Sunday, March 29, 2009

Marleen Wenneker-Hulst: ELEVEN P.M.

The phone rings. Would I like to help him move out next Saturday evening at eleven p.m.? A bit overwhelmed by his question, I do not answer straight away but I recover quickly. Yes, of course I will be there. He sounds exhausted and his explanation is an emotional summary of facts. They broke up and he left. End of story.

I had known about the increasing conflicts in their relationship for some time, but I had certainly not expected this. He is determined to leave quickly and quietly and does not want nosy neighbors around, hence the time. I wonder if this would not cause the opposite effect, but I say nothing.

home alone—
the subtle scent of her perfume
in the bedroom

by Marleen Wenneker-Hulst
Musselkanaal, the Netherlands

Thursday, March 26, 2009



.family reunion
pies lined up on the counter
to cool

I’ve spent half my life trying to explain buttermilk pie to those who haven’t had the pleasure. Once, living in Japan, I decided I would have to bake a pie to make my case for the superiority of buttermilk over all other pies. I served it to guests, Australians and Japanese, on Thanksgiving Day. It was almost too sweet to eat. The Japanese politely took a bite, hid their mouths behind their hands, nodded with ambiguous enthusiasm, and set their plates down with uncharacteristic decisiveness. The Australians were cheerfully blunt and expected to win the Noble Prize in medicine for identifying the main cause for obesity in Americans. Without much of a leg to stand on, a condition only partially to blame on the amount of wine drunk, I pointed an accusing finger at the quality of Japanese sugar.

Japanese New Year
choking on a piece
of green tea mochi

by Bob Lucky
Hangzhou, China

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jeffrey Harpeng: NIGHT JOURNEY

With her pillow and blanket she settles to sleep on her bedroom floor.

Later as I am heading off to bed, she is sleeping in her doorway, knees tucked under, bottom in the air, arms forward over her pillow. She is stretched, as in prayer, toward mummy’s bed in the room across the hall.

In the morning, on my way to breakfast, I find her on the floor just inside mummy’s room, still sleeping toward Mecca.

the long night journey
without wings
to morning
a chorus of crow
parrot and dove calls

by Jeffrey Harpeng
Macgregor, Qld., Australia

Friday, March 20, 2009


nightdress . . .
slipping into my dreams
inside out

My brother has a house bus. Each summer he travels around the country working in orchards. This year he has decided to come to the district in which I live. Jokingly, I say, "Ask the orchadist if there might be a place for me." Next day I receive a phone call. "Come tomorrow at eight o'clock."

I have never worked in a fruit packing house. How will I cope with my fellow employees, young, fit people a third my age?

With sore muscles and bones, I survive my first full week. By the end of that week I have been placed at the end of the rock melon packing line. It is necessary that I work very quickly, very surely; and that in the evening I get very good rest.

In the morning I sing as I take my shower and try not to think too much of the day ahead and the difficult work in hand.

grading a distant moon
size eight tonight

by Benita Kape
Gisborne, New Zealand

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The Year of the Rat begins with severe winter storms pushing far into the south of China. In the middle of the night there’s a tremendous crash. Fireworks, we mumble and go back to sleep. Next morning, opening the curtains, we see bits of twisted blue sheet metal half buried in snow. The covered outdoor basketball court at which I often fantasized making a last-second game-winning three-point shot is rubble. Only designed to hold up sunlight, a passerby later explains.

another cold front
the tickets to Thailand
in the desk drawer

by Bob Lucky
Hangzhou, China
first published in
Presence #35, May 2008

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gary LeBel: BEAR HUG

The heady smells of leaf-slime and wet bark have returned. While walking along the woods outside the neighborhood (and with no particular destination in mind), Henry Beston comes to mind and those endless strings of mellifluous sentences he wrote in The Outermost House, a work on a quick read-through I once thought merely grandiose. But tasting the cold, misty spices of late autumn this morning, I welcome that big, earthy, bear-hugging prose of his. Though I’ve never done such a thing, I’d kiss him straight on the mouth for writing that book if he were here right now: such are opinions.

from the old wasps’ nest,
cold rain.

by Gary LeBel
Cumming, Georgia

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Diana Webb: BERCEUSE

Notes of a piano piece by Faure wind a trail along overgrown pathways, through the french doors with their wood-framed windows, into the post war lounge. The wireless in the corner broadcasts the tune that heralds fifteen minutes for those too young to go to school. I sit in the light of early afternoons; a shimmer through syringa leaves, a fall of shadows down the rockery...

Little Bo Peep
Have you any wool . . .
for my scarf of dreams?

by Diana Webb
London, England

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Having company is a kind of travel. A friend from Japan is visiting. Tonight we plan to go down to the Ping River for the Loi Kratong festival. The river will be jammed with flickering candles adrift in their banana-leaf boats, the sky above lit with thousands of airborne lanterns: prayers and gratitude going up and going downstream. Yesterday we went to a khao soi restaurant I’ve been meaning to check out for months. Afterwards, at the market, we bought an assortment of crickets, grasshoppers and silkworms to nibble on as we strolled home.

tropical twilight…
the chicken griller
fans her coals.

by Bob Lucky
Hangzhou, China
first published in Frogpond 30.2, Summer 2007

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Catherine Mair & Patricia Prime: KETCHUP

The Canadian poets have arrived at the motel. They've been invited for a pot luck lunch to meet several New Zealand haiku poets.

with daisies
her summer hat

Conversation piece—the jar of salad dressing turned and examined.

on the mayonnaise
"made in Canada"

Sausage rolls with tomato sauce intrigue our guests and they experiment with the "squirt" bottle.

on his plate
a red smear
and flakes of pastry

Having discovered our mutual passion for tennis, we suggest they stay for dinner and watch the men's final. By 2.30 a.m. we're propping our eyelids open with matchsticks.

after five close sets
empty wine bottles
by the back door

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

Monday, March 2, 2009


For several days a kudzu shoot has been climbing the young pine. Its Archimedean spiral floats tentatively around the tree as if following the invisible girth of a hundred years’ growth. Having achieved the height of a person in a single week, it leans back like a snake in a gesture of levitation, waiting for its moment to strike.

Soon the vine’s slow, primordial mind will give it orders to close in on the tree and spread an intricate lattice of tendrils over the rough bark, enjoining once separate lives in a tight embrace. The pine will brighten with the shine of new leaves, but after many years the aging vine’s color will come to match its partner’s, like the evenings of an old married couple.

and after thunder,
such quiet . . .

by Gary LeBel
Cumming, Georgia