Thursday, November 27, 2014

Butterfly Dream: Petals & Watch Haiku by Gail Willems

English Original

peony petals
scattered on floorboards
Dali’s melting watch

Blood Ties and Crack-Fed Dreams, 2013

Gail Willems

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Gail Willems (retired nurse)-, published -Belgium, U.K., New Zealand, and Australia, in Famous Reporter, Regime, dotdotdash, on radio, in journals, magazines, many anthologies, including an academic anthology  Winner Poetry D’Amour 2013Peel Region Winner Poetry D’Amour 2014. First poetry collection Blood Ties and Crack-Fed Dreams (Ginninderra Press 2013)


  1. This is an example of the effective use of type II Cutting. The contrasts (the real vs the surreal, natural vs man-made, transient vs fixed, ...etc) spark the reader's emotions and reflection on one's conception of time in relation to existence.


    1 L3 refers to Dali's 1931 painting, The Persistence of Memory.

    2 Below is excerpted from `To the Lighthouse: Three Formulations about the Use of Cutting, which can be accessed at

    Type II Formulation: "Buson and Shiki," pp. 410-11

    …The more complex uses of kireji that come into prominence later on break down this linguistically confined structure of the sentence unit in favor of freer poetic play across the gap made by ya, other cutting-words, or syntactic breaks which cleave the poem in two …

    Later in the seventeenth century when Danrin poets formulated their ideas about kireji, the discussion might be presented in terms of Yin-Yang metaphysics or simply in terms of a discrimination set up within a hokku between a "this" opposed to a "that." A work from 1680 put it in a refreshingly slangy way:

    The kireji is that which clearly expresses a division of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang mean the existence of an interesting confrontation within a poem (okashiku ikku no uchi ni arasoi aru o iu nari). For instance, something or other presented in a hokku is that?-no, it's not that but this, etc. 46

    Eisenstein, circa 1929, would have replaced Yin with thesis and Yang with antithesis and cast the whole matter in the mold of his peculiar dialectic, but he would certainly have gone along with this Japanese poet's notion of arasoi, "confrontation." "By what, then, is montage characterized and, consequently, its cell -- the shot?" he asked himself in "The Cinematographic Principle and the Ideogram." "By collision. By the conflict of two pieces in opposition to each other. By conflict. By collision." And the phrases of hokku were, he insisted, "montage phrases," and hence they generated their meaning by a like dynamic process. 47

  2. Gail's haiku reminds me of my 2012 Spain trip, which was recorded in the following haiku sequence (Modern Haiku, 44:1, winter/spring 2013)

    Journey through the Land of Melting Clocks

    anything new
    under the Barcelona sun
    Casa Milà

    a line of tapas
    where does her love begin
    and my desire end?

    the full moon
    at La Sagrada Família
    unfinished me

    Occupy Madrid
    to my mother tongue

    Seville Cathedral
    above a sea of heads
    chirping swallow

    Dante in Thought
    is it possible to take
    refuge in poetry

    Dalí painting
    on my water-stained wall
    hometown memories

  3. In Dali's The Persistence of Memory, there are one melting pocket watch & two melting clocks.

    Dali's "melting clocks" is better known his "melting watch."