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
(2020)

a thunderstorm
& then you hear
the kitchen clock

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

moonlight
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)

homeless
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)

More recent publications

Kokako 36 has arrived, looking smart with a colour photo by Tim Roberts on the cover – not sure, but it seems more natural to me when I turn it the other way up! A cry from the heart in the editorial by Margaret Beverland.

“The submission guidelines ask that you send 8 pieces only. Most subscribers adhere to this. However, there are one or two who do not, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot get 1 haiku, 7 tanka, 2 sequences and 4 collaborations to add up to 8 …” The trials of being an editor. Under-paid (ie, not at all) and under-appreciated. Read subscription details for Kokako, which is produced twice a year.

Here are some sound-value haiku I like from this edition, plus one of my own.

attuning to lockdown
a lady-bug’s wings
skim the venetians

Graham Bates

summer solstice
the song sparrow side
of the pond

Brad Bennett

still morning –
the plum blossom
loud with bees

Cathie Bullock

headland mansion –
across the estuary
a peacock’s cry

Sandra Simpson

UK journal Presence 72 – double the ‘age’ of Kokako – is another recent arrival. I’ll offer some movement haiku as a selection, plus one of my own from this edition that doesn’t fit the theme. Read subscription details for Presence, which is produced three times a year.

windless morning
dandelion seeds rise
with the big top

Richard Tindall

crows sort the river stones winter sun

Glenn G Coats

charcoal sky –
a hint of restlessness
in the mares

Hazel Hall

summer heat –
in my head I write
your death notice

Sandra Simpson

Recent publications

This year is all about co-ordinating and completing a large family history, as well as undertaking any paid work that comes my way over and above the ‘regulars’, so haiku is having to take a bit of a back seat, sadly. Some days I feel like I’ve puffed my way through a marathon, only to look at my to-do list and see I’m not really much further ahead. However, there are a few haiku-related things to report …

Delighted to hear that I’d won Second in the Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest with:

longest night –
the clay bowl’s
whorls and ridges

Sandra Simpson

Judge Julie Warther said: “Working a tactile sensation into haiku can be a difficult task, but here we can almost feel a lump of clay spinning on a wheel, taking shape in the potter’s hands. It is a slow process and one that requires patience. “Whorls and ridges” could describe the design of the bowl itself or contours of the artist’s fingertips. When fingerprints are found in a finished piece, there is no mistaking its individual nature and the care with which it was created. This alone is a striking image, but a resonance emerges when this image is paired with ‘longest night’ – a time when the seasons themselves turn, taking on more and more light – in the unique nature of time itself.” Click on the link above to see all the winning haiku.

The latest issue of Kokako (34) has arrived featuring an eclectic mix of poets and their work, including three pages of pandemic-theme haiku. The link takes you to submission / subscription details.

Photo: Sandra Simpson

eucalypt breeze
the rattle
of a cicada’s husk

Gavin Austin

eddies of dust
the rooster’s comb blends
into sunrise

Debbie Strange

winter sun –
a pair of waxeyes
chest to chest in mid air

Sandra Simpson

haunted house
the carnie flicks his butt
and waves us in

Greg Schwartz

Gilles Fabre, the editor of seashores journal, sent me a copy of the latest issue (6) as thanks for my essay ‘Cracks in the Pavement’ about urban haiku that appears in the volume. I’ll post the piece here towards the end of the year.

hill walking
whether to get a dog
at our age

John Hawkhead

learning
to accept my baldness
dandelion flight

Adej Agyei-Baah

the silence
of the blinking cursor
winter stars

Jackie Chou

Earlier this year I judged the British Haiku Society’s David Cobb Haiku Award, renamed this year to honour one of the BHS founders (1926-2020). The award has two judges, my colleague being Charles Trumbull in Sante Fe, New Mexico, and we were under strict instructions (which we followed!) not to talk to one another until given the go-ahead by the contest secretary (ie, when she’d received both of our reports).

We did correspond by email once allowed and were delighted to find that we’d each chosen different haiku, although our short lists were pretty near identical. Subjective, much! Read all the winning haiku and our judge’s comments. A useful byproduct of the work was thinking about what I seek in a poem, which also informed my writing for seashores as the two were almost concurrent.

bluebells
carrying the drift
of rain into dusk

Joanna Ashwell (Sandra’s choice for First)

wind in the tamaracks
the sound of a screen door
sixty years past

Earl R Keener (Charlie’s choice for First)

Finally, a delve into the latest copy of the always-readable Presence journal (issue 69).

ebb tide
a limpet returned
to its home scar

Thomas Powell

dry leaves
scattering across the path
quail chicks

Margaret Beverland

woodsmoke –
I am that child
kicking leaves

Susan King

westering sun
a skein of geese banks
into a glide path

Sandra Simpson

Recent publications

Kokako 33 landed in my letterbox yesterday – 76 pages of good reading. The editors have recently changed to PayPal to receive overseas payments for journal subscriptions so a year’s sub (2 copies) now costs $NZ36 for Australia and $NZ40 for the rest of the world, airmail post included. Contact Margaret for details.

winter the snow white sheets in the ambulance

Catherine Mair

laundry day
pairing the matching socks
wondering why

kjmunro

Embed from Getty Images

shearing day –
the men take turns
with the moccasin needle

Sandra Simpson

flu jab wind whirls the pine needles

Nola Borrell

As well as haiku, there are tanka, linked verse, haibun and book reviews.

