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Volume 32.3
Fall 2001

sample haibun




The air is crisp this spring at the mall. The stores are not open yet. The French bakery is the only place doing business this early. With café au lait and baguette I sit outdoors in the early morning sun.

I’m waiting to see a friend of many years. This is her favorite mall and she visits it almost daily. She’s schizophrenic. Her illness makes her refuse all medical help and intervention is against the law in California, so she remains untreated. I wait several hours. Just when I am about to give up, she suddenly appears. I notice dark circles under her eyes and her blouse and pants are dirty, but neat. The people around us stare. She recognizes me. She stops a few yards from my table. “Hello, Are you visiting?” she asks. “Yes, I came to see you. Can I buy you a cup of coffee?” “Sure,” she smiles. “I’ll be right back.” She walks on and is swallowed up by the crowd of shoppers.

looking over my shoulder—
my seat already taken
by another woman


Carolyne Rohrig

His Grace on Thee

In Vietnam, skinny Alvin carried an M60 machine gun weighing 25 pounds and humped over a thousand miles. I remember his letters from the big base at Chu Lai, where his battalion stayed when not in the field. He always made it sound like he was having a party over there, but then would slip in how all he wanted to do when he got home was go fishing under some shade at Marble Lake, like he did regularly as a kid—which for him meant before he was drafted into the Army.

“Only this time,” he would add, to make the point he wasn’t a kid any more, “I think I’ll bring some beer with me, and a girl . . . like maybe Janet.” I remember that letter especially, that mention of Janet.

There were a few more letters after that one, and then his mom, over in Kinderhook, called and told me Alvin “had got himself hurt” and would be coming home from a hospital in Japan in a month or two. “Home to stay,” she said. “My little boy . . .”

Alvin lived with his mom in Kinderhook until she died just a few years ago. Now he lives at a place called Parkland, over in Coldwater, where he has a room and some independence, and where on most fair-weather days you can find him there in a leafy green place thick with elderberry bushes and maple trees.

Janet and I make a point to visit Alvin about once a month; they won’t allow us to bring him any beer. We do it anyway, because we love him.

long summer day . . .
launching worms into the pond,
a boy with a stick

Michael McClintock

South Texas

Flashing pink crescent moons with each beat of their wings, scissor-tailed flycatchers thrill us as they launch from high wires lining the long straight road to Santa Ana. We scan fields irrigated with
water from the Rio Grande, searching for the odd hawk or perhaps a roadrunner dashing from nearby scrubs. Accustomed to birding
along the Atlantic Flyway, we soon adapt to the unfamiliarity of
resascas, retama trees and mesquite, whose willow-like limbs drape
over green jays instead of blue. Entering the wildlife refuge in dawn’s coolness, we follow sinuous trails to a wind-ruffled lake where a pair
of whistling ducks balance precariously atop their nest box, hot-pink bills touching . . .

a part in the cattails—
Spanish moss brushes
a Border Patrol jeep

A few more sightings even at dusk as we load birding books and
binoculars into the car, we anticipate microwave dinners, an evening-in our air-conditioned room talking over the day as we add Texas birds to our list in the laptop. The return trip a little hurried at first, then we slow down to view the moon rising over orange groves and mobile homes with makeshift awnings tacked on by the people who live and work among them . . .

pausing over twin washboards
a migrant wife’s eyes
lifted to the moon

Linda Jeannette Ward



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