WHR August 2014‎ > ‎

Haibun

WHR August 2014 

Haibun 



Jesus Chameleon


 A Soft Petal from a Red Rose Falls Beyond the Smoke and Ash” (World Haiku Review”)

 

The unfolding story of a petite heroine begins in the first quarter of the 20th Century. Few knew how a Rose would rescue her people from horrendous atrocities during a bigoted and destructive world war and the ensuing callous rhetoric of cold conflagration. “Laguse' magi, famagu'on,” she sweetly whispered to the Chamorru pupils under her tutelage, in order to safely usher them onto her side, during the abrupt, stealthy, and sanguinary liberation of Guam. Forced to learn and teach the language of the enemy was hard enough, but for the heroine of her people to change her convictions, and her adherence to the Catholic catechism, by enduring the occupation of the American Territory of her birth, would have been inconceivable, in 1941. American propaganda depicted the enemy as no less than “devils, or demons!”

 

                a rose petal–
                smoke from flames smoldering
                white interior walls 



Thomas H. Chockley

 American Road Songs


I had slipped around the guy blocking the left lane and passed the three trucks in the right lane.  Now, good driver that I am, I’m in the right lane again but fast approaching another slower car ahead.  I signal to shift left.  However, the left-lane blocker has picked up speed, and he’s beside me – exactly beside me.  After a bit, I shut off my turn signal and slow to the speed of my friend ahead.  I listen to Holly Williams singing her country & western hit, The Highway.


                country roads 

                autumn field rows return
                to mud

 

 Cloudy With an Electric Touch

  

Here’s a question I’ve been wondering about.  If AI-bots, Artificial-Intelligence robots, ventured into the visual arts, would they need to get drunk in order to create their masterworks?  That’s what the Chinese painter Chen Rong did when he created his scroll, Nine Dragons.  Biographies relate that Chen invented his painting skills by getting drunk and using his cap to splash and smear ink on the rice paper.  So, suppose that an AI-bot has finished its daily round of steering the Google car through rush hour traffic and finds itself back home with some time to pursue its hobby, cyber painting.  Would the AI-bot need to binge drink electricity in order to splash an ocean of colors across the screen?  Or, would it simply drive itself to the beach for some sober inspiration?

 

                flood tide 

                a dog sends a wave
                of seagulls flying

 

 Research Study

 

Men’s personality and women’s perception of their dance quality; Fink, Bernhard, et al.

 “Dance movements were applied to a featureless virtual humanoid character and judged on their dance quality by 53 women”  From the study abstract.

 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886911004545

 

I’m Avatar 10, and I’m particularly proud of my 12-second dance routine.  Of course they programmed all of us to have excellent rhythm, but I like to think my enthusiasm shows through in the energy I project into all my moves.  My final one? – I drop into a crouch and spring back up into a Travoltaesque pose just as the music ends. Still, I wish they had programmed the face with my smile.  It’s my most winning feature, I think. 

 

             her wallpaper lips warm with his mandevilla smile

 


Paresh Tiwari

War Mountains


What is someone’s dying breath like? Does that moment remain etched on a wrinkle of eternity?  Does time pass by in slow motion, embossing every mote of dust on stray sunbeams? Or does an entire life get compressed in that fleeting moment - mounting and crashing like a wave?


                fallen leaves...
                the casket rattles over
                a potholed road

I stare at the deep red wedding invitation. It has only been a week, but the world seems to have aged beyond recognition. His belongings have since been neatly folded into a black trunk. But how does one stow away a decade worth of memories? Tracing my finger over the cursive gold filigree, I read out his name again.

 

He died in a skirmish on the border, his death now merely a statistic – a lasting legacy of the surgical precision with which countries are dissected. I know I cannot delay the call to his family any further. They need to know and I need to allow this truth to sink in.

 


                3-rifle volley
                all that remains of
                his promises


The Persistence of Memory

 

It is here, neglected and lost, a white empty polythene bag, an aberration amongst the colourful footfalls. Separated from whatever was inside it, from carrying that weight around, it has now ceased to exist. Lying here, waiting for the morning cleaners to come in with their brooms with long wooden staffs and brittle bristles of sorghum. But there’s a breeze, gentle at first, building up its breath, puffing out its chest…and in that gust, the poly-bag soars.

 

Touching the red converse of a sixteen-year-old hooked to his iPod, brushing by the blue sari of the woman bent over fresh farm produce, catching the grey boulder, sweeping past a brick wall, crossing the street in a single bound almost caressing the yellow car on its way before stopping at her feet.


                mackerel sky -
                an unfinished poem
                by the felled tree

I have known her for over a decade. Our families spent idle afternoons over low stakes bridge and loud spicy lunches. And then one day, they stopped coming to the club. Their son, failing the medical entrance exam for the fifth time, overdosed on sleeping pills.

 

                summer heat – 

                the mongrel laps up 
                a mirage

*The Persistence of Memory – A painting by celebrated artist Salvador Dali

 

Boundaries


It is almost dusk as we enter the Bandipur National reserve; the mock cardboard cutouts of crouching leopards and roaring tigers greet us at the archway.

The road snakes through a silent forest and for the first time after leaving Mysore we are able to roll down the windows. The forest is wild, arid and unkempt but there is an urgent sense of realism broken only by faded hoardings with redundant 'No picnicking and singing allowed' inscribed over them. We have heard a lot about Bandipur, with a few even claiming to have been stopped on the road by passing parade of elephants. We however are not that lucky and except for a few Rhesus monkeys have only been able to spot oddly shaped stumps, which from a distance look like wolves and bears.



                drive-in motel …
                the sun sinks over
                a high rise

 Disappointed, we realize we are about to cross the forest reserve when we finally catch some movement on one side of a shimmering water body...and there he is - a large male spotted dear with magnificent antlers, camouflaged in the yellow grass. The stag lifts his head and looks right back at us as we slow down to a stop. Then imperceptibly the whole forest opens up, the stag was just one amongst a large herd of deer, complete with fawns and does. Just beyond them a solitary Indian Gaur munches on the brambles and then - a parade of elephants, magnificent as the rock carvings of a century old temple.


As the sky darkens, merging seamlessly into the sounds of the night, we reluctantly move out of the forest, slowly easing into the adjoining villages. A toll booth and a four lane highway mark the beginning of a different state.

 

                the fireflies 

                switch off one by one... 
                distant horn

 


Anita Virgil

STEP-CHILDREN             


                                                                                                                                He sits by himself
                                                                                                                                At the dinner table
                                                                                                                                On a glorious but solitary
                                                                                                                                Autumn evening.


                                                                                                                                                    Shohaku 1 

           

                        In a penthouse overlooking New York’s Central Park West, the pampered little boy, half-brother of my best grade-school chum, rules the domain.   Tormented by envy,  Naomi could kill the interloper.                


In the year I knew and was mesmerized by this dumpy unattractive girl—already she was feeding her mind on such books as Das Kapital.  She was also busy inventing all kinds of mischief at school.  In a folie a deux, we imagined our Norwegian teacher to be a Nazi spy and insidiously tormented her.  I don’t recall how, but it finally got us sent to the principal’s office!  So much for juvenile war efforts.                                                                               

 

We graduated 6th grade.  Each sent to a different private school for 7th grade.  But once in a while in the following months,  Naomi would get in touch.  By this time I lived alone with my newly-divorced mother in “highly reduced circumstances.”  Opening our apartment door one early morning,  we were surprised to find my friend curled up on the floor asleep.  She never arrived without a lavish gift for my mother and myself.  Her face twisted with anguish each time we tried to refuse them.  Once it was Germain Monteil’s “Laughter.”   (She used her mother’s Lord & Taylor account.)  Another morning we found her asleep in the cold hall with a small  shopping bag  nearby.  This time it contained a charm bracelet of sterling that had a teeny pop-up toaster that worked with a lever, a cowboy boot, a lariat, and the number 44 dangling. 

 

Before long I am in high school.  Never hear from her again.  At a party  down in Greenwich Village, I meet someone who tells me yes, they did know Naomi briefly.  How was she? I ask.  “Last I heard, she was trying to eke out a living as a nude model for artists.”  I am shocked at that -- but not surprised to learn she had rejected the uptown luxury and misery of her family life.  Have you her address?  “Oh  no.  She committed suicide.  They found her in bed,  snow sifting down on her from the skylight.”

 

So stunned, all I could lock onto was when we were mischievous and 12.  A spring afternoon when her stepmother—whom I’d never met—took us to tea at Rumpelmayer’s. That magical Old World ice cream parlor on Central Park South with its shining mirrors everywhere and stuffed animals piled in the windows.  And those gleaming brass cartsful being wheeled to your table, loaded with every kind of delectable pastry you could ever want.    


                                                                                                                       

And in a rush it also came to me that Naomi once mentioned her stepmother was head of the Child Welfare League of New York.  Her father  (whom I never saw) owned the enormous apartment building they lived in--and many others.  And Naomi was dead at 14.


                Once in autumn
                An earnest petition untied
                The rope of punishment.


                The mother thereby
                Winning for herself
                The name and fame
                Of fair stepmother.

Basho 2


CREDITS: 

 1.  Sohaku in Issa: The Year of My Life, tr. Nobuyuki Yuasa, Un. Ca. Press, 1972, p. 105.

 2.  Basho, Ibid., fragment of a kasen renga, p. 88.

 Photos:  C’est Doux; Wikimedia commons

 


Tricia Knoll

 Eddie's Magic Beans


It’s been forty years since I met my neighbor, Eddie Carpenter —  I’m still not as old as he was then. Eddie used to watch me run around his corner, even vastly pregnant, and tease me about bad knees. I hated his cigar smoke, but admired the black wrought-iron bench near the blue hydrangea where he sat to smoke on a hot summer day at dusk. I liked the story he told about how as a young kid he climbed up the hill near our homes and picked watercress for his family’s salads because they were poor. Now that hill is full of one- hundred-year-old craftsman-style homes that sell in high triple figures.

 

I tried to like Tinka, his twenty-two year old white Scotty dog that was blind, deaf, smelled bad, and didn’t have much hair. Eddie didn’t walk Tinka; he stood beside her to keep her from falling into the street.

 

His wife died years before I met him but he always  planted black and purple beans he called his wife’s magic beans — and taught all the children on the block to harvest young, wet beans in August when the beans were pink and blue.

 

One day Tinka died. Eddie took to sitting more. Then he shot his brains out in the bathtub.

     

                orange trumpet vines
                smother the white picket fence
                around the house for sale 



Victor P. Gendrano

Lotus Festival

  

Not many summers ago, the annual observance of the Lotus Festival in Echo Park, Los Angeles, California was a mild disappointment, to say the least. The reason? No lotus flowers in the lake for unknown reasons. 

 

Considering that the reliability of their profuse blooming every summer is as certain as the traffic gridlock in the vicinity, visitors from within and outside the area were vocally disgruntled. Locals were at a loss on how to explain to their out-of-town friends the absence of the floral attractions.

 

                no lotus flowers
                in the murky water
                global warming here?


Comments