A couple weeks ago, I sat in on my first North County Casual Writers gathering. We learned a new (to me) Japanese form popularized by the haiku artist, Basho. A meditative combination of prose and poetry laced with longing, the haibun is perfect for travel writing, and since Michelle and I are planning to hit the road soon and often in the coming years, I’m curious to see if I can make it a new kind of writing habit. In fact, we headed south to Georgia recently to investigate a few large vehicles for sale. Here’s my second attempt at haibun. I think instead of titling, I’ll simply number them.
She was a beauty, that ’56 Vistaliner. Painted two tints bluer than the Carribean with ribbed chrome rounding her corners and tires black and spiffed as Elvis Presley’s pompadour. A step up from the cockpit to the dining table and a view from a second windshield, a forward-facing skylight looking down the road. Started like a diesel dream, she did. But inside? Cabinets askew, drawers warped beyond opening from high dessert heat or low country water damage. Too much left to do, too little elbow room for too much money. She’da become a high-maintenance mistress in a Grand Ole Opry heartbeat.
Rambling highway band
Ferlin Husky headlining
on a wine country tour
Our challenge for the following week was to create a “Fantastical Bucket List” or things to do that might require an alternate universe. Here’s mine:
1. I will learn to shift my being at the elemental level, becoming at first a flame confined to the wick of a candle, consuming the vapors my heat releases. Later, with practice, I will light lamps as I pass by in the night and reveal paths previously cloaked in darkness.
2. I will buy a telescope, or make one, that reveals to me the thoughts of passersby.
3. I will solve the grandfather paradox.
4. I will create an app that allows you to vacation in the movie of your choice.
5. I will go ice fishing on Europa.
6. I will build a time-traveling ark and make excursions to rescue extinct species.
7. I will build another ark for species that heretofore existed only in books and in the minds of hyper-imaginative children.
8. I will reconfigure the caverns of the Earth according to a diatonic scale, turning the planet into a wind instrument, which I will learn to play.
9. I will build a furnace with a beating pulse and cover it with armored plates to comfort motherless dragonlets.
10. I will raise Cain from the dead and let him tell his side of the story.
11. I will uninstall the indoctrinations of my youth one by one, checking methodically to see which ones I can do without before deleting them permanently. If it goes well, I’ll do the same for you.