Category Archives: haibun

Haibun: Sacred Grove


I walk barefoot on the gravel path, ignoring the pain. My pulse quickens, my blood runs hot. I feel as though I could float, or leap for joy. I’m going to visit my old friend the ginkgo. To shave off time, and arrive sooner, I double my speed. Now I see the ginkgo, framed as always by two recumbent Buddhas. From one of the Buddhas, a startled dove takes flight. On the head of the other, a monstrous crow grins, and plucks a passing insect from the air. I stand in the sacred grove where mystery abounds. All is well.
 

Urged on by the wind,
a little girl’s dragon kite
circles round the sun.


 

Haibun © 2021 by Magical Mystical Teacher

 

Haibun: Give Thanks


“I’m too tired to be grateful,” I growl, and sip a third cup of coffee. I listen to my watch ticking. I remember the scent of the tangerine I peeled on a long-ago Thanksgiving Day. The citrus oils stung my chapped fingers, making me wince. But that was the best tangerine I have ever tasted. And the longer I live, the more clearly I see that I can choose how my day will go by changing my attitude. “Don’t be fooled,” I say to myself, “gratitude is the path to contentment. Make every day a holy day. Give thanks.”
 

autumn meander—
making my way toward twilight
with a few detours



 

Haibun © 2020 by Magical Mystical Teacher

 

Haibun: Bathing the Turtle


Sheltered by a stand of willows, I watch a young boy giving his pet turtle a scrub in the pond. Obviously this turtle’s well cared for, and no disease will carry it away. Such empathy! I fight the urge to cry out, “What a great kid!” If only I had some flowers to leave to show my appreciation for this boy’s tenderness. But I must go. Thankful for this little diversion from the day’s bad news, I turn toward home. It’s a long walk. If I’m lucky, I’ll get there before dark.
 
All my bitter tears
vanish in a single note
from the blackbird’s throat.

 

Haibun © by Magical Mystical Teacher

 

Haibun: Lessons


Two of the lessons that my fifth-grade teacher taught me I’ve never forgotten. That’s because Mrs. Pearl Shirley liked to speak in aphorisms, which, as far as I know, she made up herself, and which she drummed into my brain by quoting them in her classroom several times a day.
 
“You’d better get on the stick before the stick gets on you,” Mrs. Shirley said to students who were dawdling or off task. She meant that there would be consequences for inaction.
 
That aphorism came to mind a few years ago when I was planning where to travel. I found airfare to Copenhagen for the bargain price of $678 in March, while airfare at that time to most other European capitals was running $800-$900. But I didn’t get on the stick, and by the time I had finally decided to purchase the tickets, they were no longer available.
 
“You’d better use your head for something besides a hat rack,” Mrs. Shirley said to students who shrugged their shoulders and said, “I don’t know,” when she asked them a question about the lesson. Mrs. Shirley meant that one’s head is more than a decorative appendage; it’s to be used for a high and noble purpose—thinking. A mind, some wise person said, is a terrible thing to waste.
 
From the ripened plum,
from the raven’s tailfeather,
let there be stories!

 

Haibun © by Magical Mystical Teacher

Dementia: A Haibun


Tonight my longtime friend will try to explain to me why her dementia (still in the early stages) sometimes makes her incoherent. She’s tried this before. She knows that halfway through her explanation she will find words getting harder to form, and she will quit in mid-sentence. She doesn’t want me to give advice. She just wants someone to listen, someone like me.


Midsummer mishap—
I stumble on the pathway
leading to the gate.

 

Haibun © 2020 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More The Whirligig #276
 
More Writers’ Pantry #30 at Poets and Storytellers United

 

In This Sizzling Heat: A Haibun


In this sizzling heat we feel as though we’re descending into hell. The river has shrunk into a thin sliver thread. Our grapes are turning brown. They need water. I cannot tell you how eagerly we look for a cloud—one cloud!—to bear even a few drops of rain to the grapes. The neighbor boy flies his kite. It casts a shadow over the dying grapes. But I’ve had enough of watching for clouds that never come. I dig out our passports. “Come on,” I say to my beloved, “we’re going to Norway where it’s cool and it rains. Oh, wait! Americans aren’t welcome in Europe these days. What a clusterf*ck!”


I can’t remember
the last time I quenched my thirst
from a mountain stream.

 

Haibun © 2020 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More The Whirligig #274
 
More Writers’ Pantry #28 at Poets and Storytellers United

 

Who Do You Think You Are: A Haibun


If you were to ask me, “Who do you think you are?” this is what I’d say: I started dancing when God said, “Turn on the lights!” I made music when the first corn grew in dusty places, and the weight of a single kernel was heavier than all of Moctezuma’s gold. I attended the wedding at Cana of Galilee where Jesus said, “Forget the cash bar. I’m turning this water into wine, and it’s free for everyone. Come and get it!” I fiddled all night for the guests as they drank wine, rolled joints, and danced. And in the early hours of the morning I saw how Jesus took that poor, bruised woman with the split lip, laid his hands on her head, and said, “Daughter, be healed.” And she was! So who do I think I am? Why do you even ask? I think you know.


I can’t remember
the last time I quenched my thirst
from a mountain stream.

 

Haibun © 2020 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More The Whirligig #271
 
More Writers’ Pantry #25 at Poets and Storytellers United

 

Praise the Lord: A Haibun


This is my morning ritual, taught to me by the elders—women I met on holy ground. Turning to the east, I place a poem on my tongue, as though it were a communion wafer. Like the wafer melting in a faithful person’s mouth, I know the poem on my tongue will die if I do not sing it aloud, whether anybody hears it or not. So I sing: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Five times I sing the ancient words. And after the fifth time I laugh, for things all round me have joined the song: chickadees and caterpillars; butterflies and blacksnakes; mosquitos, mergansers, and marigolds. Everything with breath is praising the Lord. And the song is glorious.


Unexpected rain—
the old stone Buddha’s broad lap
now holds an ocean.

 

Haibun © 2020 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More The Whirligig #268
 
More Writers’ Pantry #22 at Poets and Storytellers United

 

An Easter Story


This is an Easter story, a Passover story, an anytime-you-need-to-practice-gratitude story. Once upon a time there was a butterfly who had no wings. She could not fly from here to there, but had to wait for the wind to shake her loose from one flower and carry her to the next. One night she had a dream: She was transformed! She had wings! And the best part? She woke from her dream to find that it was true! She could fly on her own from blossom to blossom! She began to breathe a prayer: “Spirit of wonder! Spirit of love! Thank you for my new life. I will cherish every moment of it, even when my wings become faded and tattered.”


Why are you waiting?
The road your grandmothers walked
is calling your name.

 

Haibun © 2020 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More The Whirligig #261
 
More Writers’ Pantry #15 at Poets and Storytellers United

Water or Chardonnay: A Weird Little Haibun


When the choice of drink is water or chardonnay, I usually take water. I don’t want to end up in some faraway place, sleeping under a bridge, and wonder how I got there. Nobody’s going to rescue me from my own stupidity. If someone asks why I prefer to eat by candlelight, I say, “It’s fine to dine in the dark, but the last time I tried that, I nearly ate my finger, mistaking it for a French fry. Don’t you think it’s important to be safe rather than sorry?”


Yellow butterfly,
will you meet me on the path
to the mountaintop?

 

Haibun © 2020 by Magical Mystical Teacher
 
 
More The Whirligig #257
 
More Writers’ Pantry #11 at Poets and Storytellers United