welcome to the haikutimes
Issue #51 Austin, Texas, March 31-April 5, 2003. Photos, drawings and haiku by Jonathan, with some additional haiku by Tony Ward.
three days before i leave for china,
i try and get my house into order,
a task all the more difficult because i manage two houses.
i make phone calls that
i do not want to make,
blood and adrenalin rise, choking
my throat, but i stick to my guns.
i lead others through the procedures, tell them
how to write the lease, plan the calendar.
through the window i watch
two people negotiate the fallout of their relationship,
while inside two little girls scribble underwater
ocean secenes on flimsy pieces of newsprint.
prospective new renters come and
nail down one sunday a month until september.
kids fight with foam swords and
leave the big room smelling like sweat.
heavy set boyfriends
giggle with girlfriends
not quite half their size
of her perfumed hand lotion
flying to austin
on empty concourse
even piped-in native music
brings tears to my eyes
now, in the cocoon of an airplane headed for austin
i read newspaper headlines from two seats away,
and eat small crackers shaped like dolphins.
i look at mountains that i have climbed,
easily identifiable from 30,000 feet,
their summits delineated by snow.
on my way to the airport
i watch a car crash
while i contemplate
risk of virus in china
car in front crashes
man dials nine one one on cell
driver slumps forward
on the way to the airport,
(preoccupied with viruses i might encounter in china
and whether or not i'll even go to china)
the lady in the car in front of me swerves wildly,
back and forth, for several long seconds,
then slams into the concrete median
in a flash of sparks.
i pull over, dumbfounded, while a man jumps out of his car,
already dialing 911.
the lady slumps forward against the steering wheel.
like a cork in a bottle,
not knowing what to do,
i drive on in shock and disbelief.
the highway resumes it's relentless pace
and i will never know
what happened to the woman slumped
against the steering wheel,
or if the ambulance came fast enough.
sadie is two now
and gabriel is eigtht months.
i visit my friends in austin for the first time
since they have had children.
plants grow out of limestone rocks,
families take pictures of little girls,
in fields of texas bluebonnets.
tony's haiku from lady bird johnson wildflower center:
at the healing garden
waiting for dee
mock pennyroyal and mexican hat
sixty three steps
climbing the tower
from the windchimes
so many moments
sadie and i
climb the tower
step by step
dee with camera
i with pen
ah sadie romps
thru the bluebonnets
red bird with black mask
and german architecture
converge in austin
winecup and philox
false aloe and nipple cactus
spineless prickly pear
what gave you such a naked
look of mutation?
white water lily
and unnamed austin tortiose
both lying quite still
eight month old baby
screams as we drive the highway
passing car crashes
nice to see my old friend tony
with whom i used to compose music.
now, with a two-year old tugging
at his guitar strings, he is distracted.
his eight-month old son cries if no-one
picks him up,
holds on to my leg with sticky fingers
while i try to draw,
expresses his needs in unintelligable cries.
from the internet, and with a cellphone, i try
to gather information about a virus 2000
miles away, in an attempt to
make the right decision.
not seeming to mind
the screams of their two children
as they watch t.v.
i rest uneasily in a sprawling suburb somewhere
near the capital of texas, where houses and
fences and lawns look identical and the
only people outside are mexican
immigrants who cut grass and lay concrete.
in cooped-up house
snarling as i receive badly thrown frisbee
kids are all 'me now'
in austin suburb
occasional dog barking
morning dove cooing
june bugs on front door
gather thick under porch light
rush hour traffic
the ladies notice
his cute eight-month-old baby
instead of me
in austin, one can get
used to highways soaring over shopping
malls - when you drive from one end
of the city to the next you realize that
the eight lanes have soared into a bridge
and the city's engineers have spent years and
millions of dollars to construct seamless
the red sun sinks low over texas hillcountry.
before flying to china
i slow down in an austin suburb,
near expansive shopping centers whose
names seem unfamiliar.
transgressing the rules
i check out eleven items
in the express lane
i live with a family for five days
in their world,
making brief forays out of the
quiet house, out of the quiet manicured
suburban lawns into the frenetic mad rush
of heavy vehicles and motors and engines on
streamlined white conrete slipstream
passageways surrounded by gentle grass and
tony's family keeps it's identity and
cohesiveness close to the chest.
i search for evidence of a social
network behind the fenced-off houses, cast
from a similar mold, no village to gather
in, just ubiquituous store fronts one
could find anywhere, the grass and lawns all
clipped to perfection under guidance of some
obscure property manager's office.
it seems that with my cold-accelerated heartbeat,
my task in austin is to appreciate
every moment as if it were my last, like
the drive seven miles past the wrong turn to
mckinney state park with the incessant
soundtrack of gabriel crying, and exhaust
rumbling motors passing by us.
at the state park i relax by drawing
for an hour and a half, spotting a snowy egret.
while i take a pee
slinky possum stares at me
in texas scrub-brush
i startle frog
who startles egret
clacking through the murk
some frog out there unaware
of my curious ear
what i took to be
possibly a small bird's nest
just an ephyphite
by what i notice
and don't notice
my friend tony
still wears his hair in a ponytail but has
stopped working out,
looks contentedly at his new family
and student loans and apprenticeship at a local
school for acupuncture, one conveniantly
squeezed inbetween a mexican
restaurant and a hobby shop in
an austin shopping mall.
he drags his six-string bass from the
closet and we listen
to songs we wrote together and
recorded three years ago.
now, when we try to play them
we can't even remember the chords, so we
sing old beatles songs and
new songs for children.
his babies smear wet fingers from runny
noses, crying piteously to be held.
i spot my first man with a
face mask in the austin airport.
in the line to check my bag in, i lust after
a latino woman with tight beige slacks
and a tiger-striped top. she wears
pouty russet lipstick and srugs my
glance away when our eyes accidentally meet.