Thursday, October 30, 2008


God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the One who with a single thought filled the universe, God of the Exodus and the empty tomb:

In the year the snows came late and the coastal ranges alone made room for spring, many times dandelions delayed my journey, their faces all innocent, clean, wholesome—they called me off the road, they unraveled my purpose like a spool and threw away my coat, crowding in upon me, they and the daisies and the poppies—most especially the poppies, fields of them, in riot and aflame, wanton and loving with color.

My heart was rampant and willing and so into their beds I went radiant and sprawled naked among them, embraced and kissed, flaring like a candle.

God forgive me what was done among the dandelions, the wildflowers, most especially the poppies.

........a poppy . . .
................a field of poppies!
................the hills blowing with poppies!

by Michael McClintock
Fresno, California
first published in American Haibun & Haiga 4 (2003)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jeffrey Woodward: DEAD LETTER OFFICE

Although you may count me among that number who are inclined to say, I would prefer not to, midway in my journey I do not find myself disoriented in a forest but here, in the Dead Letter Office, where the Fates, busily foreshortening somebody’s thread, have secured a position for me.

I often hear those white-robed and pale sisters over my shoulder, softly humming the Te Deum while employed at their spinning. Good Greek girls, they, too, are converted.

Meanwhile, my position is secure, for the sorting of this mail will not end. I almost said my purgatorial business but, in this trade, there is no cleansing. Instead, letter after letter with a bad or illegible address, with an intended recipient long departed – judgments for debts overdue, offerings of condolence, confessions of love: the destiny of every petition, no answer.
by Jeffrey Woodward
Detroit, Michigan
first published in Quartet (Teneriffe, Qld.: Post Pressed, 2008)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ingrid Kunschke: ONE STEP ASIDE

The grey bundle, that I struggle not to get jostled against, moves doggedly down the shopping mile. Just in time I manage to step aside, then, pushed by still other people, yet more at ease, I can let my gaze wander freely.

'World champion' the bundle reads, in type you'd expect to see on tea boxes. Underneath it to one side there's a worn-out traveling bag. For a moment I walk neck and neck with the man who lugs this burden and notice the yellow headband with the three black dots around his brow. He doesn't scan the pavement with his walking stick; he pokes at it, rather, with all his might. Sounds like the crack of a whip. And on I go with the crowd, past rubbish and sun glasses that I don't want, never wanted at all, but to stop and pause is what I want, to watch that child over there almost dancing for about three steps: a little Turkish boy.

Now I'm ahead of the blind man. 'Either!' he shouts. But that's all he was going to say, and even the racket of his stick is drowned in the hustle and bustle in front of a new shop.

Only at night
do the streets exhale:
they shuffle, squeak, stomp
and patter like
small wheels
tired feet
tender children
hobnailed boots
but who
will lend his ear
will keep his eye on it

translated from the German by Ingrid Kunschke
Ein Schritt zur Seite

Das graue Bündel, gegen das gedrängt zu werden ich mich wehre, bewegt sich beharrlich vor mir die Einkaufsstraße hoch. Gerade noch gelingt mir ein Schritt zur Seite, dann kann ich, von wieder anderen Leuten geschoben, aber jetzt ruhiger, meinen Blick frei schweifen lassen.

"Weltmeister" steht auf dem Bündel, in Lettern wie man sie auf Teekisten erwartet. Seitlich darunter klemmt eine abgenutzte Reisetasche. Kurz gehe ich gleichauf mit dem Mann, der daran schleppt, und sehe um seine Stirn das gelbe Band mit den drei schwarzen Punkten. Den Stock führt er nicht vor sich her; er stößt ihn mit Wucht seitlich aufs Pflaster. Ein Klacken wie Peitschenhiebe. Und weiter geht es mit dem Strom, vorbei an Ramsch und Sonnenbrillen, die ich gar nicht will, nie gewollt habe, stehenbleiben will ich, dem Kind zuschauen, das da gerade drei Schritte fast getänzelt ist: ein kleiner türkischer Junge.

