Haibun Kukai 4 Responses

Global Haiku, Spring 2017

I Pretend to Throw

I've always grown up with dogs in my house. I loved taking care of them and playing with them. As I got older I confided my secrets to them, knowing they would keep them safe. I loved snuggling with them on a cold winters day; they were the perfect blanket. I taught them basic commands, I took them on walks. They trusted me completely, and I loved them with my whole heart. One of my two dogs passed away almost four years ago. The other is still living. After Guinness passed, Murphy didn't know what to do. She would wander the house looking for her sister. Eventually she became my shadow, because she had no one else to turn to. After many months, Murphy wasn't as heartbroken and she began to want to play again. My favorite trick to play on her is pretending to throw a ball when in reality I just hide it under my arm.

unable to jump
I lift my dog onto
our bed

Knee X-ray

Molly is at the doctor today. She doesn't normally go to the doctor, but the twinge in her right knee is proving difficult for everyday life so she finally sucked up her pride and went to the doctor that rainy Tuesday morning. As she sat on the x-ray bench with her right leg extended in front of her, she closes her eyes as the technician fixes the machine around her.

She hears the woman's instructions, but Molly is in her own head. She takes the few moments to roll through her ankle and point her toes while the technician heads out of the room. Molly patiently awaits her instructions, but she is back onstage for her final ballet showing in her final performance. She can feel the warm lights on her aching body as she finishes the solo. She can see the blinding lights with the subtle silhouettes of an audience. She remembers all the steps. She is there. However, the twinge of her knee brings her back along with the technician's voice.

She looks at her leg as she keeps it still for the x-ray. All she sees is her leg that did so much for her and her happiness back in the day. She takes a moment and thanks the knee that fought so hard for so many years after years of abuse and art.

warm stage lights
she points her toe
and runs onstage

Bits of Astroturf

I remember my first trip to Lake Geneva. During the summertime of seventh grade, my family and I took a day trip to the beaches of Lake Geneva. I was able to bring my best friend named Ryan and we had an amazing time. I remember teaching my little sister who was around 4 at the time to swim with her floaties. We played in the water for hours and had an amazing time. I remember coming home and my clothes being full of sand as well as the car, and as annoying as it was for my parents to clean, I hope it reminded them of the fun that we had that day and the memories that we made. In addition, this haiku makes me think of my marching band trips, not because of the beach, but because of the souvenirs I collected. Every year, my marching band would compete in a regionals and nationals competition at Lucas Oil Football Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. The field was very unique; the turf was very soft and had small pieces of black astroturf floating about. After performing a show, our shoes would be completely full of these small black pieces. After each show, I would collect the turf in my shoes and place it in a bag to remember all the shows that I performed at such a special place with such special people.

packing the car
the night before
a big road trip

I liked this Haibun because the author related it with two separate stories. The collection of sand that gathered in the car from the fun family vacation they had. And the small black beads in there shoes that collected from the marching band performance. Both stories had a collection of some type of material they could recollect there memories on. This reminded me much of football and how still to this day I will find small black beads laying around my room, just memories hiding. Kyle M

I really like the “Bits of Astroturf” haibun. I think its cool that they collect the turf beads as souvenirs for the marching band performances. As a football player, I always collected the stickers that I accrued over the season as sort of a souvenir. The haiku itself makes me think of all of the anticipation before a trip. It's kind of a happy anxiety, full of excitement. Nick R

Sweet Sixteen

When I turned sixteen years old my mom and dad took me out to eat for my birthday lunch. Of course, we went to Olive Garden because that is my favorite place to go and eat. My mom picked me up from home and took me to the restaurant and told me that my dad was running late from work but that he would be there shortly. My mom and I got a table, sat down, and waited for my dad. When he arrived, we ordered our food and ate a fantastic lunch. When we were finished eating we got up from the table and began our walk outside to our cars. Sitting in the parking lot towards the back of the lot was a red Jeep Wrangler with black rims and new tires. I turned to my dad because I was going to say how I liked it when he handed me a set of Jeep keys. My mom and dad both smiled and said Happy Birthday! This day was the start of my Jeep life.

