Category Archives: haibun

Hyperbole

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A section of a church bookshelf

 
Many years ago I was invited to teach an adult Sunday school class. I read the text that we were supposed to discuss, the words of Jesus from Luke 14:26: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
 
“This is an example of hyperbole,” I said. “Jesus is exaggerating for the sake of emphasis. He doesn’t really expect you to hate those who are near and dear to you.”
 
Willard bristled at my statement. “My Bible says that you have to hate them,” he said.
 
“It’s a figure of speech,” I countered. “Can you follow Jesus and hate your wife?”
 
“It’s not a figure of speech,” Willard insisted. “It says hate and it means hate.”
 
The rest of the class grew increasingly uneasy as Willard and I traded verbal blows.
 
At last I said, “I guess we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.” And I moved on.

 


one way to the light
goes through the house of darkness—
I open the door

 
Haibun and photo © 2016 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
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More Midweek Motif at Poets United: “Hyperbole”

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Songs

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A dry wash in Apache County, Arizona

 
“I hear America singing,” Walt Whitman wrote, “the varied carols I hear.”
 
I too hear singing, but instead of songs coming from throats of carpenters, masons or boatmen, I hear the songs of sky and star and stone. The songs of weeds and wind and wild things. The songs of crow and cricket and cottonwood. All these songs come from the high desert, and like the Siren songs that seduced Odysseus and his companions, I cannot ignore them.
 
I hear them as I help a student proofread her essay. I hear them while I confer with a parent about his son’s behavior. I hear them while I am grading papers.
 
At day’s end, I slip into comfortable clothing and walk into the nearby wilderness. The stones and weeds and dust greet me with rejoicing. They knew I would come.

 

a cricket chirrups
three stones confer with the wind—
my house is too small

 
Revised haibun © 2016 and photo © 2012 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
More Poetry Pantry #323 at Poets United

Dessert

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Red walls, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, México

 

So many walls in San Miguel!
 
There is the wall painted the color of sunrise just down the street from the casita where I am staying. Even on overcast days its brightness lifts my spirits.
 
There are the walls of stone surrounding the little plaza where lovers hold hands, old people rest their weary bones, and pigeons boldly draw near, demanding a treat.
 
And there are the towering walls outside the homes of the rich near Parque Juarez. No one can see over them, but behind those walls I imagine feasts for Dia de los Muertos, cooks toiling in kitchens, and servants ushering guests to their places at the table.
 
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” Robert Frost mused in one of his poems. But when it comes to the walls of San Miguel, I love them all.

 


Sunday afternoon
another page of Kafka
served up with dessert

 
Text and photo © 2015 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
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Butterfly

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Butterfly gathering nectar at Rancho Los Alamitos, Long Beach, California

 
“I hear America singing,” Walt Whitman wrote, “the varied carols I hear.”
 
I too hear singing, but instead of coming from throats of carpenters, masons or boatmen, it comes from sky and star and stone. It comes from weeds and wind and wild things. It comes from crow and cricket and cottonwood. It is the singing of the Desert Southwest, and like the Siren songs that seduced Odysseus and his companions, I cannot ignore it.
 
I hear it as I help a student proofread her essay. I hear it while I confer with a parent about his son’s behavior. I hear it while I am grading papers.
 
At day’s end, I slip into comfortable clothing and walk into the nearby wilderness. The stones and weeds and dust greet me with rejoicing. They knew I would come.

 


the shadows lengthen
a butterfly lifts its wings—
my house is too small

 
Text and photo © 2015 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
More Macro Monday 2
 
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Witness

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Wasted wildflowers, northern Arizona

 
As I shuffle through the arroyo, I keep dropping to my knees. An onlooker might mistake me for a pilgrim making my way to Lourdes. But the healing I seek cannot be found at some distant holy shrine. It is here in the dust at my feet: cedar twigs snapped off by storms; summer’s leftover flowers; small stones trying in vain to fatten themselves on wisps of winter sun.
 
I aim my camera at a clump of wasted wildflowers, remembering words from a letter written long ago: “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…” (1 Corinthians 1:28, RSV).
 
Low and despised is winter’s detritus in the arroyo, but it heals my battered spirit as I kneel in awe and wonder before it.

 

Kneeling in the dust,
I search for underground streams—
three crows bear witness.

