Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Butterfly Dream: Crows Haiku by Alan Summers

English Original

moonlighting crows in other colors

Frogpond, 39:1, Winter 2016

Alan Summers

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Alan Summers, Japan Times award-winning writer, is the incoming President of the United Haiku and Tanka Society. He enjoys French and Indian cuisine; and scrambled or poached eggs with spinach for breakfast. His book Writing Poetry: the haiku way is due out during 2017.  Blog:http://area17.blogspot.com


  1. The quick pace of a one-liner and the thematically and visually resonant juxtaposition of "moonlighting" (another job at night often of a sketchy nature)and "crows/in other colors" lift the haiku out of the ordinary.

    1. Thank you so much Chen-ou, and for your commentary. Yes, you are right that 'moonlighting' was "deployed" for the meaning of doing another job "on the side" and sometimes it can be sketchy.

      I was delighted to have the poem anthologised:

      Full of Moonlight: HSA 2016 Members' Anthology (2017)
      ed. David Grayson ISBN-13: 978-1930172159


      moonlighting crows in other colors

      My crow haiku, with its movement of the moon as well as the crows sparked off a conversation with one of my students who said:

      "Moonlighting" is perfect, but one of the strongest words in the poem is
      "other"- I just feel it, am not sure why. I think I just figured it out. I am very sensitive to sound, it must be all the "o's" - did you do that on purpose? or is it just your poet sense that threw in 'o's and all their different sounds?

      I answered:

      “I think I wrote that partly in one of those trances? I hadn't realised so much that I've carried the moon and its 'o's along the line. So it’s inspired by crows, of course, and van Gogh, and identity.

      I realise I’m a little dislocated, perhaps being adopted, perhaps being a mix of shy and introverted, despite being a socialiser. So it's a mix of observation as well as reflection, and poetic technique. It's stripping back the other attempts at "crow" ness helped along by van Gogh.

      With the provided weblink below you can zoom incredibly closely into the famous painting by van Gogh, just as I was physically able to do so at the museum itself.

      Wheatfield with Crows
      Auvers-sur-Oise, July 1890 Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)
      oil on canvas, 50.5 cm x 103 cm
      Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

      Wheatfield with Crows is one of Van Gogh's most famous paintings. It is often claimed that this was his very last work. The menacing sky, the crows and the dead-end path are said to refer to the end of his life approaching. But that is just a persistent myth. In fact, he made several other works after this one.

      Van Gogh did want his wheatfields under stormy skies to express 'sadness, extreme loneliness', but at the same time he wanted to show what he considered 'healthy and fortifying about the countryside'.