Haiku Attempts 8 - Basho haibun

Global Haiku • Millikin University • Spring 2010


Mariah is an interesting soul. When you first meet her, one can sense a dark aura surrounding her darker hair. There is something...not quite sinister, but protective around her. Her nails gleam bright pink and red, her hair glossy and relaxed. Her eyes are deep set and narrow, and seem to pierce right through fakery. The dark eyes look at people critically, but not so critically as they look on their carrier. Hugging her dark, clingy jeans closer, Mariah sometimes closes herself off. But not always. When you get to know her, slowly peel away those layers, you see the brightness and vivacity of her soul as clearly as her pearly white teeth. Mariah is a little bit crazy. Those bright pink nails clutching a bottle or merely your hand open the doors to her ridiculous soul. A girl who shops at Nordstroms and U-Top; a girl who’s favorite foods are designer sushi and home cooked fried chicken. A girl who’s favorite person is the same as the most hated: herself. But she hides that. Only the people who are willing to stay see and hear those parts. Nothing for outsiders. Fiercely proud and obnoxiously fabulous, Mariah is like champagne: nothing short of a diva, bubbly and full of flavor—but too much, and you can get sick. Lucky for me, I can hold my champagne. Mariah brings out the best in me.

house party hair
holding back; and laughing
the next morning

Read Me A Book

When I was younger, my mom would read to my sister and me every night. This was such a special time for us because it was just us three girls, together, with nothing to bother us. On more than one occasion, my mom read this book about careers. It had little paper people attached to strings in the book so you could put them in the outfits for each career. However, after we read this book a couple different times, we got bored with the actual story. Then my mom would just take the little people and make them kiss or dance and do other goofy things, instead of following the story line. This is one of my fondest childhood memories because my mom and sister and I were together and the stress on all of us was much less.

paper girl and boy
instead of going to work

Club Girl

The girl is at the club again. She comes every night, seeming to be searching for something. She doesn’t seem to know what it is though, because she always seems lost. Dancing to the pulsating beats, she forgets where she is. A boy comes up to her and begins to dance with her. She seems to be intrigued and smiles as she closes the distance between them. She doesn’t know what she wants. She just keeps on dancing at the club. Night after night, she forgets her life, immersing the chaos in her mind with alcohol and music. The boy gives her a drink, and she drinks it obligingly. The night suddenly seems so dark to her as the boy walks her away in the direction of the lights. I lose sight of her then, the last glimpse of her lost soul another frozen frame illuminated by strobe lights.

amidst the chaos of strobes
she tries to forget
her shattered life

Just Do It

James is a friend from back home in Neenah, Wisconsin. We met in high school where James swam, while I played soccer. During the summers, he was a lifeguard at the public pool and practiced his guitar in the evenings. One day James decided he was tired of Neenah and we should drive across the lake to High Cliff State Park. We drove there and explored the coast line for several hours with care-free laughter the whole way. This was a typical day for James. When he wanted to do something, he did it.

coast line nature walks
our friendship shares

Best Friends Forever

I met her when I was in second grade. She still is by my side to this day. My family loves her. She’s one of us. She is the kind of person who walks in a room and immediately brightens it up because of her smile. Her wisdom floods out of her mouth, always knowing just what to say and when. She looks into my eyes and can feel what I’m thinking. We used to play cards together and wouldn’t even have to have signals like the other partners, we would just know when we had it. Her voice has always calmed me, put me in a good mood. Her laugh is deep and hearty, and almost always brings tears to my eyes. We are now hours away. She has her new friends and I have mine, but we will always still have each other. She is my best friend, and will be forever.

second grade play date
had no idea
we’d be friends this long

Panama City Beach

The morning sun rises over the horizon of rolling waves, casting light on the sparkling white sand of Panama City Beach. It is a rare occasion that the beach is not littered with tourists and colorful beach umbrellas; it is in its natural element as it continues in its motion without human interaction. The waves roll, crashing and becoming sea foam along the shore line, pulling seashells and hermit crabs further back to join the fun. The seagulls soar high above in the light blue sky, scoping out where the day’s breakfast will come from. Dolphins take advantage of the unoccupied waters by swimming closer to the shore, appreciating the cool air as they come up to breathe. As the morning grows later, people slowly begin to invade the nature—yet it is these people who truly know the beauty of this area.

