for a moment of joy or moments no one pays for, i give myself a ‘jornal’. this makes me rich. try it.

Butterfly in the winter? Wrong kigo! (12th for NaHaiWriMo)

butterfly sleeves—
she sway-balances her arms
against the breeze

Butterfly in the winter? Wrong kigo!

No, this haiku comes from memory, from the way we wear and dance with our terno or patadyong, the Filipina formal dress. I suppose you’ve seen them. Patterned after European 18th century women’s fashion but made of sheer fabric woven out of pineapple fiber, its main feature is a pair of stiffened sleeves made to look like folded butterfly wings. It’s a hassle to don it on because the bodice, which is entirely made of pina can only be fastened with pins, and for a woman like me, who wore it only once or twice, it makes her feels boxed in the first time. But because it has to fit perfectly, it can look absolutely elegant.

And we wear it not only to socialize but also to dance! Sway-balancing, twirling on its long skirt, while gathering its train so we don’t get snagged on it and fall on our faces. We can’t wear shoes with it as well—it has to be a beaded ‘zapatilla’ (slippers) that covers only the toes…but this is going too far for my haiku and why or how this came about. So…

I pulled out this conversation from comments of Rick Daddario (19 planets) and my reply on my post two days ago (Nine for NaHaiWrimo) because it’s about butterflies, to put it simply. And I’d like to pass it off as my 12th for ‘daily-haiku-write’.


island trail
in the back yard today

yeah. that was today – feb. 9, 2011.
in some ways this has become curious to me… when the concept of kigo originated it must have been in one area – so the season was probably basically the same for everyone writing ku. now that ku is planet wide it seems it’s hard to say when a kigo matches the season. the butterfly trail in my back yard has become active in the last week or two – yeah, in January/February. it’s not a major trail but it’s been there since i’ve been here – 20 plus years or so. normally i wouldnt think of butterfly trails as a winter season indicator – i think it does start up about this time of year tho. may be late january… sometimes i think all we can do is write what is around us and let others decide if that’s right or not. i like this butterfly season. cool on the month of haiku. and cool on you revisiting your haiku each day. bwahahahahaaha – i see WP thinks i wrote this on Feb. 10, 2011. my case exactly – it’s still Feb. 9, 2011 for me. okay okay, it’s 11:54 PM on Feb, 9, 2011 – but that’s still today for me.


We got the same problem though I think we’re earlier on this side of the Pacific!

First off, I love your haiku, Wrick! It could well be mine if I weren’t consciously trailing about in my new country, taking note of the season’s imprints and non-prints. I still find myself looking as if through a fractured glass though, where the sun, for example, shines in hues so like yet unlike what I recognize. And yes, butterflies! Back home in the Philippine archipelago, they flit around amost all year. I loved the tiny yellow species, which flutter like disembodied petals. Did you know that when a butterfly just suddenly bursts into sight, we believe it is a soul?

oh, on my shoulder–
name long an epitaph

A ‘season indicator’ aka ‘kigo’ is intrinsic by tradition in haiku, is what I understand. And a kigo to my mind is nothing else but life’s details. If it’s possible to simplify it in these terms, it’s quite easy to understand why haiku thrives anywhere and up to now. It’s an art form that could never fade or die because its womb is the spirit. Reading more and more of its history, I’ve come to believe that it aims at nothing but truth and joy that comes with its flash, ‘aha’! Joy from uncovering a secret–life’s or nature’s secret, that is. And that is infinite, right? Aren’t we lucky to have stumbled on haiku? (I caught it on the internet years ago.) At least with it we can be certain of finding bits of truth and ‘joy’ everyday or as I had set out in this blog, a ‘jornal’! Cool on you for your thoughts and your butterfly! Thanks to you for finding my revisits cool!


February 11, 2011 - Posted by | haiku, language views, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Alegria — all your posts have been so thoughtful and fascinating to read lately! I look forward to every one.

    Using kigo appropriate to the season I’m in hasn’t ever been important to me. But I can understand the appeal of wanting to follow the seasons in this way. I admire the thought you’ve given to this.

    Comment by Melissa Allen | February 12, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you, Melissa! Don’t you recognize the ‘spirit’ of the teacher or who has inspired me to think about my posts? Red Dragonfly, that’s who!

