Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Angelika Wienert: PIAZZA TALE

As always: for my husband red wine, for me white wine.

"When I was young, strangers complimented me."

"What was your last sentence, honey?"

"Strangers made compliments in my youth."


"No, not often. I was shy and had to wear glasses."

"A lot of women have to wear glasses."

"I was too stupid to recognize that I was quite pretty then. Today photos tell me that..."

"Salmon or lamb chops? Or better the vegetarian dish?"

As always: no coffee after lunch.

We walk across the footbridge and reach the piazza.

the dog
opens one eye

by Angelika Wienert
Oberhausen, Germany

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I climb round and round close to the outside wall, to avoid the railing where the stair treads narrow about their central post. A semi-circular platform rests high above. Its glass windows provide a sweeping view. Counting the last few steps I finally reach the top of the Moreton Bay Lighthouse, where I gaze in awe at the ocean below.

the rising sun –
an endless pathway
of molten gold
Outside the lighthouse lamp is rotating. I disengage it as there is no need for its warning light. Now the bold red and white stripes of the lighthouse itself will become the beacon. I study the turbulence of the deep waters churning the rocky shore below. The subtle changes in the wind, waves and tides are entered in my log book – these brief markers of the ever transforming seascape that surrounds me.

ebb tide –
a foot print shelters
one tiny crab

by Mary Mageau
Samford, Qld., Australia

Monday, April 28, 2008


Occasionally it happens. It’s almost as though it sneaks up from behind and lays a warm, firm palm on my back…and gently pushes. “Go on,” it cajoles, “nothing matters more than NOW.” I forget it’s Wednesday night and we had promised ourselves that this is to be an early dinner with a couple of friends, and then a couple of other friends walk in and join us and then the lady who lives down the hall, you know, the one with the quirky sense of humor, who I call over and ask her to tell everyone the funny story about the hunchback with the toy poodle, and then our waitress asks if this is the fourth or fifth bottle of wine and we conclude that it’s got to be the fifth bottle or even the sixth and then someone says Sherry? and then someone else says I think the waitress’ name is Jenny and we all laugh the way the Cracker Jack company thinks everyone laughs at the jokes in that miniature joke book prize you get stuck with in every fourth box because it is probably the cheapest of the cheap prizes you get at the bottom of the box assuming you’re stupid enough to open the box right side up.

workday commute
her black umbrella patterned
with yellow smiley faces

by Jeffrey Winke
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Here I am where you are not, where you can no longer walk this path around the half-frozen lake. The clear sky behind bare white birch reminds me, I have no plans for the day. But here I am, this deep, this far, and buds about to happen. So I have picked up two spruce cones, one with seeds still hanging on. And here is a shapely brown oak leaf, not quite perfect, but beautiful in my hand. Further along, a milkweed pod curls down, then up, revealing silky white fluff, its seeds in tight array, quite untouched. Then some strange pod from an unknown tree, more like a half-pod, lies open with its row of black peas, tiny obsidian pearls. It has just turned April, so dusty and fragile.
the gander tidies
his tail-feathers first—
open water close to shore
by Lin Geary
Paris, Ontario, Canada

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Catherine Mair & Patricia Prime: IN ADMIRATION OF YOUNG MEN

Will the poem be featured in the newspaper this afternoon?

Stepping on the heels of our shadows we pass beneath the crisp leaves of pin oaks. Cattle on the opposite river bank bawl their anxiety at not being given a fresh break of grass.

The two boys we saw this morning riding their scooters along the haiku pathway now cut tracks on a muddy sandbar.
on a finger of sand
gulls gather
In matching life jackets, a father and son in a 'wash services' ute roll backwards down the boat ramp and off-load their yellow dinghy. Plodding through the mud, they load fishing gear and outboard motor.
tentative dip
of the learner's oars
Kneeling on the platform's edge a group of little girls admire the skill of boys skipping stones. Turning their backs they race towards the carved sea-elephant and clamber up its smooth side.

Outside the backpackers' hostel two flags and two lines of flamboyant boxers flap in the sea breeze. While they wait for their washing to dry the youths toss a ball around. Demonstrating his dexterity one lad spins the ball on a fingertip.

We walk up the slope from the river and stop at the gas station to buy the local newspaper. Pausing on a high street bench we read our poem 'Admiration' …
in faded T-shirts
old shorts
and earth-caked boots
the young men
own the world

by Catherine Mair and Patricia Prime
Katikati, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
and Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, April 25, 2008

Stanley Pelter: GLEN CATACOL

a mile ....... of hot summits ....... more hills roast
Long into the trail. It meanders; follows rises, drops with dips, turns with the sweeping bends of a swollen, sometimes flooding, rock-pitted river. Underfoot the path is less than a shoe width. Lower down, sandstone is wider, grittier. Shapes of summer heat form much of its length. Stagnant water claims some hollows. Streams from Madadh Lounie, from Creag na h-lolaire, zigzag down. Close-by, land is transformed into bog. Moths, grass snakes, frogs, remnants of wild flowers, camouflage in swathes of earth browns. Spurts of dragonflies crisscross the path. Course marram grass, heathers, head high ferns, thistles thrive. Sound of a ground cuckoo feed into the river. Where giant plates of layered granite spread, churning roars pull free of froth foam. Redirect. Other sections feed soft feet to a precipice edge.

