New haibun by Ray Rasmussen

My Very Own Beat Scene

The dimly lit basement room is full of poet wannabes, them dressed in second-hand scruff, me in coat and tie, just having delivered a lecture to a class of MBA students.

First thought, what am I doing here? Answer: I am needed here to provide balance for without me the entire room might tilt, might slide off the edge of the Earth.

Most readings are a kind of rant-rap-the military invasion of Iraq, the plight of indigenous peoples, the sins of the opposite sex [which was about being dumped].

My turn. I read a piece about the plight of my daughter suffering mental distress and drug addiction. I choke up, tears fall, telling me that I've bottled up my feelings. It seems to go over quite well with this “I'm cool because I live on the fringe of society and have a reservoir of disdain for anything normal” group, perhaps because I've mentioned the crystal meth word.

But, I don't feel particularly good about the piece – my critical voice warns that it's a bit smarmy, that the haiku are too contrived, that I shouldn't be writing about my daughter's plight. Oh, well. It's what I can do and that voice is always present, always trying to take the fun and emotional release out of writing. Regardless, I admit that when done reading a piece, however inept, I float between a bloated ego state and the mellowness of a mild depression helped along with a tote of raw red wine.

I did think that at least my haibun aka rant was REAL, whereas many of the overlong rants that I heard from some of the readers dealt with things imagined, with things not lived.

I remember being 20-years old, a member of a Berkeley, California mob ranting against the war in Vietnam. That was REAL because we were going to be drafted and forced to fight a non-declared war that we didn't believe in.

Home from the reading, the two cats that I live with appear when I enter the kitchen. They gaze skyward, as if praying to a cat god in the ceiling, their heart-felt mewing easily falling into the REAL rant form. I'd like to think that they were acknowledging me for my poetry reading feat, but I know that they are simply looking toward the cupboard where the cat treats are safely stored. Overwhelmed by their entreaties, I extend my hand, the desired treats in my palm. You see I have mellowed and made peace with the fat-cats of the world, indeed …

though small,
I am the cat god
of abundance


• Ray Rasmussen lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His haiku, haiga, haibun and articles have been accepted for publication in Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Contemporary Haibun, Simply Haiku, Heron's Nest, Road Runner, Bottle Rockets, Contemporary Haibun Online, Haigaonline, Tinywords, Haiku Harvest, the World Haiku Review and other venues. He is the technical editor and designer of the Contemporary Haibun Online website. His web site designs are currently used by Simply Haiku and Roadrunner online journals. In a previous life, Ray thinks he may have been a university professor. Presently he enjoys the writing, photography and wilderness hiking. (There is a link to his website on our Links section.)

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