Issue 33 – Haibun & Gembun


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


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


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


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


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

in the ground fog
I become the answer

Kala Ramesh, India

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Issue 33 – Rengay

Ain’t Got No Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia

not sure what it means

type-type-typing out

the computed axial tomography
with claustrophobia

the author’s character’s craving
for methylenedioxymethamphetamine

a cwtch

after the doctor says
I hear nothing

Alan S. Bridges & Michael Dylan Welch, USA

Yellow Ribbons

distant bells
echoing through the valley
that Christmas day truce

for as long as I can remember
a candle in the window

faded yellow ribbons
wrapped around
every tree

his days
waiting by the door
the old dog

the welcome mat

the unturned calendar
the brighter wall

Angela Terry & Julie Schwerin, USA

When the Music Ends

grief group . . .
introducing ourselves
by our losses

the chairs much farther
apart this time

when the music ends
another is taken

winning the cake walk
not really a good thing
for my diet

what I left behind
catches up with me

finally admitting
I may have been
part of the problem

Julie Schwerin & Angela Terry, USA

Waving Goodbye

downsizing . . .
she takes the seashells
back to the beach

boxing up books
no one’s looked at in years

waving good-bye
to the old mirrors
a new smile

that diary only
written in twice
goes in the garbage

a roomy space
for fresh dreams

filling up
with new possibilities

Julie Schwerin & Angela Terry, USA

Nuptial Niceties

kiss the bride
no, please, you were first . . .
civil wedding

seating arrangements

best man’s speech
on behalf of all men
thanking the groom

all the single ladies . . .
no one catches
the bouquet

first dance
she moves her father’s hand

cake topper askew
grandma fixes it
with a little spit

Lew Watts & Tanya McDonald, USA

Sweet Charity

bent tines
on the dessert fork
her life story

apple pie
still bruised by her motherhood

sugar and spice
locked in the attic
for speaking my mind

hear no evil, see no evil
an extra slice of tart
from the vicar’s wife

wax on the frosting
as she catches her breath

at the bitter end
still wanting to be loved––
sweet charity

Tanya McDonald & Lew Watts, USA

The Grunt’s Lament

another Monday
the half-n-half

the traffic

spreading it
too thick
new hire

working lunch
we take turns
passing the buck

coffee break
stirring up gossip

the pits
still in the olive
Happy Hour

Terri L. French & Bryan Rickert, USA

Clothing Optional

I dress up
my Bitmoji

a mask to match
each pair of socks

which earrings go
with these pajamas

another pair of slippers
from Amazon

a sweatshirt
gets the sniff test

it doesn’t deserve
a bra

Terri L. French, USA

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Issue 33 – Haiga

free fall . . .
my plan
to lose weight

Chidambar Navalgund, India

photo haibun

Christina Chin, Malaysia (senryu) & Michael Hough, USA (prose & image)

copper penny . . .
we ride the rails
one last time
fishing for words
you drop a line here
and there

Debbie Strange, Canada

those barbed words—
the way he

Dorothy Burrows, United Kingdom

far too heavy the light
on the shoulder

Lavana Kray, Romania

the watchers watching
everywhere I look
a camera’s eye

Mark Meyer, USA

me looking into

Robert Erlandson, USA

born to ride the storm of fire & rain

Ron Moss, Australia

falling from trees a blueprint for the unsaid
secured with metal pins :: some moments are just perfect

Shloka Shankar, India

dancing geisha
a flick of the wrist
unfurls her fan

Terri L. French, USA

café kitchen table
meeting friends
on facebook
between the pages
of memories
closing a chapter

Wanda Amos, Australia

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