Haibun, December 2011

WHR December 2011

 Haibun Selection



the last will be first


 By Helen E. Herr


He walked ahead of her. Always had. It's not our western custom at least not in my circle of friends. I remember watching them at the Saturday night dance in our small town. At midnight, lunch was served. He was always first in line. Left her waiting on the sidelines. Disappointed and embarrassed, she served herself.


Jan is my friend. I've known her for thirty-five years. Still lives with the same man. Habits haven't changed. He still walks in front of her, twenty feet or so if he gets a head start, only now she doesn't run after him. Self-discovery is a slow process. Jan's marriage looks the same on the surface but since University and a career change, Jan is different.


I recently travelled to Toronto with them. The airline attendant announces that those needing assistance or travelling with small children please board now. Jan produces two tickets then pushes him in a wheelchair. She's not a control freak. Had enough of that. She lets him think he is the boss but we all know better.

                                                                               the ducklings
                                                                               follow one by one
                                                                               until they fly



old photograph


An eight year old, hair in ringlets. Momma's only child. Gangly, legs too thin and long in brown ribbed stockings that spread into black-laced oxfords. Boats I'd call them. Her middle initial supported her Dad's name, Earl. She posed with her Eaton oversized standing doll. Standing in a smile holding a doll.

                                                                           last geese V south
                                                                           Saskatchewan dust


hiding in bushes


We are told there are bears around: one black, another brown with two cubs. They are already padding their trails to the empty campsites in anticipation of the trailers arrival. In June, our family gathers in our cabin near the store. Moms warn their children: don't leave the lot, remember the bears!


Around the barbeque pit that evening, I believe bears are watching. They are teaching their cubs to hide in bushes. When we've all gone to bed, they'll bring their cubs to sniff and taste wieners that have fallen into the embers or rolled in the dust. This is the food you are to eat. Momma bear teaches right from wrong.


                                                                            whose been eating my         porridge? 





 By Patricia Prime


The herons are always there on the river, but our eyes are on thunderclouds blowing in from the east.  We comb through old words to say to each other.  A haiku boulder luxuriates in mud as we walk past, not looking at the bare willows, or listening to the sound of mallard ducks.


                                                                         from a houseboat
                                                                         the New Zealand flag


We are in search of the latest sculpture to feature on the river bank – a silver-pointed falcon.  Amazed by its beauty and life-like silhouette, we stop to take photographs.  Then carry on past the wetlands to the river estuary where we discover a bittern sculpture on the far bank.  It is only an outline of the bird with its feathers composed of wires and is hard to spot through the grasses. Real birds are plentiful in the wetlands: shags, herons, pukeko, Canada geese, Paradise shelducks, teal, swans and spoonbills.

                                                                          water ballet
                                                                          synchronized shags


Spots of rain.  There’s no attempt to outrun the clouds – we can’t outpace the weather. Coming towards us on the berm volunteers baiting traps for the rats that live along the river bank. We watch as they remove each trap, set more bait and write a record in their notebooks.


Future Conditional

By Cynthia Rowe


The semester is drawing to a close and the men in grey coats are back. They
check the perimeter, press buttons, measure the lead levels ... particularly
near the overpass.

Upstairs, I edge between the desks, make encouraging noises. The class pores
over the exercises, muttering in Greek, rather than the French they are
studying. I pause at the window to watch the men in grey coats confer. They
point at the clog of trucks, the throbbing cars. Exhaust pipes spew toxic
emissions, and I turn to find hands shooting up. The students' faces are
alight with the answers.

                                                                               from under a witch's hat
                                                                               the whites of her eyes

Mother Moscow


By Zinovy Vayman


This very morning my mom is bitter again.


70 years after the outbreak of the WW2 she still blames the German onslaught for her wasted life within her family and the post-war USSR. Stalinists were losing ten Red Army soldiers (my maternal grandfather among them) per one Nazi attacker. The Soviet civilians were decimated, millions of them. The Pyrrhic victory of the Communist Russians gets clearer year after year.


                                                                         summer beach bag:
                                                                         the most bruised apple
                                                                         becomes a leftover