Presence

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This entry is part 28 of 28 in the series Pandemic Season

 

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A tree seems like the very embodiment of presence, but this time of year it is mostly absent, at least aboveground. It’s real in the same way that a life-size cardboard cutout of a politician is real. You can project anything onto it. It’s another blank space on your mental map.

sleeping it off
on a park bench
fallen leaves

In her poem “Come Into Animal Presence,” Denise Levertov celebrated the rare privilege of being ignored by wild animals. Lately I’ve experienced this to an unusual degree: with a doe that barely stepped aside for me, a beaver that went about its business fifty feet away, flocks of turkeys that walk right past, and small creatures foraging all around me in the night woods. I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve it, but I’m humbled and grateful to be allowed to fade into the woodwork.

hole
between the stars
flying squirrel

*

Process notes

This was a rare instance where the filming and writing happened nearly simultaneously, on or near a convenient bench in the forest. It occurs to me that it’s the first I’ve made a black-and-white film in a year and a half—and the last time I did so was also to focus attention on shadows. I’m a simple man.

This is one of those times I really could’ve used a tripod. I tried speeding up the entire five-minute clip of the tree shadow eclipsing the hand shadow, for a time-lapse effect, but the shaking became too distracting, even after I applied an image-stabilization effect. On the other hand, keeping the whole film in real time might’ve been the best approach anyway.

The drone music in the soundtrack (thank you, pseudonymous Freesound user) might or might not be a necessary addition to the natural sound, which does include some distant raven croaks and lots of falling leaf noises. I worry perhaps a bit too much about taxing viewers’ attention spans.

Antennae

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This entry is part 27 of 28 in the series Pandemic Season

 

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Seeing the almost bare trees as antennae—intelligence-gathering stations for an alien umwelt, the rococo feelers of moths.

lonesome hollow
speaking softly so the void
doesn’t reply

What I miss most of all in the colder months: beetles and butterflies, crickets at night, and those delicate ninjas the ichneumon wasps. The way they tap the ground with paired canes, sniffing, listening.

unmarked path
a stick leaning on a tree
for the next hiker

*

Process notes

This was born of the simple desire to film the brown and gray colors of a November forest, on a hike in another hollow nearby. Standing in the same place, I did two slow pans from opposite directions, then thought about combining them with a horizontally split screen. When I tried that in editing, though, it wasn’t as satisfying as simply using two halves of the same shot, one of them reversed.

That hike was yesterday. Today, a hike on my home ground shook loose the text.

It seems as if the Pandemic Season series won’t be ending any time soon. I will probably end up re-naming it Plague Year, echoing Defoe, or something similar.

Undivided

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This entry is part 26 of 28 in the series Pandemic Season

 

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1. Amazing Grace

I mistook dysphoria for euphoria once on purpose, and it almost worked. When you live in the forest, winter—not summer—is the season of light. And so an empty plate became the full moon, and the mouse in my filing cabinet was a companion animal. I could sometimes hear her late at night, shredding my old poems for nesting material. I meanwhile was building a cenotaph out of cigarette butts. My disemboweled television watched over me while I slept.

last cigarette
as long as grass grows
or rivers run

2. Song Dogs

Three days before the 2020 U.S. presidential election, my friend L. and I get lost on a hike above a dammed-up river, too busy arguing about politics to notice that we’ve branched off onto the wrong logging road. The sun is going down. On the ridge above us, coyotes start singing. Their melismatic solos intertwine in a way that can’t be called dissonant, though Lord knows it’s nothing as simple as harmony.

no longer lost
that hole in the clouds
far upslope

Catching a Cranefly: linked verses

Catching a Cranefly still

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just one drink
catching a cranefly
in mid-air

how many months now
since I’ve held someone

missing you
the morning after
a hard frost

breath measured out
in small white clouds

buzzing
what the rattlesnake sees
in infrared

ah just to touch
that velvety skin

floating leaves
the fetal curl that makes
a good craft

trapped in transit with
whatever’s going ’round

migrants
a Japanese barberry
trembling with sparrows

will the circle in fact
be unbroken

mountain path
I step aside to let
a caterpillar pass

in the trail register box
an empty bottle

just one drink…

*

Process notes

This began as three tanka jotted down in the Notes app while I sat out in the woods, and snowballed from there. While haiku-writing culture prizes Zen-like objectivity, tanka are traditionally more open to the overt or side-long expression of deep emotion. This persisted even as I broke the tanka apart into a short linked-verse sequence, which I’d call a renku except that it wasn’t composed by a small group, just me. But as in renku, each pair of adjacent stanzas may be read as one verse.

