Haiku Attempts 10 - haibun revised & new

Global Haiku • Millikin University • Fall 2010


We sat side-by-side every day. I drove him home from school. It wasn’t far, but somewhere along the line we started taking detours. At first, they were motivated. Later, it became just about driving. Gradually I started picking him up after dark and we made a game out of going to all the parks around the area. One night, he showed up at my house with his parents borrowed car. We sat in silence as he drove. He drove through his favorite country roads until we came to the most stunning park that I had ever seen. Hidden away behind a cornfield, it was small. Just a swing set and a climbing area. There was nothing to it, but the magic of the moonlight and the breeze made the park seem like it was made just for us. We swung for a while, not talking much, just looking at the stars. He beckoned me to the climbing area and we sat, his arm around me to keep me warm. And during the silence, when the wind stopped, I looked up at him. And he kissed me.

autumn drive
he talks about rain
but his body radiates sun

Hair Cut

My whole life, I’ve lived with my mother, grandparents, and brother. My grandfather happened to be a barber. Because times were hard financially for my mother, and my grandfather had much enthusiasm for cutting hair, he could cut my brother’s hair often. Occasionally, he’d even cut my hair.

Being a girl, I didn’t experience the traditional barber experience a male would. My grandfather tried to make haircuts a fun experience. He loved to bring the nuances of an old-fashioned barber to the haircutting session: whistling, making cutting of the hair a grand decision, and....spinning me around in the chair. He would always make a funny noise that epitomized an engine roaring. It always made me giggle, and triggered me to ask him to do it again.
I had nice hair, even as a little girl. My hair was thick, long, and dark brown. Like every other girl at the time, I had bangs that were straight across the forehead. That was the “thing” at the time, I suppose.

As I grew up, I grew distant from getting my hair cut from him. Soon enough, I would get annoyed if he wanted to touch my hair. I’d insist a female hairstylist would do much better because she’d understand my gender’s hair better. I regret creating that distance, but I partially blame that to teenage hormones. I hope if I can communicate anything across to the reader, it is that we should appreciate the simple things in life that are blessed upon us by family. Seeing that my grandfather is aging, and I’m so far away from home, leaves me in regret.

thick bangs
he snips bits
so I can see again

Down Under

It’s not easy being a mermaid . . . mucky oil coating my luscious tresses. My gills are clogged, from the hazy brown waves. My otter friends have become evanescent. The schools of fish have regressed into a trio. Once vibrant coral is now crippled and pale. My heart aches as my illustrious world falters into the black.

under the sea
another oil spill


The long, blue mane of the princess unicorn whips in the breeze as the delight feast preparations begin. The shimmers on the rolling hills of scrumptious ice cream cover in luscious marshmallow fluff and sprinkles galore. The hills radiate like a bursting rainbow. The wind chimes ring as the scent of chocolate blows by them and the busy village fills with joyous laughter.

The others gather as they whip around light the speed of light wrapping the columns and chairs with shimmering pink shawls and emerald streamers. The tables are filled with every color, from the lavender licorice to the rosy pink cotton candy to the golden cookies. The princess takes hold of the golden lyre and plays the most harmonious music and the unicorns all sing praise over each other and the delicious banquet. The scarlet sun began to sink behind the hills as they all departed down their different majestic paths.

shimmering colors fade behind
as the world prepares
for a new adventure


The start of fall, in the middle of the night, he sneaks through the woods. His black sweatshirt and pants blend in with the pitch black of the night. One wrong step and he will be spotted. His victims don’t have any idea where he is at. He moves in; their guard is up. Once he is in range, he will strike when one of them lets their guard down. Waiting in his tree-top-position, he spots a friendly that is about to be taken out; time to improvise, time to be a hero. He strikes, jumping out of the tree, lighting up the enemy before his comrade is touched. His friend, confused, starts shooting. The stalker is taken out by his team. The comrade goes to look at his kill. Trees, bushes, and the people are covered in yellow paint. Game over.

hero of war

The Couch

The couch, typically a place of family refuge. So often it is advertised as a spot where family cuddle and embrace, dispelling praises of their happiness and perfection while sharing homemade delicacies and laughing along with the newest romantic comedy.

Not her couch. Though she tended to blame the bold yellow color with it’s heinous brown stripes, she knew the fight out breaking above her was much more to blame.

