Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Winter 2007, vol 5 no 4


To Be a Man
Ray Rasmussen


The summer blizzard, blowing horizontal, seems to blast the stranger right into our tent.

He gathers himself in close by the wood stove, drops running off his stained Stetson. The red-hot stovepipe casts a rose color on his goblin face, the scar from a wolf's mauling running from cheek to chin.

"It's Mike," he says, reaching out a calloused hand for a shake and then for the bottle of rye. Mike tells us that he's 78 and used to be a bull rider. "An I jus had prostit surgery, plumin weren't wurkin, now it wurks one way but not t'other." His wide grin contains a big space where his front teeth used to be.

"How is it to be out of the lovin' business?" someone ventures.

"Jus like steppin off a bucking bull, peaceful like an damn sure glad to still be walkin."

The storm rages all the next day, blows in three more hunters. We hunch in close by the stove, each in turn mounting the bull---a grizzly encounter, a horse stepping off a cliff, an angry moose that thrashed down a tree before he was shot . . . a pal drowned in a swollen river.

I have my stories too but don't tell them. What makes for this reluctance—this distance I feel from these men's men?

Is it because I'm not a hunter? Never rodeoed? Never been to war? Never even worked the land with hands and back?

the burn of raw whiskey
my only scar

Ray Rasmussen Ray Rasmussen lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His haiku, haiga, haibun and articles have been accepted for publication in Simply Haiku, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Contemporary Haibun, Heron's Nest, Road Runner, bottle rockets, Contemporary Haibun Online, Haigaonline, Tinywords, Haiku Harvest, the World Haiku Review and other venues. He is the technical editor and designer of the Contemporary Haibun Online website. His website designs are currently used by Simply Haiku and Roadrunner online journals. In a previous life, Ray thinks he may have been a university professor. Presently he enjoys writing, photography and wilderness hiking. He coaches haibun composition. If interested, contact him at: His haiku website is: