September 2016

UHTS collected works

Editor's Choice Haibun

In his Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, 2009, the Turkish writer and Nobel Laureate, Orhan Pamuk explored the novel’s visual and sensual power to transport a reader through vivid and profound mental and physical landscapes. I wondered if I could borrow that insight to argue that within the remit of the haibun form, each of the following poets succeeds in creating a palpable and distinct emotional and corporeal topography.

—UHTS cattails Haibun Editor Sonam Chhoki, Bhutan     

Hidden Gem
Thomas James Martin

For a long time my brother-in-law, Jim, and I, were not close. Politically, I was mostly liberal and he, a strong conservative. Then, a few years ago after we had shed our political skins and we suddenly became open to each other. Sure, shared interests but more than that, not quite affection but a quiet understanding. He shared his wonderful experiences of running.

spring marathon
his shadow catches up
as the clouds threaten

After I was placed in assisted care, he visited me several times a week, usually with a cappuccino in hand which he knew I loved. I learned respect and admiration for the real Jim. He had a hidden depth that was not easily expressed or perhaps understood.

stone bridge
water striders scurry
in the sunlit stream

I remember a geology class: "Scratch any stone to see its true identity."

dark river stone
laced with sunlight
dripping rainbow

I felt that he was turning into gold though I wonder if he knew...

Thomas James Martin’s haibun, "Hidden Gem" highlights movingly the humane and humbling aspect of aging when one is able to slough off strongly held and divisive perspectives to arrive at a more compassionate and inclusive stance. The three haiku are effective in accentuating the perceptible transformation in viewpoint and emotion of both the poet and his brother-in-law, Jim. The gentle and reflective tone of the narrative engages the reader well.

—UHTS cattails Haibun Editor Sonam Chhoki, Bhutan    

Small Talk
Vessislava Savova

“God is Love!”

“Yeah, sure, but no one has ever seen God.”

“So what?”

“So, no one has ever seen Love.”

“Love is not about being seen but being felt.”

“Yes, you’re right. Could you push my wheelchair closer to the fountain, child?”

a slug crawls
in the alley

Общи приказки
- Бог е Любов!

- Да, разбира се, но никой никога не е виждал Бог.

- Е и?

- Е, значи никой никога не е виждал Любовта.

- Любовта не е за виждане, а за чувстване.

-Да, права си. Би ли избутала инвалидния ми стол по-близо до Извора, дете?

слънчеви лъчи
гол охлюв бавно пълзи
по алеята

I was drawn to this haibun, Small Talk by Vessislava Savova. Her use of an understated and succinct dialogue is highly effectively in addressing profound metaphysical and existential issues. The reader is drawn into the conversation but does not feel overwhelmed or nudged in any particular direction.

The irony at the end grounds the metaphysical in the human physical.

—UHTS cattails Haibun Editor Sonam Chhoki, Bhutan    

The Final Hike
Bill Gottlieb

Yesterday was five months since I scattered Denise’s ashes. But they didn’t scatter—they dissolved, were washed to nothing in the shallows of the wide. I didn’t know then that I would write so often about her—the repeatable resurrections of art. Or that her fire-born ruins would brand my mind with their swirl and stir, would be washed again and again, the gray to white to gone; the waves, the water that took her, turned into words, lines of words, like the serial surf of an incoming tide. The final hike, that’s what she told me to take. Just you and me. And so I went to Ten Mile Beach, to the mouth of the Ten Mile River—where the osprey dove like gods and killed for life when we watched in wonder, in love.

attend the funeral
of a seal

Bill Gottlieb’s haibun, "The Final Hike" is deeply resonant for me. After the untimely death of my mother just before her 53rd birthday, I discovered haibun to express grief in its myriad stages and forms. In Bill Gottlieb’s piece there is exquisite beauty in the imagery of space, water and fire. He describes how his wife’s ashes “were washed to nothing in the shallows of the wide”. This underlines the poignancy of the poet’s ‘final’ hike to the mouth of the Ten Mile River in fulfillment of her urging. The haibun links life, love and death seamlessly in this closing line: “where the osprey dove like gods and killed for life when we watched in wonder, in love.”

The haibun shows how grief permeates everything we perceive and yet it also enhances our perception of the universality of death in both the human and natural world.

—UHTS cattails Haibun Editor Sonam Chhoki, Bhutan