Bill Waters ~~ Haiku

Haiku + Tanka, Haibun, Rengay, Shahai, & More

Archive for the tag “Contemporary Haibun Online”

Growing Up with G.I. Joe

In the 1960s, G.I. Joe was a proxy for the me I wished to be. Physically fit, self-reliant, and battle-tested (that facial scar!), he was armed and ready to defend American ideals. Loaded like a pack mule with equipment and supplies, Joe had all he needed to deal with enemies of any sort.

For me, G.I. Joe was not a figure of aggression. Like America itself (the romanticized version), he was as ready to extend a hand in friendship as he was to throw a punch in self-defense. He was part adventurer, part warrior, and part superhero — all that I was not.

Maybe I was too “into” G.I. Joe; I don’t know. But I was just a kid, and Joe — one of the true good guys in a boy’s life — helped me feel better about myself.

“it’s not a doll!”
ready for anything
his action figure


Published in Contemporary Haibun Online (http://contemporaryhaibunonline.com/pages144/Waters_Growing.html), 12/30/18.

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Getting schooled

One Sunday long, long ago, I went to religious school and got roped into an impromptu play. One more person was needed to fill the ranks, and that person – despite my protests – turned out to be me.

It wasn’t much of a play, really, which was good since I wasn’t much of an actor. We said our lines from sheets of paper – a staged reading of sorts – and as for costumes, it was strictly ‘come as you are’. For me that meant a favorite albeit somewhat old pair of trousers, a button-down shirt, and shoes that were only a little in need of polishing.

Being thrust headlong into a play was disconcerting, but once the play was over, I felt vaguely euphoric. It was done, and I hadn’t made a total fool of myself in front of my classmates!

When I got home, filled with the glow of accomplishment, I ran inside to spread the news. “Mom,” I shouted, “I was in a play!”

My mother spun around from in front of the kitchen sink, looked me up and down, and said, “You were in a play in those pants?”

“cut!”
the tragicomedy
of childhood


Published in Contemporary Haibun Online (http://contemporaryhaibunonline.com/pages133/Waters_Getting.html), 10/2/17.

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Only you can prevent…

When I was younger, my best friend and I liked to go hunting for bog iron, deer antlers, and other curiosities in the New Jersey pine barrens – particularly in the winter, when there were no biting flies or mosquitoes to bother us. We didn’t mind the cold especially; we’d keep moving to stay warm, and at the midway point of our hike we’d build a little fire to heat up some food.

I remember one time when we’d made a fire and were a little short on water to put it out. The ground was too hard to bury the flames, there was no groundwater or ice nearby, and our drinking water was mostly gone.

While I was still thinking about how to put out that tiny little fire (because hypothetically speaking even a match flame could be enough to start a blaze if it spread), my buddy took his stout walking stick, stood it in the center of the fire, and pushed it – flames, twigs, coals – deep into the ground. Poof! Gone. It was like turning out a light.

It never occurred to me that the heat would thaw the frozen mud beneath it.

snow on the wind . . .
we set our sights
for home


Published in Contemporary Haibun Online (http://contemporaryhaibunonline.com/pages121/Waters_OnlyYou.html), 3/29/15.

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Sunny with a chance of annihilation

Out of nowhere this afternoon a sharp squall hits — darkness, crashing thunder, storm crows riding the wind like demons, dead trees snapping in the woods… And then the sirens.

through the static
Mussorgsky’s
“Night on Bald Mountain”


Published in Contemporary Haibun Online (http://contemporaryhaibunonline.com/pages112/Waters_Sunny.html), 7/1/15.

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My father-in-law’s mustache

At the age of 81, with no warning or precedent, my father-in-law grew a mustache. And although his physical and mental health were somewhat in decline at that point, he became fascinated with unusual words in his huge unabridged dictionary and wrote about them. He penned long letters to old friends. And out of nowhere he became a prolific poet.

winter dusk . . .
blue lights
on the cedar

Here was a man reinventing himself. Like a shrub that’s been pruned back hard, he was pushing out impressive new growth — on paper and, perhaps symbolically, on his upper lip. And when he suddenly died about a year and a half later, he left behind a table piled with work in progress and notes about future projects . . . a fitting epilogue for a person still very much in the process of becoming.


Published in Contemporary Haibun Online (http://contemporaryhaibunonline.com/pages111/Waters_MyFather.html), 3/20/15.

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