Presence 67 is another recent arrival, this time from the other side of the world so the image of a frigate bird on the cover – the photo by managing editor Ian Storr – seems entirely appropriate. This is another journal that contains a wide variety – haiku, tanka, linked verse, haibun and book reviews, plus a featured poet in each issue and short articles.

This issue of Presence also includes a tribute to Stuart Quine, the English poet who died of Covid-19, with underlying health complications, in March.He was 57. Kokako notes his passing as well, in the context of Stuart having a boulder poem on the Katikati Haiku Pathway.

always alone
the white-faced heron
in the river

Elaine Riddell

overcast sky
a goldfinch leaves behind
her song

Claire Everett

a jumble of books
outside the old police station
the odd summer cloud

John Barlow

mango season
licking the juice
to my elbow

Adjei Agyei-Baah

Happy Birthday Kokako!

Kokako 30 landed just before I headed off to Japan, a good read as always. If you’re reading this in New Zealand and don’t subscribe to Kokako, what are you waiting for? Find details here.

The first issue of Kokako appeared in 2003, under the helm of (the late) Bernard Gadd and Patricia Prime, who is still co-editor, now with Margaret Beverland. Kokako grew out of winterSPIN, an annual publication of SPIN poetry journal and focusing on the Japanese genres and short poetry. SPIN editor pnw donnelly encouraged Catherine Mair to edit winterSPIN from 1995-2001 with Bernie helping out from 1998. From 2003-2006 Kokako appeared once a year, then moving (by popular demand) to twice a year.

In her editorial to mark the thirtieth edition, Margaret notes that in the beginning most of the submissions to Kokako came from within New Zealand, but now most come from overseas.

If you’re interested in reading more on the history of haiku in New Zealand, click on the link to read an essay, prepared by me for The Haiku Foundation and published in 2016.

Here is a selection of haiku by New Zealand authors from Kokako 30.

flight of a fantail …
we each scatter his ashes
between spells of rain

Kirsten Cliff Elliot (Hamilton)

kowhai2 - Copy

Photo: Sandra Simpson

family sorrow
the yellow kowhai
pays no attention

Tony Beyer (New Plymouth)

not speaking
the cherry on the fence line
in full bloom

Barbara Strang (Christchurch)

marae concert
a small hole in
the cellist’s sock

Sandra Simpson (Tauranga)

sunrise

6am flight!
watching the sun take off
on its own journey

Keith Nunes (Pahiatua)

how to smile
at people you don’t like
buttercup

Jenny Fraser (Mt Maunganui)

Recent publications

Gusting wind and rain have made this an inside sort of day – after some beautiful autumn weather this past week it’s a bit of a shock to have the light on at 3pm!

Kokako 28 is out, featuring a cover image I took in an autumnal Kyoto garden in 2016. It shows a woman in tabi (one-toe socks), Japanese-style Jandals (flip-flops) and the bottom part of a kimono with a maple-leaf pattern.

The journal features four of my haiku, including:

empty sky –
the lambs kneel to drink
what’s left

bedtime story –
we skip the issues
of patriarchy

I was particularly struck by this following haiku, partly because I can never make up my mind to do this:

coral bleaching
I erase another name
from my address book

– Seren Fargo

While the one below makes me feel like I’ve walked part-way into a story that could go either way, a definite whiff of Tom Waits:

airport
the man with pencilled eyebrows
orders a triple shot

– Owen Bullock

Find out how to subscribe, and submit, to Kokako.

Presence 60, another print journal has also arrived recently. As well as carrying tidings of the 2017 Martin Lucas Haiku Award winners, it also carries a full-length book’s worth of haiku, tanka and haibun. Submission and subscription details here.

thinking autumn holds no more surprises sweet gum

– Beverley Acuff Momoi

We’re not this far into autumn yet, but slowly, slowly we’re heading towards peak colour. Last year we planted a dwarf Liquidamber (for that’s what a sweet gum is) called ‘Gum Ball’ but I don’t think we’re going to get much colour off it this year after the dry summer bled into autumn.

summer heat
the click of beetles
on the lino

– Andre Surridge

In December we spent the weekend with friends at a 60th birthday, lots of fun, lots of talk and plenty of recreation, including petanque (boules).

sixtieth birthday —
the sheen of petanque balls
tossed into the night

– Sandra Simpson

Years ago I played doubles petanque in The Netherlands with a friend who played competitively, against his regular playing partner and Haiku Husband. Great fun and something I’ve always fancied taking up. Better get cracking, eh?

