Sunday, August 31, 2008


Indelibly kissed by fog, her silky, cool, glowing skin makes her allure intoxicating. When she parts her glistening pink lips to whisper the words, all leggy and curled up in the embrace of the mustard-color soft-leather armchair, she has only to avert her dream-laden, dark-eyed gaze to any of the eager-to-please and her most obscure, unattainable desire will be attained. Seduction is thrice promised but never fulfilled. She relishes the tease as delayed payback for the roly-poly, fat-girl teasing heaped meanly upon her younger self. She will never forget, never forgive.

quickie mart
silver crumbs from a crumpled
scratch off

by Jeffrey Winke
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Friday, August 29, 2008


The riverbanks profuse with flowers — hot pink rosebay willow herb, bright white umbellifers and too many yellow species to count.
The wild carrot and cow parsley alive with insects, the thin vivid red of soldier beetles, the rigid black of flies that move their wings to reveal lemon yellow bodies, the tiny irridescent black beetles that gather in groups.
A strange lack of birds, explained by the call of a sparrowhawk.

heat haze—
a dragonfly black
against the sky

by Juliet Wilson
Edinburgh, Scotland

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Antibes Journal II

UK Correspondent: Lynne Rees


Bags of rubble accumulate at the side of the house. Half a dozen at first, then a dozen, then more that turn the corner of the house and are stacked along the roadside wall, until we run out of ground space and they’re piled on top of one another, and we stop counting. Sacs à gravats—thick, black plastic bags we bought at Castorama and heavy, white woven sacks the maçons brought with them—full of hollow clay bricks from the dividing walls we’ve knocked down, chunks of rock from the false windows we’ve opened up, broken floor tiles, wallpaper of every thickness and material and design, from every decade of the last century, metres of shattered wooden moulding, every length of old wire and stretch of iron pipe that ran through each of the four storeys. The flesh and bones of the house stripped out.

portraits of strangers
in the corner of the attic
someone else’s dust


When we take out the fireplaces and their chimney breasts I keep hoping to find a reminder of the people who have lived here during the last hundred years: a coin, a shoe, something secreted away. There is only old iron, sooty terre cuite and stone. These are the things that held up their lives, not what they added to decorate it.

I examine the two framed pastel portraits signed by an Italian artist. The woman wears a blue dress; her face is flushed and smiling. The man is bearded, in a jacket, waistcoat and cravat. A watch glints from his pocket. What happened to them? Were they happy here? Were they kind to each other? Did he hold her and tell her that he loved her? The way Tony holds me and tells me not to worry?


My soucis:

  • the kitchen units will arrive and there will be no floor laid in the kitchen
    we will not have a bathroom by the time we move in
    the new windows will not fit
    we will fail the diagnostic test by Gaz de France
    we will run out of money
    the roof will leak

all the puddles
I step in
yesterday’s rain


The maçons dig up the old tiles on the kitchen floor, hack away at the concrete screed beneath and come to damp sand.

When my parents moved into their house 51 years ago there was no garden, just sand pegged out with fence posts. Only dunes separated them from the sea, 200 yards away. My father brought in topsoil and turf. Over the years he dug in compost and manure. Today their garden flourishes with potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbages, runner beans, soft fruit, but if you dig deep enough you still find the sand. The grains bury themselves in the quick of your nails.


almost a ‘local’
the neighbour’s ginger cat
ignores me

The people who live at Le Grillon, another of the few original houses that remain in Avenue des Chênes, invite us for an aperitif on Saturday lunchtime in order to introduce us to some neighbours. ‘In France, an aperitif is always at midday,’ Madame tells me on the phone, and we make sure to appear by 12.10 at the latest.

Only two other neighbours are there and the six of us sit in a circle handing around a plate of thinly sliced brioche spread with liver paté. They tell us about:

  • the unpleasant neighbours
    tourists parking right outside their gate
    the neighbour who shot himself in the foot trying to kill a rat

We tell them about:

  • the walls we have knocked down
    the windows we have opened up
    the plans for our house-warming—la crémaillère—at the end of the year

Just before two o’clock there’s a noticeable shift downwards in the briskness of the conversation and our excuses to leave are quickly accepted.


A week of sun and rain. The season hasn’t settled yet but there are lots of women, usually in pairs, who walk past the house to the beach in the late morning, and back up towards their apartment blocks at the end of the afternoon. They wear brightly coloured, long-sleeved beach tops made from some sort of voile that flutters around them in the breeze but still modestly covers their bottoms. Mostly they speak Dutch or Norwegian and I imagine a whole country of middle-aged, northern women living together at the top of the steep Sentier de la Vertu.

50th year
‘bikini line’ slips down
my list of things to do


While I am scraping thick vinyl off the lounge walls, Tony takes a break from filling holes with colle universelle and plays the piano. The piano is the only piece of furniture in the house, the only piece we bought from the old proprietor, and, while it needs tuning, when Tony plays I can feel the house breathing, as if music is what it’s been waiting for. He plays the theme from ‘Love Story’.

When the movie first came out in the 70s my older sister went to see it with some friends and came home with tears streaming down her face. I laughed at her standing in the kitchen and sobbing but when I went to see it the following week I was the same wet wreck and cried for days afterwards. Where do I begin, to tell the story of how great a love can be… A girl who loved Mozart, the Beatles, and me… Love means never having to say you’re sorry. Song lyrics, script, cliché—but as vivid in my memory as any real experience. At thirteen, I had never imagined there could be such sadness, that life could be so unfair.

This is a love story too. A love story with a house that came to be ours through a whole string of coincidences. And here I am with my couteau à grattoir and my décolleuse standing on a stepladder scraping walls back to their original surfaces. And there is Tony closing the piano lid. And on the other side of the French doors the sun spatters the terrace through the leaves of the plane trees. And Tarek, one of the maçons, comes in and says, Madame, j’ai fini la cuisine. And here is our first floor laid. A blue tile, aged with ochre and cream, called La Douce France.

the evening’s last shimmer
of sunlight

by Lynne Rees
Antibes France

Haiku Credits:
‘50th year’ was first published in ‘Planet, The Welsh Internationalist’, August 2007

Click here to read the first instalment of
Antibes Journal.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Michael McClintock: MEN OF PROPERTY

I let my eyes and hands run over the tools he had used—the trowel, the spade, the mulching fork. I gazed at the few remaining tin pails, enameled green, and recalled how the one got its crimped side and the other its bullet hole. I pocketed the worn canvas gloves; the man buying the place had much smaller hands than dad’s, and could not wear them. But all the tools and pails and contents of the shed he said he would use, and would be grateful to have them.

I stepped out of the shed and walked onto the broad sloping hillside, only a small corner of which belonged to the property. The shed was planted in the middle of six rows of fruit trees, six trees to a row, with extra room made for the shed and open ground around it for loading boxes with fruit from the buckets: oranges, lemons, plums. I could still hear my father from somewhere in the trees calling to my brother and me, to bring him a ladder, or come get the dog, or haul out the pails full of fruit, or stop horsing around and go in to supper—he’d follow.

hefting a plum—
I know by heart
my father’s orchard

by Michael McClintock
Fresno, California
first published in Anthology of Days (Backwoods Broadsides, No. 70)

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I follow her for three blocks trying to identify the flower tattooed on her calf, but for the first time in years the crosswalk lights are with me and she never stops.

cloudy afternoon
a lady bug leaves me

by Bob Lucky
Hangzhou, China

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Eric Burke: BY NATURE

The vacant field in which my father's dandelions were growing was now on fire. Neighbors whose yards bordered the field were rushing in, shouting, trying to beat the fire out with shovels. He was, I saw, among them.

whatever the opposite of fine
that kind of marker—
painting my toenails black

by Eric Burke
Columbus, Ohio

Friday, August 22, 2008

Adelaide B. Shaw: CICADA SUMMER

No way to escape the incessant whining. That slow moan building to a crescendo then fading only to start anew. The seven year cicada. Or is it fourteen? The heat builds along with the din. Sluggishly moving days. Even in the dark hours no appeal is granted.

