Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
Contents Archives About Simply Haiku Submissions Search
Summer 2008, vol 6 no 2


Memorial Day
Ray Rasmussen


The hay bales of my boyhood were rectangular bundles, small enough to load by hand on the back of a pickup. There was an intimacy in working with them—the rhythm of lifting and stacking, sweat stinging the eyes; the smell of cut grass, a persistent itch caused by the rough edges; those ice tinkling jugs of lemonade served at midday break.

Monet's paintings of haystacks are done in rich pastels—his focus the play of light at different times and seasons. While absent of people, one easily imagines farmhands scything the grass, forking it into yurt-like piles, cowlicks in their tousled hair, stopping occasionally for a drink of beer.

The bales I see on today's drive are rolls that resemble large golden cakes randomly strewn about the stubbled fields. There's the same fragrance, but the land has the surrealistic look of a production line, as if it's been plundered rather than caressed.

In one field, long lines of bales are wrapped in white plastic, like sausages for a race of giants. I imagine Grant Wood's American Gothic, but with a combine substituted for the pitchfork; the wife's countenance, dour, as she puts everything in its right place at the dinner table; the family sitting as if at attention; a glass of buttermilk beside each plate; the talk sanitized.

plastic poppies
on the war memorial


Ray Rasmussen Ray Rasmussen lives in Edmonton, Canada. He dreamt that in a previous life he was a university professor. He was attracted to haiku when he visited the Kurimoto Japanese Garden near his home and went in search of Asian poetry to supplement his web site. He is the managing editor and webmaster of Contemporary Haibun Online; a past haiga editor and webmaster of Simply Haiku; and a past haibun editor for World Haiku Review. His haiku, haibun, haiga and essays have appeared in Frogpond, Contemporary Haibun, Heron's Nest, Simply Haiku, Contemporary Haibun Online, Haigaonline, tinywords, Haiku Harvest, the World Haiku Review and LifeSherpa. His web page designs are currently used by Simply Haiku, Contemporary Haibun Online, and Roadrunner. Ray's web site is: