Spotted Deer [Haibun]

Spotted deer framed in a glade, the warm morning light showing each coat to be a distinct shade of tawny brown. Two deep brown eyes - glassy but lively - keep watch, while the herd hangs heads low, grazing lazily on the overgrown greenery. The deer mill about so languidly that one could count each one's spots.

spotted deer,
grazing in a glade,
one stands sentry

Painted World [Haibun]

The river glides like a glassy sheet. It seems to steam, but it's just fog forming over the frigid water that is nevertheless a reservoir of heat compared to the freezing air above. The fog erases the sharp edges that make the world seem real -- neither painting nor figment. The far shore is a brush-dabbed fiction... and I may be, also. The early morning cold affects my brain in the same manner that the fog influences the scene. 

river fog
makes the cold morning
a painted scene

Wet Winter [Haibun]

The clouds hang gray this mid-winter day, while streets glisten with the watery sheen of rains that never break for long. Wheels roll through, throwing the water into a swish-slosh song. All seems clean, if perpetually dreary. The air looks clear, though some funk clings to one's shoulders as one walks through town, and every scent is compressed in intensity at street level. 

streets glisten,
the city slick from rains
that linger   

Life Amid a Winter Scene [Haibun]

The forest is silent, and winter has painted the woods in earthen hues. Bare black loam is spottily strewn with beige to brown leaves -- dried to a curl and crunch that's almost crumbling. If any animals are moving, it's only at the eyes. There're no skittering feet, no frantic digging, no chirped warnings, and no explosive attempts to flee.

Then, at the base of a downed log, there's a lively scene of vibrant green moss and tender, burnished-orange fungi caps.

winter forest --
all seems dead or dormant,
but one tender scene

Dead Leaf Mantis [Haibun]

This mantis pulls off the dead leaf look. Its abdomen mimics a leaf - desiccated and rolled up upon itself. A barber-sign slant spiral of veins add the perfect touch. Even once one notices the six thin legs, legs invisible to all but a piercing, hunched-over stare, there remains a period during which it is more acceptable to the mind to think of it as twiggy leaves than as an insect. Amid a litter of dead leaves, I'm sure my eyes would never land on this skinny bug, but even on a rocky outcrop that's perpetually swept bare by way of the breezes that whip and wrap around the mountain, it still seems more leaf than bug. 

a dead leaf mantis,
standing in an unlikely place,
yet my mind screams, "Leaf!"

Sunrise in the Karst Labyrinth [Haibun]

The sun rises; its fiery form flares in the slit between monsoon skies and rocky monoliths. The crazy array of karsts, pillars, and islets block this bright amber flash from most angles, but here the light aligns with eye. A golden walk painted on the rippled surface stretches to the boat's bow. A thousand boats won't see this rising fire, but this one did, this one time.

the sun squints
beneath thick clouds, painting
a line to us 

Colca Canyon Condor Haibun

The condor soars, riding the updraft, its back sun-gilt, its wings stretched taught and flared at the tip, its head and eye swiveling seemingly independently, as if able to pierce any point with militant precision of vision. The condor is pure power, but knows the economy of the glide. The condor seeks something meaty, for to land on a desiccated pile of bones and fur is the worst kind of insufferable, and so he glides and watches... and glides and watches...

with piercing eye
and readiness to dive
the condor soars

Maker & Destroyer [Haibun]

A volcanic cone looms in the distance, far but not so far that it can't lend perspective. The cone draws the eye, beautifying the backdrop, crediting the city character, but - also - making it seem small. The volcano plays the stalwart guardian, but stands as the destroyer, promising devastation on some dark and distant day. The citizens love living under the great volcano, but one day it will spit fire, raining down a dense dust, pelting the city with rock chunks that fall like fiery hailstones.

the volcano
features in every photo,
but heed its rumbles 

POEM: Nature’s Spotlight [a Haibun]

Under cottony clouds, my gaze fell upon the borehole by which slanted shafts of light found the ground. A divine spotlight that shone only on the liquid metal surface of a smooth flowing river at a point just before the rapids were reached. A closed-eyed kayaker might feel graced by the warm sunshine on his face. But only for the moment before being cast into a dim and turbulent transition from heaven to hell.

divine spotlight
a beam of sunlight burns
through gray clouds