Haibun Attempts 2
Global Haiku • Millikin University • Spring 2010
This morning, Sunday the 28th of February, I went to a brunch at my friend’s house. We were sitting at the table eating when I noticed a book that was lying on the dresser near the table. The book was the “Official Wine Listing for the Windows of the World.” Seeing that book made my heart skip a beat. The last time I saw a copy of that book was on my kitchen drain back home when I was 11 years old, two days before the attacks on 9/11. My dad is a wine connoisseur, and he has always loved had a passion for learning about wine. That book was the official wine list for the “Windows of the World,” which is the restaurant on the top floor of the world trade center. My dad had a lunch appointment on 9/11 at the top of the world trade center, and the sole reason he went there was so he could get his book singed by the wine specialists who worked there and helped write the book. Seeing that book on the table this morning made memories of terror flood back into me, and I suddenly remembered how scared and helpless I felt when I was 11. My dad turned out to be ok, but I will never forget that day, and I will never forget that book.
fiery free-fall from
In the future, there will be no resources left because we have used them all. Despite scientific efforts, we have been unable to find a successful way to reproduce fuel and crops without causing even more destruction. A boy takes a walk down the street, and wonders what it was like to have unlimited resources.
Bottom of the Bucket
During the summer we would always go to the strawberry farm and pick buckets full of berries. It was always warm and there were rows and rows of these plants that we could choose to go down. I would always eat some along the way, that’s the way to do it. When we took the buckets of strawberries home my mom would rinse off all the berries and we would freeze some, make jelly from others, strawberry shortcake, and of course eat from the bucket the rest. While cleaning the berries we would wash off dirt and leaves and the occasional tiny black bugs. That part grossed me out but I still loved eating them. I would always end up with something on my shirt from the summer of strawberries.
Clear or rainy I am watching you. I sit in the shadows and wait for the right moment to arrive. My suit is built to protect me and to harm you. I will not let you take advantage of this city and get away with it. With the help of my trusty butler no one knows my true identity and it will stay that way. You think you can hide in the darkness of this place, but I am already there. Though you can’t see me, my good deeds shine like the sun. This city needs me and I will be there when they call with a light in the sky. Watch your back sirs because I am there waiting for you. I will fly down from above and take you down. Challenge me I dare you, I already know how it will end. The corruption will stop here and Gotham will be turned around.
a knife and a gun
I remember one day, quite a long time ago, when my brother and I were biking. We quite often went biking together. It was always a fun time, even though I couldn’t really keep up with him. He was the older brother, after all. Nearly every time we went biking we would go up the huge hill down the road. On this particular day, the sun was shining and it was beautiful outside. I don’t recall it being too hot, too cold, or too muggy. It was the best kind of day for playing outside. We began heading down the road towards our hill. I was able to keep up with him pretty well that day. Then we got to the hill. I very quickly fell behind. I usually got off of my bike when climbing the hill, but he usually was able to stay on. Either way, he was content to leave me behind. I continued to trudge up the hill, trying to catch up. Most days Brandan would wait for me at the top of the hill, but this day he was apparently too impatient. As I was still hauling my bike up the hill, Brandan zoomed past, flying down the hill. I couldn’t believe that he had left me! I picked up the pace, hoping that I could make it to top of the hill before he made it back home. I finally got to the top, looked down the road, and he had already disappeared into our barn. I quickly hopped onto my bike and pedaled furiously for a little ways. I was going much faster than usual – it was amazing!
I kept going faster and faster until I was afraid. My bike didn’t have brakes on the handles; you had to pedal backwards in order to stop. This made slowing down quite difficult. I tried a few times, but I was too afraid of losing control. Then I looked down to the road, just a little ways ahead of me was a tiny rock on the road (if you could even call it a rock – it was more like a pebble). It was too late for me to dodge it, but the minute little stone managed to send my bike reeling out of control.
