A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2007, vol 3 no 4

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Zinovy Vayman


Haibun for Jeffrey Winke

Grandpa, grandpa!
he toddles by himself
under leafless trees

Jeffrey Winke writes "Time clips by swiftly" and takes us on a tour of a touchy subject of time management but he omits dialectics or Talmudic discussions. Since I studied in Jerusalem after being molded as a Marxist-Leninist back in Moscow I have the revolutionary chutzpa to take on his "Not Much We Can Do about It".

Time is not running swiftly. Take this from a book of Jewish Anecdotes published in Prague during Communist rule.

Professor explains Einstein's theory of relativity. It's like a date with a beautiful woman--time (spent with her) flies . . . However the process of waiting for her may seem like eternity.

Another prophetic joke deals with a mortal who asks G-d for a million of francs by explaining that a million is like one centime for G-d. But for G-d a million years is like a second and He suggests waiting for His one second to deliver.

"Time is never late or early ... it's always on time" for Jeffrey. But wait a minute! Often time is late or early. We know people who were born before their time and we admire Don Quixotic individuals now and then.

And power shortages mentioned by Jeffrey do affect time perception in our times.

TV and, hopefully, computers might stall and an uneasy silence could reign in. If we add looming oil shortages we might even experience our mad race screeching to a halt.

Jeffrey buttresses his lament about tyranny of time with the argument that sci-fi does not deal with time. Nay, science fiction does play a lot with time machines and time warp. All in all science fiction is not about the future, not about the past. It is about today.

Yes, Jeffrey, we are here for an allotted duration of revolutions of our planet around the sun but it includes all the genetic codes of the evolution, profound memories and the endlessness of time-space of the current surroundings if one is not incapacitated, enslaved or in prison. Life is short; nevertheless it is time in it to get bored.

killing time ...
yet from time to time

According to Jeffrey "Time continues after we've gone." Time does not pace, though, after we are finished. 1,000,000 years becomes just a millisecond for "us", who become godlike in our spurious quest to be born again or die fully.

Imagine! Our gazillions of light years of wait become close to nothing.


"Time catches a lot of grief", true. Some joy is doled up in the course of our biological existence. A joy of timelessness and a joy of ragtime . . .

retirement house
from the ivied window
song of my youth

The Soviet mathematicians calculated acceleration of time. When we are infants time goes very slowly; i.e., one summer day in early childhood in the northern hemisphere may be like a month in our work life when we are in our thirties. Time speeds up accordingly (future defines the present) and at the moment of death the acceleration becomes infinite.

In the end we are literally jettisoned out of the chimneys of our lives. Presumably there was no time before the Big Bang and time will vanish after the Big Crunch. This model strangely comforts me in the meantime when my life draws to its end.

Russian devolution:
in my melatonin sleep
taste of non-being

So, Jeffrey, we can do a lot about time.

My nephew put brakes on it by smoking pot and observing his girlfriend eating an apple in perpetuity.

I collide with a car, slowly land on its hood and watch my bike's wheel rising into the sky and not rushing down to obey the law of gravity.

The son of my neighbors speeds his car at 130 miles per hour and slams into a pole. Gabriel Garcia Marquez depicts the "sun stood still" phenomenon just moments before the execution by the firing squad.

The white rows of the naked Jewish women lie on the hillside waiting to be shot.

Jeffrey et al. drink wine ...

This nagging carbon analysis, that precision cesium clock put me on the edge, though. Yet my former boss, a PhD in Physics, wrote a paper dismantling their accuracy on a large scale. However Alfred Maleson, Esq. has tossed the cards again noting

there's no afterlife!
but it won't be the first time
when I was proved wrong