noises of nature
the shore comforts
the restless sea


The leather-skinned man stands on the edge of his boat, searching the waters for a sign of life. He casts his line into the stillness, waiting for a response. His eyes show his age, his weariness of the world he has been residing in for so long; a world that is controlled by money—a luxury he lacks. His callused hands reels in a whole load of nothing. He knows he will be out past sunset trying to catch something; with fishing he can always succeed. He thinks of his family, the people who he loves more than anything…the people who do not appreciate all that he does, all of the suffering he goes through for them. He keeps casting out his line, hoping for a brighter outcome.

what will it take
to realize his anguish—
the ticking clock

Back Stage

A light tapping on my shoulder pounds my leaden head. The bedroom is far too bright: white sheets cackle as they reflect the sun straight into my swollen eyes. A glass of water suddenly looks hostile as my stomach flops and mother rubs my back. The clock can’t be right: it’s trying to trick me by only giving me one hour before the matinee. I heave myself up and get a brush caught in the nest on my head. Mother tends to, father makes chicken soup. The stiff wooden chair holds me upright; a rag doll transfigured to porcelain by a hot curling iron mother wields. The corkscrew curls dance around my newly made-up face. The stage make-up threatens to flop off, my heavy head cannot handle any more weight. The soup smells like health, but my stomach feels like death. Sitting in the slow moving car, every turn feels like a roller coaster. After a trek through the hallways, I find my dressing room. Stares and my friend’s caring words. Smoothing my back, trying to work lumps of sickness out of my hunched shoulders. Then, they start a new play: retelling me my life, the memories lost in blackout.

sunday matinee
critiquing her hangover—
“needs more energy”


Joshua is a gentle man. Even when upset he calmly thinks before he speaks. He’s not from around here but has made this his home for the time being. He works hard and is honest and true. Even though he is busy six out of seven days, he still makes time to shine light in my life. In his eyes one can see the love he holds for the people he cares about, in his smile you can see life being lived, and through his words anyone can hear sincerity. Josh is strong not just in physicality, but also spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. He has his silly moments, and when he does his laugh just causes a smile to break on others. Though my time with him isn’t always long, he is always with me.

under the stairs
a quick kiss
good night love

Shattered Confidence

In my Jr. High years, I was a typical pre-teen who was constantly worried about her appearance. I would carry a hand held mirror around with me in my book bag so I could make sure I always looked my best. I wore the cutest clothes and always had my hair the right way. However, I remember one day when my mirror broke. At first, I just tried to look at myself in the little broken pieces that were left. When I discovered that wasn’t working, I asked all my friends if I could see their mirrors at every free moment for the rest of the day. Needless to say, I went and bought another mirror right when I got home.

unable to see
her real self in
the broken mirror

Waiting for Spring

All of my life I have known that I wasn’t quite like the other girls. I didn’t like to play house. I didn’t want to jump rope. I certainly didn’t have any Barbie dolls or want to play with the other girls. My first best friend was a boy. I liked to play LEGO’s with my brother. We played basketball and street hockey every day. I didn’t think this was weird, I just knew I wasn’t like the other girls. Mom said I was a tomboy and that that was okay.

Growing up, I did make friends that were girls, however they were called tomboys too. I started playing softball when I was six. I played basketball and soccer all growing up. My “girlfriends” did the same. We didn’t act all goofy around the boys, we fought back and hung right with them, and thought the girls were weird when they did act goofy.

It wasn’t until high school that I realized just how “different” I was. I realized that when girls asked me what I thought of a guy, I would say, “Oh, he’s really cool. We talk in class all the time.” They thought that was crazy and wanted to know if I thought he was hot. I never could really answer this. I didn’t find guys hot or attractive in that way. Instead, I looked at the girls this way. I thought my best friend was good looking. She made me feel funny when I was around her, a way that my “girlfriends” said boys made them feel.

But it seemed that any time I tried to tell someone about this, my lips were chilled. I couldn’t put what I wanted to say into words. What I was feeling was against what my parents had taught me was “right” and “acceptable.” What I was feeling was wrong to them, so my lips iced over when I tried to talk about it.