The next thing I remember was waking up in the ditch. The only reason I know that I blacked out was that I didn’t remember falling. One second I was hitting the pebble, and the next I was in the ditch. Unfortunately that wasn’t all that had happened. I had hit the road. I had hit the road HARD. I looked at myself and all I could see was blood. I began to cry harder than I had ever cried before. I was alone. Brandan had left me. He had left me behind. It was the only thing I could think about for a time. Then I began to feel the stinging pain all over my body. With a great deal of effort I managed to get up and get my bike back on the road. I then experienced the longest bike ride of my life. I was just a short ways from my house, but it seemed like an eternity. I rode my bike slowly home, screaming in agony. The tire was wobbling all over; I was lucky I was able to ride it at all. I remember glancing at the cattle in our pasture and watched them continue to graze quietly, casually looking at me as though nothing had happened. I continued to ride, barely even moving. I finally got close to my house when I heard my grandma calling my name – I had been gone for quite some time after Brandan had returned. I finally came around the corner of the barn and saw my grandma in the back yard. She screamed when she saw me. She quickly came and got me, and she and my mom slowly, painfully removed the gravel from all over my body. Slowly they cleaned and disinfected my scraped body. All I can remember after that was the searing pain of the rubbing alcohol.
Years later, I still have the helmet. My parents say that they’re sure I would have died if I hadn’t been wearing it. The scrapes in it were nearly an inch deep. The bike is still in the barn. The tire still wobbles, and I’m still amazed it can be ridden (though not by me). It was the most painful day of my life, and I will never forget it. I can’t forget it. The scars on my body will be a grim reminder of that beautifully tragic day for the rest of my life.
screaming in pain
They say there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Who ever decided that? Has anyone ever found a pot of gold there? When you think about it, who has even found the end of the rainbow? I’m sure people have tried. What if someone spent his or her whole life searching, chasing rainbows? They surely wouldn’t get too far. How about those tiny little rainbows that show up when there’s mist from a garden hose? Either the end of the rainbow is hidden somehow, or there isn’t a pot of gold. Those rainbows are so tiny that you can see either end. I’ve never seen a pot of gold while watering the flowers, but the rainbows seem to pop out of nowhere. Maybe it’s the leprechauns . . . They seem like shady folk. Maybe they’ve found a way to hide themselves from our sight. That sounds logical, I suppose. Then they must make the pot of gold invisible as well. Perhaps they make the gold invisible when they touch it, and all you have to do is find the end of the rainbow, knock the leprechauns out of the way, and the gold will appear! Or maybe . . .
Camping in Wisconsin
At an early age, I was quickly introduced to the outdoors. My family enjoyed sports, camping, hiking, biking, and boating. Basically, you name the outdoors activity and we liked to do it. Furthermore, growing up in Wisconsin produced a close relationship with different types of nature from all four seasons. This unique experience was enhanced by living on the lake. One the lake I was able to swim, tube, wake board, ski, fish, have skate, have snowball fights and play hockey every year.
Of these seasons summer became a particular favorite due to camping throughout Wisconsin. Mom, dad, Miles (brother; two years younger), and I would jump in the over packed van and attached camper five to six times per summer. The family favorite camping site was two hours north of Green Bay called Boulder Junction. Our family reserved the same small red cabin for a week in July up until I was ten years old. Camping at Boulder Junction became a vital family tradition in my upbringing, placing importance with those memories.
The most vivid memories revolved around the old wooden dock in the backyard of the lake front cabin. We fished off the dock at breakfast, swam in the shallows during the day, and watched the sunset at night. My mom and dad often sat in the two faded blue lawn chairs while my brother and I caused some form of trouble. These moments were some of the happiest memories of every summer.
Wisconsin camping trips
The epitome of my high school career came with senior soccer season. I had been announced captain of the varsity team early in the summer and wasted no time to get the team in shape. Daily lifting and strenuous of hour soccer to follow quickly shaved off any extra pounds. Beyond the physical requirement for greatness, the team mentality was perfect. Nine of the thirteen seniors (myself included) had been playing soccer together for eleven years. We knew where each other would run on the field before they even did it. Working several influential juniors into the mix, we trained all summer to evolve into a single working unit.
As the season began we won a few important games against very competitive schools, but needed to be consistent in our results. We seemed to win depending on the mood of the players. Once I realized this crucial aspect of our results I worked hard to boost team moral and set a good example for the team. Before each game we would be so mentally focused and motivated that our confidence became reality. We finished the regular season as conference champions and advanced to the state tournament.
The first game was against a much smaller conference school and we quickly won the game. The next team (semifinals) put up a valiant effort, but our determination to win prevailed yet again. This placed us in the state championship game. Fan busses from Neenah, my hometown, drove to Milwaukee for the event, giving us a home-crowd-feel of five hundred people. Our opponent was a large all-boys school called Marquette and had won six out of the last seven state championships. The hard fought battle pushed every player to their mental and physical limits. As if to prove the quality of both teams the regulation time ended with a 2-2 tie, leading us to over time.
