Autumn Haiku

On March 11th, 2016, Mornington, in a Facebook post… I wrote:

… just back from an evening walk. I’ve always been scared of writing Haiku… but love reading the classics. Today, I opened R.H. Blyth’s book on Japanese Haiku for the first time in several years… and then went for a walk. This is the rather simple result.

crickets sing the eve
rainbow lorikeets scream home
red sun surfs the clouds

dog and woman wade
small fish leap to reach the hook
a thin crescent moon

Within minutes, the LIKES and responses from friends on Facebook started rolling in! I never get that kind of instant response to my longer poems. I had more than 40 likes, 1 share and 9 comments in the first half day… for just 2 x 17 syllables.

In response to these comments and requests for more, I wrote: “Thank you all so much for your encouragement. I have literally avoided writing haiku for decades, fearing I couldn’t. So, with your overwhelming response, I will be brave and try again… I’m amazed at how a few syllables can achieve so much.”

The real reason I finally gave haiku a go was a shoulder injury and an electrical over-activity in my forearms (but, I hadn’t told my readers that). Since late February, these problems were preventing me from practising shakuhachi for more than 5 minutes. Typing for long periods on the computer also became impossible. For a musician, poet, and long-winded novelist… that is pretty debilitating (and scary).

The big motivation to at least attempt writing haiku was my upcoming forest sojourn in the Tarkine In Motion (TiM) project – a collaborative artistic endeavour over Easter to bring a wider awareness and appreciation for the World Heritage listed North West wilderness area of Tassie which is not a National Park and not protected. I was heading off to “create” within the wilderness, and had hoped to compose music and poetry inspired by forests… but how could I do that with arms that didn’t work and a shoulder in excruciating pain? So… the idea of taking a small note pad and pencil with the challenge of scribbling only 17 syllables each day seemed rather appealing (well, it made me feel less hopeless).

Here are a few more attempts to learn the art of bonsai poetry in my lead up to Tassie:

12th March 2016, Mornington:

scarlet pink galahs
in white toupees and grey coats
bow their heads and eat

17th March 2016, Mornington:

warm breeze
salty skin

last boat behind leaves
rigging caught in twisted limbs
cliff top settler(’)s pine

Telstra service down;
free data tomorrow please;
only fair, me thinks

18th March 2016, Mornington:

grey morning; light rain
wild gusts scatter my papers
trees howl through closed doors

wind chimes swirl and clang
long sleeves replace summer togs
last night’s sea was warm!

shoulder pain persists
crickets sing in E and F
one more cup of tea

19th March 2016, Mornington:

butcher bird visits
kangaroo-apple tree droops
I sing for my friends

I wrote this one remembering the many visits throughout late Feb and early March of a female grey butcher bird to my back door where a young kangaroo apple grows in a pot next to a dish of water for the birds. This amazing songbird visited whenever I was working on editing a sound track of black currawongs to accompany my poem “Evening Cantillations”, or when I was practicing how to play the currawong song on my shakuhachi or learning how to sing their calls. The butcher bird was fascinated. Sometimes I would ask her to sing for me, which she did on occasion. She always listened to my poor imitation, but was soon bored by my attempts, and flew off. This curious butcher bird definitely preferred my currawong singing.
I have since looked her up in a book… Currawongs and butcher birds belong to the Cracticinae family. Wikipedia says: “The cracticines … are highly intelligent and have extraordinarily beautiful songs of great subtlety. Particularly noteworthy are the pied butcherbird, the pied currawong and the Australian magpie.” So, while my two birds do not belong to the acclaimed “Pied Piper” set, they are still musical and my grey butcher bird was very interested in hearing the song of her distant cousins from Bass Strait: the black currawongs Strepera fuliginosa parvior of Flinders Island.
20th March 2016, Mornington:

Bach B minor Mass
her bare arms bow baroque bass
my forearms spasm

Sitting in the audience, watching baroque musicians perform, my RSI flares in empathy with their bowing arms, trilling fingers, holding shoulders! How to change these patterns of electrical response? How to use my arms without the muscles screaming? I fly tomorrow!
21st March 2016, arriving in Hobart:

Green brown quilted hills
Barren banked muddy river
forward lurch: tarmac

To find out what happens in Tassie, and how my haiku develop…
head to the next chapter in my Tarkine Adventure: –> Tarkine Journal

About anne norman

musician, shakuhachi player, author, poet, tea lover...
This entry was posted in Environmental essays and poems, haiku, poems, Tarkine in Motion 2016 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Autumn Haiku

  1. Pingback: Monster Duck: the hidden meaning of haiku | peripatetic musings

  2. Pingback: Tarkine journal | peripatetic musings

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