Whenever I would talk to my mom, she became the autumnal wind. Her words and reactions crashed over me. She made me feel so small and inferior. She iced over my heart, mind, and feelings. I thought I would never be able to say how I feel, do what I like, and love who I love. I was scared that I would be frozen forever. I wanted Spring to come. I wanted it to come and thaw out my lips. A new life and beginning to start things over and bring me back to life. I held onto hope, but struggled in doing so.

walking in the mall
checking out
his girlfriend

Snow Day

We had just moved here from South Carolina. It was my first winter with actual snow that I can actually remember. I was 12 almost 13 and my brother was 9. South Carolina doesn’t get much snow; it’s more like a light dusting of white powder. We got out of school for that, not like in Illinois. With great excitement I climbed into the big black snow suit and layered socks upon socks, a couple pairs of pants, and my big blue marshmallow coat. I scavenged for a warm pair of gloves and a hat to hide my ears from the bitter wind. Being a little rounder, it took me longer to get ready than my brother and sister. Dad unpacked the snow fort building material, and we even conned him into buying a couple sleds for us. We grabbed our goodies and started our trek to the only “hill” around. The road was covered in brown mush from cars driving over the once white snow. Finally after taking turns pulling each other down the couple streets we reached our destination, the grain bins. It wasn’t the grain bins we were excited for though, it was the bump in the ground next to it. We climbed up what was the steepest hill in town and prepared for our sledding fun. Karla of course went first, being the oldest, then me, and then Matt. This became a regular occurrence with new snow falls and whatever was left on the hill. Sometimes we would make ramps to put a little jump in the sled. Today though, just me and Matt decided to play in the snow. We made our journey to the grain bins and stood staring out over the white snow, which quickly led to the Rt. 16 highway. We always made sure we were careful to jump off the sled or flip it before we made it to the highway. Being kids we always try to find new ways of fun, so me and matt climb onto our sleds. I picked the toboggan and Matt sat on the round blue disk holding the string on mine. “One, two, three…. GO!!” we sped down the slope and realized we were heading straight for the road a quick jerk and our sleds took a sharp turn flipping us out right in front of the telephone poll. I laughed, and then laughed harder when I realized Matt was tied to the pole by the sled rope. After that exciting adventure we headed back home dragging the dirty snow on our sled bottoms.

crashed into the pole
rope burns
from the sled


In the movie, “The Holiday,” the girl who lives in England has a house that is at the end of this long country road. When the American goes to stay in her house, even the taxi driver will not go down the road because it is so narrow and he will not be able to turn around at the other end. Thus, she has to walk. And walk. And walk. And in heels, I might add. There is snow everywhere and she has to walk miles down this road to her vacation home. When she finally gets there, she realizes why no travelers head down this long country road.
miles and miles
in heels and snow
to a new home

Spring Break

A warm day in March, we take the field in Florida. It is our last game of our spring break trip. Being 7-2 we aren’t satisfied. We want one more win for our week. We want to go out with a bang going into our regular season. As a team, we need the momentum to carry us into a great season back in Illinois. We are playing St. Norbert, a team which is beatable, but won’t be easy.

A long hard fight persists. We exchange hits and plays. Each team is doing well, making few mistakes. We work together as a team and stand behind our pitcher.

A 2-1 game, us winning, we enter the bottom of the seventh. All we have to do is hold them here and the game is over; we win. A runner is on second with two outs. I’m playing shortstop. The batter hits a high fly ball, it seems to go to center field. However, I read that it is much too short. It’s coming right to me. I position myself under it perfectly and look up again to field it. The Florida sun floods my eyes and I can’t see a thing. I call for help but no teammates can get there in time.

The ball falls to the dirt about five feet in front of me. I scamper to get the ball, but not before the runner at second scores. Embarrassed and enraged, I have let my team down. They are obviously upset with me and nothing I can say can make it better. Damn that sun that was supposed to tan me, it cursed me instead.

