Haibun Today

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

Charles Tarlton
Oakland, California, USA


Four Short Poems from The Wetted Bound

1. Mimesis

. . . to know beauty and death and despair . . .

                                         —Ezra Pound

A sunny Saturday on the San Francisco Bay, and the sailboats come out of their slips; they run and circle like children at recess or Death's prisoners granted a reprieve.

a fair nose droops
with age, my jowls slacken
on the inside
knowledge wars with visions
where she goes in her naps

landscapes of ruined hills
heat shimmering
where all the corn has died
the echo of laughter

2. Rough Drawing on the Wall

Please be good enough to come to the studio one of these afternoons—I would hope to be there, but if by chance I am not take my key from the concierge.

                                         —Edouard Manet

A woman deliberately naked lies on a carefully orchestrated bed. She's waiting for the camera to arrive and take nude pictures, to translate her hair and skin and fluid—into Art.

here's an orchid
where it's white pale yellow
in the center
this one's plastic and silk
stands up to roughest use

O, beholder
in whose sight judgment lies
its cold untruths
lips and fingers follow
falsely, hand over hand

3. Entering In

All great writers have, of course, an atmosphere in which they seem most at their ease and at their best; a mood of the great general mind which they interpret and indeed almost discover . . . .

                                         —Virginia Woolf

Every classic Western movie transports us visually to where the geography of emptiness, personal ambition, the absence of law, and historical closure all come together.

in dreams we go
to some familiar place
odd roads and ruts
not so much remembered
as woven from the bag

of memory's
fragments, splinters of laughter
deep in the night
you walk there like you knew
each buttress and shadow

4. The Harmony of the Spheres

Out we come, bloodied and squawling, with the knowledge that for all the points of the compass, there's only one direction. And time is its only measure.

                                          —Tom Stoppard

I have tried fruitlessly to understand an expanding universe; the idea cannot be put in ordinary language. The mind stands gaping—we are in the saddle; we are the saddle.

hurry! hurry!
how long do we still have
we might forget
to dream this, these blue skies
our natural music

a breeze so soft
we cogitate the sound
it makes in trees
a bird, a saw, a truck's
engine strumming in low gear


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