Updated: Jan 3
Hosts: Reid Hepworth and Shalini Pattabiraman
29th December 2022
This brings us to the close of the series featuring Terri L. French. It has been such a pleasure reading her work and discussing her process. I hope you have had as much fun as I did. Thank you, Terri!
Terri L. French
Acceptance is a Small, Quiet Room
While most children were sent to their rooms as punishment, my room was a haven. There, when I questioned or doubted myself, I could discuss life with my stuffed animals (my pink snake, Rosy, was the best listener). Though the songbook for my Magnus electric organ was limited, I learned to master “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “Cockles and Mussels,” Alive Alive, Oh! I found Adventure with Nancy Drew, wrote my first ill-rhymed poetry on the pages of my diary, and as a teen listened to 8-tracks, practiced yoga by candlelight.
Fifty years later, when the voices of a false self berate me, I still go to my room. Only now I find it in nature and speak to trees, caterpillars, or even rocks, who all tell me I am doing just fine.
in my turning
Source: Contemporary Haibun Online, 16:2, August 2020 and haiku previously published in #FemKu Mag, October 2018
R: I love this haibun, mostly I think, because I can relate to it so well. The introvert, finding peace in her surroundings, finding peace in who she is a human being. As we move into the new year, I hope that you also find peace…wherever you are in your path.
Terri’s thoughts about Acceptance:
The title was taken from Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. This piece, much like Rebirth, speaks to my introverted nature. As a child, as punishment, my mother would send us to our bedrooms. For my younger sister, an extrovert, this was torture, but, to me, it was a reward! Although, it was torture for my mom because I really did have a Magnus electric organ—a gift from my paternal grandparents—that I loved to practice when I was in my room. But, whether it is a literal quiet room, a wooded path, or a secluded beach—these are the places where I get in touch with myself and feel the most like “me.” The haiku speaks to where I am now in life—now past middle age in my early 60s. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the fact that I am ageing, but I am still me. Still that little girl who loves music and poetry, and quiet places.
For the last prompt of the month, I’d like you to think of new beginnings. Explore a time when you embarked on a new journey of discovery or were thrust into a situation that was out of your comfort zone.
R: As a special treat, Terri has shared one more haibun with us to cap off the series.
T: For this added bonus haibun, I have chosen something a little different. I love to do research and was always curious as to who this man was whose name I wore on my POW bracelet when I was in the 7th grade. So, some forty-five years later, with access to the internet, I did a little digging and discovered his story. I lost that bracelet about a year after I put it on. I have no idea how it fell from my wrist, but regardless, his name is inscribed on my heart. This haibun is in honor of Sgt. Gary LaBohn.
Terri L. French
Ca Dao Mẹ*
It was 1971 and I was 11-years-old. Many of the kids at Madison Junior High wore army jackets and POW bracelets, basically because it was the thing to do. It looked cool and we all wanted to look cool. But the stainless steel band I wore around my wrist was more than a status symbol. I prayed for the person inscribed on it every night. Sgt. Gary LaBohn. The date that the letters MIA were ascribed to his name — 11/30/68.
a locker combination
fading on my palm
Sgt. LaBohn and seven other men boarded a helicopter that day. Their team was being transported to their reconnaissance mission area in Laos. It was a classified mission, not one they could talk about with their families. At 4,000 feet, the helicopter was struck by anti-aircraft fire, went into a spin, crashed in a mass of flames ten miles outside of their destination, and exploded. No ground search was initiated as it was a denied area. An air search indicated there were no survivors. Still the men were listed as “Missing in Action” and their families held on to hope for the next twenty-one years.
deep in the jungle
where no eyes see—
In March 1989, the area was excavated. Human remains of 17 teeth and 145 bone fragments were found. The remains are buried in a mass grave in Arlington National Cemetery.
here and there
point to Orion
Source: Prune Juice, Issue 19, 2016
1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt.
2. Share your best-polished pieces.
3. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written. Let it simmer for a while.
4. When poets give suggestions and if you agree to them - post your final edited version on top of your original version.
5. Don't forget to give feedback on others' poems.
We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished haibun (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in the haikuKATHA monthly journal.