Five minutes into the overtime my fellow captain put a volley into the side netting, scoring the game winning goal. Since that moment, life became a slow motion film. Every player rushed the field and was quickly met by ecstatic fans. Engulfed in a wave of people we held the state trophy high in the air as we cheered the infamous “ole” chant. That moment will always be embedded in my memory as one of the happiest events of my life.
trophy held high
It was summer. Slightly warm out, but still had that good night chill. The sun had gone down hours ago and the heat of the night was settling upon us. Mosquitoes were buzzing by our ears as we sat around the campfire. The smoke wafted into our faces, choking back our oxygen a little bit. We looked up at the night sky together, enjoying the beauty it brought us. Out here in the country, the stars seemed to have multiplied infinitely. They were brighter than any city lights could ever be. I took her hand and walked her over by the lake. We lay down on the dock, still a little soggy from the daily lake activities. Right there, with her arm on my shoulder I felt as if nothing could go wrong. The stars were twinkling above us. The moon was lighting up her face perfectly. The fish were jumping out of the water every few minutes. The crickets chirped all around us. What could make this any more perfect?
Then, it happened. Stars started jumping in the sky. Shooting stars were everywhere. One after another these beautiful, twinkling lights jumped out of the black background towards our faces. This lasted for about an hour, just laying there on the dock. Everything around us was perfect. Everything around us comforted us and made us feel safe. Even though we were in the middle of some strange place that we didn’t really know, everything was known and perfect to us. We felt love. We were love. And the stars joined us.
looking for love
Tuft of Hair
As the sun set over the river, I looked up and saw his face. At first I thought it was my friend, he must just be playing a joke on me. I laughed at it and ducked away in the bushes hoping to scare him as he walked by. What I saw next, however, changed my life forever. As my friend moved closer, I noticed some strange things. He sure wasn’t walking like his normal self. He was sort of creeping along, crawling like an ape would. I looked closer and saw his skin. Maybe it wasn’t just a suit he was wearing. It was fitting awfully tight and moved with him really well. The fur on his skin kept getting caught in the branches as he walked by. I noticed that it didn’t pull away from his body though. This caught me off guard. As he neared closer to me, fear took me over. I saw his yellow eyes staring at me. I saw his mouth open, revealing large, yellowed fangs. This certainly could not be Keith. He looked at me and growled, hot air bellowed out of his mouth. I could smell a pungent, awful stench from his mouth. He lunged toward me as I ducked and closed my eyes, terrorized by what was happening. My heart was pounding, breath rapidly exchanging, sweat dripping off of my face. I opened my eyes again to see where he had gone . . . and saw my bedroom. I was safe and sound at home. It had only been a dream! I rolled over to go back to sleep and found a dark tuft of hair on my pillow…
running through the forest
I remember coming to Millikin last year for my Honor’s interview and a tour of the campus. My mom and I pulled up in her white SUV and we didn’t know where to park. We finally found a random spot and decided it was our spot. We walked up to Shilling Hall, even though we didn’t know it then, through snow and puddles. We passed a couple professors who welcomed us and said hello, even though they didn’t have to.
As we sat in lowere RTUC, President Zempke spoke to us and said even under all of this snow, Millikin still shines with a “Big Blue” sky. I was then assigned to a student who walked us around and we were also partnered with another potential student. This student was Lili Torre and after this day, we became best friends for the next year. We both chose to come to Millikin and were extremely close in our first year.
never too much snow
One year, on Christmas Eve, my family and I were planning on going to church. However, the weather was really horrible. There were at least 8 inches of snow and more falling at every minute. We were all dressed up with me in my new, black and sparkly Christmas dress. We all sat around the fireplace, contemplating if the roads were too bad to bear. I was supposed to sing in the choir so I kept saying that we needed to go. My uncle put his arm around me and explained that if the roads were too bad, there was nothing we could do. However, in the end, my mom decided that we could go. However, when we got to the church, not a single car was in the parking lot. We drove home in a slump, sad that our Christmas Eve mass was ruined.
a little girl
Panama City Beach
Ever since I was six years old, my favorite vacation spot has been Panama City Beach, Florida. I can remember walking through the beachfront hotel’s back doors onto the patio and feeling the cool breeze. A few more steps and I could see the giant waves rolling in onto the white sandy beach. The melodic sound of the waves crashing against the shore soothed and relaxed me. My younger brother and I would run off of the patio towards the water, kicking hot sand behind us with our bare feet. Once we reached the water, we would hesitate, unsure of how cold it would be. Then a wave would surprise us by crashing onto the shore, sending water rushing around our ankles. Our feet would sink into the wet sand, and I would wiggle my toes with glee. I would look up at the bright blue sky and feel the hot sun beating down on my bare shoulders, and I would grin at the thought that this would be my home for the next week.
