Love Story Haibun Responses & Sequences

Global Haiku • Millikin University • Spring 2009

autumn wind –
he pretends not to see me
as he passes

Masajo, Love Haiku, 35

She has not seen her lover for months. She constantly thinks about him and wishes that she could see him. Although she is glad they are not together anymore, a part of her wishes that they were, but she can not bring herself to contact him. One day, she goes on her usual solitary walk through the park. She passes the same sights that she usually does and sees some of the regular joggers that she passes each day, as she always goes on the walk at the same time. Then she sees her ex-lover approaching down the path. She feels a mixture of emotions at once. She longs to talk to him once she gets nearer, but she becomes suddenly uncomfortable with the situation. She feels her old love coming back, but reminds herself of what he did to her and feels a sudden hate towards him. As they get closer and closer, she feels more and more uncomfortable. She wants to talk to him, and as they get close enough to exchange words, they exchange a short awkward glance and quickly look back down at the ground. He pretends not to see her, and she does the same. She wants to turn back and say something to him, but can not bring herself to do it. She finishes her walk and returns home, full of regret. She wishes that she had said something to him and begins thinking of the next time she will see him. It may be another few months before she does, if ever, but she is intent on speaking to him whenever it happens.

one-time chance missed . . .
expression swallowed
until next autumn

Bill Ryan

my love—
the autumn wind
carries it on

Suzuki, Love Haiku, 58

A cool autumn breeze overwhelms me. New music echoes from nearly-barren trees as their last leaves fall. Vibrant colors stumble across the pavement like stray remnants of acrylic from an artist’s brush. As I make my way toward an unscathed patch of green, I sense another lonely presence. My eyes explore the premises, squinting as bold beams of red-orange light filter through desolate branches. Across a sea of marble and granite markers, a mere sliver of a woman stretches her arms to embrace a likeness of the Savior, appropriately situated in the heart of the churchyard. Her lean fingers trace the cement folds of his robe as another gust of wind gently tousles the thin, white fabric of her nightgown – almost a century old (a hand-me-down, I presume). I almost forget the reason for my visit, but I quickly avert my eyes and shift focus back to my original purpose. It almost feels inappropriate to watch – an elderly woman, alone in a churchyard, uncomfortably embracing a crumbling statue. As I take another painful step toward my late-wife’s marker, I can’t help but steal another glance at the elderly woman. In spite of her evident frailty, she has somehow managed to crawl onto the stone base of the statue and begins to claw her way towards His outstretched arms. Her eyes fixate on His sallow, empty gaze and, for a moment, she seems comforted by His stare. Alone, in her thoughts, she makes no apologies. Another breeze permeates the silence.

lonely churchyard—
an elderly woman rests
in the Savior’s arms

Billy Seger

The author did a fantastic job on this fiction piece! It was very descriptive, colorful, emotional, and had a sense of direction. The author made Suzuki’s haiku relate so well to the story and ended it with a fantastic new haiku. I guess I never really noticed the Jesus statues in graveyards, but they are indeed there. In the story, the Jesus statue is brought to life through touch and sight. It was very well written and it makes me crave more…

talking to grandpa
I notice an ant
on his name

in the light
a gravestone

          Brandy Bockewitz

The imagery in this story was astounding, and shows serious influence by Haiku writing in the style. The writing is tight, with very little outside the major theme of emptiness within the story or the moving of the character development. The writer paints a scene with his/her words, and the desolation of the old woman is carried within the mood of the writing. The two major characters are mirrored, with the backdrop of the graveyard and the religious implications of the setting (carried by references to Christianity throughout the work). This short story is superbly written, from voice to literary references to movement to use of the central theme. It reflects the consideration taken in writing a Haiku, in which each word must be perfect.

black clouds above churning ocean—
memories of one kiss
only one kiss

a red leaf—
our children’s names
our marriage plans

     Ryan Murphy

I chose the story bookmarked between the haiku above by Suzuki and the one below it by the story’s author. I believe that this story is by far the best piece written, and I admire the sophistication of the author’s artistry. The story’s use of imagery in phrases such as “new music echoes from nearly-barren trees” or “vibrant colors stumble across like pavement like stray remnants of acrylic from an artist’s brush” resonate like poetry, though they are written in prose. The descriptions of the elderly woman and the crumbling statue are equally impressive: not only are they well written, but they display a sense of imagination and originality. I think this story is a unique reader response that captures the depth of emotion Suzuki’s haiku evokes.

autumn graveyard
amidst angels and saints
nothing, but the wind

late in the day
this stone statue
silent to my prayers

     Natalie Perfetti

The imagery used in the second response is both beautiful and unsettling. It appeals to the senses- detailing several colors and the sound of falling leaves as “new music”. A woman is described as “a mere sliver,” a word which is especially effective at conveying a sense of frailty, and yet makes the picture of her crawling and clawing even more unsettling. The reader can connect with the narrator of the paragraph, feeling like a voyeur to this very private event.

slowly she shuffles
small feet.
open arms.

her love unhindered
by time nor death.
sea of stones.