Schon bin ich vor dem Blinden. "Entweder!" entfährt es ihm. Mehr kommt aber nicht, und auch das Klacken geht unter im Trubel vor einem neuen Geschäft.

Erst in der Nacht
atmen die Straßen aus:
ein Schlurfen, Quietschen, Poltern
und Trippeln
kleiner Räder
müder Füße
zarter Kinder
plumper Stiefel
aber wer
hält sein Ohr daran
hält seine Hand darüber
by Ingrid Kunschke
Porta Westfalica, Germany

Friday, October 24, 2008

Michael McClintock: HIS GRACE ON THEE

In Vietnam, skinny Alvin carried an M60 machine gun weighing 25 pounds and humped over a thousand miles. I remember his letters from the big base at Chu Lai, where his battalion stayed when not in the field. He always made it sound like he was having a party over there, but then would slip in how all he wanted to do when he got home was go fishing under some shade at Marble Lake, like he did regularly as a kid —which for him meant before he was drafted into the Army.
"Only this time," he would add, to make the point he wasn't a kid any more, "I think I'll bring some beer with me, and a girl . . . like maybe Janet." I remember that letter especially, that mention of Janet.
There were a few more letters after that one, and then his mom, over in Kinderhook, called and told me Alvin "had got himself hurt" and would be coming home from a hospital in Japan in a month or two. "Home to stay," she said. "My little boy . . ."
Alvin lived with his mom in Kinderhook until she died just a few years ago. Now he lives at a place called Parkland, over in Coldwater, where he has a room and some independence, and where on most fair-weather days you can find him there in a leafy green place thick with elderberry bushes and maple trees.
Janet and I make a point to visit Alvin about once a month; they won't allow us to bring him any beer. We do it anyway, because we love him.

long summer day . . .
launching worms into the pond,
a boy with a stick

by Michael McClintock
Fresno, California
first published in Modern Haiku, Summer 2001

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rona Laycock: ARRIVAL

We land with a bump and two hops, the wheels rumble below us and people at the back of the plane begin a round of applause that peters out before it reaches us. We rock to a stop and the cabin crew open the doors. Air, as thick as water and sauna hot, invades the cool dry space to which we have become accustomed. The first tentative sniffs of a place are always an adventure and Karachi is no exception.

invading our plane
dust and spices
from another world

The airport building rings with noise, its walls ping the shouts back and fore, back and fore. Confusion reigns around the baggage area but out of the turmoil a line of sorts forms and meanders uncertainly in the direction of officialdom.

A doe-eyed immigration officer sits in his cubicle: bang-bang, bang-bang, he stamps the documents. Each passport is perused, each face glanced at, bang-bang, bang-bang and we're processed.

The confusion of the arrivals hall gives way to chaos outside the building. Bodies weave through bodies in a blurred tapestry of many colours. Mostly men; small, dark and wiry with a way of snatching a living perfected over years of poverty and self-reliance.

Crowds consume the creeping taxis; buses bully their way through but even they have to admit defeat as family after family are reunited and celebrate with ululations, drumming and clapping. Pick-up trucks are laden with people singing and shouting; children slip through the legs of their parents like fish through seaweed. Touts and beggars and whole families down from the country to meet and greet or to say goodbye.

feet scuffing feet
a fallen pigeon

by Rona Laycock
Avening, Gloucestershire, UK

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ingrid Kunschke: AUTUMN

On the first day of summer, on the calendar’s first day, my little girl fetched me a withered leaf.

"What about summer?" I read in her eyes.

Well, summer has come—she can wear her new dress—but while she runs across the orchard, assured of admiring glances, I hear autumn draw near in the high rustling grass. The morello cherry's twigs are no more now than fine strokes of the brush against the sky, with just a solid dark dot here and there where a fruit remains unpicked.
In the evening, when the light flows like honey, the last cherries are dipped in a warm glow. And the flock of pigeons flying low over me—even a single crow—carries in its feathers a hint of the radiance of these shorter days.

having found myself
I clearly see
autumn's light here
is like fall’s back home
translated from German by Ingrid Kunschke

Am ersten Sommertag laut Kalender brachte mein Töchterchen mir ein sprödes Blatt.

