cattails
Premier Edition: January 2014
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Haibun


A Tale of Two Laredos
Chen-ou Liu,Canada

The fireman from Nuevo Laredo looks at the body, muttering, “This is the 6ooth body I’ve pulled out of the Rio Grande.” There is noisy silence between the two of us as I turn and see a long line of trucks crossing into Texas. We continue to make our way downriver and, upon turning a bend, I see a boy and his dog caught in branches at the river’s edge.

one howl, then many . . .
the imprint of an eagle
on the winter sky




The Square Faded Pocket
Tricia Knoll, USA

Men carry their billfolds (excuse me, wallets) in butt pockets of jeans that are sometimes tight, sometimes not. Over time, the protuberance makes itself known by a rubbing away, a worn-off fading blue silhouette that doesn’t mean the man is old, just his pants are.

His mother decades ago told him to always keep a condom in that wallet. Over time its oval shows up as shadow on the brown leather wallet and the jeans--if it slides into and out of old truck seats often enough.

          His fingerprints
          on his mirror
          I do not wash away




Death and Life
Andy Burkhart, USA

July 17, 1979. Dad calls and says, "We lost Jonathan today, Andy". Initially I wonder, how do you lose a person, and then I realize what he is saying. Jonathan was my youngest brother. His death was sudden and tragic. It was his fifteenth birthday.

midnight stars
I search for the edge
of the universe

Three months later in a mine in Colorado. Everything underground moves on rails and I am the relief dispatcher. Today the regular dispatcher calls in sick. Early in the shift there is an accident involving high explosives and two people are killed, the explosives man and his helper. But for a sick call I would have been that helper. In the time I've known him this is the only sick call the regular dispatcher has made.

fresh air
through bare branches
a jigsaw moon




New York Moment
Charlotte Mandel, USA

Over my open paperback Duino Elegies purchased in of all places Port Authority Bus Terminal, a card is thrust. I meet the dancing look of a lithe young man, mirth in the recesses of his eyes scarcely shadowed by a large-brimmed hat, his jacket glove—fitted to the V of his waist. Beneath his card floats a phrase of Rilke’s prose: “one’s left with a mere intimation of the kind of speech that may be possible THERE, where silence reigns.”
     HELLO! I AM A DEAF PERSON say the words beside a dove with wings of an eagle, olive branch in the hook of its beak, flying over wind-flapping stars and stripes. I AM SELLING THIS and now sans serif shifts to italic with flowing capitals matching the flag’s brash insouciance: Pay Any Price You Like.
     It was a moment brought still—I and the mute cardbearer motionless in that spot.

groans of the city’s
millions of engine
jingle of my fifty cents




FAMILY
Adelaide B. Shaw, USA

The gate is nailed shut again. An aunt with no children and a younger uncle with four children. Neighbors. Sometimes speaking, sometimes not. My mother, the sibling in between, is neutral. When visiting my aunt, since the gate is locked, my sister and I meet our cousins at the end of the fence. We cross the street to the beach. The tide is out, and we go clamming on the sandbar and swim in the deeper water beyond it.

My head is held under the water. I think my lungs will burst. I have to breathe . . . I must breathe .. . Suddenly I’m free and pop up sputtering, gasping and crying while my older boy cousin laughs and swims off before I can hit him or scratch him or do any of the things I would like to do.

family visit
the afternoon slips darkly
into old wounds

When we leave, my sister and I give our clams to our cousins.

sunburned and sandy
at the dinner table
a sullen silence




ONE IN A CROWD
Adelaide B. Shaw, USA

A young man in his mid-twenties, neatly and conservatively dressed. Dark gray suit, white shirt, gray, cream and black stripped tie. Hair short and parted on the left side. He is of Hispanic background possibly–olive tones to his complexion, his eyes a deep brown. A brief conversation on his cell phone in Spanish confirms my guess.

It is a Sunday afternoon in Starbucks. His well groomed appearance is in marked contrast to the other customers. Jeans, sweat pants, tee shirts, casual slacks-the usual attire for this locale, especially on a weekend.

He has with him a book in which he underlines periodically. Also a textbook, some sort of reference manual, perhaps, which he consults, then returns to his reading and underlining. On the floor is a handsome and expensive brown suede carrying case with leather straps and brass buckles.

I am interested and curious.

unfamiliar flower
the tightly closed buds
revealing nothing




WORK ETHIC
Adelaide B. Shaw

Waking to bird song, rustling trees and blue sky. Chores await: make the beds, clean the kitchen, dust the furniture, vacuum the rugs . . . daily and weekly chores. My mother’s ethic, to keep a clean house. Mine, too. And yet . . .

tea on the porch
opening the cover
of a new book




Haibun:

Goran Radicevic, Crna Gora

I'm sitting on a rock next to the shore. The cold wind is blowing by the bay. A shore is colorful, many plastic bottles, plastic bags, and other various refuse. I wish I was born at a time when vinyl wasn't invented. Wood and cloth. Boats and nets.Twilight descends, fishermen are returning. One of them is drinking water. . .

it`s evening
in the wave swaying gently
a plastic bottle




Haibun: Tricia Knoll, USA

Cross-legged on the sidewalk, I’m digging out roots of shiny geranium, an invasive little weed with delicate pink flowers. Dirt stuffs my fingernails. I’m sweating under a very old straw hat. A tiny Japanese maple dangles drying leaves in my face.

A pair of walkers-by, brisk and young, one by one, say, “I love your garden.”

I respond, “I am a poet.”

           white crab spider
           with pink spots
           in the rose bloom