welcome to the haikutimes

Issue #60, China: Guilin and Yangshao, April 20-22, 2003. Haiku and photographs and drawings by Jonathan.

4/20 flying from zhongdian
to kunming, western hills, guilin

everybody's smoke
is everyone's problem
sucking in blue air

polluted green lake
above hand-chiseled walkway
that took years to carve

stone buddhas look out
at butterflys in up draft
seeking cliff flowers

vacant mao peace park
next to vibrant market
turtles in tubs

the peaceful revolution
bird market nearby

4/21 guilin yangshao--
sitting motionless
while guilin early risers
move in unison

so fastidious
about cleaning the streets
near polluted lake

chinese reville
t'ai chi by the li river
old couple waltzing

realizing the rap
by our insightful tour guide
is largely scripted

of all these somber faces
until the party

military men
getting ready to climb karst
while we tour around

tour boats leave en masse,
honking just like the highway
on broad li river

describing the scene -
"it's so much of what it is"
we sigh peacefully

bus driver looks cross
as i tramp mud down the aisles
from soggy rice field

eighteen tour barges
jockeying for position
like tourists on roof

woman climbs down stairs
wearing t-shirt that proclaims
she climbed the great wall

british guy stands next to
what looks like his chinese wife
red head and black head

tour boats, local boats
under jagged limestone peaks
phoenix tail bamboo

limestone in the mist
surrounded by the five treasures
and six cormorants

excitement to sketch
results in slipping on stairs
nearly breaking hand

water buffallo
content in green field of rice
farmer sleeps nearby

taking a short break
farmer naps on partition
between two paddies

checkered reflection
punctuated by small shoots
transplanted by hand

longing for july
rice shoots planted in the spring
just sit in water

4/22 guilin, fubo hill, thousand buddha cave,
reed flute cave, elephant trunk hill, art museum

pocket of nature
people slapping knees, shouting
morning in guilin

thousand buddha cave
the tang dynasty statues
look happy and fat

fifteen thousand years
to develop stalagtites
which we must now name

drip of water, birds
drowned out in the reed flute cave
by stalagtourists

from floor to ceiling
work that no slave nor master
could ever conceive

another meal
around the wheel
our last group feeding

duan guan-zhi painting
bamboo with ink and brush
to show how it's done

our guide, gao xue yi (tall snow perseverence)

the road to pudong
white knuckles on door handle
road kill long extinct

travel in times of sars

chinese web cafes:
you might find one that rents at
two yuan an hour - or it could be one yuan a minute
the thirty or forty machines
spread out in a featureless room in
glaring light, music not only from a
boom box but the predominance of
action games - music to raise your
adrenalin by - and the cigarette smoke
swirling around the no smoking
signs, all provide an overstimulating
atmosphere - hard to compose a letter
under these circumstances. a lack
of women creates a feeling of
enhanced testosterone, the context
and mood is subjujated by intent
only- intent of overstimulation.

a vast land of a billion souls
whose roots, tied to the land, go
deep, to the earliest recorded
histories. the han majority seeks
integration of all minorities into
their overall ideological structure.
to grow up in china is to follow
one path for this lifetime, even if
one is able to perhaps live overseas
or even change nationalities,
the quality of being chinese is
unique, unflinchingly rigorous,
genetically uniform, complex, other-
than western, seeking
modernization and integration into the
global economy, while at the same
time hoping to keep the stable
agricultural base it has for so long.
how can they do this? how can
all the people who don't have cars,
get one? the traffic jams in shanghai,
the crazed willingness of bike riders and
pedestrians to slowly dwaddle into
traffice without even a backward
glance - the incredible honking -
well, they can probably do it. they will
enlarge the roads by hand, tear down
the crumbling villages, give everyone
a new apartment building.

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen