Haibun: poetry

What use is poetry? You can’t drive a nail with it. You can’t heat your house, shoe a horse, build a dam, or pave a street. It’s no good for sewing, sawing, swinging, or finding your keys in the dark. If you’re a baker, soldier, mechanic, farmer, gravedigger, or physician, poetry doesn’t get the job done. Does poetry clean, cut, weld, braise, fry, or distill? Design a plane, accumulate capital, build a stadium? Fat chance. About the only thing I can think of that poetry is good for is changing everything.

“Words,” said Sensei,
“Cannot burn your tongue,”
Spitting ashes.

The poetry in Poetry

Wicked, I know, but who could resist?

Oh, this must be a poem,
from the lick-backed wobble
of word-induced glimmer,

from the near-likely brood
of dimple-starred crows,
these broad gallops of

weedy wings.

Like the grand chausee
or the midge-grained wire alike.

Oh, this must be a poem,
sits like a wimple
across my greedy brow;

yet the still carcass
– a mantis dream –
occurs relentless into the
sun-darkened corner.

Oh, this must be a poem.


Time augers deeply
Its worm-like whim astride
The face of meaning
Blinking wild and faring well
Over chain and bell alike

I think of you
Tethered like that
To your holy ghosts
Those wraiths that wrap your dreams
And fail the promises abandoned
So long ago, all those fine illusions
You love so well

Let go, let collapse
Envelop you
Your grasp contains nothing
But helplessness
Let go