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Archive: American Haibun & Haiga Volume 4

[Return to Author List, Vol 4]

Ken Jones


The Long Wait

The Waiting Room
where time waits
on the sluggish clock

We who are admitted each morning are in fact the fortunate ones. A 1960s building gone to seed. Green linoleum worn through to the outlines of strange and unfamiliar continents. Visceral foam rubber protrudes through the slashes in the upholstered benches. Always the same smell of stale tobacco, disinfectant and urine from the broken lavatory. Faded notices warn of the penalties of giving information which you know to be false. The only animation comes from a limping ceiling fan. It lurches and wheezes round and round, flicking pale sunlight across the room. And there is one long grimy window—

High flat roof
littered with things
broken, forgotten and unseen

We are a furtive, shabby crowd of men. People come in through a left hand door, and the room is always full.

Thin yellow finger
the fag end stubbed
and stubbed again

In this room everything waits, and has grown old and tired with the waiting. There is nothing other than waiting. See that one, how he listlessly reaches for a dog-eared magazine.

“World’s Most Beautiful Women”
flicked through
and cast aside

Once in a while a white coated official comes in through the right hand door (“Authorized Personnel Only”). Armed with a clip-board, he calls a surname, nailing one or two forenames to it.

The pity of names
typed, listed, ticked,
and shouted out

Sometimes no one responds. At other times the fortunate—or unfortunate—person gets up and is conducted through the door. I don’t know who is successful and who isn’t. You just don’t see them again.

I’ve been coming here now for more weeks than I can remember. And I must confess to a perverse fondness for the place. Yesterday I think I detected a wry smile play briefly on the lips of another of the regulars. To tell you the truth, I have forgotten what I’m waiting for. I suppose that can happen if you wait long enough. Anyway, it’s always someone else they call. And yet—

Dread time
my name at last
but sounding
like someone else’s

[Return to Author List, Vol 4 ]


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