Long story short, we go into extra innings and end up winning in the 9th, partly due to a timely hit by me. I stepped up to make up for my error. My teammates had my back all along, performing strongly on defense and hitting the ball well so as to boost our team for a win. We went out with a bang and set off for Illinois ready to dominate.

golden sun
replaces the ball
error number one

Cape Cod

The old cottage sits on a grassy sand dune. Tall pine and oak trees shelter the roof from the strong, northern sun. The knotty wood deck soaks up the rays through a small window in the trees. From the outside eye, a mediocre summer home. A pale, faded blue wash with white trim, slightly chipped. The olive green door draws my eye as I lug my suitcase through the sand and brambles. The key slides into the antique lock, and the door swings open. The basement is dark, the carpet sandy. The room smells like seaweed. Walking through, I see seashells, starfish, and a stuffed gull that eyes me with suspicion. The stairs are narrow, and my suitcase bounces between the dark wooden slats. A picture frame dangles perilously from it’s hook; gravity rights itself as I step into the landing. Upstairs, the glass doors let in summer light, bathing the house in a warm glow. The house smells like the ocean. I sit on a blue sofa, rest my feet on the sea-foam green coffee table, and breath it in.

water limbs
lying in a sandy bed
I hear the waves

Laguna Beach

I want to describe my favorite place back home. There is a little cliff in Laguna Beach that is hidden and no on else knows about it. This place is very special to me because it is my getaway spot if things are wrong. I have only taken two people to it ever since I was 16 and learned to drive. Those two people are my mom and my best friend. I love it there because I can just close my eyes and listen to the sound of the ocean, while at the same time I can open my eyes and see a stunning view. This place got me through two surgeries, my dad and mom’s cancer, countless high school memories This place got me through high school, and I know that whenever I come home it will always be there. I actually took a picture of it during winter break, and I am going to share it with you.

the ocean washes
away my sorrow


On one of my many visits to the city of Chicago, I’m slowly walking down the crowded street of Michigan Avenue. There are so many different faces, each walking at their own pace, with their own bags and friends, each with a different destination. Each individual has his or her own unique characteristics and stories, and when I look at all of them I wonder what secrets they hold. It’s wonderful to see how many mysteries are held by a single person, and the millions of people that pass by me in this city reflect that beautiful mystery.

the morning after—
coffee shop buzzing
she sits in the corner

New Orleans: The Big Easy

The cobblestone street in the French Quarter gleams and glistens with electric light, sparkling eyeshadow, and spilled liquor. The air is heavy like molten gold, and on every corner, a voodoo man is trying to sell you a look into the future. I hand my money to the bodyguard at the door of the venue: he whisks me to a room so dark and dank. “Oh what did I do to be so black and blue?” The singer’s red sequins flash, beams of light shoot at the old wooden walls and make her eyes twinkle. The floorboard’s groan as the crowd sways. Eyes closed, arms up, the moist bodies move as one. The air hangs thick like spanish moss on an old oak, and the streetcar vibrates the floor as it flies two blocks down. The gleaming gold sax teases the trumpet, and the clarinet breaks up the brawl. Then, harmony. For a single moment, the improvisation becomes one, something soft and pure that is so sought out on Bourbon Street. The old man in the corner claps his hands off-beat, and his cracked palms break the moment. And here we are again, swaying to the blues.

camellia tree
the clarinet sings
of love lost

Sun Diamonds

The sun rose that day like any other day. The mist practically vanished at the very sight of the sun as it seemingly rose out of the shimmering waters. Gazing across the lake, the water is still until a fish leaps out. It causes a splash and sends tiny diamonds into the air. The smell of the dew and freshly cut grass pervades the air, and sitting on the deck it seems as though civilization is miles away. The lawn chairs are still damp, but are just as comfortable as ever. In the yard the campfire is still smoldering, a faint reminder of the blazing inferno that lit up the night just hours ago. Suddenly, only feet away from the shoreline, a loon comes to rest in the glassy water. The ripples rush out around the bird causing tiny, sparkling rings to flow out in every direction. In that moment, consumed by the silent serenity of the morning, he smiles. In that moment, a tear slips down his cheek. In that moment, his only wish is that his grandfather was still alive to share a moment in paradise.

a ripple in the pond
can never be

Ink Well

On my boat this past summer, the sky was deep and dark—a perfectly clear night. The cool air is still, creating a unique and calm atmosphere. The constant low rippling waves gently rock me back and forth while I reflect on life. Lying down across the soft tanning platform cushions on the back of my boat, I look up at the vast sky. My entire vision is taken up by the massive darkness above, yet I am comforted by it. With my eyes adjusting I can begin to make out dim specks of light in the sky. My sight continues to focus intensifying the stars to bright beacons. The contrast between the jet black background strengthens the starlight. I am reminded of hope as the beacons across the sky never fade despite the immense sea of shadows attempt to envelope the brightness. Comforted by the stars, I fall asleep to the sublime view.

night time boating
gentle rocking waves
my mother

Night Game

We take the field ready for our game. It is 3 AM. We have been waiting all day to play, the rain has held us off. Tired, yet fueled by adrenaline, we are ready to win. Our game is the only one playing at the ballpark of 12 diamonds. Everyone else was lucky enough to be at home. As we took the field we began to get chilly, certainly not prepared to be cold. Who would have thought we would be cold at a game in mid-July? We were ready to win, if for nothing else, to go to sleep.