After a few days of driving my new jeep with my license I noticed that every time I passed by another Jeep, the driver waved at me. Little did I know, that this was called the Jeep Wave. The Jeep Wave is not a full on flat open handed wave that you do when you see a friend or family member. The Jeep Wave is a wave that is just simply one or two fingers lifted off the steering wheel to acknowledge another jeep driver. Ever since that day I have been doing the Jeep Wave.

another jeep approaching
slightly lift two fingers
Jeep Wave

I really like the haibun entitled Sweet Sixteen. It was about someone who received a jeep for their birthday. And after driving their jeep around for a while, they naturally started to notice all the other jeeps on the road. All of those jeep drivers would always do a distinct wave, with two fingers lifted off the steering wheel. The author later realized this phenomenon as the "jeep wave". He now always does that wave. I really like those sort of stories. I find it quite funny that he didn't even understand the wave in the beginning, but now he always does the wave. I also think it's a very cool thing that keeps a very big world more close knit. It was a humbling haibun. The haiku went along with it very nicely. Paige

Folding It Again

The time is approaching 4:00 pm and I need to hurry up and get to work. I am very rushed because my last class gets out at three and I still have to eat. I finally get my work clothes on and head to jimmy johns. I get the same slim 1 sandwich every time I go there. I swipe my card in at work and officially clock in. I am in for a long night because it's so nice out that no one is going to come to the Decatur Athletic Club. I start by washing off the tables and cleaning up the kitchen. The hours go by talking to the few regulars that stop by on a daily basic. A couple hours in I decide to go back and check both of the lockers for dirty towels. I gather all the dirty towels and take them to the back. I start a load that will last 30 minutes. As I wait for the towels I go back to the front and greet more guest.

The towels are done and I go back and put them in the dryer for twenty minutes. I continue to walk around the gym to make sure everyone is doing okay. After I get the towels out of the dryer, I take them to the front desk to be folded. As I am folding the old towels I look outside at the beautiful sunset. This time at work is very relaxing for me. Folding the towels gives me time to think and reflect. At 8:00 pm it is time for me to get off work. The last thing I do before I lock up is put all the folded towels up on the rack.

long work day
many towels
many faces

Moon Gymnastics

The first time I remember seeing the moon during the day, I was in fourth grade. I'm sure I've seen this phenomenon at a previous point in my life, but I very clearly remember this moment.

It was an unusually cool summer afternoon, so I was in sweatpants and a t-shirt. My friends and I were practicing our back walkovers on my front lawn. We were all in the same gymnastics class, so we were very eager to give each other tips on how to improve. Most young girls would want to show off to their friends, proving they were the best, but we had an unspoken understanding between us.

I was a bit nervous for my first attempt. We had been practicing them on the soft mats of Gymkinetics; a hard and unforgiving ground didn't seem as inviting. However, my friends were encouraging, so I decided to go for it.
Stretching my arms high up to the sky, I prepared myself for the back walkover. Right foot lifted, I leaned back into a backbend and used all my might to kick over and land on my feet. Thankfully, I stuck the landing, thrusting my arms triumphantly into the air. I looked up, a smile on my face, and that's when I saw the moon. It was the only object in the cloudless cerulean sky. It was faint, but it still stood out clear enough.

An afternoon moon is such a pretty sight. It's a vivid image for anyone who has seen one. I still feel a bit of that giddy, childlike joy whenever I see one and fondly look back on that day.

cool summer afternoon
young girls tumble
on the front lawn

I really liked the preface before this haiku. It made me appreciate the little things more. I wish I the haiku had included something about the moon being out because I felt like it was a very vital part of preface. If the haiku had included something about seeing the moon after doing certain tumbling move, I think I would have liked it better. Amanda

