A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2008, vol 4 no 4

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David Cobb


Heathens Versus Christians

This is the first time in which the Asiatic yellow man has beaten the European white man, and now we must wait for what is to follow...

Vicar of an Oxfordshire village in the parish magazine, January 1905, reacting to the capture of Port Arthur in the Russo-Japanese War.

A hundred years on there are Fuji films on sale in the post office stores, the inn keeper is wondering about advertising a karaoke, but the local take-away provides chicken tikka and massala.

The haiku poet stops under the abbey tower and looks up at the clock to check the time against his watch. The clock his great-great-grandfather was responsible for winding once a week, paid ten shillings a year to perform the service for almost forty years. The clock from which the whole village took its time.

On the watch face the maker's name is Seiko. Its hands point to one o'clock. Those of the church clock show twelve fifty-nine.

a minute in doubt—
is the clock running slow
or the watch fast?

'... the two yellow nations and the two great heathen powers, if they join hands, could work great changes in the world.'

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