A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2005, vol 1 no 1

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Shimizu Kuniharu, Japan


The Egg-Shaped Stone

Quiet morning. Snow still fresh on the park ground. A group of youngsters, probably members of a school track team, jogs nearby. Their joyful chatting comes and goes. I am at the west bank of Hudson River. For a while I stand still, my gaze fixed on the lone spire of the Empire State Building.

clear day--
loud unheard voices
still hang in the air

freezing park--
my urine reminds me
how warm I am

Another cold day in NYC. I'm traveling with a cameraman on a magazine assignment. We pick a spot by the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the oldest landmarks in the city. Stones weathered round by the centuries roll beneath my feet. I pick some up to take home.

twin grandchildren gone--
old Brooklyn Bridge bears up
in the wind chill

Manhattan skyline--
I gather egg-shaped stones
by the river

We walk the streets of Lower Manhattan down to Chinatown. Suddenly, we're in a whole new world. Let's have lunch here. Let's eat like the locals. Our guide leads us through narrow sidestreets to a restaurant packed with hungry Chinese. We try the guide's recommendation—steamed rice topped with minced meat of beef and salted fish. The smell hits us hard. Shit-like smell of the salted fish. Our high expectations quickly wane, and after a few bites we give up.

street performance
a red creature waits
for its turn

One of our assignments is to photograph notable examples of store renovation. We walk around the SOHO district, looking for possibilities, like The Apple Store. Originally a post office, then a hardware shop, the building now houses a flashy computer store. No photograph, the storekeeper says, for security reasons. We move on and try Prada. Talk to the head office first, says the manager. No time, we leave early next morning.

SOHO show window--
the sunlit ass
of a naked mannequin

Mannequins are the best dressers in town. They enjoy the latest fashions, always one or two steps ahead of city folks. We are still in SOHO. The sun is a little warmer today. For our enjoyment: colorful spring collections for the eyes, and a bit of sunshine for the cold bodies.

almost unnoticed reflection
of a pristine sky

There's a student show at the art gallery. One of the exhibits is a telephone sculpture, made up of scores of handsets connected with wire, resembling tangled spaghetti. The same space houses concerts and other kinds of exhibits. Each time an event is held, the sculpture which dominates the limited space is pushed into a corner to make room, then put back once the event is over. This expansion and contraction occurs almost everyday, like a kind of organism. That is probably not the intended conception of the artwork, but it's that aspect which intrigues me.

midnight gallery--
a telephone sculpture
comes alive again

snowy night--
as if to hold her fading voice
my grip on handset tightens


I am home with the egg-shaped stones of New York. When I pocketed them,
they held their icy cold for a long time. The air is a lot warmer here at home.
Life in them seems to be getting ready to come forth.

hatching from
egg-shaped stones--
NY haiku, and more


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