Mist Around the Corner

It's the middle of July. Today is one of the hottest days this past week, and I am at the waterpark for the 4th time this month. Standing in line on the stairs for the biggest waterslide in the park, the sun is beating down on me, but it doesn't bother me because I'm wet. From up here on the stairs, I can see the whole waterpark spread out below me. The bright sun is reflecting off the water in the big wave pool, and already small children look even tinier from above. I am leaning on the inner tube that I had to lug up the stairs, and the plastic feels warm against my bare skin. I usually don't have to wait this long in line for this slide, but today is a busy day. Probably because it's so hot outside. The lines continues to move slowly, and I am finally at the top of the stairs. The life guard says hi to me. We are on friendly terms because I come here so much. I guess you could say I'm a regular. He smiles as I set down my tube at the entrance to the slide and plop myself down on top of it. The lifeguard gives the back of the tube a little kick and I'm suddenly whizzing down the slide, engulfed in darkness. The air inside the slide is fairly cool, and it's rushing past me as I continue to speed down the slide. Mist sprays my face as I round a corner, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel approaching. My tube exits the slide with a splash, and suddenly I'm under the hot sun again.

floating around each corner
of the lazy river
struggling to stay awake

Left Behind

I'm sitting on his twin sized bed. The princess and tiger stickers at the end, a hand-me-down from a friend. I hear the shower running while he whistles and scrubs away. The blue rope lights illuminate the room, slightly blurring my vision. The wide window completely open, a purplish blue hue from the sky drapes over the houses. The moon is lit high above, the only thing missing is a wolf's howl. Cars pass by with whooshing sounds. Our phones sit together on the bed. Mine larger than his. The tempting feeling to take a peak of his comes over me. I don't. I wrap the green blanket over my feet and lay there. I look up at his make shift closet. A tall brown bookshelf with a white pole between that and the wall. On the pole hang his clothes. The rest live on the floor, all in a pile. Joining that pile is my belt. I took it off weeks ago and left it there. On purpose. Knowing that if I ever wasn't invited back, that my belt would be an excuse to return. A tiny cat named Tiny Cat walks into the room and greets me. Purring and cooing at me it jumps on the bed. I rub its scalp and back as it tosses itself onto my stomach. The shower comes to a halt and Tiny Cat scatters. He returns to the bedroom and grabs his phone, untouched. He joins me in bed, smelling sweet, but I know that he isn't. His hair matted and his eyes full of uncertainty, he kisses me. Weeks later I never return, my belt is probably still in the same place. Untouched. Unwanted.

the sky
a purplish blue hue
illuminates each house

I liked this haibun and haiku pair because the majority of the text was about all different scenarios, moments, and images. We got such an array of their inner monologue so the haiku that came out of it is almost fascinating. I wonder why the writer chose that specific image and not the cat, phones, or more importantly the belt. However, I think the haiku is almost a great representation of each image. The colors lend themself to communicating the tone and overall feeling of the situation. And I took “each house” as possibly each thought going through their head. Perhaps it's each thought has been overwashed by this overall feeling that the “purplish blue hue” sky embarks on it. Andie

A favorite haibun of mine that we read is “Left Behind.” The author pays such great attention to detail and the little observations contribute greatly to the overall quality of the piece. I love how the haibun flows, like a journey or a story. I also love the significance of the belt. When I think of a belt, I feel like its purpose is to hold something up, to keep a pair of pants in place. In this haibun, I feel like the belt is used as a symbol for holding the relationship together. The relationship was not right, but they put a belt around the pair of pants to help them stay up. But, sometimes we don't need belts when the pair of pants fits correctly. Brittany

My favorite haibun is Left Behind. I do not relate to it at all, but it depicts a story that pulls you in and makes you interested that I couldn't stop reading it and picturing where she was coming from. Nicholas K

My favorite haibun from haibun kukai 4 was “Left Behind.” Even though I could not relate to this haibun it gave a good visual of what was happening but still left the end up to the reader to figure out. It was almost like a movie scene; it was full of detail “his twin sized bed” “the princess and tiger stickers at the end” “a purplish-blue hue” all of these little details made the haibun and it had a nice story to it as well. It talked about young love and how easy it can go sour. I really, enjoyed the last sentence, it was one word but it brought the story full circle while still leaving space for the reader to figure out why the belt was still there, untouched. Dub

Turn the Page

A lot of times I like to find a book and read the whole series because I get attached. Once I start reading it's hard for me to stop if the book is interesting. If I like the first book then I go for the next one and so on. It reminded me of the time I started reading the Twilight series. I connected with the fantasy vampire love story. I read all the books but I didn't finish the last one. This is super weird but I thought that if I didn't finish the last chapter then the book didn't end. The characters weren't just characters they were real to me. I just didn't want it to end so I was able to come up with different scenarios for myself. I would constantly come up with scenarios of how I want the book to end and how I don't want it to end.

