girl’s love
of small brown shells

I brush
my mother’s hair
the sparks

small talk . . .
snap beans

morning calm
the song that hovers
out of sight

oval frame
a woman curves
around her child

fragments . . .
of the potter's mark

Beethoven's Ninth
raindrops bounce
from cobblestones

Indian summer
a turtle on a turtle
on a rock

ice flecks
on azalea buds...
the koi go deep

summer stillness
the play of light and shadow
on the windchimes

Lights out
... the firefly

bird song
in bird song


tea fragrance
from an empty cup . . .
the thin winter moon

long twilight . . .
at the woman's ear
a small pearl glows

wild persimmons . . .
a woman at the roadside
wiggles her last tooth

boarding call - -
the ripe banana flavor
of the small one's cheek

the tai chi master
shifts his stance

nearly dawn
we leave a few figs
for the birds



A doe's leap
darkens the oyster shell road:

I shake the vase—
a bouquet of red roses
finds its shape

and melon cooling
with us in the stream

first frost…
on a silver card tray
wild persimmons

October twilight:
the scarecow in the garden
drops its other glove

a mayfly
taps the screen—
warm beets slip their skins

dog-earde script
I prompt a wiseman
from the wings

Winter night:
a spark between the tweeds
of strangers

Reaching for green pears–
the pull
of an old scar

Offertory chant:
in the darkened vestibule
umbrellas drip


the winter look
of baby's breath
in bloom

paw prints
across the moon roof
cats in love

a whistle
cut from bamboo
the long day

old homeplace . . .
around the pear tree
fragrant light

spring sunbeam
the baby's toes
spread apart

chasing butterflies
the girl with Wednesday's ashes
on her brow



into our bones
the heat of the day . . .
cicadas drone

wing beats
in the chimney
the short night

lap of waves . . .
my daughter molds a castle
for her son

thunderheads pass . . .
a bluejay bathing
in the dust

summer night
we turn out all the lights
to hear the rain



green persimmon
the child
held back

crunch of frost . . .
a woman twists
a corn-shuck doll

marsh lights . . .
the owl's cry
dilates our eyes

between our breath clouds . . .
autumn sea



into the night
we talk of human cloning

green reach
of amaryllis
winter sun

winter solstice
our son reads a fairy tale
to his unborn child

snow swirls
in the pitcher's paperweight . . .
the longest night

against cold glass
cat's paw

last sliver
of the moon . . .
pine-scented cold

winter night
I dreamed your garden lights
were fireflies


haze-blurred horizon ...
a painted bunting hovers
in the sea oats' curve

the third-note rise
of a towhee's song
fragrant breeze

a damp fern
strokes my ankle
dark eyes of the doe

for her mother
roots and all

hazy moon
the nun begins her journey
with a backward glance

an open window
a woman's wordless song

shimmering pines
a taste of the mountain
from your cupped hands

country church
the summer smell of cotton
freshly ironed

sweet peas
tremble on the trellis
the bride's "I will"

sun shower
the river otter

through a maze of lilies brushstrokes of the trout

cheek on her hand
... the pages
turn themselves

lightning flash
the brass quintet
tuning up

smooth garden bench
a woman embroiders
a unicorn

dew drops
on the dark rose
our reflections

lingering heat
the third-grade classroom
one desk short

family graveyard
a boy finds his middle name
on the oldest stone

piano lesson
her braids outdo
the metronome

chalk dust
in the eraser trough
autumn chill

yellow leaves
a girl plays hopscotch
by herself

bare branches
I choose a layer
of blue silk

noon whistle ...
icicles dripping
splintered light

on the harp strings
Christmas Eve

the first notes
squeezed from bagpipes
small town parade

the baby
reaches for his father's breath
mallards on the lake

bread rising
yellow crocuses
fill with snow

moving day
the dogwood tree
in full white bloom

six moon shells
where the neap tide turned...
I hear your heart

warm sea
we swim into phosphorescence
lightly touching

a maple seed
floats on the millpond...
deep blue sky

Gershwin's lullaby
magnolia petals ladle

turtle through the reeds
our secrets

good morning kiss
wing beats
of the hummingbird

soaked in vinegar—
the heat

quivering heat
a wasp slips from the flowers
hidden in the fig

feverish child
shadowing the night light
a luna moth

workmen on a scaffold
sanding off old paint

the sunflower's shadow
reaches her silk blouse

city heat
a boy stirs oily rainbows
with his pocket knife

starry night
the telescope

he whistles as he turns
the children's pancakes

three odd socks
in the wicker basket
autumn rain

traffic jam
my small son asks
who made God

graveside rain ...
the old hymn fading
into earth scent

lunch at the zoo
even among gorillas
some who sit apart

short of the crest
the jogger breaks his stride
red leaves in the air

clay on the wheel I confess my faith

cedar shavings
the carpenter's magnet
snaps up tacks

witnessing his will
the frost-hatched

bitter wind ...
the hand that cups the flame

winter night
he patiently untangles
her antique silver chain

snowed in
the wedding-ring quilt
lumpy with children

teaching her to sew...
I wind back to bobbin thread
from half a life ago

the cat walks
up piano keys

dawn light
on white camellias
the fever breaks

the way the master's brush
strokes wings

attic sun
from Grandmother's gown
a grain of rice

buds swell
a woman beats her dust mop
against an old brick wall

cathedral garden
cardinals in the birdbath
scatter drops of light

first warm day
two left gloves
for gardening

the boy stands still
fingers splayed
above a starfish

no thought
of air until
that blue feather's drift

plants move
beneath the pond's dark surface
scattered stars

through open windows—
he lifts the veil

passion flower
your faith
or mine?