The wind rushing through my hair, goosebumps popping up all over my body, the incredible rush of flying through the clouds is extraordinary. Wispy clouds are a blur, and the night sky above me seems just a little bit closer than when I was on the ground. Dipping in and out of the clouds, swerving around birds and airplanes, the adrenaline rush almost matches the amount of fear I’m feeling. Flying on a broomstick to escape this town that I have hated growing up in is so freeing.
“Hurry up!” My sister and I scamper ahead of our mother. She is laden down with bulging bags of sunscreen, snacks, and towels. Her sunglasses dangerously dangling on the tip of her nose as she yells “Not so fast!” But no need. My uncle swoops in and scoops us up, our sunburnt bottoms slapping against his tanned forearms. We scream and wriggle out, our feet hitting the fine sand, wallowing in it like sugar. We wait impatiently for mom. She finally lays down the towels, sets up the umbrella, and motions for us. The cold sunscreen melts down our skin and we wait and squirm, blowing on it to dry faster. “Okay.” Finally! We take off from the starting block with our pails and shovels, determined to finish our city’s ground plan before lunchtime. I’m in charge of the moat, my sister of the buildings - no wonder she went on to become an architect. I lug sand back and forth from the tide, digging a trench that no hermit crab can cross. The tide comes in. An hour has passed. My moat is filled with foamy brine, and a tower collapses! My cousins swim out to the sandbar, and my sister joins them while I try to salvage the castle. My mom calls “Snack time!” I reluctantly go and scarf down a sandwich, and then return. The castle is in ruins, with a gull resting on top. It stares me down, not wanting to give up it’s sun soaking. I turn around and grab my goggles. Time for a swim.
The wind comes in. Hot, dusty hair clogs my throat and stings my eyes, even through my helmet. I can hear the shots, feel the bullets, and taste the blood. I look around at the rocky hills, the sun beating down on me like a mallet. I tremble: they’re gonna eat me alive. My hands sweat inside the gloves, my torso expands inside of the thick bullet proof vest. The gun feels heavy in my suddenly clumsy hands, and my feet feel like leaden blocks on the ends of my stumpy shins. I feel rough, like a ball of clay smushed by a child and thrown into the kiln, meant for nothing but destruction. No glaze, just armor haphazardly thrown on as I clank towards the battlefield. A helmet lies in the weeds, dusty with age, an unknown flower growing from a bullet hole. The shadow stretches into the horizon, beyond everything I have known and everything I have left behind. I clench my teeth and breath. My eyes overflow. The air whizzes with bullets, and my heart stops.
helmets and bulletproof vests
After the philosophy lecture, I take the stairs and stop midway down. My friend comes out of the classroom after me. I glance at him wordlessly before looking back out the window. He stops beside me.
"The snow is blowing up," I state. He looks out the window. Against the brick of the building, we can see snowflakes drifting upward, but none come back down.
"... I like when things are different," he replies.
We continue to stare out the window. After a span of silence, he briefly attempts to reason why the snow was doing it—the architecture of the building, air in the small recess pushing precipitation—but we both soon fall back into quiescence, watching the snow fall up. He then checks his calendar and continues down the stairs.
Pouring myself a glass of water from the tap, I look out the kitchen window. Long tree shadows stretch across the backyard blue snow. I remember my professor asking if anyone knew which phase of the moon we were currently on; no one could answer, except that it would be a full moon on Friday; the professor corrected her; it would be a full moon on Saturday. Though now, the light already surpasses those of the street lamps. I lean over the sink, but can't catch a glimpse of the moon. Sleepless, I leave the glass on the counter and go back to bed.
Water drips into the filled tub. I reach over and pull the knob tighter and the faucet stops leaking. Candle light flickers against the bathroom's pale pink tiles. Outside, the wind howls and bare branches beat against the side of the house. As I run the wet washcloth over my forearm, I can hear the television in the next room. I slip further into the water. The gentle splashes seem loud in comparison to the news anchor reporting about the bomb in the baby carriage and the damage to the front of the bakery. On the bathroom ceiling is black soot from the Home Sweet Home candle.
wind carries away
© 2010, Randy Brooks Millikin University
All rights returned to authors upon publication.