     Sierra Shaw

• • •

Team Haiku Sequence

We wrote our team haiku sequence, “fresh coffee,” in response to the autumn graveyard haibun. Like this prose piece, the initial haiku resonate with a tone of loneliness and loss. However, the mood gradually shifts, and with the phrase “I pour fresh coffee,” the sequence travels down a path of renewal and rebirth. The use of kigo in “fresh coffee” follows a similar path of death and rebirth, starting when autumn wanes into winter and ending when winter melts into spring. These haiku are moments in themselves, yet also entwine to create an overarching sequence about life, loss, and growth.

fresh coffee

church courtyard
seasons change
around the statue

my headstone
still smooth—
last red leaf

turning my calender
I pour fresh coffee

ice melts
down the windows
I step outside

morning breath
of a stranger—
spring sunrise

     by Natalie Perfetti, Ryan Murphy & Jey Smith

• • •

Our sequence centers around an old woman’s visit to a cemetery. The narrator can’t help but gaze on at her display of enduring love and devotion.

her love unhindered

approaching green graveyard
leaves rustle
creating a soundtrack

through red-orange light
past the sea of granite markers
no longer alone

tired and frail
she staggers through the graveyard
as I stand and stare

slowly she shuffles
small feet.
open arms. 

her love unhindered
by time nor death.
sea of stones.

     by Sierra, Lynds, Lizzy & Lacey

mildewed rooms—
for how many years these rooms
as our love nest

Masajo, Love Haiku, page 51

I put our house for sale without a real estate agent. I figured I could sale it just as well as anyone could. After all, I had lived here for so many years. A real estate agent couldn’t just get to know my home in a few days; it took me years in the making. She didn’t know about the stains in the kitchen floor caused by an ink spill nor did she know about the scrape mark in the second bedroom from my husband pushing the bed in a direction it did not want to go. No, she did not know my home at all.

I thought my price was reasonable. Any new young couple could afford it for its bargain price. Yes, it needed upgrades but I was fine with it the way I remembered it when he was still alive.
Days went by and weeks, too. Finally what seemed like months and months, but actually just a couple of weeks, a couple made an offer, almost as much as the asking price. They seemed nice enough and by the looks of it, a young one was on the way soon. It was already October and I would have hated for the young one to be without a home in the approaching winter. I decided to sale our home to them. They were very happy and so was I.

On the closing day, I became quite ill. I couldn’t tell the new couple how happy I was for them. I decided to write a letter instead. I gave it to one of my new nurses to give to them. It read:

Dear newlyweds,

I cannot tell you how happy I am for you to buy my home. It is a nice one and has a lot of history. I hope it fits well into your new lives and serves as a lifelong investment. I know it did for my husband and I.

Please keep the ink spills under the kitchen rug and the scratch marks on the bedroom floor alone. As long as they are there, I am too. I have become a part of that house. For such a long time, it was like a love nest for my husband and I. Together we settled, just as you are, and lasted for quite some time.

Maybe one day I will come to visit, that is, if you don’t mind. Until then, good luck with life and may God bless you.

Ethel Durbin


widow's house
in the attic we find
a love nest

Brandy Bockewitz

My favorite story was the one about putting up the house for sale without a real estate agent, and it discussed all the old memories of the house. I felt it was really well written, and I liked that I couldn’t really tell if it was a true story or not. It was very believable. It makes me remember certain parts of my old houses that only I know the story about. The new owners probably do not care or maybe haven’t even noticed a lot of the stuff that is there. It’s like my own little secret that only the house and I know. Sometimes I think it would be interesting to hear how certain things happened to the house that I am currently living.

hidden treasures
those who seek

forget lost loves
but not…
lost treasures

memories fade
but stains…
are forever

     Emily Weible

I love the short fictional response about the old woman that is selling her house. It was very touching. I imagine a large, white house with a wrap-around porch and a picket fence. The old woman is walking around the house for a last look before she sells it and sees the ink stain and the rub mark on the floor. Memories of her past come flooding back as she remembers all the years spent in the house, raising her family. You get the feeling that the woman does not live very long after writing the letter to the young couple. Knowing this, she wants to pass on the house to them. I thought it was a very thoughtful and creative piece of writing. Using a letter written to the couple at the end made it seem more personal and realistic. Good job.

a widow
and her house
passed on

within these walls
my spirit
…will remain

four walls
of brick and plaster
witnesses to the past

     Jennifer Godwin

Green Green
A fallen plum I stepped on
I yearn to see him today

Suzuki, LH, ?

