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Archive: American Haibun & Haiga Volume 2

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Zinovy Vayman


Haibun for John Ashbery

I take a four hour bus from the hills of the Eastern Galilee to the capital of Israel.Thank God or G-d this time the vehicle does not take a long seashore route around Samaria but boldly runs down the Jordan Valley and ascends to Jerusalem.

the Wailing Wall
on the women's side of it
more caper shrubbery

Darkness falls quickly and we find ourselves in the modern theater located in the city's best neighborhood.Shimon Peres, the Israeli architect of the New Middle East, former minister of many ministries and, perhaps, the next president lends his low rich voice to our event.

"What language should I speak, English or Hebrew?", he asks.

A quick Jewish mind in the audience says: "Arabic".

Mr Peres delivers a political speech advocating coexistence and cooperation. The cantorial voice reaches far and up: "A free democratic Palestinian state!"

Somebody adds: "An armed one also".

"What?", asks Mr Peres.

The next festival gathering takes place in a huge Turkish caravanserai closer to the Old City.

Jerusalem skyline
minarets, churches' bell towers
no sign of the Jews

Bard College professor John Ashbery is a celebrity here. He reads his poems and they appear on the screen in English and Hebrew. I discover that he writes haiku and even haibun.To my surprise his longer poems contain haiku lines "In the flickering evening the martins grow denser" but his haiku are miniature ditties: "What is the past, what is it all for? A mental sandwich?"

When the mingling starts I gather enough hutspa to talk to him. I give him some haiku books, and even suggest to write a renku together with other poets. Mr Ashbery dispassionately files my materials and is led away.

Jerusalem roof
4 AM-muezzin, 6 AM-church bells
no sound from Jews

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