Global Haiku Traditions
Millikin University, Fall 2014

Third Place, Fall 2014 Haiku Fiction Contest

Jonathan Rieck

Jonathan's Haiku


A Stitch of Time

Jonathan Rieck


Judges' Comments:

First off, the prose is great, filled with dynamic and fresh imagery. Secondly, the haiku are interesting with surprising leaps and juxtapositions. The counterpoint of flowing prose with laser-sharp haiku made for an interesting and enjoyable read. Keep writing, Jonathan. You have real talent. —David G. Lanoue

What drew me to this piece was the poetic nature of the prose, which is so different from the haiku, so it still has a strong juxtaposition between poetry and prose. I like the surrealism that carries throughout and how the haiku simultaneously ground the reader and push them forward. A truly unique piece. It pushes a lot of boundaries in the best of ways. —Aubrie Cox


A Stitch of Time

by Jonathan Rieck

free time for free thoughts:
we were young
we. were. hopeless.

I think that I was named simply because I had no other reasonable explanation for my flightiness, mutable nature. Maybe it was because I had never been able to be tied down, a kite that slipped from the child’s fingers. I was always running, finding kindness in others that I didn’t know and shouldn’t have trusted. I danced in basements, holding onto the pipes to keep myself standing after I was under the control of livelihood in a glass. I made horrid decisions, and my discretions were hardly commendable. I was caught fighting the war in my mind; my thoughts were bullets in chambers of guns, and I was playing Russian roulette.

But, for the first time in my life, I was free. I was making my own decisions, and, whether or not I liked it, I was facing the consequences of action and choice. I was a bird of the summer breezes, and I had nothing and no one to answer to. I had finally found happiness after chasing the sun for endless miles.

Parliament in my knuckles
an overture of laughter
infinite night

I had learned to embrace the open road and guide that into everything that I did. I embodied the madness within my heart, setting it to music and lyrics and words that I scrawled into notebooks. Inside these heart pieces was a stitch of time, creating a tapestry that didn’t make sense when you looked at it— but I was happy. The cruel world couldn’t make my bed if I never stayed in the same one for more than one night. I could never be far from home when home was wherever I decided to lay me head down. I followed stars and looked for significance in every single one of them; their stories still haunt me.

Singing to the sounds of the seventies bought that freedom land to my hands, and, God willing, I took it. I think that’s the only thing that remained constant in this life of mine, and anything else turned to ashes and wine. I was fatal and vital, crossing borders and watching the sunset and sunrise over different skies. I learned to forget what was missing and to focus on the greatest thing about life – it goes on.

this spot, sunrise,
a lifetime before
your fingers laced a crown
in my nightshade hair

Friends? They were everywhere, their time in my life as short as the spark from their lighters, passing cigarettes and flasks from their pockets. I created myself in the eyes of others, and I was taught by the past to have a chameleon soul. My dreams were never dashed, but I didn’t seem to have any dreams at all, either. It was an interesting concept, to say the very least. But, I went with it. I wasn’t guided by their roadmaps, and I came up with a new name to forget who I once was.

she lit my cigarette
outside the late night diner—
lasts are always bests.

What about love? It’s funny, I had never loved anyone before. I care for others deeply, and I let my soul tenderly hold theirs throughout their presence. But I had discovered that if I was the one who did the leaving, I wouldn’t feel left behind at every milestone and at every turning point in my relations with others. They said I would be alone forever, but I knew that the most sacred affection was that which we gave ourselves. I never thought I was beautiful, but I knew that I had a spirit about me that brought the best out in myself. I laughed a lot— sometimes to the point of tears on my cheeks—and I decided that there was more to life than being with the same people. The world is wide, and I planned to make it my oyster.

our love
printed in the shore—
tide-stolen foot maps

I remember moments in which I was with people who were always around. They were constants, Northern stars in the night. They actually cared; I was their child and they were the caregivers that nourished my heart and brought me up. They were the giving trees with apples to eat and flowers to feel throughout my younger years. And, sometimes, I still struggle to live with their memory. I look back fondly, I look back with a pang in my chest and I see the flash that took them all away from me. I can still hear the glass pinging onto the pavement, and my eyes were wider than the horizons as their souls departed their vessels.

Maybe I should have considered myself lucky, for I was spared from the crimson that blinded their eyes and sent them on their way. But, I can’t help but wonder what life would have been like if the circumstances were circumvented and if the shadows that trailed behind me were more than my own. But, that life is just a figment of the imagination. A song unfinished is still a song, but there’s something that holds us back from playing it. Life still goes on, and I continue to roam the stretches and bounds of this world that I never found a space in.

They said they’d never leave me behind, they said I’d never be alone. I know better, now.

never is a promise
made in moments
cracked by stretches and lapses

I was the creator of my own happiness, the director of my own film. My eyes were eight-millimeter cameras that shook and played my world in cinemascope. I saw things that others didn’t, and my mind was freed from the shackles of the past and open to the promise of something different. Different is neither good nor bad, but there was only one thing that was certain: I would continue to create my own path, finding kindred spirits in strangers every night, and I would continue to chase the sun and live up to my name. Chase.

shouldn’t we love freely?
sparrows will always
find their way          home.

• • •

© 2014 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors
last updated: November 26, 2014