December 2013

Obladi Oblada
Just forty-five years ago today my best friend's body was found hanging from a wooden beam in the family barn.
Paul was an innovative artist who, at eighteen years of age, began a journey along a road to his own Damascus. I can still recall the images he created with his masterful understanding of chiaroscuro; images that he destroyed on his last day.
By that time his increasingly exclusive diet of speed pills had transformed his self-perceived identity to be that of the real and fully evolved John Lennon.
advent light . . .
a pendulum of shadows
creaks through me
21st December 2013


Editor's Comments

Titles in a haibun can add so much to the richness of the piece in question. In this fine example the title takes a song from the Beatles White Album and sets the tone for the entire piece. The first line of the chorus of the song in question is: “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da life goes on brah”. That song was written by Paul McCartney, and the other Beatles hated it, and John Lennon despised it. Now comes this young man of eighteen, who sees himself as Lennon, who takes his own life, valuing it less than his ‘brah’ did. Wow, that just sent me into a tailspin. So many implications here if you have the time, or take the time. As a reader you have your work cut out for you!

Then we reach a haiku that caps the entire effort. The advent is that time of anticipation of the birth of a savior, yet prior to the birth that holds the keys to the resurrection, a rope swings and creates the moving shadows that mirror the chiaroscuro images of the artist, who has taken his own life. Indeed, this story creaks, like the beam used to end his life, through the reader as well, twisting and turning you as you connect with the story being told. If you have ever lost someone to suicide you can’t help but be taken by the skillful detail in this fine and deeply sensitive haibun.

—UHTS Haibun Editor Mike Rehling, USA

enso gap . . .
a spark leaps out of
the unseen

mating dance —
birds of paradise
square off

spider thread . . .
the shrinking tightrope
from i to thou

unrequited love —
the triangulations
of the possible

rumbling wind —
a didgeridoo wakens
to my spirit

first light —
heaven opens to me
hue by hue

night sky —
Lucy glows in the soles
of her shoes

winter gloom . . .
a bird folds into
its shadows

humid night —
an ordinary life
deeply livid

logic gate —
a cat smiles hellbent
with the moon

dawn parade —
a combed poet crows
his glory

in memory of Madiba

what wind passes through
river reeds?

the alley cat eyeing
who's on first

private concerns -
I yield to general

setting sun . . .
the lengths my shadow
will grow to

in the folds
of a road map . . .
coupling flies

laid bare
a chthonic god
wastes away

a god jumps into its conclusion

slimy pool
the reflection of me
in its source

summer rain . . .
the delirium of flies

by this light
my shadow's shimmer
becomes me

pine breeze . . .
emptiness rustles
through my sketch

Christmas eve —
a tree shadow inches
up Golgotha

silent night . . .
a foetus sucks
its toe

altarwise vigil —
from the bottom of the well
a light at the end?

rainlight —
a new covenant
fills the air

this summer
my friends enfolded now
in these dreams
of their unfolding

grave silence . . .
a dancer slips out
of her dance

where are you, old friend?
are you still the twinkling eye?
the echo of words?
I sound out the hieroglyphs
that carve your name into stone

after the storm
a heron between this breath
and the next

skylark on the rise . . .
a buddhist neophyte clings
to his apron strings

at year's end
wanting nothing else
i gorge on my tail

deepening night . . .
the becoming flesh
of some shadow

ninth hour . . .
wind ripples sink
into the pond

Taranaki rain . . .
an image of Fujisan
breaks through

The Thirst

For the present I live within walking minutes of the river that shapes and waters this valley. Two parks run parallel to the river's course through this part of the valley. One is called Moonshine Park and the other, Poet's Park.

Birdsong in the nearby stands of dense native bush is the leftover sound of this land from psalms chanted before the advent of the human presence. My heart burns within me as I catch snatches of the silence that the floating world drowns out catchphrase by catchphrase.

panting deer . . .
a hyssop branch drips
sour wine

And Yet . . .

The swell of her belly that has been progressively pushing us apart for the last 36 weeks approaches its fullest ripeness.

"Feel baby move," she asks with the easy lilt that marks this time of our intimacy.

"It is still," I whisper.

In the delivery theatre an obstetrician tells us that baby has died and must be delivered now before its body decays much more in utero.

We greet our child, resembling a blanched tomato, robed in his white gown.


first blessing —
the sign of the cross
tears his skin

Solstice Eve


All living things manifest their livingness by their ability to
• grow
• move
• breathe
• respond to stimuli
• eat and drink
• excrete
• reproduce

I have been present at the birth of each of my children, and also at the birth of puppies, kittens, calves, lambs, birds, insects, flies, flowers and trees. The shortest lived stage of each is the last of these abilities.

shortest night —
sounding out his name
a morepork

All dying things manifest their livingness by slowly losing their ability to
• reproduce
• excrete
• eat and drink
• respond to stimuli
• breathe
• move
• grow

I have been present at the death of each of my parents, of relatives, of friends and also at the death of dogs, cats, cows, sheep, birds, insects, flies, flowers and trees. The loss of the last six body functions more or less follow this order of withdrawal in the final hours or days.

Where in this process resides consciousness, will, imagination, love and malice and when do they leave?

longest night —
the artist paints
his white 'I AM'

human at one nature in divine forever now

after love
my emptiness . . .
my self

nature break . . .
the clerk gets a whiff
of his body

Cape Reinga

My spirit awakens to the flight of those I have known and loved who have taken the leap into unknowingness.

deepening night —
a fantail sings up
a pohutukawa