icy lemonade
sliding down my throat–
the glass against skin

by Adelaide B. Shaw
Millbrook, New York

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thomas James Martin: EYE OF THE STORM

I was ten when Hurricane Hazel passed over our farm in the Piedmont. I really wanted to see that eye. When the wind stopped howling, I rushed out the back door. In the stillness my eyes were drawn upward.

so quiet
the weeping willow
by Thomas James Martin
Beaverton, Oregon

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Michael McClintock: AFTERNOON GARDEN

For the time being, well past noon, God, I ask that you above all leave me alone, that I might just sit here in the leaf shade, beside the wall with its swallow-thrown shadows and the easy, unmended thoughts time affords me: these solid forms of pots, flush with zinnias, and the sun patch fading where the grass snake glides unknotted.

a hollow tree
the beginning
of dusk

by Michael McClintock
Fresno, California
first published in Anthology of Days (Backwoods Broadsides, No. 70)

Monday, August 18, 2008


Someone long ago hammered a nail into the maple that was now ours. At 8, I became enamored of slip-knots; listen, if I tell it right, you can almost hear me screaming, my father busy in the basement, my mother frantic trying . . . .

belly exposed to the sky
watching wind in the locust trees

by Eric Burke
Columbus, Ohio

Sunday, August 17, 2008


A note was passed to me in French class. I opened it and read, ‘Patrick McKinnon really likes you, Mary Jane.’ After school I saw Patrick loitering near the oak tree on my corner. As I passed he called out, ‘Hey, Mary Jane, I’ve got somethin for you.’ Then without warning he put his arms around me and pressed his clenched lips hard against my mouth. I was able to struggle away from him and run toward the safety of home.

Soon afterward the McKinnon family moved away from our town. Patrick was long forgotten until years later when I unexpectedly came upon his name.

first kiss
now plastic flowers
decorate your grave

by Mary Mageau
Samford, Qld., Australia
first published in Paper Wasp, Winter 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008


Yesterday we happened upon a couple of young aborigines. They were pleased with the big blue prawn they’d caught at the nearby waterhole. They smiled. Unsullied by age or the influence of modern living their teeth were beautiful. We smiled back.

From our vantage point today we can feel it. We can hear it too, the silence of sixty thousand years. As far as the eye can reach the altar cloth of earth spreads out into a haze of eucalypt and smoke. Apart from the fires of lightning man the landscape is barely changed.

Behind us are their galleries. On the walls are layers of ochred art, most of it within reach and under the sandstone overhang. There are human figures and animals, even a Thylocene. Many appear to relate stories, probably dreamtime stories. Some appear in inaccessible, even impossible places. We wonder if these are derived from a different epoch or are they created a scaffold of bush poles? At our feet are the pocks of their palettes. These are conical ochre grinding holes, each as deep as its age. Their pestles are nowhere to be seen, all probably souvenired and gracing someone’s museum or lounge room.

At the back of “Big Bill’s” nearby cave is the deep litter of ages; bones, ashes and charcoal, and flints. On the wall Bill has stencilled his hand and has drawn, in ochre, the outlines of a pearling lugger; even put a name on the boat. Someone has drawn a line in the dust to indicate a future archaeological dig. In the topmost layer we see the sawn bones and bottle tops. At the foot of the slope …

half buried in the sand
two burnt out hulks rust
a Ford, and a Holden.

by Barry L Smith
Hamilton, New Zealand

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Michael McClintock: THE FACE ON THE FLOOR

The only time I saw her face in twenty years as her neighbor was on that one day in October when she failed to retrieve the morning newspaper from her doorstep and I with two other neighbors opened her front door—it wasn't locked—after knocking and ringing her doorbell, getting no response, and found her dead but still warm in a simple flower print house dress on her living room floor with her blue eyes open and her small, delicate arms and hands flung outward in a gesture of surprise and rapture. I stood gazing at her face the full hour it took for the coroner to arrive and place her on a gurney and unfold a clean sheet over her entire length—covering that face which was one of the most beautiful and perfectly guileless and unforgettable I have ever seen.