Her knees grow weak as she waits for him. She is so nervous, she knew that she would see Jake today, so she put on her best outfit and paid special attention to her hair. She wants him to notice her so bad…… She knows that he always walks down Elm Street every Thursday at twelve o clock.. So she has got to be right on time and play it off as if she was going to McDonalds. No money in her pocket she walks out of her house at 11:50 hoping to bump into Jake…

sweaty palms
cute outfit
here he comes

Dar Betton

This is adorable! I feel that this haiku was written about me. Although, this reminds me of many days past I can still vividly see myself in the shoes of the writer. Before Greg and I started dating I would try to memorize his schedule and decide when he would be coming out of class and from which direction he would be coming from. I can remember him laughing on the stairs one day and me starting to laugh just so I could look cool when he looked at me! Wow, yes this was in college and pretty pathetic but we have been together for two years now so I guess all the silliness was well worth it. I still get warm weird cuddly butterflies when we are apart for a long time and then finally see each other and this is what this haiku reminds me of the most.

My response haiku:

sweaty palms
here she comes
down the stairway

I hear his voice
from a distance
the aroma

sippin' java
cant wait to see her
flight delayed

          Jey Smith

falling snow—
too brilliant a rainbow
in my dream

Suzuki, LH, 41

All of my life, I have loved rainbows. I am obsessed with natural ones, and I am also obsessed with anything that comes in rainbow colors. It brings me extensive happiness. My husband and I just bought our first house together this past summer, and I got a room in it to devote entirely to homework/scrapbooking. The first thing I told him was that I HAD to be able to paint it fun wacky colors. I have one wall hot pink, one wall yellow, one lime green, and one turquoise, and all the trim in a bright purple. It is my special place. However, in school, I was always made fun for loving “rainbows.” For some odd reason some people believe that only gay/lesbian individual can appreciate a rainbow. I beg to differ!

With my love for rainbows, it seems like the only time I get to enjoy them is in the spring. This haiku makes me feel like it is possible to enjoy them all year long, even in the snow. I see myself walking either to class or maybe driving in my car. I am just blinded by the shockingly white snow. Then all of a sudden, through the snow there is a beautiful vibrant rainbow. In my fantasy, I see the end of the rainbow and it is welcoming me to hop on and enjoy the ride. I climb on the rainbow and start walking up its massive arc. I don’t know where I am going, but I know I will be happy once I get there.

The rainbow provides happiness, and does not make you continue any farther than you desire. Once it has completed its job, I can simply leave when I want. This refreshing break from everyday life is a much appreciated surprise. When you are able to go to your happy place, things always look better. I think it is God’s way of telling us to turn our frown upside down. We need to appreciate things in life and take a step back to look at the bigger picture.

raindrops stop at long last
windowsill still wet

Emily Weible

our spoken words
carried away by the waterfall-

Suzuki, LH, 55

Kim reaches for the solace of nature like someone would reach for a shawl on a cool day. She lets it envelope her and infuse itself into every part of her being. It is here on the edge of the waterfall, along the cliffs, that she contemplates the meaning of life and her place in it. Usually a place a refuge, she hikes up here at least once a week in the summer to meditate and calm her ragged soul.

But on this warm August day, Kim has chosen to share her special place with someone else. Kevin has been in her life since Kindergarten. They grew up and found their way through life’s ups and downs together. Years of friendship built this solid bond that they shared. So here, in a place so special to her, is where she must declare her deep love for the man beside her.

They hiked for hours through the dense green of the forest. Hearing the sound of the rushing water before she could see it, Kim knew they were getting close. Beads of sweat flowed down her already sopping forehead. Her pulse quickened with each step. Hands, cold and clammy, kneaded the air as they approached her place of harmony.
The water cascaded over the cliff in a solid sheet of white and blue ending at the bottom in a swirl of foam. The mist, refreshing and cool met their hot, parched skin as they approached the top.

