Updated: Dec 10, 2021

THE HAIBUN GALLERY hosts: Shalini Pattabiraman & Shobhana Kumar The role of haiku in a haibun

For our very first feature, we invite your attention to a stunning haibun written by the late David Cobb.


nights drawing in

drops of melted wax

form stalagmites

The anticipated power cut. Office closed at four, as every day the past six weeks. Trams not running, she walks to the crèche to pick up her baby boy. To get home needs to take a taxi. District 14, street 7, block 1c, she tells the driver.

Lift out of action, has to climb three flights of stairs to her apartment, infant under one arm, brief case under the other. Right hand gripping the handrail. Opening the case to find her key, it . bursts open, scattering official documents into the darkened stairwell. Seats the baby on the landing, shuts her ears to the wailing, gathers up the papers. Well used to running her hands over the front door to find the keyhole, and so into her rented flat. Two barely furnished rooms and all day no heating.

Gropes her way to the candlestick. By its dim light measures out the powdered milk – her breasts dry – uses the candle flame to warm the mixture to blood temperature. Baby fed, opens a tin of goulash and spoons it into her mouth stone cold.

Lays their stripped-off outdoor clothes on the bed for extra warmth. Climbs into bed, taking the baby with her. Stuffs the bolster between them not to overlay him. Sings to him softly till they both fall asleep.

Sometime in the small hours the power comes back on, the radio wakes her. Draws the quilt around her shoulders and listens to the news. The Party proudly announces completion of the third floor of the Great Leader’s palace. Not much beyond schedule either.

dwindling moon

a tram car screeches

round the hairpin bend

..... David draws our attention to the woman and her baby and their situation with an economy of words that is brilliant. Our gaze remains narrowed and focused on her, however the haiku at the beginning and end add something to the narrative.

Consider how the title and haiku shift our gaze; what do they do in turn to the narrative? Without this shift, would the narrative have created the same impact? What are your thoughts?

Source: meltdown - haibun by David Cobb


For the forthcoming issue of HaikuKATHA please send us a haibun under 300 words that captures someone's life and circumstances.


338 views64 comments