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July 2019 Vol. 15 No. 2

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Bob Lucky

Random Praise: Terri French's Sh@#!

Featured Writer Michael Rehling in CHO 15.1 took a stab at defining haibun even though he knows it’s not really possible because

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.

I can’t find a better description of that moment a writer has when it happens, when the chance he or she took – damn the primers and guidebooks and sticklers – turned out as expected, beyond expectations, a shock. That thud Rehling mentions isn’t a crash, it’s a realization.

Since Rehling cites Terri French as one of his idols, I think it’s appropriate to give her haibun “Sh@#!” the Random Praise this time around. I don’t think this is a fictional introspective character in this haibun cursing her mistake, but it certainly captures the voice in many of French’s haibun.

Terri French


My husband held his phone screen out toward me. “Did you mean to send me this?” “Sh@#! Sh@#! Sh@#!” I say. I’d just told him about his surprise retirement party. The text was supposed to go to a friend. Not the first time I’ve sent a text to the wrong person. There was the time I copied and pasted some angry tirade my sister sent to me back to my sister instead of to my best friend. That did not result in the sympathetic response I desired. And the time I thought I was complaining to a co-worker about the boss, but instead sent it to. . .well, you know who and can imagine how that went. I didn’t get a raise any time soon. Damn my thumbs!

no smooth ride
back-pedaling through
a sh@# storm