I realized how this related to haikus because the tradition of a haiku isn't to tell the reader what to think. The purpose is for the reader to let their thoughts override the haiku which allows the reader to connect to it. That being said, I didn't finish the last book in the Twilight series because I didn't want the author to end the book for me. I wasn't ready for it. I wanted to end it the way I thought it should be ended. In haikus like this one I related to it because it didn't have to be about someone referring to a book and feeling the emotions that the authors is expressing. I just connected it that way and made this haiku relate to my own thoughts and ideas. I put myself in that person's shoes and I took it and made it mine.

I realized I like to read books that make me forget about myself and my problems and focus on something else. I focus on the characters in the book and I feel what they feel. I live in the moment with them and it makes me connect with them. Without connecting with the theme, plot, and characters it's hard for me to even continue reading further into a book. When I was reading the Twilight series I felt the passion and love.

frost bite windows
cup of tea
eyes on the pages

Becoming Dusk

Every year my family and I go up to Minnesota to our family cabin, which is way up in the norhtern woods away from all of society and the best part about it is there's no service, so connection to the outside world while we are there. Every morning we wake up bright and early and go fishing, during the day we hangout on the dock and then once the sun is going down we go out fishing again and. We keep every fish that is big enough to eat because we clean and eat it all. Just so happens that every now and then you keep a fish on the stringer for awhile hanging out on the docks and I remember as a kid I would always go and check on the fish to make sure they are still there and alive and would always pull them out of the water and throw them on the dock just to examine them and check them out. This haiku made me feel at home and it helped me really think of a time that I don't always think about because we just get so caught up in work, school and our everyday schedule that we don't appreciate the little things in life like simply checking if the fish are still alive on the stringer.

begin the day  
to end the night

Sleeping Bag

I remember camping out for a weekend with the boy scouts and having to sleep in a tent with nothing but a sleeping bag. We would always go to a campground called camp Drake. It was a nice secluded area that had forests, prairie lands, and rivers. I remember one night we went to the prairie and sat in an open field just looking up at the stars. I can remember being in such great shock at the fact that you could see thousands of stars since there were no cities nearby. When we finally got back to the campsite we sat by the fire telling stories and just enjoying the outdoors. After a few stories, everyone started to head to their tents. It was pitch black so you could not see more than what your flashlight illuminated. You would get into your sleeping bag and just feel this sharp poking sensation shooting through your back. It was usually just a pinecone, but sometimes it was just the uneven ground where you chose to put your tent. It was often hard to go to sleep with a rock sticking in your back but you would have to make due.

flashlights glow
illuminates the tent opening
smoky clothes

I liked this one a lot because I can connect to it very well. I used to be a boy scout for like 6 years but then I quit because I didn't enjoy it anymore. But while I was still a part of the troop, I was always very excited to go on camping trips solely because of the element of isolation. I loved being out in the middle of nowhere under a ceiling of stars, really taking in all the elements away from the city. it's something that I miss the most about boy scouts. Jake

Tracks in the Snow

I live out in the country, which allows my family and I to get to do a lot of things that city kids can't do. One of these is sledding. My dad would hook up a circular disc behind our four-wheeler and pull us around the yard and in the ditch. He would whip us around in circles until we fell off and then let us get back on and go at it again. He would also put a blade on the front of the ATV and push the snow until a large mound of snow. We would use this to ramp off of while sledding and get some air. I even got to drive my brother around, which I think might have been even more fun. The first time out in the snow was the best day. It is so much fun and exhausting at the same time. The worst part would be when I crashed and the snow would get inside my jacket and be freezing. I also wasn't the biggest fan of being bundled up in a shirt, sweatshirt, snowsuit, and jacket. It made it difficult to move around and get up after wrecking. I definitely felt the soreness the next day from all the wrecks, but it was worth it. We also used to have two snowmobiles. He would let us ride with him as we went snowmobiling all over the country around our house.

