Down Under haiku news

The Haiku Down Under team have put together an exciting programme for the online event that takes place from October 7-9 so pop over to the website and have a look – and while you’re there make sure you register for this FREE set of talks and workshops. It’s a wonderful chance, especially if you’re in New Zealand or Australia, to strengthen community bonds, network, learn and, given the subtitle of ‘poetry from the edge’, do something different.

A journal with a notable Australian focus is Echidna Tracks which is currently issuing, day by day, its ninth edition with the theme ‘journeys’.

scattering sunset
a wedge
of black swans

Gavin Austin

curled up
in a kingfisher’s peep
the river’s weave

Nathan Sidney

a blizzard of petals —
we all laugh
in the same language

Sandra Simpson, published today (Aug 7)

I enjoyed this ‘Australiana’ tip of the hat to Robert Frost, while shivering at the thought of a snake, particularly a dangerous one.

coastal taipan . . .
I backtrack along a road
best not taken

Lorin Ford

The Australian Museum says about the coastal taipan snake that it is often regarded as the most dangerous snake in Australia. They are extremely nervous and alert snakes, and any movement near them is likely to trigger an attack. Read more here. New Zealand, like Ireland, is snake free so to me all snakes are threatening.

The results of the NZ Poetry Society International Haiku Contest are out and I was delighted to receive a Commended award in a strong field. See all the chosen haiku and comments by judge an’ya here.

parish churchyard —
words for eternity
lost to a thrush

Scott Mason (US), First

spring nesting
a streak of straw
across the sky

Anne Curran (NZ), Highly Commended

waning moon
no longer sure where the end
of my tether is

Sandra Simpson (NZ), Commended

autumn crocus
I’ll always regret I was away
the day you bloomed

Julie Schwerin (US), Commended


Fever dreams

I effectively lost 2 weeks last month due to Covid. Firstly, having to start isolation when Haiku Husband tested positive, and then coming down with it myself a few days later. While HH’s illness was fairly bad, mine was mild. I was relating all this to a haiku friend overseas who answered that I must have written some new haiku. Wrong! The couple I managed over my few days in bed resemble a fever dream so odd are they.

journal closed
I fall asleep
to steady rain

Ferris Gilli
from Gratitude in the Time of Covid-19
The Haiku Hecameron

a thunderstorm
& then you hear
the kitchen clock

John Martone
from NOON: An Anthology of Short Poems (2019)

on the sickroom wall
the shadow of leaves

Sandra Simpson
from Kokako 5 (2006)

The Covid variant most New Zealanders are experiencing now is highly transmissible so although we were isolating from one another inside the house, Haiku Son eventually tested positive too … and, perhaps because he’s young and strong, was barely ill with it. Fortunately, we’d had time to stock up on tinned soup, eggs, frozen meals, pain relief, etc before we were all ill, and HH’s work dropped off extra RAT kits. When we felt like eating again we didn’t have to do much to make something that could pass for a meal.

starlings in her voice a winter’s worth of worry

Francine Banwarth
from Wishbone Moon anthology (2018)

his cough
in our air

Margaret Peacock
from Haiku 21 anthology (2011)

winter of owls
who will I know
in the obits

Sue Colpitts
from THF Daily Haiku, Aug 3 2021

As the older occupants of the house slowly began to recover, we discovered we were both left with low energy levels, which are still impacting us a bit, and a ‘flat’ feeling. Almost a month later I still have a wracking cough, which HH and HS didn’t get.

Haiku poet and editor Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) lived with the tuberculosis that killed him from about 1888, spending the last 6 years of his life largely bed-ridden. In early May 1902, 4 months before his death, Shiki began writing an essay series, ‘Byosho Rokushaku’ (‘Six-Foot Sickbed’), which was serialised in the newspaper Nippon:

A six-foot sickbed – this is my world. And this sickbed six feet long is too big for me. Sometimes I have only to stretch my arm a bit to touch the tatami, but at other times I can’t even relax by pushing my legs outside the covers. In extreme cases, I am relaxed but am tormented by such terrible pain that I’m unable to move my body so much as an inch or even half an inch. Racked by pain, anguish, shrieks, morphine, I search for a way out, helplessly craving a little peace on a road that leads to death. Read the full article by Ren Ino this piece is excerpted from (Journal of Philosophy and Ethics in Health Care and Medicine, No. 13, 2019).

Again and again
from my sickbed I ask
‘how deep is the snow’?

Masaoka Shiki
from The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse (1964)