possums in a Silky Oak

possum silhouettes
against the darkening sky
a child’s huge eyes!

a child’s chatter
two possums clamber up
the Silky Oak

I will probably rewrite this haiku many times before I get close to Zak’s excited noises after seeing the two possums. He can’t say many words yet so there are little ‘mm mm mm!’ noises, and ‘dat dere!’ (that there!) ‘mum mum mum’ (which means ‘I want something’ and ‘I want Mum’ and ‘I want boobie’ (as breast milk is called in this family). Right now it is late at night and he is crying. Teething or something, I wish I could magic pain away from my loved ones (and everyone else really).

chirping gecko
my love beside me
gently snores

* * * * * *

The top haiku was written to Carpe Diem Goes Back to It’s Roots #5  which this time was about the ‘classical’ rules of haiku, defined (in Carpe Diem) thus:

1. Describe a moment as short as the sound of a pebble thrown into water;  present tense;
2. 5-7-5 syllables;
3. Use a kigo (or seasonword);
4. Use a kireji (or cuttingword);
5. Sometimes a deeper spiritual or Zen-Buddhistic meaning;
6. First and third line are interchangeable 
7. No Self, avoid personal or possessive pronouns (I, me, my); it’s an experience not how the poet feels about it.

For English language haiku, I disagree about points 2 and 6, and would redefine point 5, but I enjoy having a go at  it. There are some wonderful haiku written with all these ‘rules’ in place and it has become the norm to call such English language haiku ‘classical’.

But about  Kireji, Kireji do not exist in English but we can approximate the cutting effect of them with punctuation and white punctuation (line breaks, or space between phrases in a one line haiku).  Kireji create pause, a space within the haiku, dreaming room, or ma (a japanese aesthetic) and are similar to negative space in painting and the effect of silence or pause in music (and, I would add, all poetry). They are often used to separate two images, emphasising juxtaposition, and thus creating connection, depth and poignancy. At the end of a haiku, Kireji can add emphasis or allow a return to the beginning.

In the top haiku, the exclamation mark acts as a kireji (I hope). I have used it as the seventeenth syllable. Even though Japanese Kireji are essentially meaningless, they are added to the count.

5 thoughts on “possums in a Silky Oak

  1. Hi Belinda,
    I agree re points 2, 6 and 5. I recently found a useful definition of Kireji. ‘Cut…continuation’ , a pause I guess but with a more circular momentum. I was going to pick you up on the last syllable in your first haiku…but you beat me to it! ( ! )
    All the best..
    P.s ‘my love beside me gently snores’ what lovely peace…a verandah half shaded, lazy stillness the only effort being made coming from the gecko..aren’t they lizards? Chirp?

    1. 🙂 Nicole!
      Yes, geckos are lizards but they are almost like amphibians as they have a stumpy tail and amazing feet with little sucker pads like frogs, can climb glass and walk across the ceiling. They are nocturnal mostly, and are often on the outside of windows catching moths. Some varieties make a loud chirping noise.

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