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Japanese Pagoda Tree

Rohan Buettel

IMAGE:  Jimmy Fromage

Rohan Buettell was born and educated in Brisbane, Australia and now lives in Canberra. His haiku have been published in various Australian and international journals including Frogpond, cattails, and The Heron’s Nest. His longer form poetry appears in Meniscus, Cicerone Journal, Lite Lit One, and Quadrant.



in winter your bare limbs

twisted and trained upon themselves

cascade upwards to where

your twigs are painted calligraphy

against an expanse of blue

in this setting there is no sign

of the Ghibli spirit that would

animate you in your native land

but the exaggerated swirls

in the bark of your trunk

must have been painted by Van Gogh




your spreading branch a succession

of leaps landing on a horizontal line

the curves capturing the progress

of a wandering frog

at the extremities a soft green fur

emerging first from lower limbs

each a fractal miniature of the mother tree

the active boughs racing green

the old, dead growth pale orange in the sun

begging to be culled

the amphibian readies to jump again




In summer—yes in summer

you slip on that green chemise

sprinkled with white and yellow stars

beset with skirring bees

and if spring brought good rain

the stars still filled 

with sweet nectar drop, weaving a carpet 

greedy bees scurry in their orbit

hugging the ground, follow the thread

how long has it been

since spring brought rain?




autumn breeze sets yellow leaves ashimmer

the canopy an upset golden bowl, your seedpods 

translucent snow peas, earrings dangling 

but when they drop, sticky black seeds

adhere to path, to shoes, to carpet

the neighbor’s cat lies lazily along a branch

desultory twitches from its tail, a grey leopard

relaxed yet vigilant, alert in its high place

to any movement in its range

soon the leaves will fall

the cycle begin again

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