Recent publications

I’ve received two Honourable Mentions in the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational, a lovely surprise.

taking his nap outside
my father returns
with blossom in his hair

Te Apiti Wind Farm, Manawatu, New Zealand. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Four haiku appear in Kokako 27 which came out last month.

scudding rain –
the wind turbines
harvest cloud

And one haiku has been published in Frogpond 40.2.

desert rain –
at first the rocks unsure
of the tune

Recent publications

New editions of Kokako (26) and NOON: journal of the short poem (13) landed this week, plus I spied a hard copy of Frogpond 39.3 on someone’s coffee table the other night so quickly flicked through (a sampler of haiku from each edition appears on the website but, alas, mine weren’t among them).

Reproducing this haiku – on the second day the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Debbie have been pouring down on us – seems appropriate. (Thoughts are with those affected by landslips and flooding in the North Island and the full force of Debbie in Queensland, Australia.)

thrumming rain

the deeper sound

of rhubarb 

for RB

– Sandra Simpson, Frogpond 39.3

Bar-tailed godwits at Miranda on the Firth of Thames, New Zealand. Photo: Sandra Simpson

new year’s day –
black begins to inch up
the godwit’s bill

– Sandra Simpson, Kokako 26

We toddled off for a couple of nights in Miranda just after New Year as I particularly wanted to see the bar-tailed godwits that come for the summer from Siberia and Alaska, and that part of the coast along the Firth of Thames is one of their preferred migration spots. The Miranda Shorebird Centre has a hide and over the summer had a couple of volunteer guides there daily to chat and inform, plus share a high-powered telescope with visitors. One thing I learned is that as the males come into their breeding plumage, their bills also change colour, turning from mostly pink to mostly black with the change starting at the tip (they breed only in the Arctic).

I’m always slightly astounded that my work appears in NOON: journal of the short poem, it being a publication that favours the cutting edge and me not seeing my work as even a little bit ‘out there’. However, editor Philip Rowland often selects my haiku and two are in the latest edition.

wisteria in full bloom the rest escapes me

– Sandra Simpson, NOON 13: journal of the short poem

And, finally, a Senryu appears in the online anthology of this year’s Sharpening the Green Pencil Contest, organised in Romania. The poem tells it like it was.

new year’s eve –
a bare-chested man hollers
compliments

– Sandra Simpson

Peace

Photo: Sandra Simpson

underneath the hammer
of the peace bell –
rutherford’s atom

– Sandra Simpson, Kokako 24 (April 2016)

We were in the Peace Park in Hiroshima when our guide Nobu asked if anyone would like to ring the Peace Bell. About six of us went up, various ages and from various backgrounds (including first-generation migrants). We made the bell ring and I daresay we all sent thoughts about peace out into the world with the sound.

Ernest Rutherford. Photo: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress), via Wikipedia

Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) was born in New Zealand but did most of his great scientific work in Britain. He is best remembered for “splitting the atom” in 1917, although had already won a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1908. His face appears on our $100 note.

Hiroshima –
the museum
full of shadows

– Sandra Simpson, Honourable Mention,
Jane Reichhold International Haiku Prize, 2016

Someone was waiting for the bank to open, sitting or standing on the steps. At 8.15am on August 6, 1945 an atomic bomb was detonated 600m above the ground in Hiroshima and the person simply vanished, leaving only a ‘shadow’ on the stone steps – the steps are now on display in the Peace Memorial Museum.

We don’t know if that person was a man or a woman, we don’t know their age and we don’t know their name.

Recently published

painted snow falling
on painted branches –
a scent of camphor

Sandra Simpson, Presence 52

‘Snow at Zojoji Temple, Shiba’ by Kawase Hasui, 1925.

bamboo cutters
washing in green water –
a scent of tuberose

Sandra Simpson, Wild Plum 1:2

I recently bought some tuberose bulbs so must get out and plant them. A large jar of blooms was just inside the front door of our palatial room in Bali last year, a magnificent scent in the evening. The bamboo cutters were also seen in Bali, washing in a water channel after a day’s work.

prayer circle
the time it takes dust
to settle

Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest 18.3

When I wrote the above haiku I hadn’t consciously appreciated that we are all dust (or waiting to be dust) but it struck me as I read it again now. I was being deep and didn’t even realise it!

mango juice –
a taxi driver updates me
on the cricket

Sandra Simpson, Kokako 23

The cricket haiku was written during a visit to Dubai in March, when the Cricket World Cup was being played in Australia and New Zealand. The Bangladeshi and Pakistani taxi drivers were all glued to games. Great fun talking to them.

Now, the Rugby World Cup is being played in the UK.

That’s the lot for now, although I have had acceptances for another five publications, very exciting!