Haibun Kukai 2 Favorites • Global Haiku, Spring 2017

I remember when I was younger I would always be at my grandparents' house. Tuesdays and Thursdays my parents both worked late hours so they would pick me up from school. I just remember going outside and playing in the garden and having so much fun. Often times I would see my grandpa's shoes on the ground and try them on because I was too lazy to actually get my own. Sadly, I did not fit in them very well. They were basically clown shoes for me at that age.

Grandpa's slippers
slipping off my feet
in the backyard

This is such a pleasant little memory. I never wore my grandfather's shoes but I wore my mom's a lot, whether it was her slippers or her sandals or whatever. The funny thing was that her shoes were too small for me. I have big feet so wearing her shoes is like putting baby shoes on. It's weird how wearing something that belongs to someone else can make you feel closer to them. People do it all the time in a variety of relationships, whether they be familial or romantic or platonic. This haiku is wonderfully written, especially the way the first two lines connect to each other by the sounds the last and first words make. It's also a really clear image, I see these tiny little feet swallowed up by these big house slippers. Sam

This gives me a very nice sense of innocence and joy. The slippers slipping off gives me a childlike sense of joy and takes me back to spending time with my grandpa when I was younger. My grandpa and I would go clamming together and do some salt water fishing, and I never really wore his slippers. But it's the principle of the imagery that attracts me to this haiku. Kyle K.

I can relate to this one a lot because I would often do the same thing. I thought it was fun to walk around in adult shoes so I'd often slip on my dad's boat shoes or even my mom's workout tennis shoes too. I always liked to imagine that I was playing dress up, but instead of pretending to be a fireman or a dragon or whatever else I liked to dress up as, I would just pretend to be an adult for a little while. Eventually I grew out of this, though, as it became less and less fun for me to make believe. Jake

I really liked this one because I was able to relate to it very well. Every time I would stay at my grandparents' house I would usually have to run into the back yard at some point. This poem reminds me of the times that I would just slip on my grandpas shoes sitting by the sliding glass door as I ran out in a hurry. Caitlyn

As a young girl, I would always go fishing with my dad in Wisconsin. He went fishing and I would play next to the river. I tossed rocks and walked around in the forest. Swede takes me back to the days where my dad and I still went fishing together as a family. I look back at my past and I remember this image of myself in the water. The image is of a young girl and that was me. While now I'm all grown up and those times are just memories. Memories that I'll cherish forever. The simple moments of skipping rocks and getting excited when my dad caught a fish. It just reminds me of the tiny things of life that I cherished as a young girl and now.

toppling down
fallen leaves
touch the cool water

This haibun really shows you an image of the season and the time that was being shared between this person and her dad. It really captures the images you see when you are fishing and it is completely silent and you look out at the water and you see ripples in the water from the leaves. Nicholas

When my brother and I were younger we would get in the gator at my grandparents' house and head to the pond down the street. We would bounce around in the back so grandma would always put the cushions from the chairs in the back so we wouldn't get hurt. Once we got to the pond we would sit in the back and hold our rods out over the pond. Papa always used worms for bait and he wouldn't let us fish unless we baited the hook ourselves. Papa is sitting in his chair next to us and we all are holding our fishing poles in the water occasionally pulling it out and putting a new worm on the hook.

throw it in the water
grab a chair
. . . wait

I used to go fishing every summer with my dad and younger brother. It was an event I always looked forward to. I remember one particular time when we fished near a dam on the Kankakee River. It took a little while for us to catch fish, and I remember I found it difficult to tell if I got a bite or if the current, algae, or weight on my line were pulling my rod along. This gave us all a chance to talk and enjoy one another's company. I can clearly see the water gushing down from the dam and into the river. I can smell the water bubbling and foaming and the dirt from the worms we used for bait. It was hot, but being close to the water and shaded by trees made it a few degrees cooler. When we finally did catch fish, it was back to our typical competition to see who could get the most. I don't remember who won that day, because it doesn't really matter. What does matter is the time I spent with my family. I always loved fishing.

slight tug on the line
reeling in the
disappointment of algae

This haiku caught my attention before as even read about it because it explained so many fishing adventures that I myself have encountered and that's catching a whole lot of algae. The slight ug on the line always gets you excited hoping it is a big fish but it always seems to be just a huge clump of seaweed. Once I actually read the story about this haiku it made me enjoy this even more as it didn't even matter that they were catching algae and that it only mattered that they were spending time together as a family. This made me remind myself of a time me and my brother were fishing and continuously catching seaweed and kept acting as if it was fish going crazy and reeling it in real fast knowing it was seaweed the whole time. Kyle M.

