Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 5, Number 3, September 2011

Charles Tarlton
Oakland, California, USA



States that rise unexpectedly, then, like all other things in nature which are born and grow rapidly, cannot have their foundations and relations with other states fixed in such a way that the first storm will not overthrow them; unless, as is said, those who unexpectedly become princes are men of so much ability that they know they have to be prepared at once to hold that which fortune has thrown into their laps, and that those foundations, which others have laid before they became princes, they must lay afterwards.

                                                                                    Machiavelli, The Prince


Reveals the truth that to flourish is to fall.
He who is proud is not so for long.
                                                                                    Heike monogatari


new plum blossoms
tempt the artist's
brush, his poor palette
pictures a memory
under the cold snow

art reveals
only what it means
to conceal
weight, boulders, and iron
girders tipping the scales

stones then being brought
are wedged
under the house
some lean into the work
some fly away

The moment comes filled with possibilities—from here to just about anywhere. It all depends. Before this or that dream can come true, the sky opens—love, disease, war, winning raffle tickets, random possibility directs the world's forces. The road ahead forks infinitely, digression on digression, like the veins in my forearm or rain down the windowpane.

twice the enemy
routed by
sad drowned Armadas
whistled at his luck

and rode up on a pale horse
too broad a grin
he couldn't see
backwards or exactly where
the road turned

"This is how the lowly view the mighty," the wizard's assistant said. "They are just temporary, you know? and blessed are the poor in spirit, the righteous, and the peacemakers. They will eventually inherit it all."

"But the mighty are as vulnerable," the wizard added. "We never say blessed are the powerful, the pernicious, and the warlike, but not because they don't need it."

in the moment
of action
the heart pauses
unknown outcomes

we cannot discern
at the speed of light
their antics happen
out of sight


Note: Kamikaze means "divine wind" in Japanese and was used, of course, in connection with Japanese suicide bomber pilots in WWII. A much earlier use referred to the typhoons in 1274 and 1281 that turned back invading Mongolian ships during the reign of Hōjō Tokimune (1268-1284).

Current Contents about archives resources search submissions current