At the edge of the cliff, they took a deep breath and soaked in the magnificent surroundings. Kevin stated he had never seen anything so beautiful, but he was not referring to the waterfall. He turned and faced Kim. Their lips, now just inches apart, were pulled together by unknown forces. Locked in embrace, it all became very clear to Kim and she knew she would never be alone again.

in azure pools
I see…

Jennifer Godwin

I really like this story; it is a beautiful concept and image. It is the kind of story that every girl loves to hear, a long relationship of old friendship turning into love. I wish this was in a movie or I could experience it myself. I can just picture is absolutely beautiful background of water, mist, and nature. When I read it I immediately knew that it was going to be my favorite and it was going to be hard to beat. The words that the writer uses provides a very strong image and sets the reader into the background watching this story unfold. I also like the mix of the hot August day with the cool refreshing mist, allowing the heat and their mutually concealed love to be resolved as they approach the top.

waterfall backdrop
love’s enchantment

     Lizzy Kelly

• • •

Watching a waterfall is beauty to the eyes, but actually feeling the midst of the water upon the skin acts as beauty to all of the senses. Weaved into every haiku is a feeling of love, desire, and nature. Each different haiku gives the reader a secure feeling of emotion and love as it unlocks the door to a new, blinding experience.

Cataract Consolation

warm summer day
a holiday for two
between the cataracts

engulfed in life
water becomes an escape
from ragged soul

dense green trees
deep desires

cliff side meditation
her thoughts
tumble over the edge

gasping for breath
the goal is near

longing to tell him
willingly interrupted
first kiss

lingering words
in the midst—
cascading waterfall

     by Brandy, Hector, and Emily

under the same sky
your life and my life…
snow piles on snow

Suzuki, LH, 41

A woman is forced to stay away from her lover. Her husband has grown suspicious and decided to take a trip away from home, just the two of them. Even though it is a loveless marriage, the husband tries to salvage it for the sake of his dignity. They go to dinner in a glass room, where it gives the illusion of eating outside. During the quiet and relaxing dinner he looks at her and sees her looking at the stars and the snow falling down. She’s thinking about her lover and how she would love to share this moment with him. She wonders what he is doing and if it looks this beautiful where he is. He remembers how much he once loved his wife and has a sense of determination to make the marriage work and return to being a loving relationship. Most of the trip went the same the husband did all he could to make her happy and his wife dreamed of her lover. Frustrated, the husband finally blows up at his wife who showed no acknowledgment of his presence or his new found effort into their relationship. She decides to try to show more effort for the man she once loved. The trip was made longer and they started to get to know each other again. After awhile her lover slips her mind, as she spends it on her husband. As the trip nears its end she falls in love again with the man she thought she hated. On her way home she dreads her meeting with her lover and enjoys the last few hours of bliss.

a candle’s flame
rekindled love

Lizzy Kelly

I have written about this haiku before but after reading the story behind it has brought new feeling to me. I imagined a man and a woman just living separate lives and still being married. It takes a different meaning after your read that the husband was trying to rekindle the love between him and his wife. Your life and my life could not even be about hers and her husband’s but the life she has with her lover and the life she has with her husband. Snow piles on snow could stand for the lies that she has not only been telling herself but also her husband. The end haiku takes on the meaning of her new love for her husband or how she will feel when she sees her lover again. She has found love in her husband again but she still has to see her lover. It gives the though t of her being pulled into two different directions and once again she must make a decision.

one heart
two loves
undecided decisions

unlocked heart
with two keys
loves unwilling

     Lyndsay Lemanczyk

I really enjoyed this story. When I had first read the haiku and then the story I didn’t really see how the two came together. However, after I read on, and read again, I saw how they fit together. It tells the story of what happens in a lot of marriages, sometimes you can be so in love with someone, get married and then the well runs dry… Often times when this happens the couple does not split up, they stay together, and have their own affairs on the side. As I read, it was like it was coming along in my mind like a movie, scene by scene. I actually sympathized with the husband, because even though their marriage had grown cold he still loved her. He did all he could do to rekindle their love. (That’s how a man is when he really loves a woman!) I admired the husband because a lot of men would have given up. I see how it related to the haiku especially in the last line of the haiku where it says” your life and my life”. It showed in the story because when they were sitting in the glass room and they were just there in silent, both of their bodies where there, but it seemed as though their minds were elsewhere. I especially liked this story because it showed the authors interpretation of the haiku and it is always nice to get another persons view on something. This story shows that true love conquers all.

