Thursday, April 14, 2016

Butterfly Dream: Summer Storm Haiku by Jo McInerney

English Original

summer storm
the windscreen wipers
slice our silence

Second Place, 2009 Jack Stamm Award 

Jo McInerney

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Jo McInerney is an Australian writer living in country Victoria with her husband and a calico cat. She has been writing haiku and tanka since 2007, having been introduced to the forms by a friend. She previously wrote mainly free verse.


  1. The windscreen wipers and the summer storm make perfect sense. One easily goes with the other and we know the purpose of the wipers. However, suddenly in the last line Jo brings a disturbing verb - "slice". The wipers are not only wiping, as they should, but they are now seen as slicing. What are they slicing? "silence".

    This is the technique of pseudo-science. The wipers have been transformed, by a poet, into another function - slicing silence. How do you slice silence? Does the wiper actually cut back and forth across the silence or is it the sound that cuts the silence? The motion seems more real, more actual, more believable as a cutting device than "just" sound. Beyond all of this, there is this silence. Is it a good, companionable silence?

    Looping back up to the first line, the reader is confronted by the image of a summer storm. One with heat, lightning, roiling black clouds, sudden winds that twist and scatter. While it is not said, a reader can build the image of a couple sitting in a car while fighting, or trying to end a fight with silence. This would seem a normal telling of a scene except for the violence of the verb - "slice".

    -- excerpted from FAVOURITE HAIKU chosen by Jane Reichhold, which can be accessed at

  2. Jo's haiku is a good example of effectively utilizing Harold Gould Henderson's "principle of internal comparison" (the sound and the fury of "summer storm" vs "our silence" in the car). Armed with the visually and emotionally disturbing verb, "slice," this comparison not only suggests a mood, but also gives a clear-cut picture which serves as a starting point for trains of thought and emotion.