Haibun: A Soldier to Himself

When you have some free time, walk a mile in the desert. Walk many more miles. Let the laughter of soldiers diffuse behind you, like a handful of sand dropped into the Kabul. Walk the desert like the saints did, until you see a black scorpion scuttling over a pile of sun-white bones and hear the nightjar’s mechanical croon as he turns his head side-to-side, shaking dirt from his dusky feathers. Let hours pass. When the air turns cold as melted ice, do not shield yourself. Allow it to enter you, easily as a fox enters its hole. Notice for the first time that the distant mountains are capped with snow. Remember all that’s happened since you got here. Believe that the desert is large enough to contain any loss.

Across the orange-
blue sky, a fading jet trail.
Something has moved on.

Author: Charlie Bondhus

Charlie Bondhus’s second poetry book, All the Heat We Could Carry, won the 2013 Main Street Rag Award and the 2014 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. His first book, How the Boy Might See It was reissued in fall 2015 in a revised, expanded edition from Jane’s Boy Press. His work appears in numerous journals, including Poetry, The Bellevue Literary Review, The Missouri Review, Copper Nickel, The Gay & Lesbian Review, The Alabama Literary Review, and Midwest Quarterly. He is assistant professor of English at Raritan Valley Community College (NJ) and is the poetry editor at The Good Men Project (goodmenproject.com).

1 thought on “Haibun: A Soldier to Himself”

  1. A haibun is a Japanese form which takes the shape of a prose paragraph followed by a haiku that caps/encapsulates the whole thing.

    I’m not entirely sure what made me decide to do a haibun for this book. It was more a matter of encountering the form and thinking “Oh cool, I want to try that.”

    Still, I think the form fits the content pretty nicely–the unadorned, rank and file nature of the prose paragraph is a kind of grounding; a no frills military discipline. Meanwhile, the haiku represents thought, flight of fancy, a moment of feeling that’s still circumscribed by its tight syllabic structure.

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