Issue 33 – Haibun & Gembun

Haibun

Sorry, Mom

I can’t remember the taste of the fried Spam sandwiches I ate as a kid nor the headaches they gave me, but I’ve heard the stories. And later as a young adult, when grandpa had just died from a brain tumor and migraine headaches hospitalized me, you would blame yourself and your fried Spam sandwiches, would confess the doctor had told you to stop feeding me Spam, would apologize for being poor, would apologize for everything. It runs in the family. We’re always sorry for something. It might be our fault.

after the wake
second-guessing my taste
in whiskey

Bob Lucky, Portugal

Bitters

Only a few family members bothered showing up to stand vigil by her deathbed. All of them quiet and cold. A reflection of their upbringing. Grandma was already a petite woman and illness had whittled her down to bones. It must have taken every ounce of strength still in her to sit up, point to grandfather and call out, “Clarence, I pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary that someday you will burn in hell!” Not long after that, she finally found, in death, the peace she had always wanted but couldn’t have in life.

the old pub
forgetting which stool
was his

Bryan Rickert, USA

The Speaker Drones On

I drawl to my friend, “It’s been a wonderful year for me. The covid pandemic has opened up multiple avenues on virtual open-mics for my poetry—making new friends, and connected with old—I’ll be sad when the vaccine stops all this Zooming. It’s been so much fun.”

on mute
I open another
bottle of wine

John S Green, USA

Latch

On the third morning, I woke in a puddle, pinned and in pain, unable to move. “Bring me the baby,” I whispered.

skin to skin the lore of engorgement

Kat Lehmann, USA

How She Was

My poet friend Elva is no longer here but her husband, over ninety, like she was, likes to share their stories. For her life celebration she planned a party. I played host, as she would have wanted, but it was her older friends that had the twinkles in their eyes and knew the most. They’d memorized poems from her “Being She” and her recipe for blue martinis. And shared her travel secrets as if she’d given a script.

Statue of David
her mischievous look
as she placed the rose

Kath Abela Wilson, USA

In the Dark

The frequency of a dog whistle usually exceeds 20,000 Hz, beyond the audible range of the human ear. The one in my hand also appears to be silent to my 6-month old pup. Is it faulty? How would I know?

faking it
I say it was good
for me too

Lew Watts, USA

Lukewarm

I’m no longer sure I believe hell exists, or god for that matter, but it was embedded in me that suicide is a sin. . . and that’s one belief I just can’t seem to shake.

southern baptist
the church pew’s
fresh graffiti

Lori A Minor, USA

Against the Grain

September, 1994

Early on this warm autumn day Rome’s Spanish Steps have already gathered crowds. Couples and groups stroll across the Piazza di Spagna from cafés, shops and the American Express office. Some pause to take snapshots beside the Barcaccia and drink from the fountain. Others wander up the steps and flop, arms around their pals’ shoulders, eating gelato and sculling Cokes in a buzz of laughter and talk. Old travertine disappears under sprawling young bodies. Artists set up where they can squeeze an easel between terracotta tubs of pink bougainvillea, dashing off pencil portraits and watercolours of St Peters. Off to one side, an Asian man writes a girl’s name on a rice grain for good luck. I watch as he tucks his work into a small glass vial filled with clear oil. He loops this around her neck on a leather cord. Lire change hands. She beckons her friend who says her name. The calligrapher nods, tips a new long white seed into a palm, gives his technical pen a shake and begins inscribing the tiny characters for Mary.

double lines
of bent backs
spring paddy

Marietta McGregor, Australia

Gembun

a hundred black wings cluster a cawing horizon

a fork in the road
in our lives
these autumn decisions

does our thirst play tricks on us

groping
in the ground fog
I become the answer

Kala Ramesh, India

Return to Issue

Tia Haynes Named Prune Juice Editor for 2021

Exciting changes to announce at Prune Juice Journal of Senryu & Related Forms:

November Issue #32 will be my last issue editing PJ, as it’s time to step aside and welcome a new rising editor, performer, and poet for whom I hold the deepest respect. I’m delighted to introduce everyone to the next editor of Prune Juice, Tia Haynes, who will begin reading submissions for March Issue #33 on Jan 1st, 2021.

Tia Haynes is an award-winning American poet and stay-at-home mom from Lakewood, Ohio. Her chapbook, leftover ribbon, shortlisted for the 2019 Touchstone Distinguished Book Awards, and she was one of 17 poets featured in New Resonance 11: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku, which won a 2020 HSA Merit Book Award for Best Anthology. She has served as a guest editor for #FemkuMag and The Haiku Foundation’s weekly column Haiku Dialogue, as well as co-judge of the annual Marlene Mountain Memorial Haiku Contest. Her poems can be found in journals such as Frogpond, Modern Haiku, The Heron’s Nest, Presence, and Contemporary Haibun Online.

Please join me in welcoming Tia Haynes to the family! I look forward to witnessing Tia take the journal to whole new heights in the coming years. 

And to all the amazing Prune Juice contributors I’ve had the pleasure of working with as editor over the past six issues, as well as through the 10th Anniversary Anthology celebrations, it’s been a profound honor to read and share your work with the world. Thank you for being my teachers and inspirations over the past few years, each in your own way. I will continue to follow and admire your work in the decades ahead. 

Best,

Brent Goodman

Editor (2019 – 2020)