As she crinkled her way into the bag of chips plopped neatly in her lap, she heard the smash of something glass shattering above her as the two noises created a soft symphony between them.

She imagined the tyrant screeches to be beautiful arias unfolding, thirteen years of practice had helped her master the trick. The percussion section stroke up as the wheels of the suitcase bounded down the stairs and the symbols clashed as the door was slammed behind the bare feet. And then the soft silence before the big ending.

mending her tears
with soft strokes
of nail polish


In years past, my brothers and I would always plea to my mother to let us go visit grandma’s. Every day, it seemed, we would beg for her to drive us across the hour drive to our grandparents, whether it be in rain, sleet, or snow. However, it wasn’t for grandma or grandpa that we wanted to go. It was to see our half brother Adam that we always wanted to be there. He lived there in a beat down trailer house since I was eight years old, but the best part was his ambition, devil-may-care attitude, lawless outlook on life, and his stock of guns. Dark steel with a hairpin trigger attached to mahogany wood… This particular gun was absolutely perfect for everything I wanted at this age – scattershot, not too much of a punch, and with a quick reload. Mottled fur would fly in a plethora of directions anytime we got a hold of this incomplete masterpiece. I still remember to this day when he gave me his version of the safety regulations – “Don’t shoot towards the house and if you’re gonna shoot a cat make damn-sure you hit it. I don’t like wasted ammo.”

The first time I went hunting, Adam and I scuttled over the fence and entered the dense deciduous trees. Looking for signs of shattered acorns or walnuts amongst the leaves – all the while listening for the tell-tale sounds of squirrels cutting – we sat down below a cluster of ancient walnuts overlooking the grand canyon of our 20 acre plot of land. Adam cocked his head one way and held up his hand telling me to stay quiet. Minutes seemed like hours as time dragged on. Slowly he pointed his finger up at an oak with a sense of wild wonderment in his eyes. As I averted my gaze from the crow hanging off a dead limb, I noticed the foliage start to rustle and there it was. A brown bushy tail clambering straight out to the very edge of the limb. As I aligned the sights on his head, the squirrel took an unexpected bound! I leaned back, trying to keep the sights on him, and squeezed out some lead. As I fell backwards I caught the gun on a rusty nail hanging out from the tree I was sitting by. As soon as Adam realized this, it quickly stifled his laughter; fortunately, I was rewarded by the sound of dinner hitting the forest floor. The thrill of the hunt is one thing I will never forget…

Two brothers,
two sides of the same coin
Together alone
A scratch – forever etched

Corn Maze

One fall night, my high school crush, a group of ten of my friends, and me decided to go to the cornfield. I was still too young to drive so my mom had to drop me off at the park. Knots filled my stomach. Butterflies fluttered throughout my abdomen. I knew she would be there and I wanted to desperately impress her.

I hopped out of my mom’s car, and was hit by a blast of cold fall air. The scent of freshly harvested corn filled the air. It was musky, deep, nauseating, yet at the same time, it was fresh and beautiful. A slight fog also hung in the air, making the air heavy, adding to my intense feeling that I couldn’t breathe. Finally, after waiting for what seemed like an eternity, my crush arrived.

We silently made eye contact. Together we held our eyes on each other for a half second longer than we normally would. We made small talk, awkwardly trying to seem like there was nothing there. We tried to make it seem like we didn’t have the feelings for each other. We waited, waiting for the other to make the first move. I motioned towards the corn maze and we walked together. Slowly, I lowered my hand, and our fingers brushed together. Gently, our hands clasped together, fitting together like pieces in a puzzle, like our hands were meant to be joined together.

friends smile
at our joined hands
my hand warmer


To run free, as my grandparents had back years ago is my dream. I’m stuck in a stall though. The food is good and being groomed is great, but there’s no room to stretch my legs. There’s no room to run free. Even the times I get to run, I’m still chained to a harness, weighted down by a saddle. I want to get away, be free in the open fields just outside the black fence that surrounds the lot. I can’t jump over the boundary though. It’s too high, too great of an obstacle. Just as I think that this life of confinement is intolerable, they come to me, saying kind words and presenting me with a shiny, red apple and a handful of carrots. Maybe this life is better than I’m making it out to be.

young girl
brushing my hair
my best friend on the farm

Baby Doll

I remember growing up and being very active as a kid. My sister and I would run the neighborhood every free mintue we had. We ran with both the boys and girls and never had clean hands or feet when we came home. I remember the one time I fell really hard because I braked on my bicycle on the front brake and ended up flippin over the front of my bike handle bars. I ended up with scratches all over.