sudden sharp pain ... subterranean swells rise ... as resolve collapses

To look down is to wobble each wet footstep. Adrenalin surges into addictive moves forward. Y split river becomes indecision.
water divide ....... stare at a parting ....... of ways
Tin colour, crag clad sky. Begin to cross. Turn back. Wearing sandals, with no map or compass, the path lost in a wilderness of ferns, this is a new scale, a new fear fix.
Dressed to contour this vast, irregular circle, an archetypal hiker approaches. From distance indeterminate, closer the appearance is hermaphroditic. Even closer, more ethereal, there is yet another seamless modification to that of an alter ego, Translucent, floating, her now supremely feminine shape, covered in white, rippling materials like she is one of Botticelli’s ‘Three Graces’, glides through me. Turning, I feel touches of the lightest of winds before, near to transparent, she fades into disappearance.
Unknown miles yet to travel over Gleann Easan Biorach before we are able to subside into the calm mantra safety net of a semi-Shangri-la Loch Ranza. Only then decide to catch the bus.

near a crest .... crossover point at which .... one becomes two

by Stanley Pelter
Claypole, Lincolnshire, England
first published in insideoutside (2008)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


"Subway" is an experimental haibun that fuses the idea of the descriptive travel journal [1] with a growing interest in depicting the cycles of urban life. One of the beautiful things about haibun is the way that it lends itself to the human voice, both in its use of silence, and its potential to influence perception thorough the cadence of words and phrases. "Subway" is an attempt to explore that potential.

In "Subway", both poetry and prose deliberately break from traditional forms, playing with the feeling of sound in the mouth and the way it rattles off the tongue like a jostling subway car. The poem is built around transit through the gritty underbelly of the city; it utilizes racing and fragmented prose to chart a physical and emotional journey to the line's lonely end. Along the way, vivid and highly saturated senryu snapshots punctuate the journey, individually presenting the momentary stillness at each of the subway stops.

There is always a great divide been idea and implementation. The performance of "Subway" at the Raving Poets reading series in Edmonton, Canada, and its subsequent release on the CD Raving Poets — Remixed (2007) was the product of a number of artistic collaborations. The poem's final audio form, however, was in a large part the offspring of chance and some very talented musicians.

Edmonton's Raving Poets reading series is unique in many ways. The most prominent is the fact that all readers are backed by the world-famous Raving Poets Band: Randy Edwards on guitar, Gordon McRae on drums, Thomas Trofimuk playing keyboard, and Mark Kozub on the bass guitar. The night is hosted by the inimitable Mike Gravel. What takes this experience beyond a democratic sampling of live verse and into the sublime is the fact that the music is never rehearsed, never pre-meditated—the musicians improvise all accompaniment live and on the spot. The band skillfully attunes their music to the delivery of each poet, while at the same time profoundly and subtly helping to shape the emotional impact of the piece. It is truly a two-way collaboration, with an incredible outcome—with few exceptions, the resulting performance is much more than the sum of its musical and literary parts.

"Subway" was no exception. Though designed with prose speed and tumbling phrases in mind, the flow of the words took its final shape around the track set down by the Raving Poets Band. After its live recording, Gordon McRae skillfully engineered and remixed the track for inclusion on Raving Poets — Remixed, adding to and accentuating the background beat to fully capture the pulsing and jagged feel of the racing underground.

While "Subway" may have some of our haibun fore-fathers rolling in their graves, it is a rare example of how poetry, music, and sound engineering can come together to present the haibun feeling in pure audio form. Hopefully this work will encourage further exploration into the many diverse aspects of creating and presenting contemporary haibun.

[1] As eloquently described by Bruce Ross in How to Haiku: A Writer's Guide to Haiku and Related Forms (Tuttle 2002): "Travel journal haibun reduce [our] experiences to short, well-crafted accounts that emphasize our emotion and lead us to a realization."

by Patrick M. Pilarski
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
April 12, 2008

Patrick M. Pilarski: SUBWAY

for all you late-night riders of the urban underbelly.

