Poem in The Mozzie
Andrew’s poem, “Mummy-Long-Legs” (a 4-haiku gunsaku), was published in the April 2018 issue of The Mozzie.
Although it is only a small, no-frills magazine, the monthly Mozzie publishes some big-name poets, such as Bruce Dawe, Shane McCauley, Kevin Gillam and Thomas Shapcott. Its (usually) short poems are (usually) refreshingly accessible.
The April issue of The Mozzie also contains a poem by Shane McCauley, “Kyoto Temple Dedicated to Jizo”, which bears the kind dedication, “for Andrew Lansdown”.
Unfortunately and inexplicably, The Mozzie typesetter/copyist made several mistakes when transferring Andrew’s “Mummy-long-legs” into the magazine. The copyist added the words “for him” in the third line of the first haiku — turning a 5-syllable line into a 7-syllable line and destroying the balanced phrasing of the poem. The copyist also changed the wording of the second line of the fourth haiku from “… told daddy’s legs” to “… told daddy-long-legs” — turning a 7-syllable line into a 9-syllable line, and destroying not only the balance of the haiku, but also the point of it, which is that “mummy” has eaten “daddy” right off his legs (and hence, only his legs are left for her to address).
Perhaps more problematically, the Mozzie copyist removed the Roman numerals above each haiku, giving the impression that “Mummy-Long-Legs” is a single, four-stanza poem, when in fact it is a suite of four distinct poems that have been combined under a single title to explore/expand a common subject. The reader who mistakes “Mummy-long-legs” for a single poem will have a disappointingly “jerky” reading experience because the supposed “stanzas” are not integrated with each other. However, the reader who understands that he/she is reading four distinct poems (haiku) can relish each poem in its own right (and perhaps even settle upon a favourite) and enjoy the way that each poem supports and supplement the others, so that the sum of the four is greater than any one of the four.
Well, this is serious talk for such a light poem! The correct wording and layout of “Mummy-long-legs” is:
Too late daddy
learnt mummy-long-legs only
wanted his body.
simply cannot stop—she finds
daddy so yummy!
Legs numbering eight—
all that’s left of daddy since
Merely a reflex
mummy-long-legs told daddy’s legs
shortly after sex.
© Andrew Lansdown
This poem is included in Andrew’s new collection, Distillations of Different Lands, scheduled for publication by Sunline Press next month.