Featured Writer: Michael Rehling
When people ask you about a 1934 Packard V12 you can show them a picture. If they ask you what an oak tree looks like you can point one out to them. A performance of "Swan Lake" can be seen on YouTube or better yet in person, but if they ask you "What is a haibun," there isn't a simple answer. Easier I would guess to say what it is not. It is not an explanation in prose for a haiku. Often it is not entirely a true story, maybe not at all. What are the things to look for in them? At its best, the prose is a poem of its own. But even the worst haibun carries the weight of the poet in it. That is why I write them, good, bad, and ugly.
That is all I know about them. The rest just finds its way onto the page. Every poet discovers their own way to express the spirit of haikai on their own terms. My idols have been Roberta Beary who seems to forget daily what she did the day before and starts from scratch each time, Michele Root-Bernstein who constructs stories that both she and her readers can live in separately, and Terri French who invents fictional characters to express herself introspectively. So long as there are poets who are willing to jump out of a plane blindfolded without a parachute, the form will survive. I am waiting for my own "thud" every time I sit down to write.
Here is one of mine that was published by Steve Hodge in Prune Juice Journal in November 2018. I hope people will enjoy reading it again or for the first time.
faint as a will of the wisp
you sing to the moon if you want. me i just stare quietly. i live with the oaks and pines. so very often my view is broken by leaves and needles and just as quickly there it is again. if we had many moons like saturn would it be better or would we just get bored with all those choices. as it is our lonely moon often matches our moods. the light grows and fades and grows again. in the changeless verity of it all the moon unites us. i imagine all the lonely others looking up with me.
as i reach
the end of the path
my mind wanders
Mike Rehling is a quiet vegan haiku poet living in the north woods of Michigan. To read more of his work visit his website: Home of Haiku Mike.
It's no surprise that in his bio above, Mike has failed to mention that he's one of our more prolific poets and that his work appears in many journals, as one example, in The Living Haiku Anthology, and that he created and currently edits Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu. Nor has he, to my knowledge, ever mentioned any of the following:
• he has for many years been a mainstay of networking and forum Internet support for haiku, haibun and haiga communities.
• his server has supported several of our key journals.
• he provides help with technical matters.
• Simply Haiku and A Hundred Gourds (among others) were supported by Mike's server.
• CHO is currently supported by Mike's server.
There's probably lots more I could say about Mike's quiet contributions to our writing community, but I'll leave it at that.
Forgive me Mike for tooting your horn. You just aren't willing to do it yourself which is very much in line with this famous meditation by Marcus Aurelius:
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, translated by George Long, Value Classic Reprints (Dec 27 2016). The above passage was taken from Matthew Arnold, Essays in Criticism, New York: A.L. Burt, 1865.