This haiku is fun because it kept me on my toes! As I began to read it I thought I knew where it was going. I used to go fishing with my dad, brother, and grandpa when I was a kid. The anticipation of the catch is such an exciting feeling. When you finally feel a tug there's such a rush of energy and anxiety. I always find it to be a cool experience. I was rooting for this person until they caught the algae! This has happened to me so many times, and I honestly find it annoying. This haiku really captures that excitement and disappointment all together. Jordan

It started off lovely. He would bring her flowers before every date. She would blush while taking them and put them in a vase on the counter. Eventually, they grew bored of each other. She started putting in all the effort for their relationship and after a while, she no longer wanted to be with him. The adventure of courtship was ruined the day they got married. One afternoon, while she is in the car, she sees a field of flowers that look exactly like the ones her ex-husband had brought her on their first date.

walking alone
I smell her perfume
in the flowers

This haiku actually reminds me of something I learned in psychology. I learned about how your brain never forgets scent. Although sometimes you can't place where the scent is from, you will always come to the realization that you've smelled that scent before. I think  it's neat how the author of this haiku seems to remember an entire relationship by one simple smell. I like how the author clarifies how he is alone but her presence remains with him. Paige

This haiku is bittersweet. After reading the story, it's easy to see how this haiku was born. The narrator is walking alone and is suddenly reminded of someone they used to be close with. I can assume they used to be close with this person, because now, they're walking by themselves. I think it's rather poetic that the narrator smelled her perfume while walking in the flowers. Perhaps they were her favorite. Emily

This haiku really jumped out of because it starts off so sad but then the next two lines makes me think of someone he is missing maybe someone who died. After reading the paragraph I liked it even more. This reminds me of so many relationships today. They start out so lovely dovely then turn into fighting and cheating on each other. This haiku is very realistic. No matter if it's a bad break up you're still going to remember the things about that person. The last two lines are exactly that even though he is heartbroken he still remembers the good things about her. Chase

I just love how clear this memory is within the poem. Also, I appreciate that there isn't really an emotion attached with this haiku which lets the reader associate their own feelings. I think that's what makes the piece so simple and effective. I also love the attachment to the smell sense because that alone provides such a powerful memory association. The walking alone idea also is very striking because it truly is an instinctual moment because no one is there to affect the natural impact. Andie

It's a brisk winter Sunday morning and my best friend has just picked me up to go on one of our classic Sunday brunch adventures. This particular day we decide to trek to the cemetery. We go probably once every two weeks whenever we want to just hang together just us. It's a quiet time for us to reflect and gain perspective. It is morbid to drive around a cemetery just to reflect on the week, but seeing and analyzing graves surprisingly does a great job of grounding us wiley twenty year olds. We are on our normal drive and I always make it a point to read as many headstones as possible. There are so many souls and people in that chunk of land, so I always feel like it's my duty to learn as much about them as possible. There are so many details that often go unnoticed. When we first started going there we just focused on the spooky facts, but now we focus on the headstones and mausoleums that often get glossed over just because they don't have a haunted story attached. We love to analyze and try and speculate on as many lives as possible just to open up our minds and broaden our horizons as much as possible. While cemeteries are there for us to respect the deceased, I think they are also there for us to learn.

long windy roads
cliffs and hills overlook
the past

When I first read the haiku, I thought about being on a drive and passing by a spot where you had a memory. After reading through the memory, I found that the author had a different inspiration to write it, than my imagined one. They were referring to the past of others, on gravestones, rather than their own. Either way you look at it, this haiku carries a lot of meaning with it. Paige

When I first read this haiku I enjoyed it because it actually reminded me much of trips I have taking with my friends to Colorado on all the cliffs, hills and windy roads. Then once I read the story I was very surprised on how this was actually a trip to a cemetery and I actually liked it because it goes to show that the author is a lot of times really talking about something completely different then what you are thinking and that's the great thing about haikus is that you can imagine any story that you want. Even though I found it kind of weird that they go on normal trips to the cemetery I respected the fact that they enjoy to make stories and get to know the stories of the deceased out of respect. Kyle M.

