Global Haiku • Spring 2010
Dr. Randy Brooks

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Becky Smith

3rd Place Haiku Story Award
as judged by
Dr. David Lanoue

A Little Lost Man

Becky Smith

A Little Lost Man

Shumu was a penguin who was not in the right place. During his search for a mate, he ended up in a strange land with tall trees, vast waters, and many other animals. Shumu was extremely confused and lost when he saw a very tall, orange animal. In Shumu’s land, the biggest penguin is the lead. Thus, he thought it would be a good idea to ask this large animal where he was, because he was obviously the biggest.

Shumu put on his nicest face, puffed out his chest to look bigger, and confidently walked up to this animal.

“Hi, my name is Shumu, and I am a penguin from a far land,” he said. “I was searching for a mate when I lost track of my group and ended up here. Can you tell me where I am and possibly how to get back to my land?”

The tall one said nothing. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, waited a minute, and finally…

small black and white man
looks around
no ice

Shumu is very confused as to why this tall man couldn’t give him a straight-forward answer. So he asks another question. “What is your name and what type of animal are you?” But once again, the tall one took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and finally…

what is in a name?
am I giraffe?
or Hamji?

Shumu didn’t say anything and just gave a confused look. So Hamji went on.

so many questions asked
to a superior
no answer

Shumu was starting to get frustrated and sternly said, “I am so upset! Where am I and who are you? And why can’t you give me a straight answer?”

No answer.

Shumu’s Search for an Answer

Shumu started to waddle away when Hamji abruptly stopped him. “I am very sorry I cannot help you. But if you don’t understand what I am saying, then you are not worthy of my help.”

Shumu was extremely hurt by this. Not worthy? What did Hamji mean by that? He was determined to find out what Hamji was saying so he went to a local library and researched up the way Hamji was speaking.

After hours upon hours of searching, Shumu found his answers. Haiku! Hamji was speaking in haiku! Shumu fell in love as he read through piles and piles of haiku. Finally, he attempted to write some of his own.

a long search
books upon books
a hobby

Shumu looked as his haiku and then back at the published haiku. He immediately tore his up and wondered to himself why the other haiku have so much emotion and passion and his were as dull as a fish skeleton. He thought back to his father and thought emotion would come out if he wrote a haiku about him.

taller than me
an old man
my father

Shumu ripped up this haiku before he had even finished the last word. Shumu was frustrated to the point of tears and then an article caught his eye because of a giraffe portrait on the front. It was Hamji! The article was about Hamji’s “rags to riches” life and how he was finally an internationally published author of haiku. His first published haiku was:

rain falls
on my heart
filling her void

With much excitement, Shumu briskly waddled back to where he and Hamji had met. He wanted to ask Hamji for his help and advice about how to become a haiku poet.

Waiting for a Master

Shumu ran up to the spot where Hamji and him had first met and waited for him to arrive. And waited…and waited.

Finally, Shumu gave up and went to find a place to sleep. However, he hadn’t completely given up. The first thing the next morning, Shumu went to wait for Hamji, but not before he went to the library. He didn’t know how long he would be waiting, so he checked out a couple books on the art of haiku. Then, he went and sat, waiting for Hamji.

Shumu loved the books he was reading. He loved the haiku that professionals had written because they were so much more artful then anything he had written. On this day, his favorite was:

with a bottle of wine
peering in his now
empty closet

- Jade Anderson –

The next day, Shumu waited again and as the hours passed, he read more haiku books. Today, his favorite was:

frozen footsteps
on sidewalk snow
ghosts of traffic

And the next day:

glittering night sky
fairy tale kiss

- Susie Wirthlin -

And the next:

she doesn’t have your nose
he doesn’t have your eyes
but they’re yours

- Kari Thorton -

And the next:

Flamingo Hotel
gambling away,
my doctorate

- Tyler Lamensky -

When Hamji didn’t come again, Shumu went home, less optimistic than other days. However, he woke up the next morning and still to the spot he came so well to know over the past days. After just a few minutes, Shumu was ecstatic to see Hamji walking down the street.

Hamji was less then surprised to see Shumu sitting there. “I knew you would come find me,” he said, “you just seemed like one of those kind of…umm…can I call you my student?”

“Of course, of course, of course!” shouted Shumu, “I’ve been reading up on the art of haiku and I want to write like all of these authors! This one, here, is beautiful!

playing on the swing set
first days of springtime
college students

- Nathan Bettenhausen -

And this one was so witty! I loved the irony.

All I can think about
is PB & J
Pass the bowl

- Garrett Derman -

And finally this one. The artful words plus the meaning just make it amazing.”

white hospital room
holding her frail hand
their last kiss

- Jade Anderson-

“Can I tell you a secret?” asked Hamji. “All of those authors were my students.”

The Teaching Begins…and Ends All Too Soon

Shumu and Hamji worked side by side for weeks, talking about the art and culture of haiku. They spent every waking moment together and Hamji even let Shumu start living with him. And not surprisingly, Shumu became an amazing haiku author with such a talented teacher.

Shumu and Hamji had also become very close. They were finally friends and Hamji was aware of this. However, Shumu couldn’t stay forever. He needed to get back with the other penguins.

Hamji couldn’t let Shumu leave, though. Thus, he pulled him aside one night and explained how close they had become and how good of an author Shumu had become. Thus, Hamji asked for Shumu to stay as his apprentice and possibly, someday, his teaching partner.

All Shumu could say was:

just as winter turns to spring
you are my best friend
i’ll stay forever

          Becky Smith

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