Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 5, Number 4, December 2011

Owen Bullock
Paeroa, New Zealand



two coffee cups
& a burger
by the side of the road

A sign about the early thermal baths reads 'hei oranga mo nga iwi katoa o te ao'—for the benefit of the people of the world. Interesting that 'ao' (usually 'land') is translated 'world' —we still can't understand the attachment to the land itself, that we are all, potentially, people of the land, rather than possessors of it.

the white of the pied stilt's belly sulphur lake

the white landscape's
sulphur river

Steam pours constantly from the lake, pools and fumeroles in the parks; mud pfflopps, drifts of sulphur-laden air speed into the lungs with the distinctive smell, as if to immerse one's body in the fact that we are here now. The singed ground is eerie, yet austere. Even new timber is blackened.

thermal pools
steam drifts away
from the water

hot pools –
lights across the lake

My torso is in the cold air, my legs bathing in warmth. Late night, the spa almost empty of people; the rushing of fountains is the only noise.

Walking the lake's edge, still dazed by the fact of morning. Sitting to watch the action.

the gull
with something
mobbed by the others

black swans
skirt the shore
with no opinion

I keep walking.

geese with their heads
tucked in

a return to winter?
leaves sidelong
through the park

a gull
diagonally into
dark clouds

I circle the city like a bird—what am I looking for?

a son
struggling to keep up with
the grown-up

I wonder, achingly, about the city's people; what are they feeling, what do they love to do, why are they here?

Here and there, on benches, people are smoking. A man tries to bum some money from a couple of visitors; they have trouble understanding him—all he wants is two dollars for a pie, he says.

so many addictions
like a case
towed on wheels


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