Book of the Week: Border Lands
Jim Kacian travels to the old country for the funeral of a friend’s father and discovers what of himself still belongs to the old ways in this 2006 Red Moon Press offering of haibun and haiku.
You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.
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Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by Jim Kacian, following a concept first explored by Tom Clausen, and are used with permission.
passing the jug the warmth of many handsthe steep path— a babe on the back of her mothernight wind one dog starts them allancient road wearing away my sharedeparting bus— a child I don't know waves to megoodbye hugs all the places where we touch
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To my own mind, border crossings whether literal or metaphorical are something most of us experience. Travelling through at least five European countries in a week certainly made me think on my feet, and sleep with one eye open.
I wholeheartedly agree with this statement because I’ve been there:
“Once in a great while we are fortunate enough to witness something of great significance outside our usual ken. The rest of life is prepa- ration for such moments. The question is not whether or not we will be able to cross the line once we have come to it, but what we will be when the time has come, and if we are able, to cross back.”
Just a tiny selection of haiku that include mood and movement:
passing cars —
the moon slips
along their curves
barrel fire —
shadows of men disappear
into the woods
The latter reminds me of my first time at Glastonbury Festival, when Van Morrison was playing as I arrived, and it wasn’t crowded. We drank good cider, not too strong, and cheap, and the woods were where you went for a tinkle, and I don’t think they had portaloos back then either. 🙂
This one reminds me of my time outside Katmandu, Nepal, and regular trips to India:
autumn evening —
the last peal of the bell slips
into the light fog
And who hasn’t experienced this, whether in your home town, or as a new stranger:
departing bus —
a child I don’t know
waves to me
My love of mountains, which I have not climbed, though my wife has, in many places:
to the mountain pass
I was once an avid chess player:
the chessmen have maintained
my lost position
Even finding myself, by mistake, in the middle of the Heroic Defence, where you have lost almost all of your pieces yet you should win. I was there, nearly won, nearly lost, battled to a draw although vastly outnumbered. Ah, journeys too. 🙂
Interestingly enough, when I travelled almost non-stop for five years across Europe, USA, India etc… I felt homesick for the new place I just left, never my ‘residential’ home:
the morning star
over the mountain —
longing for home
I highly recommend this book for many reasons, most of them obvious, some of them possibly not.
Alan, With Words
I enjoyed this extended haibun, the prose as much as the haiku. They fit well. Nothing over-laboured, nothing that isn’t essential. I felt I was there.
a stranger stops to light
(& especially in context, this last is so right)
And great to discover the context of this one, which has been a favourite for a long time:
passing the jug
of many hands
Good to reread Jim Kacian’s book this morning. Some of the haiku I’ve seen in other places and are well-known, yet also good to revisit within the context of the haibun.
I often reread poetry – and see new things. Am sure this is a common experience.
Some haiku in Jim’s book are new again. In a notebook, I noted “ancient road” which I see is also reprinted in this post.
May I add:
the gray of the churchstone
the same as the graves
after the wake
a shawl on the chair
by Jim Kacian
* * *
I went to Poland with my father in 1978. He was a retired history teacher and this was a tour with UW-Milwaukee. I was 24 years old, and we felt he should not travel without family. This was for a month, between teaching years for me, and I remember making new friends and a new routine for a time. My father’s passing would be five years later, in 1983. I don’t have a moving record as Jim does here. His book brings back memories though.
* * *
Thank you, Ellen
This is an evocative collection that navigates both the foreign landscape combined with the writers emotions.
My favourite haiku from in this book are
“old map”, “departing bus” and “passing freight train”
I enjoyed the journey very much.
Thanks for making this collection and others available.
hand in hand in the park
the widow and widower
stirring dry leaves
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