Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Winter 2009, vol 7 no 4


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

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six pairs of arms like a railway Shiva

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but perhaps more truly an incarnation of Kwannon

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or Kannon or Kuan Yin or Quan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy—goddesses of mercy cannot have too many names, and cannot be invoked too often and every pair of arms is busily engaged in bringing warmth and sustenance to the cold and weary travelers in Niigata Station

the first pair collects and sorts by kind the hundreds of chits per hour by which these travelers buy their soba, then stacks them when the orders are filled

the second pair boils and drains the several pots of soba and umon as the orders come in

a third pair chops the seaweed, cabbage and rice dumplings, and places them in the bowls with the steaming noodles

a fourth stirs and ladles the hot broth atop this mixture and hands the bowls to the chilled and grateful diners

a fifth washes the emptied bowls for the next wave of hungry travelers arriving from Akita or Tokyo

she chats amiably with her customers all through this, pushes back with her forearm a few wisps of hair that have come loose from under her peasant's bandanna, smiles with benevolence upon her reviving customers, and sends them on into the chill air a bit readier to meet the night

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busy chef pours the self-serve water for two strangers

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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.