Haibun Today
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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 4, Number 2, June 2010


Dru Philippou
Taos, New Mexico, USA

 

Pope of Fools and Tower of Babel

I turn left out of my street, go over the zebra crossing and meander down a cul-de-sac to primary school. Up a flight of eight steps, I pass through the wooden doors into my classroom sanctuary. I raise my hand, as usual, to ring the bell for morning break. When that time comes, I race up the staircase to the belfry and bolt the door behind me. I reach for the rope and soar through the air to the soothing sound of the bell.

Quasimodo
crowned the Pope of Fools
sweeps a gentle hand
across his gargoyles
watching over the city

Esmeralda saved
he pursues her nimble gait
about the cathedral
deaf to her words
and the tambourine’s jingles

A classmate stands alone in the playground with her back against the fence, staring at the ground. Her doll’s hair is festooned with ribbons that lost their luster long ago—its tiny feet limp under the skirt, forehead’s ridged with dirt, arms bruised purple with stains, eyes glassy and wide-open to the illimitable blue. I pick up the doll and hand it to her. I speak in the language I know best, and slowly, she in hers.

Nebuchadnezzar
restorer of temples
embellishes the base
with silver and gold
with cedar and fir

Babel’s Tower
spirals to the heavens
on the sun-baked clay
the King of Babylon
inscribes his name

 


 

 

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