Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Spring 2006, vol 4 no 1

HAIBUN

Rusty Iron
Ken Jones

 

A skyline slot in the shoulder of the mountain. Foaming burns, boot-sucking bog, and the gleaming boiler plates of mica-schist.

 

Each footfall
sinking in the hoof print
of a deer

 

Finally I make it over into a closed-off upland. Just below is a long loch, an exclamation mark full stopped by a shining lochan at the far end. Late lunch on a buttock-shaped boulder.

 

Soda bread and honey
the mountain sits
apart, indifferent

 

Other mountains have wished me a happy birthday, but not this one, on my seventy-fifth. There is usually at least a marker stone placed on the occasional boulder; faint signs of a path along the ridge; a boot print here and there. But on this one, nothing. As if no one had ever been here before me.

 

The firm grip
of the world's oldest rock
on a pair of old boots

 

On the summit the red wink of my time-lapsed Olympus. And then the mist and rain sweep in. I had marked my escape route on the map.

 

First rain drop
black arrows
blotched and running

 

The way lies down a long spur of broken rockfalls. Falling steeply to left and right, the glens are loud with rushing water. Suddenly, quite close below, a hind appears, bounds this way and that, and disappears over the edge.

 

The nervous flick
of the compass
before it settles

 

Feeling nothing but the ground beneath my feet. Thinking of nothing but what's next.

Lower down, and the mist thins. Ahead are the remains of an Edwardian deer fence.

 

On three legs
a rusty iron upright
standing firm

 


Ken Jones is a co-editor of the annual volume Contemporary Haibun, and the electronic journal Contemporary Haibun Online. He contributes regularly to UK haiku magazines, as well as being represented in British and American anthologies. For his contribution to Pilgrim Foxes: Haiku and Haiku Prose, co-authored with Jim Norton and Sean O'Connor, Jones was awarded the Sasakawa Prize for Original Contributions in the Field of Haikai. Publications: Arrow of Stones (British Haiku Society, 2002); Stallion's Crag (Iron Press, 2003). His haibun "Travellers" won first place in the 2005 English Language Haibun Contest. He is currently preparing for the press a new collection of haiku and haibun entitled "The Parsley Bed."