Red River Book of Haibun

  • Bashō and the Sound of Water

    Bashō and the Sound of Water
    Midway on the way he was bound upon, Bashō was seized by a restless spirit that coaxed him into the heartland, where poetry and spirituality become one, and where he could follow the footfall of the ancients through Japan's poetic spaces.  He yielded to the seductive sound of pond ripples lapping the mysterious edge of the dreadful sphere of Pascal.
    Well over three hundred years after Dante, Bashō looked to wanderer-priest Saigyō to be the Virgil who would inspire him through the narrow and difficult roads that wound ahead and within. Landscapes, through which he wandered, became infused with collective memory and complex emotions encompassing the profane right through to the sacred, and culminating in true vision as he beheld Sado Island.
    Some years later, he wrote several autumn haiku infused with a despair born of an overwhelming loneliness. Falling ill on his final journey, his spirit feverishly searched a desolate limbo for what may have been his Beatrice and the love which moves the sun and the other stars.
    The need to hear the sound beyond stillness drives all our journeying, and is its fulfilment. 
    my lungs widen
    with stars
  • Obladi Oblada

    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