Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Spring 2009, vol 7 no 1


Wisteria Journal
Jim Kacian


These seventeen haibun are intended as a single work, to which there are attached an Introduction and a Dedication. Since you will be reading these only one at a time, however, it seems more appropriate that this apparatus follow the final installment, and this is where you will find them. My thanks to Simply Haiku for offering these in their entirety.

Jim Kacian

the night is bitter, and utterly black     we have donned our yukata—the heavy one supplied against this mountain cold—and leatherette slippers, the largest they have but not quite large enough for our feet     we carry the light cotton yukata used after bathing over our arms, and set out in search of the hot springs

for at least a thousand years people have come here seeking the warming and therapeutic salve of these baths     it is amazing how little has been done here in the name of improvement, and how exquisitely right that choice has been     the rustic lodge dates from the 1500s     its thatched rooves, blackened by centuries of kerosene fires, look as though they might be original     electricity has come to this valley, but is eschewed here in the accomodations and bath houses

there are four baths, four distinct waters—black, green, white and clear     each issues from the belly of the mountain at a different temperature, and with a different odor and feel     to each is ascribed a variety of medicinal properties, each specific for a host of ailments, from sciatica to psychopathy, which do not overlap     thousands of bathers have attested to the life-renewing properties to be found in these elixirs, and all of them swear by their favorites

we sample them all, lingering last and longest in the large outdoor pool, whose cobbled bottom massages the feet as one scuttles about     other stones, larger and exposed, accomodate a variety of resting postures     my favorite cups my head like a pillow, permitting me to lay immersed while gazing up into the blackness of the sky     a few stars can be glimpsed, but a mist obscures them     i shift about, left and right, back and forth, but they come no clearer     it is some time before i realize they are hidden by the fog emanating from my own bald head

the shape
of gravity


Jim Kacian Jim Kacian is a past editor of Frogpond (the international membership journal of the Haiku Society of America, and the largest haiku magazine outside of Japan), is past president of the Haiku Society of America and was a co-founder of the World Haiku Association. He has had over 1000 haiku published in English-language journals and magazines in more than 20 countries and was winner most recently of the prestigious James Hackett Award (2002). He has published 7 books, all of which have won major awards. He is author of How to Haiku, a primer for English-speaking poets, as well as numerous articles on haiku form and praxis. He owns and operates Red Moon Press, the largest publishing house dedicated to haiku in the world.