This haiku caught my eye right away due it its structure. I loved the imagery in the first two lines and how much longer they are, then “the past” brings it to an abrupt stop. After reading the paragraph I realized how much I connected with it. My friends and I go to the cemetery sometimes as well. At first it really is spooky, and there's so much to look at and take in. Now that I've been there several times though, I find something new and interesting each time. There are many different ways to look at the cemetery, and there are loads and loads of headstones to inspect. I love the idea of looking back on the past. I think it could lead to several interpretations, but I really enjoy the concept of “the past” being all of the gravestones and people buried. Jordan

September 22nd 2014. It was my grandfather's funeral. I remember barely getting out of bed because it was hard to.Iit was hard to do anything, really. My family and I had to pick up my grandmother to go to the funeral. The car ride there was quiet and somber. We quietly went inside and waited for my grandmother to get ready. I remember sitting on the stool in the kitchen and watching my mother and my grandmother talk about what she was going to wear. My mom was irritated and just wanted to leave because she did not want to be late. My dad's hands on my shoulders while he was standing behind me. We were watching my mother telling what my grandmother needs to do. It was a long time waiting for my grandmother to get ready. I remember sitting next to my sister, and remembering the times when we visited grandpa because he absolutely loved it when we visited him. I remember looking at my sister and thinking that this is depressing because we can't see him anymore when we go to grandma's. When my grandmother was finally ready to go, my sister and I were standing next to her. My grandmother gave us a long hug and said the simplest words to us, “this hurts, I miss him so much” and she started crying. I felt my throat tightening and I could feel my eyes water, and I wanted to hold it back, but some tears fell down. I teared up because I felt the love that they both had and it made me realize how much they actually loved each other. I don't think I know anyone who shares that same love as my grandparents did. 55 years.

love is real
how grandma longs for
her Joe in heaven

This one really pulled at my heartstrings. I think it was so impactful because it wasn't about the funeral or the author longing to see her grandfather again, it reads as admiration for their relationship. Even though the funeral is the memory, the element of love provides such poignant hope that washes over the poem. The line, “love is real” gets utilized to strengthen the author's choice to include “her Joe”. I think that is my favorite part. Andie

On a breezy Wednesday morning, my entire family is dressing up in all black preparing for my grandmother's funeral. We arrive early to say our final goodbyes to her, before the casket is closed. I begin crying, hugging my cousin, because she meant so much to us. We pinned pictures of us in her casket. I continued to blow my nose and wipe my tears as my cousin was talking about her life. It's time for them to close her casket. All of her grandsons, including me, carried the casket to the hearse. The sun was shining down on her golden casket which made me think about how great she is. As we all continue to mourn as her casket lowers, but I know she's in a better place.

sun reflects
on the casket

I like this haiku because of the way it's formed. It seems like a simple sentence but it's not. It's snippets of words that form together as a completed sentence. It gives me a clear image as to what's going on; simultaneously, it hits an emotional spot. The structure of the haiku makes me imagine a tear drop that's moving around and it doesn't have one route. I believe the structure of the haiku is very strong and it completes the haiku. Kate

I enjoyed reading this and the haiku. I liked the haiku because it showed a lot of emotion and the haiku went well and I couldn't think of anything better. I also liked this because I wrote about my grandfather as well. It brought me back to the time of the burial of my grandfather. It is relatable and precious how the author wrote about her grandmother. Tears on the casket I thought of the author in deep pain, and pouring out everything when the death of a grandparent is a reality. Olivia