 
Text and photo © 2014 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
More Carpe Diem: “Ghost Writer, Hamish Managua Gunn”

Snooze

September prickly poppy photo SonoranpoppySept_zps340521b0.jpg
Prickly Poppy (Argemone pleiacantha) in September, Sonoran Desert, Southern Arizona

 

To know a place you have to walk it again and again. Slowly. Eyes open. Expectantly. I walk the wilderness daily. Even on the same paths and in the same places there is always something new. I know where to find the ironwood tree and the indigo bush. I know where a young saguaro shelters in the shadows of its nurse tree, a palo verde. And I know where the prickly poppies grow, blooming in snowy profusion in April and May. As the desert days become hotter and hotter, the flowers go to seed. September is not a prickly poppy month. Yet something draws me to the place where I saw them in the spring. A single white blossom clings to one spiny, bedraggled stalk. I fall to my knees before this wonder, weeping for joy at my good fortune.


on poppy petals
darkness arranges itself
for a midday snooze

 
Text and photo © 2014 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
More Macro Monday 2
 
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New Snow

Photobucket
Apache County, Arizona

 
You can’t step into the same river—or wilderness—twice. Something is always shifting. Something added today will be subtracted tomorrow.
 
Winds fray the grasses. Blowing sand burnishes the stone. A hungry hawk hovers overhead and the mouse runs for cover, leaving tiny tracks.
 
A midnight snowfall dusts tumbleweeds and junipers, cacti and spent wildflowers. I walk through a sparkling wonderland that yesterday was brown and barren.
 
In the desert, snow doesn’t last long: wonderland today, mud tomorrow, dust the day after that. Yet in all seasons, I love wild places.
 
Romancing a place, just as romancing a person, takes dedication. You set yourself to the task for better or worse; for richer or poorer; in sun or in snow, praying that indifference never tames the wild longings of your heart.

 

all the little stones
are singing in the washes
snowflakes kiss the notes

 
Text and photo © 2013 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
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Singing

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Sonoran Desert, Southern Arizona

 
“I hear America singing,” Walt Whitman wrote, “the varied carols I hear.”
 
I too hear singing, but instead of coming from throats of carpenters, masons or boatmen, it comes from sky and star and stone. It comes from weeds and wind and wild things. It comes from crow and cricket and cottonwood. It is the singing of the Sonoran Desert, and like the Siren songs that seduced Odysseus and his companions, I cannot ignore it.
 
I hear it as I help a student proofread her essay. I hear it while I confer with a parent about his son’s behavior. I hear it while I am grading papers.
 
At day’s end, I slip into comfortable clothing and walk into the nearby wilderness. The stones and weeds and dust greet me with rejoicing. They knew I would come.

 

three crickets chirping
stones conferring with the wind
my house is too small

 
Text and photo © 2013 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
More Ein Stück Himmel
 
More September Heights 2013: “Chirp”

Longing

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Saguaro cactus, Sonoran Desert, Southern Arizona

 
I long for mystery, holiness and silence. Old Saguaro Woman offers to satisfy my longings. Not having seen her for several weeks, I strike out in her direction, while a few stars still dot the sky, hoping to avoid the worst of the desert heat. When I arrive at her courtyard, I am dismayed to find that someone has parked a fifth-wheel trailer, its generator roaring, nearby. As I strain to hear what Old Saguaro Woman might be murmuring, the camper owner flings open his door. Ignoring the wise and ancient voices of the desert, he laps up the mindless chatter of the morning news. I distance myself from the camper and its blaring TV, but across the wide-open spaces, sound carries easily. Even a half-mile away, I hear a reporter breathlessly describing the latest disaster in Egypt.
 


desolate places
longing for I know not what
a new way opens

 
Text and photo © 2013 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
More Carpe Diem: “Longing for the Unknown”
 
More Postcards from Paradise at Recuerda Mi Corazon

Lady of the Water Stash

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Southern California

 
“After we crossed the border, there was nothing,” the abuela tells her grandchildren, “just the desert, empty canteens, and the Great Thirst. Mama urged us on, saying that Papa was waiting in Phoenix. I didn’t care. My tongue swelled, my lips cracked and bled, I couldn’t sing—and you know how I love to sing. On the third songless, waterless morning, I saw something blue in the distance. Pensé que estaba soñando. I thought I was dreaming. Could it be Our Lady? I knew she often dressed in blue. As we drew nearer, I saw that it was a container, and on the side, a sign: Agua para Emergencias. I was sure that Our Lady had provided it, so I promised her that for the rest of my life I would sing this little song:
 


My springs are in you,
Lady of the Water Stash,
quenching all my thirst.”
 
~~ ~~ ~~
 
sapphire-blue barrel—
a cup of tepid water
keeping dreams alive

 
Text and photo © 2013 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
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