spring fling

one look back and we’ve both
grown old


I don’t support carving up trees, but I’m not above mimicking that look in a haiga. (The little hearts here are a standard Snapseed font feature.) Fortunately, Plummer’s Hollow is off the beaten path enough that the few graffitied beeches are vastly outnumbered by those with only natural markings, such as these wonderfully eye-shaped limb scars.

I’m not sure what the rules are about Greek mythological allusions in haiku, but certainly in Japanese haiku, literary allusions are one of the traditional ways to allow haiku to suggest more than their brevity otherwise permits.

question mark butterfly

my shadow
taking the shot


A little too comic, a little too obvious… fine, it’s a senryu. Bring on literalism in the haiga, complete with speech balloon.

As an adult butterfly, the question mark seeks out rotting fruit, tree sap, dung, or carrion as food sources. Only when these are unavailable do question marks visit flowers for nectar. This dietary adaptation is especially beneficial to the late spring / overwintering / early spring brood when nectar sources may be limited.

Polygonia interrogationis – Wikipedia

behind the swamp

with its skunk cabbages
an empty airport


Photo taken at the edge of an infrequently used, remote airstrip which my hiking buddy kept saying reminded her of Breaking Bad. I made a version of this with and without drop-shadow, and it took me a while to decide which I preferred. The font is something called Splash, and I like how it seems both swampy and airporty.

happy

or apprehensive
old black birch


Unlike their cousins yellow birch, which can live for hundreds of years, black birch (Betula lenta) are short-lived trees on average, meaning they rarely get beyond 80-100 years old. But that doesn’t mean they don’t still have plenty of time to develop character. And it makes them more relatable, at least to those of us with more than half a century under our belts.

Photo shot today on a solo hike in the Seven Mountains region of central Pennsylvania.

mouse bones

Inside a spruce plantation, showing the tangle of mostly dead, bone-dry lower branches;

repackaged by an owl
daylight savings


At risk of pointing out the obvious, the visual conceit here was to try to make the text reminiscent of owl pellets by putting them in an environment frequented by owls (the Norway spruce plantation at the head of the hollow) and giving them heavy drop-shadowing, like the layer of hair encasing the vomited-up bones. I experimented with making the letters paler, like bones, but it just wasn’t legible.

spring sunset

Partly blue sky with dark clouds awash in orange-pink.

more of a comment
than a question


We have barred owls who often call at sunset (and at other random times throughout the day and night) so I started out thinking about that who and went from there. The result being itself a bit of a head-scratcher is, to my way of thinking, permissibly self-reflexive.

As it happens, while I was composing this, sitting on a bench near what we call the Far Field and thinking about barred owls, one of them let out a loud who from a hundred yards away. If I thought more readers would be familiar with the birders’ mnemonic for its full call, I might have gone with my penultimate draft:

spring sunset
who cooks
for you all

pruning season

View across a two-lane road of rows of recently pruned, bare fruit trees under a powerline with steel pylons.

the angel of history’s
prosthetic wings


When there’s too much to fit into a haiku — the giant pylons, each tree’s signature of knots, the scream of a red-tailed hawk circling low overhead — my instinct is to reach for some unifying symbol. The Biden administration’s apparent decision to double down on our forever wars has been preying on my mind.

Made in Snapseed with a font that’s only supposed to be used for single lines of text, but since it looks so handwritten, it’s not imperative to get each line exactly the same height, so saving one line at a time more or less works.

which cloud

Three uncracked brown eggs in the middle of a large blue plate

harbors the sun
winter aconites


I love the variety of colors in brown eggs and took this photo just to record that. Then haiku possibilities began to suggest themselves. I remembered the winter aconites blooming through or adjacent to patches of snow in my friend L.’s garden on Wednesday. My first draft had “a sun” rather than “the sun” and I wonder whether that might’ve been the stronger choice. But when I write poetry I tend to go with whatever rolls off the tongue most easily.

Once again the font is one I’ve come to know through the Snapseed app on my phone, Pacifico, but it’s only available for single-line messages; to get three lines of the same size, equally spaced, requires better eyesight and way more touch-screen dexterity than I possess. (I tried!) So I took it to GIMP on the desktop.