A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2009, vol 5 no 4

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Ray Rasmussen



We sit listening in a semi-circle of metal folding chairs. There’s a set of unstated rules – withhold applause until the poets finish an entire presentation; look attentive even when overwhelmed with words and images; suppress yawns. Yet there's a reaction to individual poems – a harmony of “Mmmmmmms,” some just audible, some louder. When the poem is about loss, we engage in a variation as if a sound that goes with tasting a good dessert is inappropriate. Instead, there's a stiffening of backs, a shifting on hard seats, the squeak of a chair – we're on the wooden pews of childhood listening to the many paths to damnation. The last piece read is a lengthy haibun. We produce titters of laughter at the humorous parts, squeaks and gasps at the sad parts and a hearty “Mmmmmmm” after the haiku.

midsummer eve
a warbler’s buzz, then
the robin’s melody

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