heavy drapes,
a carefully-made bed—
a life like that

by Michael McClintock
Fresno, California
first published in Anthology of Days (Backwoods Broadsides, No. 70)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Miriam Sagan: MOUND HAIBUN

Suburban Cincinnati, at the Oddfellows Cemetery, 19th century graves marked by classical columns, urns, and obelisks—these last monuments Egyptian and therefore somehow suited to the dead as if these middle-class Germans were pharaohs. Names erode from the softer marble but not the granite.

the tops
of abandoned grain silos
festooned in trees

Flag limp in the breezeless day. And a mound—covered in grass and trees—in the center of the graveyard. This was a burial mound too, probably of the prehistoric Adena people. Once these mounds were everywhere by rivers and floodplains, until eroded by farming and development. There is also another mound here, small and spotted with the incursion of graves.

The cemetery protects these mounds, as does a local golf course.

And there is a large mound in Water Tower Park, which itself is just a strip of green alley between family houses. The mound is somber, looming, overgrown. Artifacts might include bones, a shaman's pipe, bronze antlers, hands carved in mica.

a dark feeling
in the maze
of dreams

Plastic swing sets litter the lawns, and the water tower also looms. This is an in-between place.

Facing the street is a white Victorian, gray shingled, with a handsome wrap-around porch. There are so many levels of time here that memory can't unravel them.

house on a small hill
beneath a running sky
storm clouds, then thunder

by Miriam Sagan
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Announcement: Biennial British Haiku Society Haibun Anthology 2009

Entries are invited for this prestigious international event, the purpose of which is to help raise the quality and range of the haibun genre, which combines poetic prose and haiku.

Entry fee: £ 6.00 (cheques to ‘British Haiku Society’, or US$ 12 in dollar bills), plus £ 3/ $6 for each additional haibun.

Conditions of entry: Open to all, except BHS Committee members and any others involved with the administration of the anthology. Entries must be written in English, and be between 100 and 2000 words long, including haiku. Work must be unpublished and not under consideration for publication elsewhere. Each haibun should be given a title. Entries will not be returned, so please retain copies of each submission. Copyright reverts to the author after publication in the anthology. In the unlikely event of an insufficient quantity and/or quality of submissions, those that are received will be carried forward to the following year for consideration.

Submission details: Three copies of each haibun, with each copy starting on a separate A4 sheet. One copy should show your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address (if applicable). The other two copies should carry no identification. Entries on disk (floppy or CD, in Word format) are also acceptable and in fact preferred. If you require receipt of your entry, please either request an e-mail acknowledgement or send an SAE, or, for those overseas, an IRC stamped by the originating office.

Address for entries: Andrew Shimield, Haibun Anthology, 18 Deepwell Close, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 5EN. UK.

Closing Date: In hand by 1st February 2009

Assessment and appraisal of entries: The process will be undertaken by Jo Pacsoo and Lynne Rees. They will select the haibun for publication in the Anthology, and will provide an explanation and commentary on their selections. It is anticipated that the Anthology, whose title will be drawn from the selected haibun, will be published by Christmas 2009. All those whose work is included in the volume will receive one copy of the anthology.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


In a dark recess of the local museum, stuffed birds—bittern, heron in dusty glass cases—reminiscent of exhibits in the museum of my childhood, the big house in Broomfield Park through which Miss B. who once darted from a sum-filled blackboard to point out the first swift would lead us on our weekly nature walks. A stone's throw from the road where Stevie Smith lived and wrote of it, 'How sweet the birds of Avondale.'

found feather
between my fingers
splayed and smoothed
by Diana Webb
London, England

Thursday, August 7, 2008


After a night of fear with the anchor dragging and yawing to and fro across Cairnley Harbour we break away and are now entering a little inlet. We can see the bottom but are determined to get as far into the inlet and away from the wind as we can. Hooker’s sea lions circle us, diving down, looking at the narrowing gap between our keel and the seabed. Each time they come to the surface wide-eyed. We joke that they are trying to warn us. They are.

low tide
tea towels hang still
forty five degrees

After the drama we need a break on the island.