river baptism
another frog
with just three legs

clouds gathering
the crowned whelk twirled
into itself

distant jazz
a calla lily
catches rain

dust on the pews
afternoon sun washes
an apostle's feet

lingering good-byes...
hard rye crusts on a paper plate
beside the radish rose

night flight
a young man fast asleep
beside his cello

sonic boom
the peony sheds
a small black ant

fast-breaking news
weight of the lead apron
in the dentist's chair

the frayed shoestring

dress by dress
the story of her life
day lilies close

cross current—
in the cooler
blue crabs fight

thunderheads offshore
the osprey coming early
to its nest

crescent moon
a periscope rises
from the oil spill

high noon
a cat stares down
the chipmunk's hole

crunch of frost
the dollmaker twists
a corn-shuck man

nip of fall...
a rabbit's tooth marks
in magnolia leaves

soft Gullah
at the graveside...
blue glass shines

delta autumn
the storyteller cradles
his gun

in the storm's eye

before he grinds the stump
he counts the rings

a handprint
on the hospice window
fingers widely spread

cold wind lifts one corner
of the pall

dinner party
glancing up from grace
to the flood mark on the wall

black-water pond
reflections lapping
cypress knees

wind and rain
the hand I reach for
in the dark

ice flecks
on azalea buds
the koi go deep

a whelk's foot stretches
toward the waves

damp earth smell
of the unglazed bowl
the potter breathes

before we knew its name the indigo bunting

still at the edge
of its shadow
the frog

we open jelly jars
for fireflies

glide of the kayak
ripples overlapping
water lilies

the tide's shape
in bent cord grass
fiddler crabs

first star
the leaf that shed a raindrop
springing back

brief visit
peony open
to its heart

a black bear
noses muscadines
slow summer stream

spin between us
a lost thought

an old song
in our second language
starry night

amber light
creased in a roadmap
a place we've been

fallow field
in one flash the redbird
and the wish

through the doe's ear

cricket sounds
rise into night
the names of the dead

November mist
wood smoke scents
the jogger's way

a strong draft
as you enter
embers glow

level ground
over leaves
Grandmother's quilt

I rinse the rice
a second time
New Year's Day




LYLES, PEGGY WILLIS: lives with her husband in Tucker, Georgia. They have a daughter, a son, and three grandchildren. She earned her B.A. from Columbia (S.C.) College and an M.A. in English from Tulane University; where she was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow for 1960-61. Peggy taught briefly at Sophie Newcomb College, High Point (N.C.) High School, High Point College, and the University of Georgia. She was Poetry Editor of a regional magazine Georgia Journal from 1980-85.

For more than twenty years her haiku have been widely published in the US and abroad. Her work is included in many anthologies, including The Haiku Handbook, 1985, and Haiku World, 1996, both edited by William J. Higginson; The Haiku Anthology, 2nd and 3rd editions, 1986 and 1999, edited by Cor van den Heuvel; Remember That Symphonies Also Take Place In Snails, edited by John and Joanne Judson, 1989; The Rise and Fall of Sparrows, edited by Alexis Rotella, 1990; Haiku Moment, edited by Bruce Ross, 1993; A Haiku Path, the Haiku Society of America, 1994; snow on the water, the Red Moon Anthology for 1998; the thin curve, the Red Moon Anthology for 1999; and the forthcoming Global Haiku, edited by George Swede and Randy Brooks. Her two miniature chapbooks are Red Leaves In the Air, High/Coo Press, 1979, and Still At The Edge, Swamp Press, 1980. She has won awards from Modern Haiku, the Museum of Haiku Literature, the Hawaii Education Association, Wind Chimes Press, the Henderson Contest, Brussels Sprout; Haiku Quarterly; Woodnotes; The Mainichi Daily News, the New Zealand Poetry Society, the 2nd Annual People's International Haiku Contest, the HPNC 1999 International Senryu Contest, and the Snapshot Press Haiku Calendar 2000 Competition.

You can read her work on-line at Poetry in the Light; the English-Language Haiku Web Site; The Heron's Nest; and Pinecone: the North Georgia Haiku Society.

She says, "I think of contemporary English language haiku as something we poets are creating together. I enjoy reading haiku as much as writing them and consider many haiku poets 'mentors at a distance."