Festive greetings

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Pohutukawa flower at Kulim Park, Tauranga, photo by Sandra Simpson



News of the World

Just finished reading this lovely little story by Paulette Jiles (2016, HarperCollins). It is set in 19th century Texas and concerns an elderly man, a veteran of the American Civil War, who travels the state reading newspaper articles to paying audiences. At one stop Captain Kidd takes on the job of returning a 10-year-old girl to her remaining family. The child, who four years earlier was captured by a band of Kiowa raiders who killed her parents and sister, has been raised by the Kiowa, speaks no English and has no wish to return ‘home’.

The point of this post is to share a quote which struck me between the eyes – Captain Kidd has been wounded and is calming himself by thinking of his time as an army messenger, a runner:

Maybe life is just carrying news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we just have one message, and it is delivered to us when we are born and we are never sure what it says; it may have nothing to do with us personally but it must be carried by hand through a life, all the way, and at the end handed over, sealed.

I’m pleased to say that, unlike so many novels, the book has a happy ending, at least the happiest it could be given that time doesn’t stand still.


Watching four or five monarch butterflies dance around our swan plant (Gomphocarpus physocarpus) last evening was a delight – sadly though, unless I intervene, there likely won’t be a new generation as nesting wasps consume any caterpillars until about the end of February when the predator’s diet changes.

Leaving that unfortunate thought aside, I thought I’d browse my bookshelves for butterfly-related haiku and there in the first book I opened, on the first page I looked at was …

on the manuscript
the shadow of a butterfly
finishes the poem

Nick Virgilio
from naad anunaad, an anthology of contemporary world haiku (2016)

Heartened, I continued …

summer butterfly
between my fingers the thickness
of a playing card

Katsuhiro Takayanagi (tr Koko Kato)
from A Vast Sky, an anthology of contemporary world haiku (2014)



Monarch  butterfly. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Two from the internet:

my son noticing . . .
the attention i pay
to butterflies

John Stevenson
from The Heron’s Nest 1.1 (1999)

kiiro-gumi shiro-gumi [chô] no chidori keri

yellow gang, white gang
the butterflies claim
their turf

Kobayashi Issa, written in 1820 (tr David Lanoue)

At his website, David Lanoue notes: Chidori is an old word, a form of the verb chidoru, which means to measure out a lot on which to build a house.

And back to the bookshelf …

blue butterflies
a knife without a handle
on the lichened stone

Peggy Willis Lyles, 1939-2010
from Haiku 21 (2011)

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Long-tailed blue butterfly (Lampides boeticus). Photo: Sandra Simpson

first white butterfly
my cabbages
not yet planted

Elaine Riddell
from the taste of nashi (2008)

traffic lights
all eyes follow
the butterfly

Belinda Broughton
from Third Australian Haiku Anthology (2011)