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Fast Train

When the 17.22 heads out of Victoria and begins to pick up speed I start thinking about seatbelts, or the absence of seatbelts, and how in an emergency I might be thrown onto the woman opposite, cracking my head against hers, or puncturing my face on a corner of her open hardback book. But then I notice her breasts which are packed beneath a bib of pink frills, her tiered paisley skirt rumpling in waves over plump knees, her curly hair the colour of hazelnuts, her milky skin, which takes me back to her breasts which are pendulous, generous. And I’ve forgotten about seatbelts, as I shift my knees to one side to get a view of her feet, the shoes she’s wearing which I know will make all the difference to whether she’ll scream and push me away as I fall, or cradle my face away from her book, those wonderful breasts receiving me like a tumbled duvet.

not knowing
how to hold her
my mother at eighty

Frogpond 2007, Vol XXX, No 3, and
dust of summers (Red Moon Press 2008)

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haiku: a poetry of absence or an absence of poetry?

The following paper was presented at the PALA (Poetics and Linguistics Association) 2015 Conference at Canterbury University, Kent, UK on 16th July 2015. 
Abstract: HAIKU: A POETRY OF ABSENCE OR AN ABSENCE OF POETRY? Minimalism in Contemporary English Language Haiku
The popular perception of haiku as three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables persists in the mainstream poetry world and beyond as if nothing has changed since the first Western translators counted the onji, or sounds, in traditional Japanese haiku and created that misconstrued but enduring template fleshy enough to support a traditional English syntax.
And while putting flesh on bones might be a useful metaphor for the construction of formal and free verse, contemporary English language haiku practice is often more akin to the trimming and polishing of bones to create a form where point of view, adjectives and even verbs may be dispensed with entirely. 
This 30 minute presentation will analyse examples of minimal, micro and monostich…

haiku commentary ~ Annette Makino

Sometimes life and poetry intersect naturally. I had a brutal wardrobe clear-out yesterday, as witnessed by the pile of clothes hangers in the centre of the bed and a bulging large carrier bag destined for the charity shop.  And then, through one of those random extended internet excavations, I came across this haiku by Annette Makino, published by tinywords a few years ago which I'd commented on briefly. 

hanging in my closet the person I used to be

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haiku commentary ~ Paul Miller

spring foghorn . . . 
cormorants spilling 
from an over-crowded ledge  

Paul Miller, Called Home (2006)


Sound, sight and movement, and texture. These are the explicit physical senses through which the haiku speaks to me. But there must be more haunting the images and the spaces between the lines to produce an element of unease in me.
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The ellipsis at the end of line 1 indicates hesitation and uncertainty. spilling/ at the end of line 2 also allows the reader to experience that sense of falling into the white space on the page. Line 3 ends gruffly with the definite thump of a single syllable: ledge,
Twice in the last two days I have read the closin…