We struggle all morning up through the tough scrub of this sub-Antarctic island. About midday we emerge torn and weary onto the tundra of the upper island. It is soggy but progress is better as we traverse a swampy flatland towards the ridge. The freedom from scrub is exhilarating and we rejoice in the keen breeze. Once on the ridge we gain height to a vantage point and rest. Below, our yacht nestles in the bay. We now know it is in the capable hands of the resident sea lions. To the north of the ridge sleek sooty albatrosses soar and dive. We marvel at their aerobatics.

A little beyond our point we notice four of them on the ground. They are the light-mantled sooty albatross and they are gamming, that ritual gathering of mating and bonding. They call, preen and posture. Each bird has a crescent-moon, white, about it eyes. It is an amazing display, only rivalled by the beautiful high stepping dance of brolgas.

The two of us creep forward, making sure not to infringe their five metre personal space. We have entered paradise. They know we are there but choose to ignore us. The wind lifts the soft feathers of their plumage revealing the most sublime magenta colours—and it lifts tears from our lower eyelids. And it carries off their haunting call.

one albatross
steps forward
invites us to dance.

by Barry L Smith
Hamilton, New Zealand

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


It’s a modest lilac-blue spiral tattooed on her smooth upper inner thigh. A symbol of possession. A chattel mark acquired a few wild years ago — “voluntarily,” she adds with moisture-kissed lips and a doe-eyed ah-ha head nod. The details of that rural upstate period are milky-white foggy at best. She reaches for a seagull-beige, handle-less pottery teacup and delicately sips from the steaming souchong. “There were things I did … unselfish acts of passion ...” Her yearning dark brown eyes, framed by tussles of walnut color shoulder-length hair, scan her cozy efficiency in the red-brick downtown boarding house and light on a full-size framed map of El Salvador. She has fond Salvadorian memories of volcanic-black sand and the heat it holds into the deep night. She stretches into a soft leather jacket, grabs a thick, cheetah-print folder and leaves but a hint of her cheeks on the seat cushion. The door clicks shut behind her.

listening. . .
thunder fades
into itself
by Jeffrey Winke
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Michael McClintock: MEN AND WOMEN ON A PIER

The hot, dry Santa Anas blew until mid-afternoon, scouring the air and drawing new lines of dust on every windowsill. Then the winds ceased and all was motionless; the heat was copper and tasted clean but bitter.

I was restless and drove thirty miles to the ocean and walked out on the Cabrillo beach fishing pier, over the flat blue-gray water. Men and women laughed and talked in many languages at the open sinks, where busily they gutted the day's catch, washed away the blood and the useless parts, and wrapped the clean fish in paper. At one sink, fish heads prized for soup filled a large bucket.

Their work done, the people lingered there to watch as the copper air vibrated and the sun fell into the sea.

a warm evening,
warm even
in the eyes of fish

by Michael McClintock
Fresno, California
first published in Anthology of Days (Backwoods Broadsides, No. 70)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Ruth Franke: HOBBIES

He has recovered rather well from his stroke, the retired high school teacher. A couple of years ago he was still paralysed down one side, but since then he has set himself a tough regime, can now even ride a bicycle. With rather stiff legs, admittedly, the left one having to move in tandem with the right; nonetheless a big step forward towards independence. He was always so reserved, short of things to say, we never exchanged more than a civil greeting. His illness changed that, he likes to chat more now.

There he is, pushing his bike down the driveway, briefcase on the carrier, and carrying his instrument case. That's a fine thing, I guess, that he's been able to take up his old hobby once more. Making music is such a good way to forget one's problems. Perhaps playing with a group of former colleagues. That would make having to give up teaching so much easier to bear.

I've always wondered what sort of instrument it could be in that case with such a peculiar shape: a long, slender neck, widening out towards the base. Some kind of antique string instrument?

Now, just as he's about to mount, I pluck up the courage to ask him. He gladly opens the case for me to see.

targets in the air
everything concentrated
on clay pigeons
Translation from German by David Cobb

by Ruth Franke
Emmendingen, Baden-Württemberg. Germany
first published in
Modern Haiku 38.1, 2007