Contemporary Haibun

Now – let’s look at a few contemporary haibun.

North Shore Hortensia Anderson

Our summer house was built in the 1920s and had a shower outside. During the day, the sun warmed the pipes. On hot nights, my sister and I took turns reaching up to tug the chain as the spray turned cool, then
cold. I can recall her so clearly—shivering, almost blue in the shadows.

washing our hair—
streams of moonlight
down her back

Hunter’s Moon Ray Rasmussen

Minus 10 degrees, a night walk on Whitemud Creek, the spruce trees outlined against a deep purple sky.

I stop, begin tai chi, mirroring the twisting branches. As I move through ‘wave hands as clouds’, Orion is framed in my arms. A gibbous moon casts long shadows on the snow, then drops below the bank.

I start toward home in the darkness, feel a compelling need to look back, the hair on my neck rising. There, near the other bank, a shadow form, wolf-shape, not moving.

I freeze. Wait.

Fingers of cold slip in.


Suddenly the shadow stirs, melts into the forest. A ‘yip’ tells me it’s a coyote.

I run through my memories for accounts of coyotes attacking humans, find none.

Still, I walk backwards for a short distance, then turn, hurry home, looking over my shoulder, again and again.

owl’s call –
boots squeak on
dry snow

The Warrant  –  Emily Brink

I sit in my study drinking a coppery scotch. I’m gathering pieces of red cloth for a quilt—red is best. Today I am celebrating my ex’s imminent arrest. Last night I described him in detail for a cop. For once, the memories that haunt were useful. My father, ever so Asian, thinks I am making trouble. I should bow my head and accept everything. My mother, fair-skinned, raised in poverty by a feisty blackjack dealer, knows a fight, understands the theory of death. First denial, then anger, then bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance, if you are lucky. I haven’t stopped digging at the black roots of his rage, which planted themselves in my garden, unwelcome guests with angry fists and razor tongues.

Auburn leaves thread
stiff black boots
marching through the frost.

UntitledMartin Gottlieb Cohen

The night air is wet and still. The scent of pine trees settles in the leaves near the cabin. My mother takes us children to visit my aunt on Halloween. We enter the darkened room, and on the table is a hollowed-out pumpkin with a lit candle in it. Tobacco smoke passes over the pumpkin’s cut-off top and the smoke’s shape changes as it rises to the ceiling beams. Light comes out of holes carved for eyes and a big grin from the dark pumpkin. The scene reminds me of a room lit by a prayer candle, a glass half-full of wax with a lit wick that projects its flickering light on the walls. My father had sat on a small wood bench fasting and praying for his father who had died during the night. I walk across the room and see a picture of my father as a child.

Jack O’Lantern
shadows pass through
each other

no thingJim Kacian

is what it seems, all words are slightly wrung . . . a freeble silted stream melandering by a farm might be the unnamed river of croglodytes and immortunity . . . swimming it i’m gnared by camivorous fish, which when it’s drained turn out to be the shart edges of an iron windvein . . . the farmer speaks an old tongue to his peasants, hishing and glagoritic . . . he has a roaster killed for the meal, but it’s sprats and lamb on the platter . . . the procension to the barn is lit like a set for a 1940s Hollywood howdown, outbrageous shardows and gilty hay . . . it all harpens in August, and is thermed “Eastre”

same as yesterday—

a story to keep myself


Notice how these writers structured or unstructured their haibun.  Can you play with the form in your second piece?