I thought of ways to underline those linkages by repeating verses throughout the film, but the footage I ended up using — all shot on my phone over the course of the month — was so pretty, I thought it had to take center stage. And quite early in the process of editing I decided to make the bluesiness explicit with the choice of music. Fortunately, there are some seriously good blues musicians and remixers on ccMixter. After playing for a while with a more traditional, BB King-style guitar instrumental, I went with something more drone-y and experimental, which was a better fit for my slow presentation of text and images.

I also experimented with mixing music with spoken word, but couldn’t make it work. At that point it just sounded like a failed blues song. But I have long felt that the way traditional blues singers improvise songs, by adding or modifying verses from their repertoire to a stable melody+verse core, bears a more than passing resemblance to the way Japanese linked verse sequences are made. So I was glad for the opportunity to create a sort of hybrid of the two.

I hope the flying-in animation effect for the couplets doesn’t become too annoying. I recently bought a souped-up version of my video-editing software to help with client work (Need a poetry video or a clean-up job on a reading documentary? I’m your man!) so yes, I let myself be seduced by this new, not-at-all-cheesy effect. I find the contrast between slow-moving footage and nervously excited text aesthetically interesting. Your mileage may vary.

Also, yes, a timber rattlesnake! Sadly not here in Plummer’s Hollow, but in a nearby state forest. Ditto with the woolly bear. As for the trail register with the empty whiskey bottle, I shared a photo of it on Instagram (with my first draft of the haiku about the caterpillar).

