Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
Contents Archives About Simply Haiku Submissions Search
Summer 2006, vol 4 no 2


Ferenc Bakos

In Tripoli, February is already spring. The humid air carries the promise of the sea, palm trees consciously bathing in the lush Mediterranean breeze. "So . . . here we are again," a voice says inside you. Or was it simply the sound of your breathing: inhale, exhale, SO - HUM? This must be the season for oranges for, along the road from the airport there is a rabble of bare-foot children selling them from crates. The oranges are small, like mandarins. Later you notice a bowl of them on the dinner table. Full moon. You smoke a pipe and exploratory steps steer away from the barracks. Memories return of the common-faced people you saw here before and of that afternoon with cars queuing on the road out of town. You come upon a high stone wall and a half-open gate. You continue through it until after a short way you stop abruptly - you nearly stepped on a concrete block, still wet and raised slightly from the ground.

Moonlit graveyard -
a cat beside the new tomb
sitting on guard.

By juxtaposing the symbol for "church" and the symbol for "speak" the ancient Chinese scribe stumbled upon the much more compact meaning of "sermon". Seeing its usefulness, the modern Japanese adopted it unchanged and used it to refer to "poetry", pronouncing it shi. "Time you wrote a sermon," you say; but alas, although you have already spent ten days here, have lived through burning heat, frozen in winds that reach your bones and felt the gibli blowing hotter than a hairdryer from the deep within the Sahara; have criss-crossed the expanse of the oil-fields in a beaten up Land-Rover, and have taken measurements at a hundred and fifty stations, including a few remote solar- panelled posts; it seems that shi does not reside in the desert. With the after-tasted Arab coffee and a half-smoked pipe still in your mouth, you retire to your quarters. They are hardly big enough for your bed and table. What do you hear? The sound of the lonely evenings of childhood, adolescence and now manhood - the cricket:

Under my caravan
a cricket sends Morse signals
to the desert.

Ferenc Bakos

Published in Life and Literature weekly in Hungary and in the book Rising Moon Shadow, copyright c 2000 by Ferenc Bakos.

(The prose is translated from Hungarian by Kati and Geoff Beetles.)

Ferenc Bakos has been a haijin - a Hungarian one - for 25 years. By the invitation of the late Sato Kazuo, he is a charter member of HIA. He published haiku in English in Manichi Daily News and HI in Japan, and in anthologies (e.g. Higginson's World Haiku, page 78). In his profession (electrical engineering) he has visited several deserts. Parents of three adult-children, he and his wife, Margo, live at the Hungarian Sea (alias Lake Balaton).