Haibun


A few days ago, a good friend introduced me to Haibun poetry. Haibun has its origins in Japan where haiku also comes from. I confess, even after writing haiku for a few years now, and even publishing a haiku book, I have never heard of Haibun. I must be kind of sheltered, I guess. So I looked into it and I find it fascinating. There are some loose rules to writing haibun, and here is a link to an article about it. Here is another link with guidelines for writing haibun.

After a few attempts, I came up with this:

An Off Spring

On a stone step, in front of the green painted wooden door of an ancient crofters cottage sit a pair of old, worn work boots flecked with brown dirt. Irish brogue voices drifting from an open window framed with shutters of the same color, reflect the somber mood within. An elderly woman speaks of the garden, her voice parched with age, telling a young boy that the planting has gone badly. With the earth as dry as dust she suggests they may not have a good harvest in the autumn. With an “aye” here and there, the boy’s voice, reminiscent of many long forgotten summers agrees, but tells the woman to be patient, a rare quality in one so young. Suddenly, the door creaks open and the old woman appears, gray hair tied in a bun with fly-away wisps at her temples. The smell of a peat fire drifts outward into the air. Deliberately lifting each foot slowly, she places them into the old, cracked leather boots as a car drives by on the road, the occupant tooting its horn. Lifting her hand in greeting she tells the boy over her shoulder, to take money from the jar and walk to the village for some eggs, the last of which they had for breakfast. As she reaches for her hoe, the boy, red haired and blue eyed, now in the doorway, looks across the open fields. Dark clouds with sheets of rain above the mountains to the west, move toward them. The woman’s boots clump on the flagstones of the walk, laid down years ago by her long dead husband, as she moves for a closer look. As the first rain drops fall, they turn their faces to the sky, feeling the warm wetness trickle down their cheeks and praise the gods of wind and rain for their good fortune.

in darkness they wait
placed by old and caring hands
to sprout into life

I showed it to my friend and she liked it. I’m always interested in learning something new so I’m grateful for the opportunity she gave me. Haibun, from what I’ve learned is a combination of prose and poetry. The prose part should be very descriptive; telling a story or presenting an idea in such a way that the reader can really see what the writer is saying. You can see the cottage, and smell the peat fire. (If you’ve never smelled burning peat, you’re in for a real treat.) The haiku portion usually comes after the prose and should have something to do with the story line in the prose section. It can sum up what was said, or add to it, directly or vaguely. Haibun can be a single paragraph with one haiku or two or more paragraphs with a haiku between each. I broke a rule of haiku here by implying that seeds wait. Seeds cannot wait but hey, Western haiku, right? So this is my first attempt at haibun and I had fun with it so I think I’ll try some more.

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Breaking Words


The first episode of Breaking Words is out! You can click on the RSS feed to the right on the main page here, and listen to it there. The first poem is “The Fiddle Player and The Dancer”:

As he packed up to leave, an old women approached.
“Can you play that thing?” she asked,
motioning toward the fiddle.
“I can, but I can’t make any money here,”
he said, showing her the empty cup.
“Put that fiddle under your chin, boy.
Play somethin’ gypsy, somethin’ that moves.
And as he played, she began to dance.
Bells appeared on her fingers
tinkling in the breeze.
Swaying and swirling to his rhythm
her ragged clothes suddenly seemed new.
Sequins and colors flashed brilliant in the sun.
The people came, and fell in love with her
that day. She twirled, and the sound flowed,
entwining together to become one thing.
Finally the music faltered, as if nothing
could compete with her beauty.
As she twirled her last,
he offered her the money from the cup, now full.
“You keep it boy,” she said with a smile.
“I only wanted to dance.”

And the second one is, “Blue Moon”:

After sending her 2.3 children to play
with the neighbors down the street, the
housewife, in her new, crisp, pink pastel
dress, serves her husband ice tea on a
sunny, suburban, Sunday afternoon.

When yellow foam mixed with blood
ejects from his mouth, wetting his
gray trousers, and he falls from his
lawn chair in agony gasping for air,
she kneels beside him, grass staining
her new dress and asks him if his tea
is as spicy as his new secretary.

As her husband dies on the freshly mown
lawn, she calls her mother, to pick
up the children and then calls the police.
The children of course, will not
understand, for they are to young
to know that the blue moon, is not blue.

I hope you enjoy the podcast as much as I did making it! If you click the “subscribe” button, each new episode will be downloaded automatically. Have fun, and Thanks!