Remembering Kylan Jones-Huffman

Written 28 August 2003, a week after Kylan Jones-Huffman was shot to death while serving in Iraq. Not previously published.

 

        Iraqi sunset—

        a sand dune begins to build

        around his bootprint

 

                —Michael Dylan Welch, in memory of Navy Lt. Kylan Jones-Huffman

 
Kylan Jones-Huffman was a passionate haiku poet whose work I had noticed in print and online. Though I did not know him personally and never met him, his poems spoke simply, directly, and eloquently, and he contributed poems and understated commentary to online haiku discussion lists. After his name, his email signature sometimes included the following phrase, attributed to the Japanese haiku master Bashō: “Is there any good in saying everything?” Unfortunately, he has left this world not saying nearly as much as we would have wanted.

        Kylan’s senseless murder has made the war in Iraq personal and starkly real to me, and has also prompted me to revisit his poems. Rereading his haiku in the context of his death emphasized the lesson, for me, of the value of biography in appreciating poetry. Knowing more of his story gives his poems an added depth and authenticity. The poet’s name underneath a haiku surely acts as its “fourth line” by providing added context to many readers. But now he is gone, and I regret that I will not have the privilege of corresponding with and meeting Kylan, and will know him only by his poems. I am thus reminded of Paul O. Williams’ classic haiku, written for the late Nick Virgilio. I think of Kylan as I read it again:

 

        gone from the woods

        the bird I knew

        by song alone
 

Postscript

For more information about Kylan Jones-Huffman, who was shot on 21 August 2003 in Hillah, Iraq, please visit the following links: 

A search of Kylan’s name online leads to many additional links, all very moving. Here is the last haiku that Kylan is known to have written, reportedly just hours before he was killed:                                      + +

 

uncomfortable—

body armor shifting

on the car seat

 

—17 November 2009