      Your site has served as the pool through which my thoughts on haiku are reflected. Your haikuverse has led to most of the readings I should have found long ago. It does help when like a ‘school’, someone who herself/himself has had a fascinating found uses it to ‘teach’ and leads the students to it. But with you, it’s effective because, I guess, we’re on the same path of finding ourselves in our steps to know what haiku really is.

      It’s true like the lives of Basho (banana leaf), Issa and Shiki (who named himself after the cuckoo who coughs up blood trying to change his sad songs to happier ones, pretty much like how he died), the kind of haiku they wrote is a testimoy or a witness to how they lived and even died. I guess no matter how much we try to follow certain standards (or we do start with it, don’t we, even ‘imitating’ some?,) in the end WE are our HAIKU! For instance, your haiku is more and more ‘YOU’!

      I have browsed your latest posts, too, but it takes me time to go back to make a comment because I feel it can’t but be thoughtful!

      Thanks again! By the way, I have a surprise here for you soon!

      Comment by alee9 | February 12, 2011 | Reply

  2. ah, yes, beautiful Alegria. no, i had not been here to see what you had done with our comments (before i saw your comment on my recent post) – but i knew i’d get here again eventually because i had wanted to comment on your comment after mine!

    bwahahahaha. so often this happens to me. these moments when there is so much more i want to say and yet as you point out – to do so, to comment without the time to think or put it down… no. i can not do that. and then the moment slips away.

    i like what you’ve said in reply to Melissa too. her blog is monumental (imo). she’s elevated us all by taking us along, showing us her journey and the way she does it. outstanding Melissa. outstanding. outstanding. outstanding. and thank you …opps may be this should have been on Red Dragonfly…

    Red Dragonfly =

    still… these comments… for me. . . are more of a mind speak conversation. mind to mind. informal. human being to human being. i like that. i’ve often thought… i should keep a blog of the comments i leave because there are very interesting comments and dialogue going on in these comments.

    i like your haiku write-up in this post too Alegria. you make a lot of sense. and bring a world that may be familiar to you, to a world that is not familiar with your world. how cool is that? very excellent cool. – imo.

    i also thought your butterfly ku in the comment was terrific. i had, had an experience that surfaced immediately when you spoke of the sudden appearance of a butterfly and a soul. it surfaced quickly because it had happened just the day before. walking between the houses suddenly coming from behind me a butterfly silently passes me. it was almost startling because it must have been within a few inches of my ear and i did not know it until it caught on my vision 2 or 3 feet beyond me. now when i think of your sudden butterfly and soul… i remember how often i’d bring my mom out (in her wheel chair – in the last years of her life) to sit at the end of my bonsai shelving/tabling as i’d water the trees. that is exactly where both i and the butterfly were walking and flying to when the butterfly fluttered into my vision… beautiful i thought as the butterfly passed me orange and black with bits of red and white. how special that moment was and how it becomes even more so now, thank you.

    way cool on using my comment as you have, i’m honored, Alegria. …and your butterfly sleeves – a beautiful ku that flutters in that last line.. i like that a lot. aloha. – Rick (Wrick)

    Comment by Rick Daddario | February 12, 2011 | Reply

    • Wrick!!! I think these comments should be a whole topic in itself. Because you’ve started on the bamboo, too, I might take it up on a large scale.

      I love your story about the butterfly and your mom. A friend of mine who lives in Surrey in a tight insulated house has the same experience–a butterfly just suddenly flitting toward her out of nowhere in her bedroom during times when she needed consolation. Because you’re not Filipino, perhaps this experience is universal. And why shouldn’t the spirit take on the form of a butterfly? Or allowed to?

      By the way, we not only have dances but songs about the butterfly, which in Pilipino (our national language derived from Tagalog of the central plains not my native dialect) is ‘paru-paro’; in Iluko, the dialect I was born with, it is ‘alibangbang’. Ah, that makes me bilinglual before I was taught my first alphabet in Spanish, then learned how to read my books in English! I’m going astray again… I need a shepherd!

      But thanks again!

      Comment by Alegria Imperial | February 12, 2011 | Reply

  3. Today, I discovered, two read this in Russian, translated by Google! I wish they had a left footprints!

    Comment by alee9 | March 5, 2011 | Reply

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