"Und der Sommer?" las ich in ihren Augen.

Der Sommer ist gekommen—sie kann ihr neues Kleidchen tragen —, aber wie sie der bewundernden Blicke sicher durch das hohe Gras läuft, höre ich darin das Rascheln des Herbstes. Die dünnen Zweige der Sauerkirsche sind nun nicht mehr als feine Pinselstriche am Himmel, mit nur hier und dort einem satten dunklen Punkt, wo noch eine Frucht hängen geblieben ist.
Abends, wenn das Licht wie Honig fließt, legt sich eine warme Glut über die letzten Kirschen. Auch der Taubenschwarm, der tief über mich hinweg fliegt —ja, sogar eine einzelne Krähe—trägt im Gefieder etwas vom Glanz der kürzeren Tage.

Jetzt, wo ich endlich
bei mir angekommen bin,
jetzt erst sehe ich:
das Herbstlicht hier ist genau
wie das Licht daheim im Herbst.
by Ingrid Kunschke
Porta Westfalica, Germany
first published in Vuursteen, Volume 24 Issue 2 (Summer 2004) in its Dutch version Herfst

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Michael McClintock: INTERVAL

.’s end . . .
........the dog pokes his bowl
..........for something to eat

“Not yet,” I tell him. Movement in the kitchen window catches my eye and I walk to it, look quickly, and step outside.

My land falls in a gentle swale down to a paved road that divides the world into small dirt farms on one side and open range on the other. The sun is low and I squint, surprised by what I see.

open prairie . . .
in the summer wind
a golden horse

The horse was no dray or farmer’s nag. It was tall and broad, powerfully muscled in the chest and haunches. The sunlight bathed and burnished it with a luminous perfection. The beast’s natural color was white or cream, pure and flawless; perhaps it was a very light gray. I’d never before seen such a naturally poised and handsome animal. No saddle or bridle—nothing whatsoever to encumber that wild form, standing in the shaggy meadow.

The horse did not come alone.

My visitor appeared to come right up out of the ground and straight up the old wagon road, flapping like a bird, huge and ungainly, the Apocalypse itself yapping after him. Momentarily he was framed by the red, afternoon sky. I thought possibly I recognized him, but I was cautious.

He was dressed all in black, clothes three or four sizes too big. His right hand clamped down on the flat crown of a canvas hat, the long fingers splayed out, as if stretching to cover every inch possible, the hat’s wide brim catching the wind and wanting to fly off his head. He held his left arm like a rudder or balancing beam, now bent at the elbow, now extended straight, the heavy cloth of his suit snapping and tugging at his long, skinny limbs. His gait was steady and powerful but seeming to be at all angles, he struggled so with the wind that buffeted him. Where I stood there was not the slightest breeze.

.....a grasshopper
.....jumps into it:
.....the gathering dusk

He looked like a gaunt country preacher, one of those lonely souls that follow the seasons and go town to town, exhorting all who would listen, except that he lacked the cleric’s white collar and carried no book that I could see. He brought no sheaves with him, as it were. His feet were huge, encased in rough, square shoes—it seemed as though those colossal feet were the sole reason he maintained his hold upon the earth at all. And hold it was, more than just the force of gravity. But for his awkwardness, and his flailing limbs, one might have thought that he was dancing . . . there was a wild rhythm in his movements and progress up the road.

At each step rose a puff of dust, much like those I had seen made by big raindrops on that same road, or in the dirt in the side yard of the house. But these were heavier, almost sticky, and elastic like smoke. The wind tore them away from under his feet and sent them smoldering into the grass, like wisps from the hot embers a prairie fire leaves behind.

“This your farm?” he was asking; he repeated this question several times before I took it in. “I think you know who I am, and why I’m here.” He spoke with a drawl, and though the words came slowly, almost casually, there was a distinct, odd undercurrent of being somehow in a hurry, of restrained impatience, but a desire to be finished quickly with what he had come to do.

“No,” I lied. “I don’t.”

“Oh, I think you do. Sure, you do.” This he said matter-of-factly. I resented his tone, and his sureness.

“Maybe you’d rather ride?” he asked. He gave a long backward glance to the horse, now a quarter mile away. It was a disconcerting gesture; his eye seemed to stretch out from its socket more than it should, giving his face a mawkish expression.

“No, no, I do not, Sir,” I hesitated, wondering at this statement and my own formality. “I have work yet to do, to finish,” I said. “And a dog that wants feeding.”

He appeared astonished. “A dog?” His clothes dropped limp in folds about his frame as the wind stopped. “Do you know what traveling I’ve done to get here?”

His voice had changed in register to that of a nine or ten year old boy. I saw then that his face was hairless—no eyelashes, no discernible eyebrows, no indication of any kind of beard or facial hair. His hands were hairless. There was hair on his head only, wiry and grizzled, sticking out from his hat brim over his ears, with a large number of renegade strands, thin as corn silk, mere filaments, that drifted out from his head and glinted, as if tipped in a copper wash. His gray eyes were like pools under an overcast sky in which nothing dropped or thrown could ever make a ripple.

“Have you come far?” I asked.

The question baffled him. “You’re not what I expected, “he said, and we took measure of each other. There was no shadow between us now.

“Nor are you,” I confessed, “—what I expected. You know, one day we had to meet. It was always somewhere ahead of us.”

“Perhaps it’s this place,” he said, “these circumstances I didn’t expect, more so than you . . .” He did not finish this confused thought.

I shrugged, feeling some sympathy for him.

“I thought there’d be a struggle in the end!” he blurted. “A fight!”

“That would be meaningless,” I said, stating the obvious, making my voice as calm as I could. I did not wish to be harsh about it.

“The banality of it!” he cried.

“Yes, there is that . . . But have you looked at yourself lately? And look at me!”

“But isn’t this what is called a dirt farm? And what is that miserable town over the hill there?”

“Quealy,” I answered him. “Quealy, Wyoming.” He was grasping at his pride, and he found it wanting. “There’s a kind of perfection to the simplicity of it, isn’t there?” I coaxed. “The future was never ours to see.”

A few more words, and I went into the house and got the shotgun from its place under the wall clock. I checked both chambers and rejoined him outside. “We can be quick about this,” was the last thing I said to him.

I buried the body in the side yard that same hour, just as night fell, then went into the house to feed the dog. I confess I gave no thought to the horse.

not knowing
what more to do
. . . crickets

by Michael McClintock
Fresno, California
first published in
Modern Haiku

Friday, October 17, 2008

Jeffrey Harpeng: LIBERATION

On the mani stone by the pathway is a Buddhist prayer for the peace and liberation of all beings. A couple with dogs on leashes pass by. I am following the Avon down to the daffodil lawn where I said goodbye to her, five years ago. On top of the stone somebody has twined supple pine branches and set in feathers and a cone to form a kind of crown. For the once and future king.

Om mani padme hum, the prayer is written. The sky is frosted blue. There is a giddiness in me as if I had just filled with my breath a hundred balloons for a child’s party. Under the grass daffodil bulbs await the spring sun.

a frosted blue balloon
drifts into a vacant lot

by Jeffrey Harpeng
Macgregor, Qld., Australia

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Mother talks to me of walks to her country school, along honeysuckled-scented lanes of hawthorns and high hedges, collecting chestnuts on the way, to skin and string, to play conkers with our aunt Serena. She asks, “Remember, you sat behind me?” Then, silence. She looks away. She dislikes me watching her walking in and out of heir-loomed rooms, lost, looking for something familiar. Today, with glee, she screams she’s found me: “Ah, there you are, Serena!”

her sister is dead
has been for ten years
and I am
my mother’s
darling daughter

by Barbara A Taylor
Mountain Top, NSW, Australia

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


We are at the mother of all sales, scrunched up against the hats, the no-good, the bad and the downright ugly. Try this one, she orders, and this, and this. There is no room to move, let alone try something on. With stone face, I lift my hands and obey. She is, after all, my big sister. Buy the red one, she points, yelling for all to hear, it makes your nose look less big.
my neighbor's tree kicked
to the curb

by Roberta Beary
Washington, D.C.
first published in
Shamrock Haiku Journal 6

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Roger Jones: ICU

A warm light and the night nurse in the hall padding by. I’m hooked to machines with changing green numbers, tubes in both hands. Heartbeat and blood pressure steady. Drifting into the harbor of sleep.

schoolyard dream
laughter echoing
through fog

by Roger Jones
New Braunfels, Texas

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ingrid Kunschke: MARKET DAY

For as long as I’ve been lining up at the Turkish deli stand, I haven’t seen the old lady across the aisle serve customers. On a folding table she’s arranged plastic baskets with plums, blueberries and green grapes. A zinc bucket with flowers is standing to her left. I spot some cosmos and a pretty weed. The woman weighs out the same pears time and again. A little while ago she flashed me a glance, to see if I might need anything, but I said no with a regretful smile.

Nobody’s heading for the stall next to her either. Over there, in front of a van, cartons and wired baskets filled with eggs are placed on shelves supported by two timber trestles. A hunchbacked old dear keeps bustling about busily between the car and her display. To do so, she leans on the foremost shelf with her knuckles, making the eggs bop up and down whenever she swings aside a bit.

I have another olive. There! Someone’s actually pushing his bike towards the fruit stall. He orders plums and gets four, five hand-picked grapes on top. —Why! The idea! But with their faint glow among the plums’ purple velvet the old lady wins me over for good. Sei Shōnagon’s robes cross my mind and the shades of a worn out cabbage white. Next I find the cream-white semolina pudding glazed with cherries and their black sheen. And then without fail I’m reminded of my daughter’s hair, sparking with sunlight.

still unaware
of losing her brows
my darling girl
skips a rope, kicks a ball,
comes in tired
translated from the German by Ingrid Kunschke

Solange ich nun beim türkischen Feinkostwagen anstehe, habe ich das Mütterchen gegenüber keine Kunden bedienen sehen. Auf einem Klapptisch hat es ein paar Schalen mit Zwetschgen, Heidelbeeren und hellen Trauben aufgebaut. Zu seiner Linken steht ein Zinkeimer mit Blumen. Cosmea erkenne ich, und ein hübsches Unkraut. Umständlich wiegt die Frau ein ums andere mal dieselben Birnen ab. Vorhin hat sie zu mir herübergeschaut, ob ich nichts brauche, aber ich habe mit bedauerndem Lächeln verneint.

Auch an den Stand neben ihr tritt niemand heran. Vor einem Lieferwagen stehen dort Pappen und Drahtkörbe voller Eier auf locker über zwei Holzböcke verlegten Brettern. Eine krummgewachsene Alte wuselt geschäftig zwischen Wagen und Auslage umher. Dazu stützt sie sich mit Fäusten auf dem vorderen Brett ab, so daß die Eier leicht wippen, wenn sie sich ein Stück zur Seite schwingt.

Ich nehme mir noch eine Olive. Da schiebt tatsächlich jemand sein Rad an den Obststand heran. Der Kunde kauft Zwetschgen und bekommt als Zugabe vier, fünf handverlesene Trauben mit in die Schale gelegt.—Was für eine Idee! Aber dieses matte Leuchten auf dem samtenen Dunkellila nimmt mich noch mehr für das Mütterchen ein. Sei Shōnagons Gewänder kommen mir in den Sinn, und die Schattierungen eines müden Kohlweißlings, über die ich zum Cremeweiß von Grießpudding finde, glasiert mit Kirschen, so dunkel, daß ein Flor über ihnen liegt. Und unweigerlich dann das Haar meiner Tochter, von dem im Sonnenlicht die Funken sprühen.

still unaware
of losing her brows
my darling girl
skips a rope, kicks a ball,
comes in tired
by Ingrid Kunschke
Porta Westfalica, Germany