Errant

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This day is kept in the City as a publick fast for the fire this day twelve months: but I was not at church, being commanded, with the rest, to attend the Duke of York; and, therefore, with Sir J. Minnes to St. James’s, where we had much business before the Duke of York, and observed all things to be very kind between the Duke of York and W. Coventry, which did mightily joy me. When we had done, Sir W. Coventry called me down with him to his chamber, and there told me that he is leaving the Duke of York’s service, which I was amazed at. But he tells me that it is not with the least unkindness on the Duke of York’s side, though he expects, and I told him he was in the right, it will be interpreted otherwise, because done just at this time; “but,” says he, “I did desire it a good while since, and the Duke of York did, with much entreaty, grant it, desiring that I would say nothing of it, that he might have time and liberty to choose his successor, without being importuned for others whom he should not like:” and that he hath chosen Mr. Wren, which I am glad of, he being a very ingenious man; and so Sir W. Coventry says of him, though he knows him little; but particularly commends him for the book he writ in answer to “Harrington’s Oceana,” which, for that reason, I intend to buy. He tells me the true reason is, that he, being a man not willing to undertake more business than he can go through, and being desirous to have his whole time to spend upon the business of the Treasury, and a little for his own ease, he did desire this of the Duke of York. He assures me that the kindness with which he goes away from the Duke of York is one of the greatest joys that ever he had in the world. I used some freedom with him, telling him how the world hath discoursed of his having offended the Duke of York, about the late business of the Chancellor. He do not deny it, but says that perhaps the Duke of York might have some reason for it, he opposing him in a thing wherein he was so earnest but tells me, that, notwithstanding all that, the Duke of York does not now, nor can blame him; for he tells me that he was the man that did propose the removal of the Chancellor; and that he did still persist in it, and at this day publickly owns it, and is glad of it; but that the Duke of York knows that he did first speak of it to the Duke of York, before he spoke to any mortal creature besides, which was fair dealing: and the Duke of York was then of the same mind with him, and did speak of it to the King; though since, for reasons best known to himself, he was afterwards altered. I did then desire to know what was the great matter that grounded his desire of the Chancellor’s removal? He told me many things not fit to be spoken, and yet not any thing of his being unfaithful to the King; but, ‘instar omnium’, he told me, that while he was so great at the Council-board, and in the administration of matters, there was no room for any body to propose any remedy to what was amiss, or to compass any thing, though never so good for the kingdom, unless approved of by the Chancellor, he managing all things with that greatness which now will be removed, that the King may have the benefit of others’ advice. I then told him that the world hath an opinion that he hath joined himself with my Lady Castlemayne’s faction in this business; he told me, he cannot help it, but says they are in an errour: but for first he will never, while he lives, truckle under any body or any faction, but do just as his own reason and judgment directs; and, when he cannot use that freedom, he will have nothing to do in public affairs but then he added, that he never was the man that ever had any discourse with my Lady Castlemayne, or with others from her, about this or any public business, or ever made her a visit, or at least not this twelvemonth, or been in her lodgings but when called on any business to attend the King there, nor hath had any thing to do in knowing her mind in this business. He ended all with telling me that he knows that he that serves a Prince must expect, and be contented to stand, all fortunes, and be provided to retreat, and that that he is most willing to do whenever the King shall please. And so we parted, he setting me down out of his coach at Charing Cross, and desired me to tell Sir W. Pen what he had told me of his leaving the Duke of York’s service, that his friends might not be the last that know it. I took a coach and went homewards; but then turned again, and to White Hall, where I met with many people; and, among other things, do learn that there is some fear that Mr. Bruncker is got into the King’s favour, and will be cherished there; which will breed ill will between the King and Duke of York, he lodging at this time in White Hall since he was put away from the Duke of York: and he is great with Bab. May, my Lady Castlemayne, and that wicked crew. But I find this denied by Sir G. Carteret, who tells me that he is sure he hath no kindness from the King; that the King at first, indeed, did endeavour to persuade the Duke of York from putting him away; but when, besides this business of his ill words concerning his Majesty in the business of the Chancellor, he told him that he hath had, a long time, a mind to put him away for his ill offices, done between him and his wife, the King held his peace, and said no more, but wished him to do what he pleased with him; which was very noble. I met with Fenn; and he tells me, as I do hear from some others, that the business of the Chancellor’s had proceeded from something of a mistake, for the Duke of York did first tell the King that the Chancellor had a desire to be eased of his great trouble; and that the King, when the Chancellor come to him, did wonder to hear him deny it, and the Duke of York was forced to deny to the King that ever he did tell him so in those terms: but the King did answer that he was sure that he did say some such thing to him; but, however, since it had gone so far, did desire him to be contented with it, as a thing very convenient for him as well as for himself (the King), and so matters proceeded, as we find. Now it is likely the Chancellor might, some time or other, in a compliment or vanity, say to the Duke of York, that he was weary of this burden, and I know not what; and this comes of it. Some people, and myself among them, are of good hope from this change that things are reforming; but there are others that do think but that it is a hit of chance, as all other our greatest matters are, and that there is no general plot or contrivance in any number of people what to do next, though, I believe, Sir W. Coventry may in himself have further designs; and so that, though other changes may come, yet they shall be accidental and laid upon [not] good principles of doing good.
Mr. May shewed me the King’s new buildings, in order to their having of some old sails for the closing of the windows this winter. I dined with Sir G. Carteret, with whom dined Mr. Jack Ashburnham and Dr. Creeton, who I observe to be a most good man and scholar. In discourse at dinner concerning the change of men’s humours and fashions touching meats, Mr. Ashburnham told us, that he remembers since the only fruit in request, and eaten by the King and Queen at table as the best fruit, was the Katharine payre, though they knew at the time other fruits of France and our own country. After dinner comes in Mr. Townsend; and there I was witness of a horrid rateing, which Mr. Ashburnham, as one of the Grooms of the King’s Bedchamber, did give him for want of linen for the King’s person; which he swore was not to be endured, and that the King would not endure it, and that the King his father, would have hanged his Wardrobe-man should he have been served so the King having at this day no handkerchers, and but three bands to his neck, he swore. Mr. Townsend answered want of money, and the owing of the linen-draper 5000l.; and that he hath of late got many rich things made — beds, and sheets, and saddles, and all without money, and he can go no further but still this old man, indeed, like an old loving servant, did cry out for the King’s person to be neglected. But, when he was gone, Townsend told me that it is the grooms taking away the King’s linen at the quarter’s end, as their fees, which makes this great want: for, whether the King can get it or no, they will run away at the quarter’s end with what he hath had, let the King get more as he can. All the company gone, Sir G. Carteret and I to talk: and it is pretty to observe how already he says that he did always look upon the Chancellor indeed as his friend, though he never did do him any service at all, nor ever got any thing by him, nor was he a man apt, and that, I think, is true, to do any man any kindness of his own nature; though I do know that he was believed by all the world to be the greatest support of Sir G. Carteret with the King of any man in England: but so little is now made of it! He observes that my Lord Sandwich will lose a great friend in him; and I think so too, my Lord Hinchingbroke being about a match calculated purely out of respect to my Lord Chancellor’s family. By and by Sir G. Carteret, and Townsend, and I, to consider of an answer to the Commissioners of the Treasury about my Lord Sandwich’s profits in the Wardrobe; which seem, as we make them, to be very small, not 1000l. a-year; but only the difference in measure at which he buys and delivers out to the King, and then 6d. in the pound from the tradesmen for what money he receives for him; but this, it is believed, these Commissioners will endeavour to take away.
From him I went to see a great match at tennis, between Prince Rupert and one Captain Cooke, against Bab. May and the elder Chichly; where the King was, and Court; and it seems are the best players at tennis in the nation. But this puts me in mind of what I observed in the morning, that the King, playing at tennis, had a steele-yard carried to him, and I was told it was to weigh him after he had done playing; and at noon Mr. Ashburnham told me that it is only the King’s curiosity, which he usually hath of weighing himself before and after his play, to see how much he loses in weight by playing: and this day he lost 4 lbs.
Thence home and took my wife out to Mile End Green, and there I drank, and so home, having a very fine evening. Then home, and I to Sir W. Batten and W. Pen, and there discoursed of Sir W. Coventry’s leaving the Duke of York, and Mr. Wren’s succeeding him. They told me both seriously, that they had long cut me out for Secretary to the Duke of York, if ever W. Coventry left him; which, agreeing with what I have heard from other hands heretofore, do make me not only think that something of that kind hath been thought on, but do comfort me to see that the world hath such an esteem of my qualities as to think me fit for any such thing. Though I am glad, with all my heart, that I am not so; for it would never please me to be forced to the attendance that that would require, and leave my wife and family to themselves, as I must do in such a case; thinking myself now in the best place that ever man was in to please his own mind in, and, therefore, I will take care to preserve it. So to bed, my cold remaining though not so much upon me. This day Nell, an old tall maid, come to live with us, a cook maid recommended by Mr. Batelier.