Dirty coins ring hard on the boatman's eyes. This river is steel and fire, but it doesn't flow. Not here. Not in this place. Black and white make way for red and green. How is it that choices can yawn when they hang limp and dull, like flags from dead poles? Always pick green.

false innocence gleams, imp-like;
striped pants and braces

Slip quick down dark halls and wander through the nether-regions of the city. Feel the hum and rumble and the wake of cold stones / sleeping arches; linger in the black and white and blue light of articulation. A spark. A crackle. A roar.

bright light boots on the turnstile,
wide eyed / dancing

What dances like rats in the cracks? Momentum and sticky pools, lapping at the smooth burnished steel and asking why hands hold without feeling. Plastic butterflies promise happiness. Is this a trickle or a wash? Watching bright spots dance to reflected faces. Empty and full, waiting for fragments / fiery streaks of hot chrome.

girl with a flower, smiling
hand to stem to heart

When petals fall, they fall on soggy boot laces. Propped up on seats, dripping with things left unsaid / unwanted / unused / unmarked. Does a glass chandelier make a burrow any less dirty? Hurtful thoughts break high-society with hurled beer bottles—stones cast down Urd's well.

words pour loose from a head-phoned man,
urban prophecy

Words to no one find every one / silent participation. Contemplative accessory to thoughtless grit boiling up from the under-belly. Graffiti walls pulse free with ragged, well-rhymed edges. Shopping bags cling to a pant leg; needy plastic wrapping to the security of an ankle. Purses clutched tight—arms crossed / body closed / eyes skipping with reflections of home. What breeds fear?

ballcap staring down dark tunnels,
seat filled with blank skin

The earth opens to proudly unfold an I-beam tightrope. Cracks snaking up pillars / phantom fingers painting trees on the trellis. Concrete branches balance the dark-sky rush-hour as it pours over long tracks / steel grids. Light blinks up from the water and its murky agitations. The earth closes.

pink scarf wound tight / a pale stare,
quick through darting glass

The river flows uphill, pours into a chain-link delta. Human projects tickle chaos on its sleeping belly and hope that it doesn't wake. How long does it take to climb to the light, when there is no moon in the sky?

Health Sciences—
late-night ghosts wander the streets,
feet pressed in concrete

Dew and dark grass stand like an ocean between rocky shores of light. A different kind of solitude.

by Patrick M. Pilarski
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
first published in Five Weeks (2007)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Diana Webb: HOLY WEEK

He tells me how a fellow patient used to call the walk to the room where they carried out electro-convulsive therapy, the Via Dolorosa. My friend is a pianist who moved out of the long stay hospital fifteen tears ago into this shared house in the community, also occupied at that time by an artist now deceased. On the wall opposite the piano one of that man's drawings. A mother and child hand in hand. Light plays on the tones of one of the many faces of a woman harrowed. Notes of a waltz.

asylum corridor –
a sudden window

by Diana Webb
London, England

Monday, April 21, 2008

Adelaide B. Shaw: MOVING

An old colonial house. Ours. Cleaned, painted, polished, scrubbed and repaired. An object on display, a star on stage, ready for the public. Ready to be someone else's home.

We wait, out of sight and out of hearing. What do they think, these lookers, these pokers and prodders? Will someone see its charm as we did 29 years ago? An old lady with a few idiosyncrasies. The sloping hallway, the creak in the dining room floor, the leak above the side door when there is a drenching rain? Will the new family be forgiving and adjust to the old lady's habits and manners? Another sweater when winds blow through loose windows, a pot under the leak. This old lady has so much else to offer.

From a bedroom window, rolling fairways and fastidious greens on the golf course. Lilacs and roses on warm breezes; the maple, a canopy of gold in autumn and the envy of Midas; the transformation of the land with fresh snow. Birds, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, chipmunks, possums. Residents and visitors, including the occasional deer and wild turkey.

The walls will soon hear new stories and absorb new memories. Will they echo with happy celebrations, crowded with children, grandchildren and friends? And, when it is time for the owners to move on, will they look back, as I am, and wonder what has happened to the years?

this morning the sun
glowing in the east –
later… the west

by Adelaide B. Shaw
Millbrook, New York

Sunday, April 20, 2008


You met the dragon in the garden. Sometimes he flies in circles outside your window. This morning he appeared as a young boy. He shows you a vision of your parents, lying in a barn. With his face so close you smell hay.

He bleeds from the wounds of paper birds, from a swallowed curse. Can your healing rice cake keep him from death? You hold his head in your arms as he squirms red, you force his jaws open and touch his teeth. When you feed him he gags and chokes, changing from human to dragon and back, his eyes always blue.

The dragon is really the river of your childhood home. He hands you a pink tennis shoe you lost in the water when you were seven. That river was drained years ago for development.
Since then the dragon
has no home but you, no name
but your memory.