The one time that I ever remember asking for a bandaid for a doll, wasn't for my doll. It was for my sister's. It was an evening after school and my mom was picking up my sister and I from the after school program we went to. My sister was upset about something and ended up throwing a fit and slide her back down the car door, she was really little so my mom made her stand back up and she put her in her carseat. A little ways down the road, I realized that my sister was holding her baby doll at the back of her head. She pulled the baby doll down from behind her head, and I ended up seeing blood on her doll. Obviously I freaked out being young too and I yelled at my mom.

When we got home, my mom brought my sister into the house very quickly to talk to and show my dad, he's a firefighter. When my dad saw the cut he realized that it was bad and that they needed to take her to the emergency room. That night my sister ended up geting about 7 stitches in the back of her head. When she came home that night, the only thing she was worried about was her doll because the doll had blood all over it. My mom couldn't wash it that night, so instead to make my sister feel better about it, she put a bandaid on it and said that now the baby doll was like my sister.

sirens sound
as she walks up to
the emergency room doors


Shots fired! Ears ringing and time for a new risk. Sent back to reality. Standing on the hill facing the ravine practicing shots and had never shot a gun or even held one. Nervous. Standing in the pouring rain on this hill past the campsite on the farm, patience was a virtue. Handed the gun for the shot and started the game. Clay pigeon. Broken. Number two. Broken.

feeling the power
raise it up

Tremiti Islands

A family trip to Italy, and a venture to the Tremiti Islands. Gorgeous islands in the Adriatic Sea, rocks, grasses, and trees litter the landscape. Ancient ruins stand watch over us. We rent a small motorboat and set off for the far side of the island. The turquoise water shimmers in the pristine sun as waves kiss the edge of the boat. My gaze falls to the ocean floor, covered in tan and green rocks encrusted with barnacles. My little brother hops in the 50 feet deep water, feeling the sunlight warm his skin through the icy water. My dad follows. Suddenly, a yelp of pain... Jellyfish surround the boat. Scores of jellyfish sweep through the water like the Milky Way matted against the deep blue of the sea. The duality of beauty and pain. Both translucent and vivid.

holding my breath
in you


Ever since I can remember, Christmas has been my absolute favorite holiday. I was raised and still attend a small country church where my whole family had been raised as well. My grandparents live across the street, so every year after the ten o’clock Christmas Eve candlelight service, my family walks across the street to my grandma’s house where there were literally dozens and dozens of presents waiting for us to open. As a little one, I would plan for weeks upon weeks for this magical night. I would pick out brand new pajamas to change into, a special new dress and shoes to wear to church, and special little surprises to hand out to my family members that I would make myself. At the church service, the ministers would talk about the Christmas story and eventually lead into the part where we would light our candles and hold them up to shine the light into the world and into each other. Afterwards, everyone would walk out into the street and just gaze around as we headed over to my grandparents’ house. There was always something magical about the little town of Lindenwood at Christmastime, and on the holiest of nights when beautiful snow falls onto the pavement as the lights of heaven twinkle, it is especially moving. Even though so much has changed with my family now and some of the innocence of youth and been stripped away, I still love more than anything to step out of that church on Christmas Eve and stare up at the stars and know that there is something greater than any of us watching over the world.

red lace and gold
her doll’s dress
matches hers


Princess Caprice once had such long beautiful brown hair, until one day she robbed of that beautiful hair. She was left with only 4 inches of a bob hairdo. Upset and hungry, she went to Krekel’s to get a greasy burger and a lemon milkshake. On her way back to her castle, she decided to stop at UTOP. UTOP was known for selling cheap fashion accessories and hair extensions. A shop keeper helped her find the perfect weave for her hair. After finding her new hair, finding some glue, and checking out at the cash register, she went home to her castle. There, she was able to glue in her new extensions. The ecstatic Caprice finally had long beautiful hair again!

smile stolen,
from unexpected places
she glues together happiness

Road Trip

My best friend, Emily, her boyfriend, Brian, Emily’s sister, Amy, and Amy’s husband, Issac, all got us tickets to go see Cirque du Soleil in Champaign and take me out to lunch to celebrate. Amy and Issac took their car and the three of us took Emily’s brand new white Cobalt. Brian, who was usually the navigator and driver on these kinds of excursions, had recently lost his license due to one too many unfortunate incidents involving his uncontrollable speeding habits. Emily’s car, who we named Colby, had been having some issues working properly a few weeks prior, but of course, none of us stopped to think we should be traveling in a more reliable vehicle.

We made it to Champaign alright, aside from the constant drizzle and unseasonably cold late March weather. We met back up with Amy and Issac in some restaurant that is set up like a giant barn and for some reason, the place seemed relatively dead for what you would have though would be the weekend lunch rush. We had a nice, funny waitress who found out it was my birthday and quickly went back into the kitchen to have a special cake platter made for me. Amy and Issac, who can never keep their mouths shut for longer than thirty seconds at a time, as our waitress if there were any cute guys in the back that could bring This would have been a very nice gesture, except for the fact that the dessert was topped off with a couple of giant sparklers, which I just so happen to be slightly afraid of. This rather attractive man brought it up for me and set the plate down in front of me, wishing me a very happy birthday. I had Brian carefully remove the flaming sticks from the plate and we all shared the giant piece of chocolate cake.
After lunch, we headed over to the U of I Assembly Hall where the performance was being held. The show was pretty amazing, even though they had these really creepy bird like people walking around be the show that sort of freaked us all out. The guy in the first act on the swinging bars that are set up way about the stage almost fell, which was exciting. It seemed like everyone in the audience reached out when he was about to go down, like any of us could possibly catch him. Afterwards, Amy and Issac had to get back in town so they got back on the road right away. Emily and I were both wearing dresses and decided to stop in a gas station to change into jeans and hoodies before making the trek home. We were also smart enough to grab some drinks and snacks, which was smart on our part, since little did we know in about twenty minutes we would be stranded on the side of the highway in the rain.

Not ten minutes after getting on the road, Brian becomes convinced that Colby is making odd noises. Me and Emily don’t really care, so we keep going a little farther. Then poor Colby starts shaking and making terrible screeching songs, so we finally pull over on the side of the road. It is still raining, like it’s been all day. It’s dark, it’s cold, we’re all tired, and we’re stuck in on the side of the road. Brian decides to get out an see what’s going on, and I get volunteered to hold the flashlight and umbrella in the pouring rain. At this point, I’m so thankful for being smart and packing jeans and a hoodie. Even though it was a crappy situation, since it was the three of us, we managed to turn it into an adventure. We had to wait in the car for Brian’s parents to come rescue us, and we spent the time making hysterical and embarrassing videos. Even though we were stranded, for an hour and a half, it was probably one of the most memorable birthdays I’ve had.

the car shakes
with each passing semi
flat tire

Juke Box

I don’t know why we always follow them to the bar. The only thing we ever end up doing is sitting in the booth across from the boys’ favorite pool table, playing cards and sipping our non-alcoholic cans of pop. The place is dark, cold, and uninviting. The bartender spends most of the time blindly flipping through channels on the crappy television set that sits on top of the refrigerator in the corner or listlessly wiping down bar stools with bleach water. But she does it anyway because there is nothing else to do besides make the rounds and collects the empty beer bottles and soda cans from our tables and play with the digital juke box and watch the clock slowly tick forward probably wishing she was somewhere else with someone else. The boys are wrapped up in their game while cracking terribly jokes over the beer-stained pool table that reeks of cigarettes and pretending like they are actually semi decent at poking a bunch of billiard balls into at some holes in a table. This is how we spend our nights, before the fights and bickering starts and everyone goes home mad at everyone else and we come back the next night like nothing happened. For that good couple of hours, when the bar is empty except for us, before the boys get bored and restless and less drunk, we are perfectly content. We all know that it’s not going to last and the boys are just riding out their buzz and us girls are busy talking about nothing and everything, but no matter what happens between us, or anyone else, we always know of the unspoken same time, same place, invitation extended to just us every night and tomorrow, we’ll do it all over again.

broken deck
we use an expired coupon
as the six of hearts

Dance Recital

It’s the big day of my sister’s dance recital. Although the dance recital is only one day, the planning and preparation for this event started 6 months prior to this beautiful June day. The dancer’s begin learning their routines after Christmas and this process takes a few months usually because there is a lot to learn and the instructors only teach a little portion of the routine every week. Every week during the spring my sister excitedly tells us what new material she has learned and puts on a show of what the dance looks like so far.

A dance recital may not seem like something out of the ordinary for a teenage girl. There are thousands of dance recitals that take place every year across the world, but her dance recital is special. First of all, this is the only dance recital where I get to watch my sister spin and leap across the wooden stage in front of a velvet curtain. Second of all, her ability to dance is a miracle. My little sister was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) when she was 12 years old. This disease affects her joints and in some children can affect their organs. For her, the symptoms were always there and she suffered silently. I can remember one year at a physical she complained that her feet were sore and the doctor told her that it was plantar fasciitis and gave her exercises to treat this problem. Years later after visiting countless specialists and restless nights my parents spent researching what could be affecting her, she has a diagnosis and a treatment plan. There is no cure for JRA so she manages her disease with medication that lessens the pain.

Watching my sister dance across the stage is inspiring. Every turn and jump fills my heart with joy knowing she is able to do what she loves. She makes me want to work harder to become a doctor and help other children do what they love. As the curtains come up, I see her smiling and shining. I smile too. The music begins and all is quiet. Showtime!

a tear
while she dances
in the lights

Grandma Humming

As a young girl, my great grandma would take me on long drives to the south to visit the graves of family members I didn't know. Usually we would go once in the spring and again in the fall to leave flowers or reefs on the headstones. One of these graveyards had beautiful mausoleums and a huge stone book filled with inspirational quotes and covered in names. I remember running my tiny, gloved fingers over them again and again. Because I was a little kid and didn't fully understand the importance of the large field and the beautiful statues, I would hop from headstone to headstone, asking my great grandma to read the names I couldn't understand out loud. After we had placed our gifts, she would drive me to a nearby pond to feed the ducks and geese breadcrumbs.

My great grandma has always been a very strong, very wise woman and I have looked up to her since I was very small. My favorite memories with her are these autumn afternoons spent gazing out at the pond, watching red and yellow leaves flutter down into the waves. There was a chill, crisp smell, rich enough to be a taste, to the air when it brushed past. This scent was marred only by the rancid smell of goose droppings. We would sit there telling each other stories or humming to ourselves and nibbling on bread, watching the waterfowl dive and splash. Occasionally our stories would be interrupted by their obnoxious quibbling.

Once, a large goose chased after my grandma, trying to snatch the bread-bag from her. I crumpled with laughter as she ran in circles trying to wear it out. Eventually someone helped shoo it away and it flew back to the pond, honking angrily. Once the sun began to set over the water, the leaves always seemed to grow a richer shade of red. Before true darkness nestled in, grandma would usher me back into the van for the long drive home. I remember she always played a Peter, Paul, and Mary tape and I would drift in and out of sleep watching the headlights pass and imagining the lives of the people whose names were written on the headstones. I always thought that the angel statues were secretly people who had been turned to stone and a giant had dropped his book in the graveyard running away from a giant goose.

Usually I woke up the next morning tucked away in blankets on great grandma's couch, awoken by the smell of chocolate chip pancakes. She used the chocolate chips to make them into Mickey Mouse faces. Grandma is always humming, especially when she cooks, although I've never been able to figure out the tune. Together, we would eat breakfast on the back porch with the door open and a tray of walnuts out for the squirrels. Sometimes the older squirrels would venture inside to snatch them up greedily and run away.

in the headlights glare
dreamy-eyed girl glimpses
a goose nagging after a troll

Fly Away

Her Grandpa approaches with powerful strides, a wizard with a majestic golden dragon. When the sun hits it just right, it sparkles like the grey hairs in his mustache. The little girl and the wizard waste away the hazy daylight, shining its scales until it purrs. As she pets the beast affectionately, she looks down at her reflection—mud-stained cheeks, sweaty streaks in her hair, and a huge, lopsided grin smeared from ear to ear. A masterpiece complete. Together, the two fly away on the dragon, racing over rustic hills of corn that glow amber in the light of the pregnant sun, low and swollen in the sky. The breeze whisks away all of the worries sketched across the little girl's silly blonde head. Carefree and happy, she doesn’t pause to ask why her Grandpa struggles so hard to fly away from home...

old motorcycle tucked away
in the corner of the garage
a little girl . . . dreams in dust

© 2010, Randy Brooks • Millikin University
All rights returned to authors upon publication.