a fast fire of joy
like a wren

or an ocean of joy
mortal
groundless

which world is in error
and when can I have it

shall I turn away
from the business of words

and proceed with some
accidental sail

ash is the only fruit
that would endure

like an old loving servant
of a match

and I consider my profits
in the war against
this green old heart

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 2 September 1667.

Videopoem process notes

A period of internet disconnectivity coincided with a burst of creative energy today, so on a whim I started playing with an anonymous old home movie from the Prelinger Archives which I’d previously downloaded. First I went through looking for shots that struck me as somehow poetic, then out of those I saw which would work with lines of the poem and also form a sort of storyline.

I hadn’t done a non-haiku-related videopoem in a very long time, so I was itching to experiment with text-on-screen for the whole video, and get away from the horror of having to listen to my own voice, as I’ve had to for all these bloody haibun. I was having such a good time, I couldn’t resist adding a final little erasure of my own erasure poem.

It came together rather quickly. By the time I was ready to look for music, the internet was back up. I had two ideas: baroque harpsichord, or techno house with didgeridoo. The latter search turned up the track I used at SoundCloud.

In Common

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This entry is part 25 of 28 in the series Pandemic Season

 

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What does it mean to be average? When a computer averages the features from hundreds of faces, the resulting image will look like a supermodel. This tells us that what is average is not necessarily common, and vice versa.

But I love the idea of this perfect face held in common, each of us contributing our own small part to it. Together we are conventionally beautiful. As individuals we can be uncommonly beautiful.

first day of fall
a harrow’s
yellow teeth

It’s the autumn equinox, one of two days a year with perfectly average durations of day and night. I look west to see the sunrise reddening the ridge till it’s as flushed as the face of my British wife after one drink. My uncommonly beautiful lover, whom I see now only by web conferencing software. The soft wear of her. The solid-state drive of her.