     Dar Betton

• • •

Refurbished Love

Two kindred souls meet and young love is born. She is his everything and he lets her know it every second that they’re together. The affection and ease of this couple proves apparent to all they encounter. Their goals, values, and drive make them extremely compatible. After college they take the next step, a union before God, just as in love as they were the fist day of Junior High. They both acquire lucrative careers escalating them closer to the “American Dream”. One day they wake up older, complacency has replaced the spark, and he has become his work. She discovers the feeling she has been yearning for in the arms of another man. Her husband notices the deteriorating marriage and tries to salvage it…

his infidelity
is in his work

her heart’s rebellion
toward negligent love

dinner plate
glass room
broken marriage

looking at my wife
the girl I Used to know

winning you back
Love again

     by Jennifer Godwin, Darlisha Betton & Christa Hunt

when I draw water
will the spring run dry?
so many sins of mine

Suzuki, LH, 56

A man and a woman stand beside the door, kissing passionately. He has put on his shoes and jacket to leave, yet remains in her encircled arms. Though no one else is around to hear, he whispers “good bye” again and again. Daylight greets the couple as he opens the door. She pulls him impulsively back into the room. An hour later he leaves the house. Left to herself, the woman pins the thick curls of her hair back onto her head. She glances at the door, as if expecting him to return. A slip of paper between the door frame and the door catches her attention—her lover must have tread right over it, for the imprint of the bottom of his shoes shows in one corner. “No more mystery—I need to see you. Please.” Instinctively she crumples the note, recognizing his best friend’s handwriting. Later at the spring, she thinks again of the note and pulls it from her pocket. She dangles it over the water as if to drop it into the current, yet impulsively curls her palm around the paper. Studying her reflection in her pail of water, she slips the note back into her pocket. The spring water flows gently downstream.

secluded riverbank
fresh on her cheek
his kiss

Natalie Perfetti

my eyes wide open to darkness
nothing but darkness

Suzuki, LH, ?

But I swear I heard the crunch of her step across the snow. The snow, a reminder that a winter day is the best to quit smoking. You know you’re addicted when, because you hate the smell of smoke so much, you’re willing to stand on your porch, red hands shaking, pulling the fire into your lungs. I freeze my hands off so I can die of cancer; winter hasn’t even started. The paper crackles while I light the cigarette, a momentary lapse between the nothingness intensified by the sound of crickets chirping.

I take a tug. Perhaps with age, overuse, or decline in health, I can’t hold it in. I try to exhale slowly, my favorite brand beginning to taste like repetition, like the beginning of a cold. Smoking a cigarette on a snowy evening- definitive of our relationship.

And for some reason, I still find myself looking into the nothingness of the night hoping she’ll come back. There never was anything, but I still hope that the thought of our relationship will find a way to become real. The nights I trick myself into hearing her footsteps… those are the coldest.

I cough, trying to remember the exact color of her eyes. Trying to stare into her pupils, trying to see something beyond the black circle. A layer of darkness covering a brilliant white. Is there anything there if I can’t see it?

my nose resting in her hair

Ryan Murphy

a burning cigarette—
no solace
for a broken heart

red embers burn
ashes like tears
speckled on white

     Billy Seeger

In response to the chosen haiku for this story, this was also one of the haiku that made my final list. I like this story mainly because it is a very imaginative offspring of the haiku. Aside from that, it is very eloquently written. The central theme of longing wrapped inside of one’s own battle with an addiction was very clever to base a story such as this around. I guess I really like this story simply because once I started reading it, I was hooked; and when I finished, I wanted to know more. Furthermore, all of the points of this story are moments that I can personally relate to almost much too clearly. Basically, this story just really hit home with me.

thinking I hear her footsteps
on my parquet wood floor . . .
putting the pieces together

scanning for white on black
yearning to gaze
into her eyes

     Bill Ryan

There is a war happening in this small Japanese village. There are French soldiers who have moved in and taken over. In this small village the soldiers are required to go and meet the men and women of this village. During a man’s visit he discovers a young Japanese women who is a beautifully expressive women glowing with warmth. The man and women meet and immediately being to feel comfortable with each other’s presence and beauty. The two fall in love and immediately begin to plan to meet secretly, this women could not love the enemy and this man was to be focused on serving his country. After months of passionate kisses and midnight embraces, the women decides to tell her family that she loves this French soldier and will be leaving Japan to spend their lives together. Before she is able to tell her family the two are caught by another French soldier. He is immediately imprisioned and she is demanded to stay only in her house by her father. While she weeps for her lost man, she writes in her journal…

sheer summer kimono—
it pushes them into misery
this love of mine

Suzuki, Love Haiku (26)

response by Will Frankenberger

© 2009, Randy Brooks • Millikin University
All rights returned to authors upon publication.