still heading out
telling my track
by the Southern Cross

John Knight
(1935 -2012)


The Southern Cross has long been used in navigation as a way of determining the southern celestial pole and due south on the horizon. The associations with navigation are important as this haiku may allude (it seems to me) to the existential journey of life and spirit shared in common though undertaken alone. The use of the pronoun my makes this a personal comment by the poet, yet its subject is universal. There is a wonderful sense of the open spaces of sky and sea in this poem and the first line – still heading out – reveals an adventurous spirit, one whose course is set ever forward. There is sabi here; and notwithstanding Blyth’s statement, “what can be said is not sabi” there is a sense of the vulnerability of aloneness that is in part the human condition. In this haiku i feel the breeze, hear the flap of sail and see the starry dome above.

still heading out is aptly the title of an anthology of Australian and New Zealand haiku (2013) edited by Jacqui Murray and Katherine Samuelowicz.

Wattle Winds, (St Lucia: Paper Wasp, 1994), p.12

Selection & comments by Simon Hanson

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