Nowhere Station [Haibun]

The tawny landscape was tinged with the green that landlubbers take on in rolling seas or flatlanders show on a high mountain pass. The world looked like it was being viewed through shooter's glasses -- except for the azure infinity overhead that was unafflicted by sickly hues. Railroad tracks arced the length of the valley and it was a long valley - so long the tracks almost looked line like. The lack of other signs of humanity might have led one to believe it was the train to nowhere, but there was a solitary station in the middle of the valley and there can't be a station in the middle of nowhere on the way to nowhere. Or, can there be? Maybe, nowhere is like infinity, existing in larger and smaller degrees.


a single building
and a long covered platform,
but just i, waiting

Great Egret [Haibun]

The egret stands on stiff, still legs. By contrast, its neck is coiled into a sinuous strike position. For a long time, only its eyes move, saccading in time with the darting prey below the water's mirrored surface. The egret plays shrub, hoping to lure tiny fish into its shadow, within striking distance of its flexible neck.

the egret stands,
moving only its eyes...
then spears water  

Butterfly Paralysis [Haibun]

Struggling to wiggle its wings, the butterfly warms in the morning sun. Is it like sleep paralysis - that hypnopompic impulse to flee that's stymied by stuck muscles? What's a wind gust or rapidly advancing shadow like for the butterfly? Normally, such occurrences would provoke an erratic fluttering away. But now the screaming instinct to wing away can't be answered. Does the butterfly know dread, or does it just quietly await the moment it's unfrozen?


cool morning -
a butterfly twitches,
but can't yet fly 

City Swallowed [Haibun]

Rubble cubes lie like piled dice. Temples and throne halls collapsed into mossy blocks brought low by the meager -- if inexorable -- forces of water drips and grass roots, roots that became wedges, splitting stone from stone. People push the blocks back together in homage to ancestors, but turn one's back and the hungry jungle consumes. Those ancestors crafted such sturdy stuff out of stout stone blocks. How much more quickly will our planned obsolescent cities be swallowed?


stout stone blocks -
toppled, dissolved, buried -
a city swallowed

Tree & Pond [Haibun]

Beside a pond, a tree reaches, its branches stretched wide and skyward, blocking the harsh cloud-penetrating rays. Locals sit on the lush grass, their backsides wet, their backs resting on the rough and slanting trunk. They watch ripples echo outward from the mouth tips of feeding fish, those concentric rings etched into in the mirrored waters - and yet moving. In time, watchers will become ripple mesmerized, and will experience the stiff twitch and head nods of an impending nap.


sitting pondside,
ripples from feeding fish
lull my mind 

Vertigo Green [Haibun]

Life overtakes all. Moss coats stone; vines smother shrubs; trees straddle walls. All growing in splotched patterns of green -- a million shapes of leaf in a million subtly different shades. My world is awash in green. My mind is soothed by deep greens, and fired by the bright light-greens of fresh growth. My periphery swirls and blurs with green.


a mossy stone 
becomes my focal point,
the fringe blurs

The Tree of Now [Haibun]

One tree stands in the temple yard, slanting but stable, its bare limbs lazily spiral skyward. Its trunk is gnarled and its branches are twisted and it makes the old ruins around it look modern by comparison. The trunk radiates hardness, a strength from deformation, like the sinewy limbs of a laborer whose muscles are held in constant tension, until they can no longer know suppleness. Seekers of shade and enlightenment once sought its shadow, but now it can only offer a good example. 

leafless tree --
sitting in the temple yard,
luring Buddhas

Falling Leaf [Haibun]

A leaf falls, spinning as it drifts downward. Then, for an instant, it seems to pause in the air before continuing to drop, twist, and flutter. I question whether the leaf stopped, my mind stopped, or the universe stopped. Probably, nothing stopped -- a mere momentary balance of updraft and gravitational pull, an unstable and ephemeral equilibrium, like a spontaneous retention of breath -- usually missed before it can be noticed, but just this one time, I was witness.


a falling leaf
seems to pause in air,
and I am there 

Spring Yellow [Haibun]

The pond that was mirror clear in March is obscured by a thousand April flowers. Tiny yellow flowers standing on stiff stalks. The crisscross bands that stabilize the base of each flower somehow make the water look more viscous -- like clear syrup or polished glass. These pale proto-leaves, more root than leaf, float just below the surface. Somehow, these unstable structures hold tightly -- testament to the pond's tranquility.


yellow flowers
bloom from a clear pond
as if from glass 

Ghost Army [Haibun]

Thick clouds scrape over the ridge. In the foreground, sun-fired sands shine brightly, but the mountain behind has fallen dark, as if it's being marched over by the waves of a ghost army -- formless battalions that block the light. When that marching army reaches the nearer mountain, it will neither stop nor slow, but will crawl overland, coming ever nearer.


the fore mountain shines,
even as a ghost army
closes from behind