The Water's Way
Look into the shallow and winding stream. Water over stone, water over sand – what shall resist it? Light dances hither and thither on an eddy, now shimmering like spangles or sparkling like diamonds, now lancing the eye like a fine dagger.
A butterfly may be a creature of the wind – blown this way or that. Drawn now to this flower and now to that flower, settling here and flitting there – ever yet a butterfly. Are women not also as graceful and subject, at times, to a greater power? The sturdy oak snaps in the wind but the slender willow bends easily and survives a storm's whims. In resistance, one discovers one's weakness. In submission, one's strength.
Have not famous men considered the water's way and dreamt of butterflies?
Stir the water with your hand and muddy the stream. Be patient. The mud settles and all is clear. Let the water pursue its own path, effortlessly. It attains its end, even where granite would bar its way.
To look into the water, do nothing. Eventually, one's vision, too, will clear. Men of ancient times sought perfection so and aspired to immortality.
the butterfly of
a beautiful dream
and no other
Out of Season
My light jacket out of season – today an abridgement of yesterday – sun ensnared by nearly naked branches, barely a glitter on the winding brook that parallels my footpath – a tuft of grass solitary, forlorn and shivering – only in the gathering dark, a lingering past, like a lengthening shadow, or a foreshortened future to reflect upon? – precious little now for water to capture and convey – kneeling, nevertheless, to cup my hands at a bend in the brook…
coming to taste it
this late in the day
the water is clear
• Jeffrey Woodward lives in Detroit. His poems and articles appear widely in periodicals in the USA, UK, Canada and Asia including, most recently: Asahi Shimbun (Japan), Bottle Rockets, Contemporary Haibun Online, Envoi (Wales). The Hypertexts, International Poetry Review, Kokako (New Zealand), Lines Review (Scotland) Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Modern English Tanka, Modern Haiku, Nisqually Delta Review, Noon (Japan), (Australia), Paper WaspSouth by Southeast and tinywords. His haiga, in addition, have appeared in The Green Leaf Files (England) and Haiga Online. (IS&T will be publishing some of his haifa later this summer.)
INTRUSIVE & OTHERWISE
Thickening pan of beef stew hallucinations
brain-clouded thermal mud
spluttering to let methane out
a bulb in bakelite holder
hung from a faulty flex
immersed in its stickiness
and glowering like a cyclops
while winking recognition to a diet
of light meals only
until the barium meal test comes back
and then who knows
it could be consomme through a straw
breath sucked in cold
a sudden sharp blow to the solar plexus.
Marjorie's got one of those
white nylon-fur fireside rugs
and an imitation log fire
he thought to himself
as he sipped a fine sherry
broke open a packet of cigs.
He had fourteen quid in his pocket
which was more than the toolsetters get.
Why had she stood him up?
Why couldn't she have said no
instead of having him wait
twenty-five minutes for nothing?
Everything seemed fine last time
with her pressing her body
soft and scented against him
but she had said that you can't
get everything you want at once
and he remembered that.
Make that a double whisky.
• West Bromwich-based Geoff Stevens is a poet and publishes the Purple Patch poetry magazine.
In these two poems, Beat Generation survivor A.D. Winans explains why he is giving up on certain things…
GIVING UP ORGANIZATIONS
The one thing I notice about my former
Is that they haven't changed over the decades
They still publish and have love affairs
With each other or with themselves
They have become small town politicians
Or Midwest college professors
But put them in a room together
And you see how boring they really are
They don't drink
They don't gamble
They don't smoke dope
But they talk a lot
Mostly about themselves
And things they know little about
It's time to put them out of my life
End all organizational ties
These tiny ants who gather at picnics
Begging for small favors
(COSMEP = the San Francisco-based Committee Of Small Magazine Editors & Publishers)
GIVING UP POLITICS
9/11 has gutted my political will
I can no longer pledge allegiance
To the flag of the U.S. and all it represents
The Patriot Act be damned
I will not wrap myself in old glory
And everything it no longer stands for
I will not bow down to Corporate America
And its radical religious right
I can't accept your moral bankruptcy
Your green back god buying and selling lives
On the Stock Market Exchange.
I will not bow down to a country where Assassins
Determine the course of history
Whose Papal Church has its own bank
Where Ka-ching, ka-ching
Has become the holy mantra
America you are one big insane asylum
Your manic depressive innkeepers
Waging war on the masses
Your henchmen standing proud
On your purple majestic mountains
Kissing the cold stone faces on Mount Rushmore
Looking like a Mafia Don with the
Cold kiss of death on his breath
• Pamela Babusci is an American poet and artist living in Rochester, New York. She has illustrated several books, including Full Moon Tide: The Best of Tanka Splendor, and Taboo Haiku.