And of course our dilemma is as common as COVID. The law of averages may be on our side as individuals, but who wants to take a chance on being average? The only way out is if we each contribute our piecemeal vulnerability to the common good.

marsh hawk
the draft horses with
their blinders on

***

Process notes

Although the pandemic is far from over, I felt the need to wrap up the Pandemic Season series since my haibun seem to be heading in a different direction. In a reverse of my usual pattern (which I described the other day in a talking-head video solicited for a videopoem workshop), I actually wrote the haibun first (on, you guessed it, the autumn equinox) and then shot the video.

The haiku came from a drive through the neighboring valley, where the clay is yellowish brown and at least half the farms are Amish now, I think. I played with the idea of a spring tooth harrow in autumn, but ultimately decided that was too much, too clever for the kind of haiku needed here. And yes, I know we’re supposed to call marsh hawks harriers now, but I like the older name.

Since the goldenrod in the video is dancing, the soundtrack clearly needed something with a beat. I searched ccMixter for experimental folk music and quickly discovered this track by the user Anchor, which seemed perfect. They uploaded it back on April 5, describing it as “a musical prayer/plea which hopefully, the more beneficent forces of the unknown universe and the altruistic higher nature of humankind might project as a lodestar of Hope in troubled times.”

Nuthatch

This entry is part 24 of 28 in the series Pandemic Season

 

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If a mountain had a heart, it would be made of water. And if it has water running through its veins, it is full of life. I am saying the mountain is alive, but in a complex way that we are only beginning to understand.

dried-up pond
is autumn still autumn
without reflection

It’s a shame that the sort of people who become writers are those who believe they are good at writing. Such people don’t always make the best listeners. Myself included.

So many sounds in here. I mean out here, in this grove. There’s a nuthatch, upside-down as usual, sounding anxious.

What if poets were prevented, by law or custom, from ever signing their work? What if we never got to learn who was the maker of anything? Would I still write? What sorts of poems would I so thirst to read, I’d have to bleed them out myself?

nuthatch
if you want to know the pine
take root

***

Process notes

A more light-hearted videopoem than most of mine lately. I’m not entirely sure that this belongs in the Pandemic Season series, but I’ve included it for now. I’ve decided it doesn’t belong in the existing haibun series, and might in fact be the start of a new one. We’ll see.

It helps to know that the white-breasted nuthatch forages on tree trunks and limbs upside-down, gleaning small invertebrates, mostly. And in the second haiku, I’m riffing on Basho’s famous dictum: “If you want to know the pine, go to the pine.”

That saying is printed on the side of the water bottle that I had with me on the walk/sit represented here. (It was a gift from Penn State Altoona’s Environmental Studies program, after one of my readings on campus a few years ago.) I was in fact sitting in a grove of Norway spruce, not pine, at the top of the watershed, near the ephemeral pond mentioned in the first haiku. The odd shot angle happened by accident at first — I was scanning up the tree opposite and then down the one I was leaning against — but I liked the reflections in my glasses so much, I had to shoot a video of just that (using the proper, front-facing smartphone lens, not the selfie one).

I sat there for a couple of hours, watching the light change, listening to the grove (young spruce trees are NOISY!), and jotting down thoughts on the phone as they occurred to me. (I wonder why I never use the voice recorder app for that?) So this was the rare example of a video haibun emerging altogether, at one time. I did enhance and repeat the nuthatch call during editing, and eventually decided to find some ambient music on freesound to better represent a stream of consciousness.

What I left out from my notes and ultimately from the haibun was the central theme of my existential pondering; excessively abstract thinking sits uneasily with poetry, especially poetry in the Japanese tradition. Nevertheless, the bun here does derive more from zuihitsu than the poetic diary genre that gave rise to haibun. (Years ago, a drinking buddy saw a copy of Kenko’s Essays in Idleness on my bookshelf and said, “Dude, did you write that?” Ouch.)

Let’s just say I’m trying to enact something treeish and mycorrhizal here. I hope it works.

Arboreal

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This entry is part 23 of 28 in the series Pandemic Season

 

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Moonlit night without the moon. In the treetops I see the shapes of various beasts, real and mythical, all in a slow retreat toward extinction. The trees themselves radiate hostility, and who can blame them? We are building apocalypse.