This is a very sad image and it really shows that they went through a lot of pain. It also shows that they have maybe not accepted her passing but as they say in the story they have accepted that she is in a better place. I think that the sun reflecting shows a deeper meaning in that it could be her looking down upon them. Nicholas

Although this is a sad and heavy story, this is a beautiful haiku. It's my favorite of our second haibun kukai. It plays on the way we expect sun to reflect light. Instead of light, it is reflecting tears off the casket of a loved one. It moves from abstract details to a concrete image, and it's easy to infer that the haiku is talking about a funeral. Even though I have never personally lost a loved one, I can empathize with how the narrator must be feeling. Emily

I enjoyed this one a lot because it gives a very clear image going from big to small back to big. I understood the feelings as I've been to funerals before and have seen this happen. I wonder if this perspective is from a family member or of a friend. Maybe it's of a wife mourning her husband's death. Amanda

My dad has two brothers and they all used to work on the family farm after college. One day, my uncle found out he was going to be a father, but it was unexpected. So, my dad said my uncle disappeared for a whole day and cut down trees with an axe. I'm sure he had a lot to think about. My dad tells the story being funny, but at the time I can imagine how upset my grandpa would have been and how stressed my uncle would have been.

nervously walking in circles
will he be like me?

I liked this one a lot because of the story that goes along with it. The author talks about a time where their uncle wandered off for a long time when he found out he was going to be a father. This isn't something that I can relate to, but rather a feeling that I have experienced. There have been times where all of us have gotten big news – shocking, exciting, sad, etc. Sometimes we just need a long stretch of time to ourselves to ponder and absorb the information that we've just been given. Jake

I really like this haiku because it is so real. Both of my brothers just had babies and they are losing their minds with their first newborns. I can only imagine the stress they are under taking care of them plus their wife. The last line “will he be like me?” I really like because you don't really see much punctuation in haikus. I also like it because it's a genuine question. Many new parents want better for their kids and don't want them to be like them. I also like the nervous walking in circles because I've been nervous before and I walk in circles I don't know why but it helps calm me down. Chase

I can't really remember a time where it seemed like my parents genuinely loved each other. My mom assures me that she did love my dad, and I believe her because I don't know what else to believe. One day we're in the car, she's driving home from somewhere, maybe school, and she tells me that she's having an affair with a woman I know from when I was younger. She tells me she's going to leave my dad and that this woman makes her happy, and it never crosses my mind that my dad might not be happy about this. My dad's happiness has never occurred to me because I never see him as anything but drunk. He exists in the peripheral of my life, as do my mother and my brother. I remember very little, but at the same time too much. I remember the day we stopped going over to that woman's house every week. I remember asking why and never being given an answer. I don't remember my mom sneaking around to have the first affair when I was eleven, but at the same time I remember that right around them was the time my parents' marriage really started to fall apart. Everything started to fall apart after that.

That day in the car doesn't feel real to me. If my mom had told me these things now I would have yelled at her for cheating on my dad, for making things worse for everyone in the house because their failed marriage has damaged me and my brother more than they are willing to realize.

in the car
chilly spring
my mom changes everything

I love to people watch and I often think about how these insignificant people that I pass by on the street have so much more to their lives than I could even imagine. Someone who may seem friendly and genial on the outside could be battling depression or trouble at home. A pretty woman could be working as a prostitute to help feed her children. Things like that. There are so many different possibilities. I vividly remember entertaining myself as a child by thinking about these things when I was bored in church. Every time someone would pass our pew, I would look at what they were wearing or who they were with and try to think of some backstory about their life. Where did they come from? Where are they going after church? What do they do for fun? So many possibilities.

children snickering
Mother shushes them and
continues to pray

I really wish I could tell you why I like this haiku. I just get a good feeling when I read this. Maybe because it touches on that sense of joyful childhood innocence. I can see how this could be taken not as light-hearted if the mother was angrily shushing the children. But I don't read that mood from the poem and I believe the author wanted that lighter side to shine through anyways. Kyle K.