Pamela was the logo artist for HNA 2003 in New York City and is the
logo artist for HNA 2007 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She also
makes and sells jewelry and hand painted cards and framings. In leisure
time she listens to jazz, her new-found love. She describes 'taiga' as made-up term for combining tanka with art, in the same way that a haiku + art becomes a haiga. Both these taiga originally appeared in Simply Haiku (see favourites for link).
It was about seven years ago, before the drifting apart had even started, and Filby and me were over at Harewood House looking for conkers.
The season was pretty much over but we weren’t ready to give up. We’d talked about it on the way over; there was still time to find a good one, a big bastard to rival the ones people were bringing down from the woods up on Stickheath. So there we were, either side of the path, wading through leaves in search of the telltale shine.
The pickings were slim. Kids had been combing the place for weeks and all we were turning up was flat or mouldy ones. About half way up the path we stopped to compare. That’s when the old man showed up.
It was impossible to tell if he was in the process of moving or just standing there doing nothing; that’s how slow he looked. Probably shuffling home after a coffee morning at the House. Filby was showing me this conker he thought might be all right and we barely even noticed the man until he spoke.
He asked if we were collecting conkers. I looked at Filby; a question like that was asking for sarcasm. But the man was so old he could hardly move, so we just told him yes.
He smiled, or at least the lines on his face shifted round. His black dot eyes didn’t register a thing. It made me wonder if all old people ended up with stone cold eyes like that. Then he started telling us where we should look for conkers. He had a stick and he waved it in the direction of the tennis courts. He said they would all have rolled down the banks into the ditch around the courts.
Filby and me shared a glance. The man was right.
We said thanks and headed off towards the slope.
As we reached the top I peered back the way we had come and saw the old man hobbling off down the path. His progress was tortuous and he leaned heavily on his stick at each step. He really was pitifully frail but as I watched him shuffle away the lustreless black of his eyes hung strangely in my mind and somehow I was relieved to see him go.
We slid into the ditch and kicked through a foot or so of dead leaves, skirting round the edge of the dilapidated courts to the patch we thought would give the highest yield. No one played tennis in winter and the place was empty. The clubhouse was locked up too, and along with the tall row of conker trees it shielded us from view from almost every angle.
The strategy paid off instantly with even the briefest rummage through the leaves turning up a handful of bright, fat conkers. We filled our pockets and laughed greedily at the fact that nobody else had been clever enough to look there.
Then, after a minute or two of gathering I paused to rest my back and, for no good reason, I glanced through the mesh and across the courts to the one small section of pathway that was still visible between the trees.
The old man was there.
A jolt leaped through my chest. I’d thought he was gone. But he was there gripping tightly to his stick and looking back in our direction. I stared at him, for what seemed like ages, and he stared back. I couldn’t tell if he was smiling or not but I knew those eyes of his were pointed at us; like little glass beads. I carried on staring, and from the quiet behind me I could tell that Filby had stopped his searching too. We stood there, up to our shins in fallen leaves, unmoving until the man was gone from view.
Walking home we took a different path, past the clubhouse and across the field to the main road. Neither of us mentioned the old man, just delved our hands into the pocketfuls we’d come away with, wondering what it was we weren’t talking about.
• Kris Humprey lives in the South-West England and work as a cinema projectionist.
i did not hear the phone.
therefore i did not answer it.
i did not register your question as a serious one.
therefore i answered it with a lie.
i did hear the phone
but i chose not to answer it,
my motives in so doing being far
too complex to relate in
this, answered, phone call.
if you knew why i did not
answer the phone it would not alter
your or my life to any measurable degree.
so why did you ask?
you need not answer that question
for the reasons listed above.
message left on voicemail
i won’t be in today
i’m full of it
i think i’m coming down with
a dose of fascism.
i’m feeling right pompous.
i’m hoping it’s just
a twenty-four hour thing
but i’d best not come in…
in case it’s catching.
the doctor says if i
take the moral high ground
and have a good sleep
i’ll be fine by Wednesday.
• Roddy Williams lives and works in London. A radical atheist, his Haiku Diary
of Common Sense can be found at http://hairybloke.blogspot.com/