The fog in the air was thick. We could hardly see outside of the field. The lights were bright, illuminating our every move. Halfway through the game, one of the huge light poles flickered out. So now we were not only playing in the middle of the night, in the cold, in the fog, and tired, but also halfway in the dark. The frustration set in, but we were determined.

The team came to life and joined together. We were ready for adversity and decided not to let it overcome us. We played our hearts out. We dominated that game and were ready for more. We finished, excited as ever. Much to our disapproval, a win meant we played at 9 AM the following morning. By the time we got to the hotel and back to bed, we would only get about 3 hours of sleep. We didn’t let that overcome us. We were ready to fight.

We played four games the following day before we achieved a third place trophy. Much like that long fly ball to centerfield, our weekend took its time, but we were determined to be there to catch that ball and throw the next runner out.

only crickets chirp
and the crack of the bat

Towering Pine

Tucked away in the middle of trees the tree house is surrounded by towering pine. The house is quiet except for the quiet chirp of crickets and the gentle snore of the occupants. The wood is the most beautiful light oak I have ever laid eyes on and the porch goes all around the outside. Wind pushes a swing from the front porch and large windows allow any passersby to look in. The pond in front is dusted with moss around the edges and a small turtle sits on a log next to the gentle flow of the fountain.

serene weekend
in a home
not my own

Mud On My Legs

In the humid summer air we tramped through the forest to reach the cliffs we were going to climb. Most of the scenery since ending the canoe trip to camp became more of a blur than a thing of awe and wonder. It was beautiful still but it was all greens and browns. I hadn’t seen flowers since we stopped at the natural spring. There it was beautiful. The colors were breathtaking and the water was the most elegant and bright blues I have ever seen. The water was cool to touch and as we peered through the layers of blue we could see the water life growing to rocks and the side of the spring. In there were more colors that only God could create. Indeed it was something that grabbed my heart strings. Now hiking through the forest at the Ozarks there were more browns and greens. We hadn’t encountered those colors again. We reached our location and pulled out our water bottles to stay hydrated. We made sure to bring extra water because it was especially a scorcher today. Hidden underneath the trees, we could escape the heat of the sun for a few minutes before we geared up and started our climbing. It was some of the most fun I have ever had, and the challenge made it even the more better. There were three levels of the cliff we could climb up and there was one repelling wall. I made it up the two first levels and the third one made me very exhausted, but repelling was exhilarating and after some rest of watching other people I was prepared to take the challenge that not everyone else took advantage of. The repelling wall got turned into one we could attempt to climb. With the sharp jutting out edges and the hidden steps and holds, it was the most challenging climb I have ever attempted. I made it up the first part and made it into the little cave. There I rested on the slippery rocks with mud on my legs from my shoes. As I caught my breath and regained strength, I looked around and from above I could see again some of the most beautiful colors, not the springs, but flowers, birds, the sky, and all the different greens. It was no longer a blur. It was as if the world stood still in those two minutes I rested. I will never forget that feeling of being up there. After taking a mental photograph I continued my attempt to reach the top.

no longer a blur
I breathe in
mountain colors

Boulder Junction

Throughout my childhood my dad and I went on several fishing expeditions among different lakes. One of the most vivid fishing memories I have is on a small lake up in Boulder Junction where my family would rent a cabin each summer. We had our small aluminum boat among the lily pads and seaweed, in hopes of catching any large trophy fish hiding along the side of an island. Worn logs protruded from the lake, looking as if wooden spears were stuck among the dense aquatic foliage. My dad turns off the engine, leaving the morning mist silent and eerie. We cast out our bobbers and began to wait while the slow ripples gently rocked our boat.

morning fishing
dad baits the hook
a dangerous breakfast

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