.by Jeannine Hall Gailey
Port Townsend, Washington
first published in The Eleventh Muse, 2007

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Living in Poland was hell. But come Christmas, heavens broke loose. Everybody sang, drank, vowing to right wrongs, forget old hurts, wishing all well. An empty chair waited for a stranger. Even a Jew, like myself. After all, the stranger might be an angel.

lotsa blinking bulbs
one flickering candle
– hanukkah
My first Christmas in Carmel, I hit the beach. I tread over "LOVE" scratched with toes. Cottages elbow the sand, Christmas trees in their windows. Peeking in, I look for an empty chair, but I get shy. Hiding in the dark, I see strangers. They are hiding, too. I watch them watching me watching them. Christmas trees stand by like much-decorated despots, guarding the happy against the unhappy.

holiday giving
waves wipe vows
written in sand

by Tad Wojnicki
Hsinchu, Taiwan
first published in Rainbow Curve 5, 2005

Monday, April 14, 2008


interview with Jeffrey Woodward
Bruce Ross, a past president of the Haiku Society of America, edited Haiku Moment: An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku (1993) and Journey to the Interior, American Versions of Haibun (1998). He is the author of the popular manual How to Haiku, A Writer's Guide to Haiku and Related Forms (2001) and has published four collections of original haiku: thousands of wet stones (1988), among floating duckweed (1994), Silence: Collected Haiku (1997) and summer drizzles: haiku and haibun (2005).

JW: Most writers of haibun come to the discipline from other creative writing backgrounds – free verse, short story, what have you. You are well-known for your haiku, of course, but did you practice other literary forms before adopting the way of haiku and haibun?

BR: My father, born on Cape Breton Island, recited Longfellow and other poets to me and gave me anthologies of world poetry and a volume of Whitman when I was in public school. Later in this period I spontaneously wrote nature lyrics. Usually I carried one or another volume of poetry with me, also. I was attracted to the Romantic poets and later the Beats and the poetry they were reading and writing, including haiku. Paul Reps’s poetry with drawing and the writings of Hakuin made strong early impressions. In high school I was placed in a college-level creative writing course where I submitted what I now understand as a haiga. I was criticized for including a drawing with my poem. More or less I have been writing poetry and drawing consistently from that early period.

JW: Tell me, if you will, what first led to your interest and involvement in haibun. And, on that score, do you recall your first effort in the genre and the circumstances surrounding the writing of it?

BR: I knew of haibun during my college years from Earl Miner’s Japanese Poetic Diaries but was attracted to the spirit of the form through travel fiction and films in that vein. My first published haibun (and perhaps my first serious attempt at haibun) was “Aglow,” published in Modern Haiku in 1994. I vaguely remember desiring to place haiku in a prose narrative to best describe the heightened experience I had had.

JW: Do you find certain settings or a specific time of day conducive to your writing of haibun? If you have a standard working method, might you be so kind as to share it with our readers?

BR: Not really. Again, I am especially attracted to travel, and many of my haibun result from such activity. I normally collect my haiku in journals. In certain circumstances I know my haiku will be part of a haibun. In fact I often earmark certain haiku as potential haibun and include notes and drawings composed during or soon after the given experience. I do find myself more and more over the last years forcing myself to sit down and compose the proposed haibun.

JW: What, in your view, is the ideal relation of prose to verse in haibun – closely or distantly related? Do you conceive of these two modes of composition as equal partners or do you view either mode, prose or verse, as more crucial to haibun’s success?

BR: It depends on the given haibun. There is no hard and fast rule. Haibun have different moods and the kind of aesthetic linking of prose and poetry is dependant on that mood, what I call “flow of sensibility.” Aside from that “flow” I value “privileging the link,” the subtlety of the link, in haibun. So the value of haibun for me is “flow of sensibility” and “privileging the link.” This would preclude one or the other from being more important, though from haibun to haibun one often takes precedence.

JW: Because mastery of this genre requires of a writer the skill to compose accomplished prose and verse, haibun raises the bar considerably for would-be practitioners. Many excellent haiku poets do not write acceptable prose and many excellent prose writers have little ability in the writing of haiku. Your practical experience over many years as an educator, editor and writer of haiku and haibun places you in a unique position to offer practical advice to the young writer who wishes to adopt the medium. How can the novice acquire proficiency in both modes and what is the most direct route, in your opinion, to learning how to delicately balance prose and verse?

BR: Read the best haiku and haibun, including the Japanese masters, would be first. Cultivate your sensibility would be next. Look to experiencing/writing haiku epiphanies and haibun narratives of epiphanies. Why not aim high! My How to Haiku might also help.

JW: Your book, Journey to the Interior (1998), remains to this day the most readily available anthology in the genre. That is a testimony to your editorial abilities, certainly, and yet so much has happened in haibun in the past ten years. One might almost say: everything has happened…. Were you to edit today a second and updated anthology, how do you imagine such a compilation might differ in form and emphasis from Journey?

BR: Probably I’d include more selections from fewer, but outstanding practitioners of the form.

JW: Haibun is an international phenomenon, though reportedly rarely, if ever, practiced in its native land. Do you have an insight into what has led to the form’s proliferation in so many languages and varied cultural settings? And can you fix upon a specific time or event that may have triggered its rapid growth outside of Japan?

BR: I think that there are few examples in world literature to link prose and poetry as haibun does. The example of Basho’s Journey to the Interior was an available classic of world literature. For many writers prose feeling and poetry feeling is an enticing combination. John Ashbery published the volume Haibun in 1990. Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels appeared in 1965. So an impulse from the Beats and later more avant-garde poetry had flirted with the form. In the early 2000’s I led an online haibun workshop and double kukai for the World Haiku Club. There were entries from around the world, including Japan. More than that, I’d attribute the increasing global interest in haibun to the internet and the incrementally increasing attraction, good or bad, to wordsmithing.

