Dear Reader, as you may be aware, April is National Shit Haiku Month. Who knows from whence these notions emerge? They are rumoured to rise out of the amber east, from gloried, morning dreams. I’ve heard it said that they are of the lozenged ether and this I am happy to believe. I don’t recall hearing of #NaShiHaiKuMo last year or possibly ever before, but after some cursory rummaging I came across a reference in Bergier and Pauwels’ Le Matin des Magiciens (1960) that led me on a paper trail, a merry dance, eventually delivering me to this rather intriguing short piece in Oliver Benjamin’s treatise Gibbon Whispers (1912).
‘By his eighth enthroned spring, the Mikado (Bang Bang Dynasty 1620-1810) wielded such cultural clout that he was able, should he be so inclined, to stretch the uncommon forefinger of his right hand, from the window above the palatially raked gardens that appeared to have been wreathed in a constant cherried mist since winter, out over the forty-seven prefectures, out over the yellow sea, barely even wetting his silk sleeve, out over the fabled and favoured foreign lands known as China, Taiwan, Korea, anointing any number of his neighbours’ ears, whilst they slept, with his powerful Shi-Thai-Ku [literal trans: Mikado Spittle].
The Mikado felt himself so inclined. So he had his servant bring him the utensils. The attendant laid out the bamboo stick, the bowled carbon pool, the ancient, royal book. When he was quite alone the Mikado gazed for sometime into the black pool and dreamed. He was dimly aware of the nested birds and the breeze on the chimes behind the drapes, but all else fell away. The bedchamber darkened by increments as the evening shadows moved across the surfaces and the birds began to sleep in the blossom trees, so he summoned his servant again and instructed the silent flunky to light the candles.
When he was satisfied with his chamber’s illume, the Mikado licked the first finger’s tip, turned the heavy vellum page, dipped the bamboo into the bowl and began to write. The ink, gleaming, black, mirrored, in miniature, the nibbed stick, the wet finger, the silken sleeve, his magisterial monkey features; it gathered for some moments in slender shapes and spheres and slim curlicues on the thirsty paper, united, and dried there. And thus he composed his latest poem.
The chimes sang their breeze song in another window. The Queen had retired to her bed some time ago (perhaps she had slept a little?) and the room was dark but for the inch of yellow light nestled between the door and her boudoir’s boarded floor and the sometimes glimpse of fleet moon, far away behind the billows of cloud and curtain. The dark room and all the world beyond it rushed into her ears with a hum endless and sometimes from the hum other sounds rose, brightly, briefly, like apples bobbing in black water – delicious green and powdered gold and smiling spheres of sunset red.
“A is for apple.” The words made her smile even after all this time, so she said them again. A third time. The ghost materialised from the curtain’s sheer folds. He was a pale and slim simian in a silken kimono and he floated across the room and sat at the foot of her bed. She felt his weight on the bedding and the inch of yellow behind him faded a little. He had been before. They stayed just so for some time and when the light beneath the door had become invisible, except for some almost unnoticed space either side of the apparition, he delivered to her ears his shi-thai-ku…’
A is for apple
the nested birds are sleeping
in perfumed garden