Friday, October 10, 2008

Michael McClintock: GREAT ROCKAWAY

tin cans rattling
in a bag—the music
of Paradise

I'd been retired for a month and it was time to arrange for the payout of those special investment funds I'd squirreled away for the past 20 years to supplement the meager pension. Several of my work colleagues had done the same, and from one of them, who heard of my plans, I received this strange letter:
I, too, had funds with "Great Rockaway." Let me know what you plan to do when you at last come to realize it was all a myth, a spun-sugar fantasy. I could have warned you about all this, but decided not to, as I wanted to observe how you would react to the situation—a sort of a rat-in-the-maze kind of problem. I have always had a clinical-type interest in you, not unlike the entomologist's feelings for his subject. This should now get really interesting. Thank you for bringing me such happiness and pleasure.
.......................................................................................Yours, —
I folded the note away and made a quick, uneventful trip to Glendale. I easily found Central Avenue and drove on to 500 North Central, where I saw a large building with a strange shifting sort of sign. I could never quite catch the name of the building. I parked in a trash truck lot conveniently nearby and trekked to 500 North Central.

ah the city
tumbles under
the sun in
blue gulfs
of air

Once there I took the elevator to the 2nd floor, expecting to find room 220. I went down the hall to the right of the elevator, and found 200 and 210, but no 220. So I went to the left of the hall and found 230 and 240, but no 220. All the doors were locked so I could get no help. I went down to the lobby but it was abandoned. There I found an old gent leaning on his broom, apparently a custodian. I asked him where I might find the Great Rockaway office, or room 220. He asked if I had tried the 5th floor. I said no; he said you might try that.

I went up to the fifth floor and found only scaffolding and construction, but no people. No 220. I went back down to the lobby and found the old gent again. I told him I could not find 220 on the fifth floor. He looked bemused and shook his said saying, "Hmmm, it was there last week." He thought a while and said a lot of times people came in and couldn't find 220. He said it seemed to move and shift and some never found it. I said I HAD to find 220! As all my money was there. He asked if it was much money. I said it was to me.

He could tell I was quite agitated and said I might go try 260½. Sometimes people got help there. He said the entrance to 260½ was off a janitor's closet and pointed the direction. I made my way there and up a flight and a half of stairs until I found a door labeled 260½. I timidly opened the door, and found a ceiling only four or five feet high—it was a half floor! I crouched my way in and saw no one. On a desk was a stack of papers saying "Take One," then some complicated directions on this half floor that would lead to room 220. I worked my way from there, following the instructions.

I began to smell the warm aromas of comforting food. I approached a door and emerged—into a MC DONALD'S! I turned over the instruction sheet and found a coupon for free French fries with the words "We have moved and have no forwarding location. Enjoy the fries. Great Rockaway."

Bereft, I made my way back to where I had parked. As I walked by 500 North Central the sign continued to shift — it seemed to be winking at me. My car was gone and the lot locked. I walked over to the Glendale Library, where I sit now. I booted Miss Ross off an internet computer and got into my email via MailStart. I am going out to pick up cans and see if I can make cab fare back to my place. Wish me luck.

Animal Control
took my cat this morning
my caged bird stopped singing
months ago
now I’m alone and bitter

by Michael McClintock
Fresno, California

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


We pause at the top, like on the best roller-coaster, then we are off. The death trap, rattle-box taxi takes the bends wide, a wheel is airborne, hovering above a rusting hulk that did not make the corner last year.

Fear has an interesting taste, a metallic tang at the back of the tongue. Another bend, another prayer to whomever may be listening. We are at the mercy of a maniac who puts the car into neutral and switches off the engine for the downhill run.

everlasting journey
promised by each hairpin
to the careless traveller

Peter loses his nerve and screams at the driver who rolls his eyes and asks, "Why engine? No need, this way cheaper!"

dust covered Death
scythes through time
driving a taxi

Images flash by: a burqa clad woman, children playing with chicken heads, fat-tailed sheep, Lee Enfield rifles carried with enviable nonchalance and a Liverpool Football Club shirt.

We reach the city. Outside a bank a line of hippies wait to cable Mom and Dad back home to send more money. Their speech is slurred and dotted with 'Cool man,' 'That's radical, man,' and 'He sells the best shit this side of 'Nam, man'. We head for Chicken Street to find a cheap hotel where we can revel in being the only non-Afghanis in the place. A welcoming pot of Jasmine tea and the journey is forgotten for a while.

'Sigi's Restaurant:
Good Food and Rice Pudding'
unexpected in Kabul

by Rona Laycock
Avening, Gloucestershire, UK

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ingrid Kunschke: AIR

This isn't some fancy sleight of hand, is it? The walls of the stuffy room I lurch across in my dream are falling apart in a whirl of tiny pieces. From now on I dream myself in an airy place, enclosed only by a few roller shades dangling from nowhere and representing a door and windows. The breeze passes through freely and makes their shadows dance. Farther and still farther they unroll, while the pattern of their fabric becomes ever richer. What was linen is now damask and brocade, now silk undulating lavishly like sleeves of Chinese princesses. No fabric would be precious enough to hint at this fresh air. I inhale it greedily and widen myself like the breezy room. Relieved I stop sweating at last.
At breakfast then the new heat record. And as usual two sandwiches with tea and two, one and two drags of the brown, purple and blue asthma-spray.

from abroad
a parcel maybe
with a fan:
the coolness I'd feel

translated from the German by Ingrid Kunschke
Das wird doch kein Trick sein? Die Wände des stickigen Zimmers, durch das ich mich im Traum schleppe, zerfallen in einen Wirbel kleinster Schnipsel. Von jetzt an träume ich mir einen luftigen Raum, eingefaßt nur von wenigen Rollos, die aus dem Nichts herunterbaumeln und für Tür und Fenster stehen. Der Wind weht frei hindurch, läßt ihre Schatten träge tanzen. Immer länger rollen sie sich ab, reicher werden die Muster ihrer Stoffe. Was eben noch Leinen war, wird Damast und Brokat, verwandelt sich in leichte Seide und wallt, als wären es Ärmel chinesischer Prinzessinnen, in fließenden Bahnen herab. Kein Material ist kostbar genug, die frische Luft anzudeuten; ich sauge sie begierig ein, weite mich wie der durchwehte Raum. Erleichtert, höre ich endlich auf zu schwitzen.
Beim Frühstück dann die neuen Hitzerekorde. Und wie immer zwei Stullen, dazu Tee und je zwei, einen und zwei Hübe vom braunen, lilanen und blauen Asthmaspray.

Aus Übersee
ein Päckchen vielleicht
darin ein Fächer:
welche Kühle würde mir
schon beim Öffnen zuteil

by Ingrid Kunschke
Porta Westfalica, Germany
first published in Haiku heute, September 2006

Sunday, October 5, 2008


With the 18-inch red glowing parking wand visible, the stout presence of Ernest stands solid in the dark boulevard wearing his fluorescent-yellow breathable safety pants with two horizontal reflective tape stripes around each leg that makes him feel god-like powerful while directing the steady flow of luxury automobiles streaming their headlights into the gated parking lot where he occasionally—just for fun—halts a shiny black Jaguar XK to a full stop to leer at the strapless twenty-something trophy sitting in the passenger seat while growling "you gotta slow down, bud-DEE" to the silver-haired captain of industry who glares at Ernest with utmost contempt.

closing time
bartender collects empties
filled with stories

by Jeffrey Winke
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Friday, October 3, 2008

Cherie Hunter Day: MOCKINGBIRD

You're a lovely liar on this moonlit night. I detect snippets of cricket, cell phone, and crow in your repertoire. Is this a spicy spring accent or just vocal graffiti? Repeating it doesn't make the meaning any clearer. We could go to the park for a tête-à-tête or you could teach me to whistle. Then I'd have something to add. Or maybe we can make tapes of quiet conversations and play them back at half speed. Voices are sexier in the lower register. Yes, I'm on the edge of my chair. What more can I say?

her bouquet brimming
with gardenias

by Cherie Hunter Day
San Diego, California


Kikakuza is a group of haikai (linked-verse) poets founded in 2005 in honour of Kikaku (1661~1707), Basho’s celebrated disciple. We wish to help revive the tradition of haibun which gradually went out of favour after the Meiji Restoration. For this purpose, we have created a Haibun Contest and invite foreign writers to enter. The contest will be judged by Nobuyuki Yuasa and Stephen Henry Gill. The results of the contest will be announced in the Kikakuza Bulletin and on its homepage, and awards will be sent directly to the winners. All entries must meet the following conditions.

