Global Haiku Traditions
Millikin University, Fall 2014

2nd Place, Fall 2014 Haiku Fiction Contest

Natalie Zelman

Natalie's Haiku


Captain's Log

Natalie Zelman

Judges' Comments:

Being a Trekkie from way back, I loved this story. The prose is well-written (in paragraph 1, the repetition of "three days" is quite effective). And the space-ku are imaginative and appealing, both visually and emotionally. Natalie, you did a great job of teaching and entertaining at the same time. Bravo! —David G. Lanoue

"Captain's Log" made me laugh. Not just because it was silly, but because it was smart. I had a strong sense of who the character is and got a kick out of the captain's response to haiku and how he begins writing. A great venture into scifiku and learning through laughter. —Aubrie Cox


Captain's Log

by Natalie Zelman

Captain’s Log, day forty-seven? It might be forty-seven, it also might be forty-six, but I’m pretty sure it’s forty-seven. Forty-seven. Captain’s Log, day forty-seven, Captain Schertz speaking. It’s been three days since they attacked my ship—three days since I sent what was left of my crew back to Earth, three days since I tried to go down with my ship, only to lock myself in a damn shuttle. I still can’t believe I did that. Three days since I watched those Zordax looters tear apart my ship to sell for scrap. Three days of trying to stay in the same corner of the galaxy so that once someone finally goes out to look for me, I will be easier to find. I have spent three days just floating in the middle of literal nowhere with only water and nutrition bars to eat, the scratchiest, lumpiest pillow in all of creation, and a throw blanket that’s too small for me. You’d think that after fighting in the Terran-Caelix wars and captaining The Rapture for a decade that I could handle anything, but this? This is torture. I have nothing to do, nowhere to go, and nothing to fight. You know, I never used to think that cabin fever was a real thing, but I’m learning my lesson as I speak.

Schertz out.

Captain’s Log, day forty-eight, Captain Schertz speaking. I dug into the media archives, well, what I can access from here, and that’s surprisingly limited. Seriously, I can’t get any current news, not even any good books. I can’t get any good movies or music, there is practically nothing available. The only stuff I could find was about this thing called “haiku?” I think that’s what it’s called- yeah, haiku. Apparently it’s this ancient Japanese kind of poetry? I don’t really know all that much about it, but hey, if it’s all I’ve got to entertain myself with out here . . . I might as well check it out.

Schertz out.

Captain’s Log, day forty-eight, continued, Captain Schertz speaking. This haiku stuff is actually kind of interesting. It’s these short poems, and I mean usually three lines short, and there are hardly any rules. This is my kind of poetry. I remember having to study poetry in school. We talked about ancient Terran masters like Shakespeare and compared them to modern writers and even translations of alien works. It was kind of odd. But anyways- haiku! I am finding that I really like it. I’ve found archives of haiku that just go on and on and on- it’s like they never stop. But, I have found a few that I really like. For example, there’s this one by some guy named Issa—

little snail
inch by inch, climb
Mount Fuji!

I don’t know what mountain this Mount Fuji is, but I assume that it’s pretty big. Maybe it was in one of the mountain chains that was swallowed by the Great Earthquake of 2312 . . . I don’t know, but regardless, I really like what this Issa guy has to say about this tiny snail. He gets it perfectly—no matter how big the task is, it can be accomplished if you work at it little by little. That’s how I got my own ship, after all. And having my own ship is what got me stranded here in the first place . . . What if nobody is coming for me? What if—no. They’re gonna come. I am going to be rescued.

Schertz out.

Captain’s Log, day forty-nine, Captain Schertz speaking. Still no sign of any rescue ships. I do so much for my crew and this is what I get? I have never lost a single crew member - not a single one—you’d think that they could at least send a ship to come and fetch me . . . It’s not like they didn’t have warp engines—they took the fighter, they’ve definitely reached Earth by now. Anyways, I’ve been reading more about haiku and I found this little how-to guide to writing haiku so I thought I’d try my hand at it.

escape shuttle
a speck
on a black canvas

Eh? I think it’s alright, it could be better, but not bad for a first attempt, if I do say so myself. I’m going to keep trying, I think, if just for something for me to do. We’ll see how this goes.

Schertz out.

Captain’s Log, day fifty, Captain Schertz speaking. I may or may not be really getting into this whole haiku thing. Having nothing better to do seems to be awesome inspiration. I wrote a few more since my last captain’s log. Last night, I was staring at the stars. Being out here—I don’t think that I’ll ever really get used to it. Everything is so big. It’s terrifying and amazing how big it all is and how incredibly small I am.

nothing compared
to the stars

I think that captures that pretty well.

lumpy pillow
I punch it into
a less uncomfortable shape

I swear, that damn pillow is going to be the death of me if I don’t run out of nutrition bars first. In other news, I’m still alone out here. Nobody has come for me, and there’s no way for me to find out if anyone is on their way, thanks to my broken comm systems.

testing the broken
comm systems
complete solitude

I just wrote that on the fly! How cool is that? It’s kind of weird, actually. Since I’ve started reading all those haiku and the books about it from the media archive, I’ve been thinking in haiku. It’s strange and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Schertz out.

Captain’s log, day fifty-one.
Finally, they’ve come.

Schertz out.

• • •

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