A note from our founding editor Sankara Jayanth: We do not mean to be insensitive and we have no intention to disrespect personnel who serve their country or died serving their country in war. But war is war. Murder is murder and that is what happens in war, no matter how proudly and how righteously someone does it. Patriotism is a very tilted scale to gauge someone’s humanity. So you will not find here haiku or commentary that praise laurels to soldiers and armies who defended this country or that. This column will be about everything that war affects, poisons and kills, so please understand this motivation and intention of ours before determining something we talk about here being insensitive. But we will listen to reason and if we are insensitive, we will learn from it and be better. This column comes purely from a rage and angst about the violence we bring upon every living thing on earth while also being believers of religions and gods and heaven and what not.
We have Arvinder Kaur‘s haunting haiku written for the #HaikuSeed pattern to thank for seeding the idea for this new column on our journal where we will dive into the featured haiku, starting with the image of war painted by it and then following the trail to darker places that exist right behind the verse.
fireflies flicker in and out
of the empty trenches
– Arvinder Kaur, @arvinder8
Pattern bombing is a tactical strategy where aircrafts drop bombs in a predetermined pattern and timing to produce the desired effect. And the desired effect they are going for is usually murder of humans and any living thing that happens to be in their canvas for murder.
Is the writer being allegorical when she says fireflies flicker in and out of empty trenches? Are the flashes of lights rising from the trenches souls of dead soldiers?
Why are the trenches empty? The enemy starting pattern bombing would show how determined they are to kill. So maybe the soldiers abandoned the trenches to get to safety? What if this haiku is not set during active battle but after one. The trenches are empty because the battle is over and all dead soldiers are now removed from them for proper last rites, hopefully.
Either way, as night falls, from the nearby woods fireflies come out exploring the battlefield, they flicker in and out of the empty trenches. I’ve read that fireflies do have flashing patterns and that they vary with species and that they use the flashing to communicate with other fireflies belonging to the same species. Whether the flashing is synchronized across swathes of fireflies, I do not know. I’ve never seen fireflies, so I cannot speak to it.
But theoretically, I assume of course, if thousands of fireflies are flickering, an onlooker might not see any reasonable pattern to the lightshow even if there is a pattern to each firefly’s flicker. The same is the case with pattern bombing. What matter it is that the bombing has a pattern. All the onlooker will see is how meticulous humans could be when it comes to planned or spontaneous violence and the bloody aftermath of its execution.
— Sankara Jayanth Sudanagunta