Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Summer 2009, vol 7 no 2


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

dee, a tall man, has learned to bow early and often here in Japan     this is no mere politeness or deference to custom—beams and doorframes are precisely the wrong height for him, high enough not to be noticed, low enough not to be missed     it is impressive to see his negotiation of these obstacles, which our hosts always mistake for courtesy     as a consequence he is a great favorite everywhere we go

the morning after plunging down through the blackness to Tsurunoyu Onsen, we discover the true character of this enveloping mountain     with the warming spring sun upon its snowy aspect, it fairly glows benevolence     we bathe expansively, with a luxurious feeling of time on our hands, although in reality we must be ready for the eleven o’clock bus to take us back to the station     still there is time to hike the deep snow trails behind the onsen     a few hundred yards up one I discover a shrine perfect in appearance but with the wood crumbling to the touch; a second leads up the mountain, where I sink through the thin crust of the snow to my hip over and over, but always just one leg at a time, and always managing to extricate myself

after breakfast, some journal jottings and an amiable conversation with a man from Kyoto who had studied at Stanford, we make our way to the front desk to pay the bill     opposite the counter there is a rudimentary gift shop, with handicrafts of the area     these include some home-made wooden objects whose possible uses escape us; books, calendars, post cards; the occasional plastic trinket     nothing seems indispensible     and yet we would like something to remind of us of this trek to the far north, long after the warm glow of the baths is worn off

checking out, we exchange some pleasantries with our hostess     sudddenly her smile freezes upon her lips, and a sharp crack sounds behind me     i turn to find dee’s face contorted, and a trickle of blood rising up on his uncovered scalp     a rough-cut sharp-cornered beam, smoke-blackened to blend with the ceiling shadows, bears a single dulled edge

silently he masters himself, then gives the first of many bows with which he punctuates this trip, and slips under the beam into the outdoors where he stretches himself to full extension beneath a high sky

     the good old days a veteran fingers his scar



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.