JW: The spread of haibun across the globe has also proven how elastic the genre is. In your essay, “Narratives of the Heart” (The World Haiku Review, 2002), you cited various examples of form that the genre has assumed, from diary to fiction, and you remarked, “Haibun is now obviously an open form.” Beyond our general recognition that haibun usually weds prose and verse, are there some minimum guidelines or parameters, in your view, that demarcate haibun from other literary genres?

BR: At this point I haven’t thought beyond “flow of sensibility” and “privileging the link.” As a product of Japanese literature and, specifically, congealing in forms around haikai style, I think what goes for haiku sensibility, goes for haibun sensibility. On the highest rung, this entails a narrative of an epiphany. There is really no easy graft of other writing genres onto true (whatever that means) haibun. At least, this is the way I see it now.

JW: In How to Haiku (2002), you observed that “a short paragraph followed by one haiku is in fact the most common form of haibun written in English.” This can be readily verified by a cursory reading of the online and print journals that publish haibun in any given quarter. The one paragraph, one haiku format may be the closest thing we have to a consensual model for writing in the genre. This abbreviated form, too, is most welcome by haiku editors who often have to deal with severe space restrictions in their journals. Should we be concerned, perhaps, that “a short paragraph followed by one haiku” might eventually become enshrined as the normative model with the result that other more expansive forms are gradually suppressed?

BR: Never be concerned, it’s not healthy. But, editorial necessities aside, it would be unfortunate that the magnificent examples of Japanese prose diaries, like Basho’s Journey to the Interior, would not be available as legitimate literarily valid modes of proceeding to contemporary voices.

JW: Again, in How to Haiku, you wrote, “A haibun is a prose narrative that is autobiographical – that is, in haibun you are telling a story about something you did or saw.” I understand that in a how-to manual directed toward the novice, simplification has some heuristic value. Is it your view that haibun must be strictly autobiographical? Or do you admit alternative approaches, such as the expository or fictional prose account?

BR: We have both expository and fictional prose haibun in Japanese literature. It already exists. But in Japan the genre we would call haibun is classified as separate genre, such as “diary of the road.” Soseki provides the affect of haibun in fiction. As with haiku, though, I prefer, for haibun, the autobiographical experiential mode.

JW: In your introduction to Journey to the Interior, you offered the following definition: “…haibun is a narrative of an epiphany. Haiku, on the other hand, offers us an epiphany, a revelation.” While I understand that you are speaking of the best the genre might offer, “revelation” is a heady term and rare enough in our daily lives to lend to your formulation the character of hyperbole. Do you still conceive of haibun in these terms or has your view altered?

BR: My view has not altered. That is, my “sensibility” has not altered. It is a matter of perspective, really. I have studied, practiced, and taught internal energy states for many years. I still do. Degustabus non disputandum est (There is no disputing taste). A Zen saying: Before I studied enlightenment trees are trees and rivers are rivers. While studying enlightenment trees are no longer trees and rivers are no longer rivers. After achieving enlightenment trees are trees and rivers are rivers. It is a matter of perspective really. What matters about haiku and haibun is the insight of whatever valance you choose concerning our natures and the world’s nature. Art, poetry, human love, etc. can provide these experiences, to borrow from poor Shakespeare. Despite the postmodern processing of our lives, these connections are still available to us.

JW: One curse of being an influential anthologist and educator is that you must find yourself confronted often with impositions like this interview where questions focus on every subject but your own personal writing. You were a writer before you accepted the other titles, however, and so perhaps I will not be amiss in asking you some specifics about your own writing. In your collection, summer drizzles… (2005), your haibun “Winter Desert” holds a particular interest for me. I know the landscape that you describe therein well and I’m particularly impressed by the understated means that you employ to convey how that terrain gradually overpowers and possesses the person passing through. You speak there of one’s consciousness being absorbed and of the winter rain driving you deeper into your own person. Would you share with our readers the events that inspired this haibun, the story beneath the story as it were?

BR: No impositions. And no titles. I have a Taoist or is it Quaker disinclination for them. Glad you liked “Winter Desert.” My wife and I were visiting that part of Arizona around Tucson. We wanted to see Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and had to pass through the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation to do so. The haibun’s “flow of sensibility” is the resulting consciousness/connection to the landscape and its inhabitants. The haiku links are based on that consciousness/connection. Otherwise, the haibun speaks for itself.

JW: Another noteworthy and powerful haibun in summer drizzles… is “Gone in Sleep.” What I found of immediate interest, when I first read this piece a year or so ago, is the marked juxtaposition in the prose between the breezy travelogue-like opening sentences about modern Chicago and the intimate and warmer tone adopted in the concluding sentences about the beggar. The haibun will lend itself to various interpretations and I wouldn’t ask you to offer your own. I would be interested, however, in hearing you speak of how much of this material is strictly factual and where, if at all, you have claimed poetic license in order to arrive at a more satisfactory literary result.

BR: Like most, if not all of my writing, this haibun is experiential. Those “as ifs” were the affective result of my encounter with the beggar. Despite my reaction (or lack of action) I’m hoping some issue of compassion resonates here.

JW: I want to ask one final question, but let me, first, thank you for your patience and generosity in participating in this interview. Our readers will certainly be interested to know about your current or future publication plans. Do you have any new haiku or haibun books in progress? Or any planned anthologies or other work in the haikai field?

BR: You’re welcome and thank you for approaching me with this interview. Well, I have a planned volume of my haiku, possibly including haibun, haiga, and collaborative renku, for fall 2008. Also for fall 2008 Venturing upon Dizzy Heights: Lectures and Essays in Philosophy, Literature, and the Arts, which includes previously published articles on haiku, haibun, and tanka. Perhaps of additional interest is the lecture on the Japanese influence upon Van Gogh’s practice of still life painting. I have in mind another anthology in haiku but this is in a formative stage right now. Possibly, also, a small volume based on the haiku and haibun written while literally following a part of Basho’s Journey to the Interior.


The guide joked that the island far below but not far from shore, the one where Cortez landed, was nicknamed the island of gull poop, perhaps some poetic justice for the Mexicans. We were visiting the ancient gravestones of the local Totanaca. In front of one thousand-year-old tomb a fresh palm leaf offering. An occupant’s moral health was displayed in the miniature steps in front of the stone. The more steps, the more sins to overcome. And the soul’s escape from the body was provided for, not unlike that of Tibetan ritual. I would later notice them in the stones displayed in the pristine setting of the local museum.

Totanaca gravestone
out of the soul hole
a tiny gecko

by Bruce Ross
Bangor, Maine


We spent the holiday weekend in New York City. Thunderstorms were predicted on the last two days but clouds floated in bright blue sky way above the skyscrapers while we drank beer with old friends in an outdoor cantina. After a few swallows my mind drifted away to a time I lived in the East Village and my consciousness floated over the evening tenement buildings in a state of ecstatic joy. Before our final dinner we took in a French film, “Private Property,” in which the final continuous shot receding from the abandoned property was a pure expression of the emotional loss of the film. At the departing gate a giant of a man with an artificial leg sat with his sleepy young daughter. He was in shorts and sneakers and his tee and baseball cap had race car logo. I wondered about his story. When our night flight landed he took his daughter’s hand and said, “Let’s go home.”

Memorial Day
waiting at its very end
an almost full moon
by Bruce Ross
Bangor, Maine


The old gravestones a short distance from the church seem untended. Broken stones covered with elegant long Runes lay almost against it. The church served the Catholic nunnery and their sleeping quarters were converted into the now empty adjacent hospital that offered recovery for the soldiers in one of the great wars. Today it serves a Protestant community. Inside the church a painting of the Crucifixion has the cross resting on a skull. Up on a pillar there is a light on in an otherwise empty copper helmet. When the nuns were inducted they walked through a door in one of the church’s sides. Now the Vikings and nuns and soldiers are gone. Yet the pageantry of suffering and illumination, the vanity of human wishes and the suffering for purity, are still with us.

Vadstena church
the door of grace
no longer open

by Bruce Ross
Bangor, Maine

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Roberta Beary: sunday dinner


i like my husband but not the older sister too bossy for me the way she likes to tell me we don't call him sweetie pie in this house who died and made her queen and the younger sister too always talking money and how poor growing up but mostly i don't like the way they knew him all those stolen years before he found me

the rosethorns
back and forth
by Roberta Beary
Washington, D.C.
first published in Modern Haiku 35.1

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Adelaide B. Shaw: LAGUNA BEACH

Low tide. Waves rippling on the edges of the now exposed beach. Rocks emerge to their full height and depth. Deep black where tidal pools remain; gray where the sun has dried them.
water gurgles
between rocks
slippery moss
Crabs, starfish, sea anemones, spiny urchins. Seaweed left high and dry giving off its briny odor.
*kombu on the rocks —
enough for how many bowls
of soup?

*kelp, used as a base for soup
in Japanese cooking

by Adelaide B. Shaw
Millbrook, New York

Mike Montreuil: EASTER

It's early on this Easter Sunday morning and something strange has happened to the kitchen. There are foil covered chocolate eggs in the coffee tin, the sugar container and even in the coffee carafe. Even the utensils drawer is littered with chocolate. Peter Rabbit and his brethren were busy last night. Perhaps my animal loving daughter had a say in the matter.

This poses a dilemma this early in the morning. Do I get my caffeine from the chocolate strewn about the kitchen or do I take time to wait for the warmth of a coffee sweetened with laughter?

an easter bunny
stares silently -
the colours of spring

by Mike Montreuil
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, April 10, 2008


It was expected – being leap day – that he’d choose to die on a quad-annual date. His fatalistic demeanor combined with a dark, twisted sense of humor creates a very real sense of inevitability. His tolerant wife and ADD children uneasily sigh relief that he’s alive, while knowing full well they can expect at least four more years of his uneven temperament. Two mere days later, at the icy bus stand, the smelly behemoth stops and opens a gaping door. He enters. Slaps a hairy-knuckle fistful of tarnished coins into the fare receptacle where they tinkle into rightful stacks. He pivots to walk the filthy length to the last open seat in the back. “STOP!” the driver yelps. “You’re shorting me 20 cents!” The man turns to face the accusing, blue-uniformed driver as pure red rage steams fiercely through him…his bloodshot eyes bulging…sweat glistens his wrinkle-creased face…and then, the deafeningly silent explosion of a brain tumor that had been festering for 54 years, plus seven days and 13 hours suddenly turns his eyes to X’s.

road kill slime
the crow’s black beak

by Jeffrey Winke
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ray Rasmussen: STORYTELLER

Terra, my eight-year-old, tags along behind, making up stories as we wind our way along the trail to Peek-A-Boo Springs. Glamding, who I gather is an elf, seems to be having trouble with goblins.

I drift in and out, from time to time inserting an "uh, huh" while enjoying the sandstone pinnacles, an occasional claret cup cactus in bloom, the trill of a canyon wren.

"So, what do you think Glamding should do, Dad?"

"Um, maybe he should fight him."

"Dad! Glamding is a girl."

"Well ... I meant she should fight him. Elf against goblin."

"Dad!! Buckwart is a dwarf; he's her best friend."

"Ah, yeah, perhaps they should fight them."

"Dad!!! They're trying to help the feather people find a new home."

from a patch of sand —
sweet vetch

by Ray Rasmussen
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
first published in Contemporary Haibun Online, V3, N2, June 2007

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


California lies lifeless and naked, shivering in heat. No rain has fallen in years. News crews grill elders who can't think of such thirst, when fields and hills stripped to the buff, and bared it all, bad in heat. Live oaks shrink, shrivel, and stone to save sap, holding onto the ghost of ooze for dear life. Wild oats dry into nuggets, their false gold shimmying, and shrubs fling forth their fangs, having lost their leaves to the heat.
windswept slopes
creak of dead wood
live oak

by Tad Wojnicki
Hsinchu, Taiwan
first published in Poetry Midwest 9, Winter 2004

Monday, April 7, 2008


Maybe in this version you are a bird, and I have become an old woman. Maybe you ate a falling star. It’s hard to love someone in a castle – they always feel distant. I will open a flower shop and learn to speak German, take to wearing ruffled dresses and straw hats. You'd like to pin me down, but you could tell my feet weren't touching the ground. I called your name over and over, but you couldn't hear me above the din of the bombers. It was like movies of wartime Japan. I looked up and there were planes bulging with smoke.
The blue sky kept getting darker –
sometimes, I thought,
with your shadow.
In the end, I have a dog in my arms and a scarecrow for a friend, but I never make it to Kansas. The field is wet and stormy, I kiss three men goodnight for their magic. The door to your childhood is opening for me. It allows me passage into a brick wall, my fists full of shiny black feathers, the shell of an egg, the howl of cold wind against a mountain. Don't worry, your heart is in good hands. Let me keep it a little longer; its blue glow illuminates everything.

by Jeannine Hall Gailey
Port Townsend, Washington
first published in Cranky, Spring 2007

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bamboo Shoot: JOURNEY

It was a day to be near water. Overhead, the sun had become a blinding star; and as I drove through Lyndhurst and Beaulieu towards Lepe, all over the swim of heath and road summer’s foals had dropped like autumn chestnuts.

gorse-heath and tarmac .........................inescapable heat –
one shimmer – the skyline trees .............young ponies lie motionless
drowning in it .......................................crows pick in droppings

Waves of tar, manure and dust lifted from the ground as the road ribboned its way through town and village, ran beneath short respites of ancient forest, and flowed across open heath to meander between seared and rank-sweet hedgerows. Not until I neared the coast did I find myself in narrow green lanes that let me breathe.

hedgerows baking hot.
White plates of Hogweed – distant
hush of sea on flint
A large oak canopied the car. Yellow-buttoned Cat’s Ear, wild privet and honeysuckle brightened and spiced a well-worn path leading shoreward. And across The Solent, as in some badly taken photograph, the milk-washed thin dark landmass of the Isle of Wight hung between pewter sky and sparkling pewter sea – Cowes harbour visible but almost featureless.

It was the day of the Round the Island Race; but there was little wind, and though race yachts had long since gone, somewhere out of sight, sun and sailors were glowering at each other in conditions that enforced a shortening of the slowest race on record.

Midday passed. The tide ebbed in suffocating stillness. A few weekend boats, their numbered sails torn out of trigonometry books, still lay like litter in the island’s lee, drifting forlornly up and down between channel markers; while not far away, a man had waded out some fifty yards. And slack-tide happened with all the aura of the supernatural. When had I noticed that the flinty slop had ceased – that the sea had become motionless; that the clamour of gulls was only accentuating silence? Time itself seemed at a standstill – everything held in some non-locality of existence – a man up to his waist in water, the motionless drift of yachts. In that immeasurable instant, the energy of the spirit and of the whole Universe seemed drained into the water to power the recommencement of its tireless pendular swing … absurdly, came the thought of a small dog suspended over an unsuspecting parasol * … then, a ripple of light and air as some infinitesimal imperfection in the continuum tipped the balance back.

midday chorus ....................................with no perspective
on exposed rocks such a distance
......................seagulls .................................................two yachts
screaming over something ....................idly converge

Much later, returning to my lodging, I stopped in Beaulieu for a scrambled egg tea – discussing the finer points of Escoffier’s method with the student chef-du-jour. Then, driving slowly on but finding the heathland still furiously hot in the closing afternoon, I stopped, left the car, and wandered aimlessly till sundown – its brief breath of cool air enhanced by the heat of the passing day.

a chestnut foal, ...................................sundown, and the cool wind
hesitant – with the setting sun .............over the chestnut foal’s ribs
in the summer gorse ............................runs a shudder

by Bamboo Shoot
Salibury, Wiltshire, England
first published in Blithe Spirit 17.2, 2007

* cf. The New Accelerator by H. G. Wells

Saturday, April 5, 2008


there comes a time
...............................the sun is shining always
and then it goes
...............................always there no matter
and this is now and then
...............................where we are
and this is when
...............................and the stars too
whatever is has been
...............................just there
and whatever was still is
...............................and this is where
an old song flying
...............................the moon drifts
upon invisible waves and out of view
waving hello goodbye
...............................who knows
between this and that
...............................a moment of truth

Easter Sunday
the puppy rolls an egg
through the grass

by Bob Lucky
Hangzhou, China

Friday, April 4, 2008

Charles Christian: FLYING TO VIENNA

Flying to Vienna. Out today and back tomorrow. Check-in, customs and security. No creams, no blades, no liquids, no gels, no toothpaste. Shoes off, belts off, phones off, take off. Viewed from above, the wind-teased cloud tops are the same colour and consistency as the froth on the cappuccino I drank in the departure lounge.

at thirty-six thousand feet
the sky
is always blue

Sachertorte, einspanner coffee, sturm, schnitzel and strudel. On the journey home, the only excess baggage I'm carrying is around my waist. Along with German MTV, ads for chocolate cake and dubbed episodes of Mr Bean, the in-flight entertainment video monitors display our location, our altitude, our speed and the outside temperature.

framed against
the curvature of the Earth
the plane's wing rimed with frost

by Charles Christian
Norfolk, England
first published in Blithe Spirit, March 2007

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Hitherto and there, a solemn long, long, long, long, long line chokes its way from wet-pavement outside up black-canopy-covered, chipped-cement stairs through strained-lit rooms with maroon, crushed-velvet chairs past the 18-gauge, smooth gun-metal-finish, stainless-steel closed casket of the teenager on this reluctant day of Spring.

blue change dish –
a pocket thread tangles
the car keys

by Jeffrey Winke
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Marjorie A. Buettner: SQUARING THE CIRCLE

There are times when I feel Orpheus rising, ready to look back upon Eurydice, warned yet fascinated, yearning for that lost home, for those hands that are not my hands stretching out, now, helpless. There are times then when the turning back mimics an escape as if a bow held just so forgets that it knows the flight of the arrow before the target appears. And like a circle without beginning or end, I turn, the arrow above my heart still quivering. So this day is heavy with an unnameable regret which pulls at memory like a magnet realigning the poles that were you and I, rearranging the past, dislocating the future, leaving the present pregnant with false desire beyond the support of action or hope. It is a present which wants to fold in on itself as if it were a sheet of origami, hibernating within it a flawless form unconscious of its ability to change, its transformation a mystery, its silken paper-thin wings, a chrysalis, wanting, unknowingly, to be born upon a spring wind.

squaring the circle
my youngest daughter's

by Marjorie A. Buettner
Minneapolis, Minnesota
first published in Journeys #2, 2002

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Curtis Dunlap: LESSONS

My father could quack like a duck. I don't mean repeatedly verbalizing the world "quack", I mean he literally could sound like a duck. As a child I was amused and entertained by his ability to do this but, as I matured into adulthood, his mimicry became an annoying idiosyncrasy.

I heard on the car radio this morning that, according to a recent study, quacking like a duck is good for you; it lightens the mood and employs the same facial muscles we use to smile. Amazed, I sat in my car listening to the remainder of the story. . .

April Fools —
a smiley face sticker
on the headstone

by Curtis Dunlap
Mayodan, North Carolina