legs of lead
I walk through the snow

I really enjoyed the haibun titled “Tracks in the Snow.” My dad used to take me and my brothers sledding, and this brought back those happy memories. We loved it when he would push us down the hill. I could really place myself in this story and relate to the haiku as well. I was always so tired after a long day of playing in the snow. It was all worth it, though. Some of my best childhood memories are of playing outside after a large snowfall. We were lucky enough (or unlucky, depending on how you feel about snow) to experience two blizzards in Illinois when I was younger. My dad really helped shape my love for the snow. Emily

I liked this haiku because it is invigorating when taken out of context. The haibun, about sledding, accurately describes what it's like to take hold of your own childhood wonder. Sledding is a familiar activity for many in the class, especially because a lot of us grew up in the Midwest. I was able to follow the haibun easily, without any confusion on what the narrator was feeling. However, when taken out of context, the haiku grows more interesting. "Legs of lead" is such a beautiful image, and it helps me imagine the resistance on the narrator's feet. The next line revolutionizes the haiku, adding environment (snow). Now, I can hear the muffled sound of feet trudging through the snow, and I can feel the weight of the snow on the narrator's toes. And then the last line—"smiling." Now I see the bundled, puffing hiker, pink ears and all, twisting his mouth into a smile. This smile contradicts the cold and harsh environment around him, and leaves the reader with a sense of pure joy and ease. And after reading the actual haibun, although completely different than my reading of it, I was left with the same sense of joy. Kala

Piano Practice

I sit down. On the bench. I think about how I am going to approach the Chopin Nocturne in C sharp minor. I think about the memory of the last moments of my grandfather's life because I played this work for him before he past away. I just think of that emotion and I have to so that I am able to express that emotion in this piece. I slowly lift my hands and let them land on the first chord. I play the first couple of measures and the chords resonate and place my hand and my left hand lays on the key C and the right hand lands on the key e g sharp and c sharp. I sometimes look up or I sometimes close my eyes. When I look up there is a window in front of me and I look out to the green grass and the flowers that are blossoming below my house. There are lilacs, bushes, and I can smell the freshly cut grass. I catch my gaze looking at the purple lilac. It reminds me of peace and for some odd reason it reminds me of my grandpa. I know he is watching me every time I play the C sharp Nocturne.

I see a lilac
the flash back to
times with grandpa

I like this haiku because of the connection between the song and the grandpa. I think the haibun provides many beautiful and illustrious images, and paired with the beautiful tune of the Nocturne, I get a calm feeling. This is interesting because the haibun isn't necessarily about a calm or happy topic, but it still calms me. Kyle K.


The snow is falling softly all around my family and I. I look up as to capture the beauty of the snow falling so gently onto my little nose, when a window catches my eye. I glance into a beautiful glowing room filled with toys. This is an extremely exciting moment for my four-year old self. I beg to go in, but there is too much to do. As we pass I look through the window and see a huge Christmas Village set-up. My eyes fall upon the little yellow house in the corner with a tiny red sleigh outside the door. I imagine the tiny little family that might reside in such a home. I think about the anticipation the children might have to go sleighing on their day off from school. My eyes are filled with wonder as I imagine the tiny little village and the tiny life that might fill it.

I think back to all the tiny villages I have seen in my life and think of all the television shows I have seen with villages coming to life. I think about them being interconnected.

snowy streets
little feets
horse-drawn carriage

The Old Library

I didn't grow up in the kind of town where you could just go places on your own as a kid. My parents weren't the most attentive, but they never let me wander around town unsupervised. As I got older I was allowed to go to the park and to the library, and that was pretty much the extent of my travels. I would ride my bike to the library with a drawstring bag on my back, and I would pick up as many books as I could carry before coming back home. I never really liked going out by myself but my parents weren't exactly chomping at the bit to go to the library with me. One day while I was heading home, slowly pushing my bike because my feet ached too much to move the pedals, I passed by a man sitting on his front step. He asked me if I had a boyfriend.