Let the ideologues go first, exploding like mushrooms into a fertile smoke of spores. Let workers who fall asleep on their feet get new infusions of sap. Let artists and musicians grow sleek new tails, as long as themselves and infinitely suggestible. What a relief to be monkeys again and hurl our shit about with abandon! The forest will have no choice but to return.

foggy night
I come home to find a leaf
stuck to my shirt

***

Process notes

As anyone who’s been following this series will know, I spend a lot of time outside at night. My iPhone’s video camera, however, does not perform well in low-light conditions, so to get “night” shots like the one here, I have to film at dusk and then desaturate. I did, however, pick up a leaf on my shirt on the very walk shown in the video. (And it was fully dark by the time I got back.) I even posted a photo of the leaf to Instagram. The prose portion of the haibun evolved from a free write based on sitting out in the woods two nights later.

As usual, I thought I was done with the thing but held off uploading until I’d slept on it. (Nighttime, it seems, is integral to my process even when it’s not the subject of the haibun.) Following which, of course, I completely re-wrote the haiku and fiddled around with the soundtrack.

I should add that in this time of social distancing and economic downturn, I’m grateful to local businesses for continuing to provide free wifi. I’d have a much harder time uploading these videos without them.

Execution

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This entry is part 22 of 28 in the series Pandemic Season

 

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At some point in my late teens, I took over from my dad as chief executioner. I think it bothered me slightly less than it bothered him, a life-long pacifist.

a V of swans
my fingers still sticky
with chicken blood

When I heard that poetry makes nothing happen, I thought, how marvelous—that’s the job for me! What a fantasy. Four decades on and almost everything continues to happen; nothing happens only to the dead, it seems. The pandemic may have temporarily slowed the movements of people, but money keeps on flowing like malignant, abstract blood, circling the world thousands of times a second. Ice sheets melt. Old-growth forests and deserts burn. Here on the mountain, the summer-long drought is forcing trees into a premature fall.

first rain in weeks
the turtle’s eye turns
from me to the sky

***

Process notes

I’ve always loved single-shot videopoems, and when on Sunday I was lucky enough to be largely ignored by a box turtle as I filmed it from two feet away, crouched under my umbrella, I figured it would spark another haibun. I assumed the subject matter would be something about the slow re-opening of schools and businesses during the pandemic, but no, nothing that obvious would do. In fact, as I worked on the text, I had to abandon a rather too neat and tidy ending — it just wasn’t in the haibun spirit. Fond as I am of stretching the form to accommodate surrealist touches or, as here, social/environmental critique, I do think that haibun ought to retain something of the original Japanese aesthetic, where indirection, asymmetry, and disjunction are prized as part of an effort to create an impression of unforced spontaneity.

This is the first time I’ve used that upwards-scrolling text effect for haiku in a videopoem; it’s obviously designed more for credits and such. But since both haiku reference the sky, I thought maybe I could get away with it. For obvious reasons it’s a bit more slow-paced than most of the haibun in this series.

Crickets

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This entry is part 21 of 28 in the series Pandemic Season

 

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“On Monday, Iowa was leveled by what amounted to a level-two hurricane. But you wouldn’t know that from reading, listening to or watching the news.”

That’s how the Washington Post began its belated coverage.

With so little air travel happening these days, we might need a new term for “flyover country.” How about “slow internet country”? Or, given the widespread collapse of local reporting, “low information country”?

Is keeping people ignorant and disempowered the goal, or simply the unintended consequence of greed, callousness, corruption, and propaganda coming together in what one must inevitably characterize as a perfect storm?

When you know that you don’t know: then and only then will true words begin to appear.

in a dream
I can’t finish a haiku
[crickets]

***

Process notes

Having made a video haibun focusing on katydids, it was probably inevitable that I’d follow up with crickets. For what it’s worth, I really was struggling to compose a haiku in a dream the other morning. Later, I had the idea of playing with the pop-culture definition of crickets as silence or absence of any intelligible response, and the prose came quickly after that.

The source video was something I’d downloaded from Prelinger’s home movie collection a few days ago, not knowing how or whether I’d use it. I decided to edit the shots to change at the beginning of sentences in order to give the otherwise rather prosy bun section a more formal kind of rhythm.

Originally I ended with this:

even in a dream
I can’t write a good haiku
[here there be crickets]

which amused me since it was clearly a senryu disguised as a self-reflexive, 17-syllable folk haiku. But I went with the more serious and concise one in part because of the interesting (I hope) ambiguity about what it is I can’t finish.