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Archive: Contents of American Haibun & Haiga Volume 1

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Jack Cain


A door on a tent-less frame
swings and swings.
Arctic winter is coming.

With the first sign of winter we left the Arctic. Its long hills and lakes, brown, blue and bare, stretched away into the distance. At first, the absence of forest had been strange; now we would miss these open expanses, the rare cluster of trees found a few miles from camp. We left by plane.

The shadows lengthen
on the little trees
as we thunder homeward.

At the company base, we parted each from each, over beer and rum and remembered adventure. One or two were sick and put to bed. At three-thirty it was lights out and sleep.

Bacardi bottle, deck of cards.
How bright
that bare electric bulb.

In the morning, the ground and roof-tops were white with the season's first. Breakfast had late-comers and empty places; little was said and not much eaten. We left at separate times for separate destinations. I felt proud to be the only one going to Paris. The plane, leaving at noon after many delays, brought me to Gander. Two days later, I took the midnight jet. Since we travelled east, the night was shorter. I slept very little.

From my small window
there is only white ocean
rushing towards the dawn.

It was late afternoon when I arrived. The streets were heavy with traffic and the air was warm. The concierge greeted me and showed me my room. I tried the bed but could not sleep. I left the hotel and walked and walked long past dark, stopping now and then for a drink at a sidewalk café.

Above the Champs-Elysees
lights so beautiful.
The moon is full.

During the days that followed, I visited museums and galleries, explored side-streets and alleys, and spoke French. In a city so full of people there were few moments of quiet.

In a square. Noise. Traffic.
Cat paper-chasing.
Autumn breeze.

Sometimes, late at night, walking back to my room, I would find beauty and slow my steps and pause.

In the water of the Seine
ripples red and white
and the boat is gone.

Evenings soft and warm stir more than a sense of beauty. I walked some nights from bar to bar, from corner to darker corner.

Shadows at the doorway
pause before they enter.
The night is young.

your husky voice
almost drowns my thoughts.

Lips that turn from mine.
Poor little one
whom I pay.

How insistent this urge that recurs and to which satisfaction brings momentary rest. I lie on my bed, alone.

On the wall there is a
painted-over fly

Contrasts frequently turn my thoughts to a love I had left behind. Attractions seem less and less strong as winter comes, clammy, taking the leaves from the trees and the warmth from the air. The walks are chill now and something has escaped.

In the winter mist
the Eiffel Tower's top
is lost to view.

There is a short letter that asks in tones that tear, please, oh please, come home.

In the cafe's light
harsh and bright
faces talk.

I waited a week and then returned to the virgin snows of Canada.

White flakes sift down
from a silver moon
soft as my lover's lips.

Now, some months later, I am alone again.

In the setting sun
trees are black
this winter evening


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