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THE HAIBUN GALLERY: 5th January '23 — a Thursday feature

Hosts: Firdaus Parvez and Kala Ramesh

poet of the month: Glenn Coats

5th January, 2023


This is the price of the years of thinking,

the casting and recasting of events

and the frantic pen scratching past midnight,

the hoarding of paper, the loneliness,

the pages accumulating while I myself shrink down. —Josephine Humphreys

Our pick-up trucks may have crossed on the suspension bridge above the Delaware. I might have stood by his side as we poked through the chicken sale at Super Fresh. My wife and I could have waltzed close to him at the American Legion dance. Though he lived only six miles away, I never met Len Riley; know him only from the pages of his poetry and articles in the local paper.

He lived outside the village and taught creative writing at the community college. Len liked to work on his property, trimmed the trees along the hedgerows, cut down brush with a tractor, planted vegetables in the spring, and split a pile of wood for winter. Married a few times, had a son who needed help in school. Most folks didn’t know he was a writer.

There are nine books of poetry. Each book is filled with poems that capture moments in a life, marriages and deaths, students and teachers, rivers and streams, love and loss. The poems about his parents are the ones that linger, ones I can’t forget. It is their story that returns in every volume.

Len’s mother works at a hotel, flirts with customers, goes out for a drink before coming home. Len sees her once, getting out of a long Lincoln behind the diner, sees her pull down her dress; stagger across the blacktop. Father drinks, can’t keep a job, walks around town peering in shop windows, shirt half-in and half-out, embarrasses the boy at football games and wrestling matches.

There are leaf patterns in the metal ceiling tiles, and in the darkness, in the flash of passing cars, the child sees wings, blinks and finds angels as the walls shake from loud voices and fists pounding tables and walls. Len is fifteen when he runs away from home to start a new life, odd job after odd job, one room apartments, school at night, the years of writing, years of baring his soul.

He died suddenly, mid-sixties, still teaching, still writing. I don’t know if the poems brought him peace or forgiveness. Len’s poems taught me to go on, to get up in the morning, walk across a cold floor, splash my face with water and start again.

autumn night

the silent pluck

of pine needles

sudden chill

the pull of stars

in all directions

Haibun Today, June 2018


We had the pleasure of asking Glenn a few questions and he graciously took the time to answer them. Here's the first one.


THG: How do you translate experience into writing?

GC: For me, writing is as necessary as food to eat and air to breathe. I have been writing since I was a young man. At first I wrote song lyrics which evolved into free verse. Along the way there were articles and reviews as well as stories for children and adults. I like being in the middle of a story or the middle of a cycle of poems with my mind considering what comes next. Haiku is the form that I have written in for the longest time and it is the form that I feel most comfortable with. I have always written about water (rivers, lakes, streams, the sea). It is a thread that has run through my entire life. I have written a lot about teaching through the years, especially about students who struggle with learning. I was writing both haiku and short fiction for some time when a fellow writer suggested that I try haibun. Haibun has become my way of telling my own story.

More about Glenn:

Glenn G. Coats lives with his wife Joan in Carolina Shores, North Carolina. They enjoy exploring the nearby waterways. Glenn’s haiku collection about rivers, Furrows of Snow, was published by Turtle Light Press in 2019. Glenn is the author of five haibun collections: Snow on the Lake, Beyond the Muted Trees (Pineola Press), Waking and Dream (Red Moon Press), Degrees of Acquaintance and A Synonym for Gone (Snapshot Press 2019, 2021).

Essays and Reviews:

Contemopary Haibun Online, Book Reviews by Glenn G. Coats

CHO April 20022, Review of Home and Away by Ruth Holzer

CHO August 2022, Review of Invisible Dictionary by Stuart Bartow

Haibun Today

HT March 2016, Essay on “Homeless in the Universe” by Bill Wyatt

HT December 2015, Essay on “A Change of Address” by Ken Jones

HT December 2012, Essay on “Honour and Glory” by Ken Jones

HT March 2011, Review of A Boy’s Seasons by Cor van den Heuvel

Your Challenge:

Glenn's haibun transports us to the places and people he describes; such is his art of capturing an image. Can you bring to life someone from your past that has had an influence on your life. Tell us a story with images. Leave us wanting for more.


As always, a good haibun will find its way into the next issue of our fabulous journal. Kala and I are eagerly looking forward to reading your haibun.

Keith Polette is the MENTOR for THE HAIBUN GALLERY from 16 December 2022.

Thank you, Keith


1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt. Please put your name and country of residence under your poem, it makes the editors' work easier. Thanks.

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.


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