Monday, October 19, 2020

Butterfly Dream: Dappled Light and Gun Haiku by Alan Summers

English Original

dappled light the glint of gun
Human/Kind Journal, 1:1, January 2019

Alan Summers

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Alan Summers is President of the United Haiku and Tanka Society, and co-founder of Call of the Page. He enjoys watching classic episodes of Dr. Who, all over again, as his ten year old nephew has discovered them for himself. Website:


  1. Enhanced by the quick pace of this one-liner, the symbolic and emotional contrasts between two different kinds of lights are thematically significant and psychologically effective. One question lingers in the reader's mind: why is there a gun appearing in such a lovely natural scene (depicted in the first half of the haiku)? It's left to the reader to co-author the "unfinished half" of this poignant haiku.

    Alan's haiku reminds me one of my own:

    the sun glints on his revolver a falling leaf

    Modern Haiku, 44:3, Autumn 2013

    1. Thank you Chen-ou Liu!

      The haiku turns out to be quite logical :-)

      It was a very hot day (heatwave!) at the British Haiku Society Spring Gathering 19th May 2018. I was leading a ginko (walking and writing) into Kensington Gardens, and there was a high presence of armed police in general.

      One pathway into Kensington Gardens was beautiful, and there was some respite from the heat from leaf cover offering dappled light.

      As we were passing one of the Royal residences there were trained police officers (they have to be properly trained in gun discipline) with semi-automatic or automatic weapons. It was both natural and normal and oddly incongruous all at the same time to have the competing and yet complementary types of light.

      As it was a very bright day, the glint off gun metal was very prevalent until we passed the Royal Residence and into the public Royal park.

      I believe I got an honorary mention in the kukai voting and I believe mine might have been the only one-line haiku too! :-)

      dappled light the glint of gun

      I chose to have just one article [the] rather than two...


      dappled light the glint of the gun

      dappled light the glint of a gun

      dappled light a glint of the gun

      This was to emphasise the gun-ness of the blisteringly hot afternoon, and that it's normal to have so many armed police, but thankfully they are not threatening, due to the high degree of gun control training. But still it felt odd, despite my experiences as a youngster and young adult with the risk of explosions on London streets during the IRA era.

      It was indeed a hot afternoon of 'gun' as much as Royal Park!

      Chen-ou's haiku is indeed unnerving as I can't tell if this is a law enforcement officer and one with special training, as British armed officers have to have, especially as the public demand a high degree of discipline and self-control from them.

      I'm reminded of my wife's experience on a public bus in Dallas County, when a police officer boarded the bus due to a man with a gun, and then he turned his back on him! Thankfully no shooting by either party ensued, and it was dealt with, despite that glitch of attention. Phew!

      I apologise for explaining the background, but wanted to be able to show that this was just a natural poem about a natural and actual experience.

      The hard sounds of dapp- and glint and gun emphasise the hardness of life amongst the beauty of natural light and of the softness of leaf light.

      warm regards,


  2. I liked this haiku immediately for all the reasons Chen-ou Liu mentioned and your commentary makes it even more layered. I also like your craft teaching of why you did not use a second the--
    that was most interesting.
    What a fine haiku, Alan.

    1. Thank you Jo! :-)

      We can't always do it, but sometimes, just like J.D. Salinger (author of Catcher in the Rye) we create a haiku that could either be the opening line, or something expanded into a short story and then into a novel.

      I like how my haiku can do that. I also like how Chen-ou Lieu's haiku could be directions on a screenplay of a novel!

      stage directions or screenplay notes:

      the sun glints on his revolver

      And the cutaway:
      a falling leaf

      Almost Hitchcockian, or as we know, more from Alma Lucy Reville, Lady Hitchcock (14 August 1899 – 6 July 1982)!

      Yes, I certainly hope that the effect of negative space/white space in my one-line haiku draws each reader into adding their own 'second' line or 'cutaway'.

      I deeply appreciate your comments!

      warm regards,