I like this one because it was very easy for me to picture. I imagine a big table in a home filled with lots of people. Off to the corner of the room there is a smaller table for the children to sit at. It is all silent except for the mother who it praying. Until you hear the snickering of the small younger children from across the room at the children's table. Caitlyn

I remember feeling the weight of juggling it all, making it through the everyday struggles of being a human. There was a lot riding on me getting it done and it simply was not going to happen. Everyone else's weight seemed to be catching up to them too. Instead of conversation you get a lot of “who's more stressed” competitions that only end in unnecessary anger towards people who are also just trying to succeed as well. So, you tell yourself you're just gonna take one for yourself, you're going to go home and forget about all of the stress and just be. You're not gonna think about the ten-page research papers, or the ten million pages worth of reading, or the ten losers who can do it all better than you. You're just gonna sit and exist, breathe maybe, and let yourself relax. So you trudge all the way from your last class, braving whatever elements may come your way, and you shut your bedroom door. You sit down at your desk or on your bed and take your first deep breath, maybe get on your phone or get in your thoughts. You think about your mom or your best friends and the memories you have with them, and suddenly, BOOM. You're wanting to surround yourself with the exact thing you were just running away from.

close the door
crack open the book
is Jordan on campus?

Even though I myself have never been admitted into a Pyschiatric Ward by oldest brother has made many trips there. My brother has a very severe case of Tourette's Syndrome and OCD in which he has gone through multiple brain surgeries and the recoveries are horribly long. That being said, since my brother has had so many and his case of Tourettes's is so severe, he has to be held in Pysch Wards for recoveries because he cannot be held in a normal hospital room next to other patients. Even though he is the most normal and head strong kid I know, he has to be held in Pysch Wards for recoveries which is so sad because that is not him and doesn't represent my brother, so his shadow stays outside because a mental hospital does not represent who he truly is as a person.

time goes by
step by step . . .
confidence reflects in the mirror

I enjoyed this haiku or story in fact because this was a really depressing story and I could feel the sadness while reading this comment. The story itself brought a whole meaning to the haiku and I could imagine the author wants his/her brother to not be in a mental hospital. He could not stay in a normal mental hospital where other normal patients would be in a different level (normal) in the psychiatric unit. I knew someone who was in a psychiatric ward similar to a unit where the boy in this story was mentioned. This unit is for sometimes psychotic people and for the people who are in serious psychological condition. This isn't fun to witness but it is awful to have someone be in that psych unit for probably most of their life. But on the bright side, friends are made and there is a more hope than the author might think. Olivia

As I read this I felt like I could relate to this. While I've never been in a mental hospital, I have struggled with self-confidence. I felt like this haiku could be used as a self-empowerment motivator. I think many people feel like they have to separate their personal life from their mental illness, but the key to success is balancing the two and making it work. Amanda

One time in high school, over the summer, my best friend and I got in a huge fight. I remember getting a angry text from her and bickering for the entirety of the day. At the night she sent me a huge paragraph about how she didn't want to be my friend anymore. I was so upset and I just went to sleep. I woke up in the morning to the bright sun in my face. I was actually on vacation in Florida at the time. So, when I first woke up, all I could think about was how happy I was to be sleeping with a beach outside my window. I went outside to look at the beautiful water and the sun rising up. For a moment, I forgot that I was ever in a fight with my best friend. After thinking more into my day, I decided I would respond to her message and it all worked out for the best.

summer sun
no reply
waves crashing

I've struggled with fighting with my best friends before. Sometimes it feels like I'll never talk to them again, but then a day or so later everything's blown over and we're back to normal. There are other times when it isn't that simple though. When I read this memory and the haiku that follows I am reminded of a time when I went four months without speaking to my best friend. It was the summer between eighth grade and high school and I was struggling enough with the idea of going to high school, but to be heading in without my best friend was terrifying. There was never a day that I woke up and forgot that we were fighting, there was never a day where I felt okay with it. I admire this person for being able to be the bigger person though, because it was something I usually had to do with this particular friend as well. Not replying is sometimes the best option, especially when you're angry, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and open up the door again. Sam

© 2017, Randy Brooks • Millikin University
All rights returned to authors upon publication.