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THE HAIBUN GALLERY: 20th October — a Thursday feature

Hosts: Shalini Pattabiraman and Reid Hepworth

20th October 2022

Today we bring to you the third haibun in the series featuring Keith Polette.

Keith Polette

Looking for Marfa Lights

It is best to approach from the west on Hwy 90 with a full tank of gas and a slice of tres leches cake from L & J’s in El Paso, which you’ve kept in the cooler (in case you need a ready sacrifice). Lose your expectations and approach on a night when the stars have pulled up stakes. Keep track of the floaters in your eyes. Remember to speak softly to whatever is rumbling behind your strongest persona. This is how you can invite the light. Clean the windshield of its Pollack-painting of bugs and give away any loose change in your pockets.

night drive

when the only detour

is the moon

Avoid other light-lookers. They have gathered to see a spectacle, a Godot, or something like it. Remember, though, that the night sky is shaped like a bowler hat and that your shadow will lead you deeper into the desert of yourself. Light can only be found in the darkest place. Do not be troubled by the fact that some trees never spout leaves.

solo hitchhiking . . .

the long dark stretches

between friends

Recall your latest dream. Resist the temptation to shoehorn it into your daylight understanding. Don’t put your trust in easy repetitions. Rely on your fingertips; they can nose out the spirit in the dry earth. They can open your eyes.

oneiric adventure

a cathedral erupting

into night birds

Drive steadily, as if your car were in a trance. Play no music. Even if a wave of grief overcomes you, be steadfast, do not let up on the gas. When you’ve driven far enough, pull onto the shoulder of the road. Get out. Let the night settle around you like a dog circling before lying down. Stand with open arms. Let the light come like a love you lost long ago or a bone you are about to break.

in the distance

the coal-fire of a coyote’s eyes

burning through you

What can I say about this stunning haibun. A study of self, but using the second person narrative, I found the voice intriguing. I was absolutely moved by the use of space (pauses) between the sections and the way the piece unfolded to speak about darkness within us and how light is always the entrance to a better self.

Keith shares, 'I find it interesting and engaging when the “voice” in my writing shifts from first, to third, to second. The use of the second person voice often takes the form of an invitation or even a directive (which always reminds me of Robert Frost’s great poem “Directive”). And the spaces between the sections may be the manifestations of the idea of “ma” (in Japanese, “silence”), so that a kind of caesura links the prose sections, one that invites reflection and mediation.'

Prompt: On the occasion of Deepawali, I invite you to delve into the darkness that we inhabit and think about how light can be brought back into our lives. I want us to think about the relationship between darkness and light and consider why duality is synonymous with evil and goodness. What if how we read this duality in nature is misunderstood by all of us.

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


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.


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