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Contemporary Haibun Online: January 2015, vol 10 no 4

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Coordinating Editor Bob Lucky

Random Praise: Ken Jones' "The Ice Axe"

Haibun and tanka prose help me relive and bridge past experiences with past, present and future dreams, providing a unique perspective I have not found in other forms of poetry. ~ Margaret Dornaus

There's no shortage of haibun dealing with past and present experiences. Many haibun tend toward memoir, and memoir is mostly an exercise in reconciling dreams with reality (or manipulating reality to illuminate a dream, fulfilled or otherwise). A good memoir is a work of art in more ways than one. Moreover, haibun practice being as it is, many of those haibun about past experiences find themselves in the present tense. It's a bit like the historical or ethnographic present in academic writing. Be here now.

Margaret Dornaus made this Random Praise difficult by throwing in future dreams. I know what my past dreams were, and I'm comfortable with the fact I'm not going to run a marathon, sail around the world, or win the lottery. And I have several dreams at the moment, in the present, which unrealized but still held must constitute some sort of future dream. Or perhaps a fantasy. I can dream all I want but it's unlikely I'll ever own an Irish Wolfhound or a Volkswagon Bus.

I can't imagine in the future what dreams I may have. Once I'm There it's Now. Maybe I'm just being too literal-minded. Perhaps a future dream is a form of hope: I've lived through this, o lord, please give me a break. Or is the bridge Dornaus refers to the coign of vantage from which we gain a perspective on our lives? Is it where we stand to look back and see how we got to where we are, and where we're going?

Several haibun in the last issue of CHO deal with dreams in one form or another, but none look at the reality of past, present, and future with as much clarity as Ken Jones' "The Ice Axe." The opening haiku is so grounded in a moment that it even denies a present:

No future, past nor present –
only a china cup
the tea growing cold

And then later in the haibun, Jones' observation that it's "time finally to discard the evidence of my successive selves — those dear dead enthusiasms and beliefs" casts dreams in a different light. It's a haibun that bears multiple readings. It may change more than the way you approach spring-cleaning.


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