Chrysanthemum season

If it’s autumn, the flower kigo (season word) must be chrysanthemum – also the symbol for the royal house of Japan which is known as the Chrysanthemum Throne. Chrysanthemum shows and festivals are held throughout Japan at around mid-autumn.

A chrysanthemum roof decoration at the Imperial Palace, Kyoto. The pattern at the ends of the tiles and along the roof ridge is also a chrysanthemum symbol. Photo: Sandra Simpson

lighting the lantern —
the yellow chrysanthemums
lose their colour

– Buson (from The Essential Haiku, translation by Robert Hass)


they spoke no words
the visitor, the host
and the white chrysanthemum

– Oshima Ryota (1718-87)


finding the moon
right in the middle
of the chrysanthemum

– Sandra Simpson (Bravado, 2010)


he leaves in an ambulance –
the chrysanthemum buds
closed tight 

– Kirsten Cliff, third place, Katikati Haiku Contest, 2010

See photos of the many types of chrysanthemum flower on the Waikato Chrysanthemum Society Facebook page (don’t have to register to see it). I have had chrysanthemum tea in China and see that it’s available in New Zealand in various forms. I recall it as being quite pleasant, although it was many moons ago.

And not forgetting a plug for the Chrysanthemum haiku journal, published twice a year from Austria in English and German.

chrysanthemum garden
in this world too
bomb makers

– Johnny Baranski (tinywords, 2013)



Haiku to make you smile

I was going to write this post about Death Haiku but given the recent posts, decided it could wait for another time – if you’re keen to read up on the topic (which is more interesting and less morbid than it sounds) you could start with this essay by Robert Epstein, who published a book about death haiku in 2011.

What has been in short supply for the past few weeks are some smiles, so here are some haiku/senryu that might make you grin, smile wryly or even laugh out loud.

zinnias . . .
why yes my favourite
was Harpo

– Scott Mason, The Heron’s Nest 11.3

(If you don’t get this one, read about Harpo Marx here.)

letting rip a fart –
it doesn’t make you laugh
when you live alone

– Karai Senryu 1718-90, from The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse (1964)


my bread
sprouts a beard

– Ernest J Berry, Commended, Free xPresSion contest 2014

eye surgery
I sign my consent
on the bottom blur

– Karen Peterson Butterworth, a taste of nashi (2008)


seven calories per stamp
i write too many letters

– Janice Bostok (1942-2011)


stopped to allow geese crossing some idiot honks

– Janice Bostok (1942-2011)

barbecue –
hairs on the cook’s belly
sprinkled with salt

– David Cobb, Jumping from Kiyomizu

David Cobb and Janice Bostok have both penned articles about humour in haiku. David’s article; Janice’s article.

Martin Lucas 1962-2014

I am sorry to report that the body of Martin Lucas has been discovered on a beach at St Anne’s in Lancashire, northwest England. Police are not treating it as a suspicious death.

a winding path
from the banks of the beck
into bracken scent

– Martin Lucas


frostmelt – just the disappearing shadow of a wren

– Martin Lucas, both from Where the River Goes


Here are some of his haiku from the Presence website. My sympathies to his family and friends.

No news

beverley and martin lucas [uk]

Martin Lucas pictured here at the 2009 Haiku Pacific Rim conference in Australia, with organiser Beverley George. Photo: Bev Lapacek

Sadly, there is still no news of Martin Lucas, coming up to three weeks since he walked out his front door in Preston, Lancashire during the night, without phone, money or medication.

Britain is reckoned to be one of the most observed countries in the world, thanks to its love of CCTV – one camera for every 11 people – so it’s puzzling and worrying that there have been no reported sightings of Martin.

Martin, former president of the British Haiku Society, is editor of Presence, a journal that comes out twice a year. He has a PhD for his study of haiku as creative writing and is author of Stepping Stones: a way into haiku (British Haiku Society, 2007) and co-editor of The New Haiku (Snapshot Press, 2002). Martin is a keen bird-watcher and some of his haiku were included in the Wing Beats anthology (Snapshot Press, 2008).

a light rain …
sweeping the moor
the peewit’s cry

                                                                               – Martin Lucas, from Wingbeats

a moment before sunrise –
     ice singing
            beneath the swans’ feet

–  Martin Lucas, winner of the Katikati Haiku Contest, 2010

For updates on the search for Martin keep an eye on the BHS Facebook page. There has been nothing new from Lancashire police since this bulletin.

Sadly, Martin’s body was later found on a Lancashire beach. Read the update here.

Oh, and

I realised I forgot to mention a biggie in the way of honours … short-listed for a Touchstone Award, although I’m not sure if this one will make it into stone:

humid evening –
the census taker’s
arched eyebrows

– Sandra Simpson, Kokako 19

My haiku is as it happened. The woman dropping the papers off had high arches drawn on and they caught my fancy. Think of the things the census takers must have heard in the days before everyone was literate! (By the way, the census in New Zealand should have taken place in 2011 but was delayed to 2013 because of the Canterbury earthquakes.)

As anyone who does family history research knows, census information is invaluable but I heard recently that not all New Zealand census forms are kept, how sad for future family historians.

Anyway, read all the short-listed Touchstone haiku here – and please take special note of the one by Harry Frentz, who was just 17 when he wrote it.

Catching up

Heard today that

receding tide the gasps of little shells

has been named as a runner-up in the Snapshot Press Haiku Calendar contest (UK), which means that it will appear on the back of a page in the 2015 desk calendar. Read the full list of winners here. (Frequent readers will know that this was also recently chosen as Haiku of the Year by Heron’s Nest readers.)

Have had two haiku chosen for the June issue of A Hundred Gourds and the latest issue of Kokako has landed in my letterbox.

high-wind warning –
a circus rolls past
on the Desert Rd

– Sandra Simpson, Kokako 20 (April 2014)

The Desert Road forms part of State Highway 1 and crosses the high-altitude Rangipo Desert in the central North Island.