I'm a terrible liar. It's not that I'm not good at it, it just never occurs to me to do it until after the fact. So of course, when this grown man asks this fifteen-year-old about having a significant other, it never occurred me that I should lie and say I did. I told him that I didn't and I honestly can't remember if he said anything else, all I remember is hopping on my bike and pedaling away as fast as I could. I may not have understood as much as I do now but I knew enough to know that I needed to get away. Grown men don't ask teenage strangers if they have boyfriends unless they have something sinister on their minds.

It took me a while before I could go to the library by myself after that.

adolescent freedom
crushed by
man's predatory gaze

Deeper Into the Mirror

In 2007 my life changed forever. I was in a car accident that required the jaws of life, I could not walk, and 10 years later still having back pains but the worse of it all, was that this accident made it unbearable to look at myself in the mirror. I had over 30 stiches in my face because glass had to be removed from my forehead, when the truck hit my side of the car the glass shattered and sliced my face. My face was so swollen I couldn't recognize myself and did not want to be seen. I remember at such a tender age crying looking at my reflection wondering if I will ever look the same, I remember the first time I seen my face in this state I had tears falling down my face and literally stepped closer to my bathroom mirror because I could not believe it. I like that this haiku uses the word “deeper” instead of closer, I had to look deep inside myself for confidence and comfort. I had to realize that beauty was really within, I was still the same person, I just did not look the same. I remember lying in bed (was unable to walk) with a mirror on my nightstand, I rarely looked at it because I hated the way I looked and every time I did see myself I cried and thought about the song “reflection” from the movie Mulan. Weeks later the swelling went down but I still had scars on my face, as a young woman I still felt ugly and hid them for years, all until my freshman year of college, then I had an even more traumatic accident, happen in my life and that's when I realized I had nothing to hide, I had nothing to be ashamed of, they were scars and told a story. People could look at me and see a chapter of my life story without me having to say a word to them. Now I can look at myself with my scars and feel and believe that I'm beautiful.

she traces a story
the fingerprints
over his scars

I thought the haiku went along with the haibun because the whole time it referred to scars. The scars that happened to destroy a woman's life in the fact that she couldn't be happy with herself. She struggled trying to accept that the car accident had taken a huge toll on her body. It was admirable that she wrote about a scar not changing the person she is within. Therefore, the haiku matches because the scar tells a story and can be traced a long, but the person within tells the story. It doesn't define them it's just part of their life. It was a deep haiku and haibun that I felt really went well together. Since scars have a lot of impact on someone's life but it doesn't define them. Kate

I think that this haibun is beautiful. I love that the author relates back to the idea of deeper and not closer. Many of us face traumatic events in our lives—oftentimes at a young age. Some of these traumatic events may cause physical change or internal change. Or both. This haiku explores the inner and outer changes that occur when someone experiences something incredibly traumatic at a young age. Many times when facing such events, we are able to move on. Our emotions may come back as a reminder of the events, but it can be easy to let that go away. However, when there is a physical change due to such events, there is a constant reminder of the event. That makes it even more traumatic in my opinion. The fact that this author couldn't even look in the mirror without breaking down is devastating. I love how honest and open this haibun is. This event caused so much change in the person, and they had to deal with that all on their own. Even though there was an outer change in the person, they really did stay beautiful on the inside. That's why I appreciate the idea of looking deeper instead of closer. Yes, this person is changed from the event, but they are still themselves on the inside. They may look closer and closer in the mirror and not see themselves, but if they look deeper and deeper then they will find themselves again. Jordan

I liked this haibun because it expressed feelings that were longing to be a better person or looking into the mirror and not getting the image that you want to look at but it is not there. I think this is a great haibun about self esteem and I think a lot of people have low self esteem and building a sense of great character and personality tied a lot into this haiku. I thought it was a decent ending of the story to add a positive experience instead of a depressing one because the mood went more sublime and to the negative side. I enjoyed the story and was very intrigued by it. I read every line and it was relatable to the story. Olivia


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