by Nola Borrell
They broke our rules all the time,
We like a glimpse of eternity
but philosophical statements
are not for us.
We’re cagey about imagery:
our dew seldom sparkles like diamonds,
our butterflies are never spirits.
Bashō’s skylark may be free
and disengaged from all things;
our skylarks go about their business.
Issa can encourage a lean frog
and invite a sparrow to play
but we stay out of it.
And when our hearts teem
with cares and anxieties
we never actually say.
As for go to the pine,
look at Ernie who can write
forty haiku without leaving his desk
and wins all the competitions. +
We’ve had enough of cherry trees,
we’d like a flash of rata or pohutakawa.
We censor wild imagination;
our bathing women
are never coveted by crows.
Life may be brief as morning glory
—some things we don’t want to hear,
The sound of the bell
Leaving the bell.
we can’t forget.
From Waking Echoes, Aotearoa, New Zealand: Korimako Press, 2013, pages 71–74. First published in Kokako #1 in 2003.
 “A drop of dew / Sits on a rock / Like a diamond.” —Bosha
 “Butterfly in my hand / As if it were a spirit / Unearthly, insubstantial.” —Buson
 “Amidst the grassland / Sings a skylark / Free and disengaged from all things.” —Bashō
 “Lean frog, / Don’t be defeated! / Issa is here cheering you.” —Issa
 “Toddling orphan sparrow, / Come and play! / I’m always your playmate.” —Issa
 “Oh evening swallow! / My heart teems with cares and anxieties / About tomorrow.” —Issa
 “Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine, or to the bamboo if you want to learn about the bamboo . . .” —Bashō
 “A woman / Taking a bath in a tub / Is coveted by a crow.” —Kyoshi
 “I love the rest of my life / Though it is transitory / Like a light azure morning glory.” —Fusei
Footnote poems quoted from Classic Haiku, selected and translated by Yuzuru Miura (Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle, 1991).