1 Subject: Free, but discretion must be used to avoid slander and obscenity.
2 Style: No restrictions, but special attention must be paid to honour the spirit of haikai.
3 Length: Not more than 30 lines, each line of not more than 80 spaces long.
4 Haiku: At least one haiku should be included.
5 Format: Print on a sheet of A4 size paper and write at the bottom your name and your pen name if you have any, together with your address and telephone number. Your privacy will be strictly protected, and the judges will not see your names.
6 Deadline: All entries should reach the following address by 31 January 2009. Entries received after this date will not be accepted. Kikakuza (c/o Kifuu Futagami)117-1 Nakogi, Hadano-shi, Kanagawa-ken, Japan 257-0024
7 Entry Fee: All entrants residing in Japan are kindly requested to pay 2000 yen into the following postal money order account and send Kikakuza a receipt (or a copy of it) together with your haibun.Postal Money Order: 00250-4-95332 Kikaku no KaiNo entry fee will be requested from those living abroad. We cannot accept personal checks because it is so costly to process them.
8 Questions: All questions should be sent to the Kikakuza address above or by fax to the following number: 0463-82-6315.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Jeffrey Harpeng: HORSE TALE

a wild horse
galloping toward me
granddad’s fingers

The mantle clock chimes as if it were an omen in a fairy tale. The opening notes of a slow waltz. Blue notes. How beautifully the mermaid dances on pain made out of daggers. How the tin soldier’s lead heart is heavy as ammunition. How the beanstalk winds toward heaven lithe as smoke from a smelter’s chimney. How I listen as my fingers gallop toward my granddaughter, off the table and on out the window.

Outside the almost laughter of a kookaburra, the supernatural quardle of magpies and her answering the “h-h-h-oo” welling from the hearts of the doves.

by Jeffrey Harpeng
Macgregor, Qld., Australia

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Michael McClintock: KOI IN WINTER

It's true — a snowflake screams as it enters water.
George had read my haibun about the dish at Arecibo that listens to the stars. "This is the other end of the spectrum — micro sound."
George smiled at my alarm. We were in his backyard, near the koi pool, testing the sensitivity of sound equipment he was engineering for the next Martian probe, intended for landing at that planet's southern pole.
"What do you make of it?" he asks. "I thought you'd appreciate it. Our senses are gross. Imagine a disk the size of a quarter. Lay a human hair on it. The human hair represents the breadth of what we see and hear of the world. Poets write about the human hair—that's all." He said this teasingly; he was always at me about my interest in poetry. "Of course, you're welcome to it. But for me that's not enough data to draw conclusions."
I am unnerved by what I hear. Snowflakes are falling into a shallow pan of water. Thin, insulated wires run from the pan to a book-sized electronic device, into which our earphones are jacked.
George sniffs the air, like a dog. "Perfect conditions today, just a few flakes falling." He turns to his meter. "Here, listen to this . . ."
I hear heavy panes of glass falling into a street and look at him in disbelief. There is screaming among the falling shards.
" . . . a snowflake hitting this little metal plate," he says.
That was four weeks ago. I gaze over the wall into his yard, at the wind-sculpted white. I listen to the sifting shadows. A bright half-moon shines hard in the dogwood tree, a splintered wedge.
I keep going back to what George had asked so casually. I wonder what he meant when he said, "What do you make of it?" they dream?
...........................................................the fish pond
...........................................................deep under snow

by Michael McClintock
Fresno, California
first published in Frogpond, V25, N1, February 2002