Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Summer 2008, vol 6 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

we are born in motion and bear the consequences ever after

the rhythm of travel: sway of saddle, clack of rail     the greatest travelers travel light—moon on water—and leave no trace     if we are attentive we learn how little we need carry along the way

heading for Japan, country of eight islands, exhausted with the giddy exhilaration of preparation     between fitful naps poring over books and maps, forming tentative plans, exchanging them for others     saying aloud names of places we’ve never known but now would claim

     planning the trip the gentle rolling of my tongue

the day’s salvage: the mountains of Virginia to the marsh of Washington, D.C., to board a north-bound train to New York     there an international airport and an overstuffed jet that carries the rarified air halfway round the globe to a lay-over in a duty-free anywhere     a final hop across open sea to Narita and Tokyo

in all places, at all hours, throngs of fellow travelers on the move     some just arriving home, some, like us, yet outbound     the sense of self like a bubble, inclusive but fragile, privative yet transparent     a rapid click of heels across unyielding floors echoes throughout the vast hall     sloped shoulders of shoppers relaxing in the fluorescent underworld of duty-free     soft snores from lounges not awaiting a plane     intermittent laughter from lunch-counter stools

     airport throng a family circles about its young

all day in all directions herded against herds, trafficked through immense spaces that yet provide no space, bundled out through the maelstrom and into our selves    yet we are unprepared for Ueno Station

color and clamor as promised in the guide books     flags and banners, counters and kiosks selling everything that could be desired, anything that could be procured     unexpected is the welter—a million people burrow here each day     pressing my back into a man-sized hollow scooped out of the wall i can watch without constricting the flow, and begin to gain an appreciation for that number     through the entrance, some forty yards wide, flows a humanity packed so dense that no trace of the far wall can be seen      those entering are met equally by those leaving; there is no space between them in which to move; and yet, like water through water, they slide across and through one another without a jostle, seamless, smoothly sieved into the distant channels of their destinations

i try to follow the path of a bright lemon dress: within moments it is lost to me     a green fedora, a scarlet scarf—lost, and lost, like drops of water down the length of a waterfall    

i step out of my snug niche and place a foot into the flow, and am effortlessly borne away

     milling crowd—a man who looks like me I can’t understand


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.