welcome to the haikutimes

Issue #94, Hoi An, Nha Trang, and Dalat, Vietnam, July 14-16, 2004

man with blue baskets
overflowing with blossoms
just a normal day

social fabric strong
grandfathers and grandmothers
walk with shrunken verve

trying to sell me
a saddam hussein lighter
in the streets of hoi an

old people
walking around vietnam
wrinkled as dried fruit

old people
especially old women
carrying large rocks

lives in arkansas
born and raised in vietnam
i detect a drawl

his cellphone ringing
as he takes devoted bow
at temple altar

five a.m. hacking
marble floor makes big echo
as does soccer match

taking a snapshot
from a bus - how touristy
yet i can't resist

can't handle traffic?
one way to make people stop
is just walk in front

en route to job site
bicycles carry mortar
bricks, concrete, and sand

anguished call to home
my cousin, in deep trouble
who are my tears for?

jon writes haiku
paige - endlessly entertained
by unfolding scene

sweat on his brown face
as he struggles to screw cap
on motorbike tank

emerald-green rice paddies
half-finished construction
piled rocks, piled trash
an act of faith to travel
garcia, zappa my soundtrack to vietnam

pointed hat rising
from vibrant green rice paddy
like new spring mushroom

every industry
compressed into small shop front
contents spilling out

rain falling in dalat
easy rider welcomes us
we plan the next day

as he passes paige
fisherman on motorbike
yawns deeply

drumming up business
easy rider spots us first
seconds from hotel

traveller's faux pas
'very famous' she tells me
'this'? i point to bush

the best attractions
not necessarily those
we take a tour for

freelance easy rider
takes us for high-speed road tour
i suck up diesel

cows move slowly
cars move quickly
sharing the same road

crazy house
so much like an earthship
what was that lady thinking?

over life and death
the thin veil of reality
manifesting form

giving it a go
my morning hacking
not as loud as his

everyone poses
for a shot of themselves
next to waterfall

we have become one
with the tourists of asia
please take photo now

kingdoms have fallen
monuments have been ransacked
the siva lingam, sequestered

so we are far away
from someone we love -
teslin - who bears certain
cellular news in her body,
like a messenger from another dimension,
a meditation from the next life.
this news we receive
sitting at small, nondescript
computer terminals in faceless
rooms that reek of
greywater and cigarettes -
the letters on the screen
conjuring images
displacing the presence
of that fried squid outside for sale,
the ceaseless, 'hallo, motorbike'
all outward phenomena
of vietnam now directed
into the junk mail folder of the brain

the news we receive
like so many other families
with such bad news to bear
how do we process this?
who is bearing the brunt
of the emotion - the one with
the affliction? those receiving
the message? i cry all the same.

from alaska to los alamos
to these computer terminals.
that is how we sit and digest news.

how would bhadresvara
in 1200 a.d. have reacted
to the news that
his temples had been ransacked
his golden wall coverings stolen
his attendants killed
if he had not learned of it
no computer screen,
no internet explorer,
no dsl lines.
his fear might be allayed by
not knowing so quickly,
since such intangibles would have
long since passed.

so in this day and age
we cannot go far - unless we choose
to know immediately,
to fear immediately,
for a beloved who
develops cancer.

but i know
since i saw it on the
very same computer
she is laughing today
with her son and husband
and taking it as it comes
and that is what keeps me going
here in vietnam.

the easy rider
tries hard to get us to change
our plane ticket
into a five-day romp
from Dalat to the Mekong delta
on this point he is discouraged,
so we do a busy visit instead
with the typical sights of dalat.
he admonishes me to trust our president
because he is keeping us safe
while we weave in between
oncoming busses and cars
on hairpin turns.
he takes us to chicken village
we find the woman
who has just had her 11th kid
nursing on a well-worn dirt floor
the three-year old in a dirty dress
plays with paige
how much, i wonder is scripted
in this type of village?
we are just skimming the surface
not allowed to see that
farmer's brand-new colorful mansion
'cause it would wreck
the quaintness of the tour.

but i like seeing
the way dragon fruit grows,
jack fruit clings to the trunk
of a tree like overgrown warts,
incense rolled from scented dough,
waterfalls sold as photogenic heritage,
dogs wearing shirts in the hot sun.

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen