If I can’t get to sleep at night, I sometimes try to write a haiku in my head. Sometimes I even remember it in the morning.

I know that a haiku in English can be practically any length, but I find it a challenge to try and stick to the traditional 17 syllables in 5 : 7 : 5 format.

A brief history

When we walk on the beach, the sand we walk on tells stories in the form of footprints, pawprints, hoofprints, tyreprints, children’s sand castles and messages. By the next day, they’re all gone. There must be an allegory in there somewhere.

The broad morning sand
Footprints telling of our stroll
In 12 hours wiped clean

Flying bikes

In Sydney’s Central Park, a large group of racing cycles wooshed past on the practice circuit, with the riders calling out to each other in raucous voices.

Sudden whirr of bikes
Loud voices and bright lycra
Flock of parakeets

Summer surf

We’ve just been for a walk along the beach, and for once we could hear ourselves talk, because the waves did no more than swish calmly up the sand — sounding like the polite clapping of a large crowd rather than the noise of a pounding concert.

No thudding crashes
Today with waves well behaved
Just quiet applause


With record winter rain, the spring pasture growth has been very lush. The same rain has caused some erosion, but not enough to spoil the illusion of a bright green cloth flung over the countryside.

Patchy in places
Draped in folds over the land
Grass piercingly green

Steam power

I was close to a big Ka class locomotive once, uncoupled from its train. It hissed and steamed but otherwise seemed no more animated than a kettle. And then it moved. It accelerated as if it had raised itself on its toes, and its pistons and connecting rods moved like arms.

Steam engine — solid,
heavy, black — until it moves
Then it seems to dance


When awake in the middle of the night I used to listen to the sound of the sea and the occasional nocturnal bird or insect — now a new motorway has opened.

Once peaceful silence —
Now the growl of passing trucks
Loud and out of place


When there’s no wind and few clouds, and it’s the right time of the year, early evening down at the river estuary can be absolute magic.

Gulls flock to roost
Still air thick with golden light
Sunset at the beach

Growing old

I sometimes help old people with technical problems. They have problems with mobility, hearing and even eyesight. But many can still be very quick on the uptake.

Growing old is cruel
When your body starts to fail
But your mind stays sharp


For two years I organised the speakers for a monthly meeting. Many things could have gone wrong, but they didn’t. Every month, a great feeling of relief.

Weeks of worrying
Then, when things all turn out right
Success gives quiet pride

Laughing together

Yesterday a whirlwind of grandchildren came to visit. It made me think that perhaps it’s fun that makes the world go round.

Grandchildren giggle
Together we share a grin
I feel warm inside


…or mosquito, whatever. Mosquitoes look evil and sound like querulous little stukas, but the clouds of persistant sandflies are the worst.

Black speck, gone then back
A slap, a red stain, a lump —
Days of itchy scratch

Great War planes

I’ve long been impressed with how beautifully made and innovative early aircraft were, and how new and exciting they must have been at the time.

Not just sticks and string
But brave design, craftsman-made
Greyhounds of the sky

Wind gusts

We have a view of the sea, and with the view comes wind. There are times when the house seems to jump.

Wind swirls up the hill
An angry gust slaps the house
Walls creak and shudder

© 2019 Tony Pritchard