Local & General

From the Wanganui Chronicle, August 2, 1889 – a column of what today would be called ‘briefs’. None carried a headline and the local and overseas snippets were jumbled in one after the other. Some more relevant to readers than others; hopefully contemporary readers knew that Duleep Singh was the last Maharajah of the Sikh Empire, exiled to Britain at age 15 and dying there in 1893. The following appear in the order in which they were printed.

Edward McGlashan, one of the pioneer settlers of Otago, died on Wednesday night, aged 72.

The baby King of Spain is going to the Paris Exposition. He will be the youngest monarch who ever visited that city.

Sarah Bernhardt, who has always smoked cigarettes, has now taken to mild cigars. She remains, as usual, fond of newspaper puffs. [No idea.]

The Queen of England seldom drinks more than one small glass of wine at dinner, and afterwards takes a few drops of good Scotch whisky.

A fatal accident when bushfalling is reported from Inglewood, Henry Marsh being killed by the falling of a tree. No particulars to are hand as yet. [sic]

[A little further down] The salary of Inspector Lee, of the Wellington Education Board, has been altered to £475 a year, with a guinea a day for travelling expenses.

Duleep Singh is a man of medium size, thick set, with a good-humoured, open countenance and courteous manners. His wife is a pretty brunette. [And that’s it, no news about Sir Duleep Singh, just a description in case anyone from the Colony might run into him!]


On the grounds that …

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Papers Past (an amazing online archive) over the summer, generally concentrating my research on one small town in New Zealand. This item from ‘Newsy Notes’ published in the Feilding Star on October 16, 1911, did, however, catch my eye … and tickle my fancy!

On the grounds that it was stupid, a novel has been excluded from the public library in New York.

Dry summer

Not just the heat that settles on us daily and is parching gardens and lawns, or the kind of dry that makes people feel noble because they give up alcohol for a month, but the kind that results in blank pages, unused pens and a creeping feeling of terror.

What if it never comes back again? What if the last haiku I wrote (not very good) is the last haiku I’ll ever write?

Reading my work in two recent publications hasn’t stimulated me much, nor has participating in two kukai. I can only admire the wonderful efforts of others, and wonder what’s happened to my ‘haiku muscle’. Too long unused and it may wither and die.

Meantime the deadlines of two journals I submit to regularly are fast approaching and I haven’t anything new to send. In the past, I’ve been happy enough to go back through my files and see if there’s anything that can be reworked or used as a springboard for a new poem.

Instead, I’m trying to sort out cupboards and store rooms, keep up with the emails that flow in, write some context for a family history project, drinking copious amounts of chilled water, and reading (light fiction) late into the night – and in the shadows are all the things I should have done but haven’t got round to yet.

There doesn’t seem to be any room for haiku, and I’m sorry about that. This should be a season of bush walks, swimming, hammock in the garden … soaking up nature and storing it for sessions with a pen and paper.

Here are three haiku by three New Zealand women – who all live reasonably close to one another – from the latest issue of Presence journal (UK). We all clearly also like the drama of an ellipsis …

the way a storm wave
flings it up …
milky way

Jenny Fraser, Presence 68

spa pool …
soaking in the light
of countless stars

Elaine Riddell, Presence 68

prolonged heat …
a clapper bridge sinks
into the pasture

Sandra Simpson, Presence 68

Some summer haiku from the online Australian journal Echidna Tracks 6, with the theme ‘shelter’.

young pine cone
the tiny hatches
I keep shut

Mira Walker

santa cave . . .
the mechanical monkey band
of my childhood

Sandra Simpson

wedding marquee
the tickle of an ant
over my ankle

Vanessa Proctor

Fingers crossed, the dam will burst – maybe when the rain comes!