Bill Waters ~~ Haiku

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Archive for the tag “haibun”

Turtlesong

The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.
—from “The Song of Solomon”

When I was a child, I yearned to hear the voice of the turtle. Would it warble like a miniature French horn? Would it growl like a tiny tuba?

My mother, who knew something of the Bible, told me the turtle of the poem is actually a turtledove, yet still I wondered whether turtles — always silent (in my presence, at least) — ever make a sound.

daybreak by the pond . . .
listening
listening


Published in Miriam’s Well: Poetry, Land Art, and Beyond (https://miriamswell.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/haibun-by-bill-waters/), 8/10/17.

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Just Passing Through

Summer birds visit our bird feeder as individuals, pairs, or small families. Spring birds, though, come in flocks — two dozen, three dozen hungry beaks at a time. They shovel down the birdseed and strut around like they’re at an airport food court . . . which, in a way, they are.

chatter of starlings
— WHOOSH —
and then silence


Published in Hedgerow: A Journal of Small Poems, issue 108, 3/3/17.

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Beam-Walking

When I was little, I asked my brother what was in the attic. “Nothing,” he said, and added that you had to keep your feet on the beams or you’d fall through the ceiling.

The only beams I knew of were sunbeams, which filtered through the air vents on each side of the house. I wondered how they enabled you to walk without falling through, and I worried about what would happen if the sun went behind a cloud while you were standing on them.

don’t look down!
this high-wire act
called life


Published in Miriam’s Well: Poetry, Land Art, and Beyond (https://miriamswell.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/beam-walking-by-bill-waters/), 1/25/17.

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The Phoenix

Buttons the cat “goes away to die” most days now. Living in genteel confinement in my home office and wanting for nothing, this 18-year-old trickster tries to convince me that the end is near by leaving her heated bed and squeezing herself into odd spaces of the indoor landscape — behind the desk, between the filing cabinet and the wall, into a nook in the closet. Her daily swan song has done nothing to diminish her zest for life, though, and she “returns from the dead” refreshed and alert. Somehow I think she will outlast us all.

from the window
a bright red bird . . .
the cat’s twitching tail


Published in Haibun Today: A Haibun and Tanka-Prose Journal (http://haibuntoday.com/ht103/H_Waters_ThePhoenix.html), 8/30/16.

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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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Discovering America

In the adult world, feelings of patriotism can be complex but in kindergarten half a century ago such feelings were simple and spontaneous. One day, as the teacher led the class in singing “America,” it occurred to me like a revelation that the United States was my country, too — that even though I was little, I had a personal right to be here and that no one, not even a bully, could take that away from me. I felt a swelling in my chest — I literally puffed up with pride — as I sang along, my voice growing stronger with each note.

In a slightly embarrassing postscript to my epiphany, the teacher asked me to not sing so loudly in the future. She didn’t perceive that I had just undergone a subtle life-changing experience — that I had made my first discovery of what it means, in part, to be a citizen.

rattle of muskets
and peals of victory
echoing in my ears


Published in Haibun Today: A Haibun and Tanka-Prose Journal (http://haibuntoday.com/ht94/H_Waters_Discovering.html), 11/28/15.

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Bam!

The mourning dove slammed into the glass patio door hard enough to leave a ghostly imprint of its body and wings. Those birds may act the buffoon strutting around the bird feeder, but they’re tough as an old army boot! This one shook the impact right off and flew away while I stared in amazement.

who has the
nine lives now?
cats in the window


Published in Prune Juice #17, page 98 (https://prunejuice.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/prune-juice-nov-15-rev-4.pdf), 11/8/15.

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Taken with the tide

“It isn’t pretty.” My elderly mother-in-law said that in a wry tone of voice during hospice, which for her lasted only about a week. She thought she knew what to expect going into it, but some of the experiences she had as her body prepared for its final rest were — why deny it? — undignified and uncomfortable.

so sharp
it could cut —
shadow on snow

We were thankful she didn’t lose her sense of humor along the way, because it takes one to face a death of dwindling. And she felt no fear about her impending end.

ebbing . . .
they talk about
tennis

She left us in the dead of night, her sleep transformed into a deeper silence. And since she loved the ocean, we will take her ashes to the shore when the weather warms up. We will mingle them with the ashes of her husband of 59 years, and we will scatter them on the sea.

on top of the snow
more snow
and spring’s first robin


Published in Haibun Today (http://haibuntoday.com/ht93/H_Waters_Taken.html), 8/28/15.

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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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The Western Front, 2015

For nearly ten decades, French farmers have turned up bones when they till their fields — pieces of soldiers and animals blasted to bits by high explosives in the back-and-forth battles of World War I. Unexploded shells are unearthed as well, and the ubiquitous barbed wire.

gunmetal clouds
and the smell of wet earth
bitter black coffee

It’s said that war debris will continue to surface for centuries to come — centuries! So much hate pounded into such a long, narrow strip of land. Plowed deeply by explosives, the Western Front is still a battlefield; it’s mostly underground now, but it’s there.

is that a stone
or a bone?
sound of distant thunder

Only the farmers can understand; only those who work the land and physically reap the reminders of war’s cost really get it. To visit an ossuary — the final resting place of countless unidentified bones — is a grim experience, certainly, but to pick up a single finger bone, a shard of skull, a broken rib… It’s death on a human scale and a lesson not easily forgotten.

taking shelter
the rattle of rain
on corrugated steel


Published in Haibun Today (http://haibuntoday.com/ht92/H_Waters_TheWestern.html), 5/29/15.

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Bill Waters ~~ Haiku

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