Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Monday, May 21, 2018

Selected Haibun: A Room of His Own

In the poems we reveal ourselves. In prose others. -- Phyllis Webb, Notebook, 1969-1973

cold moonlight
books of poetry
stacked floor to ceiling

Hearing of my housemate's suicide was like being stabbed in the back with a sharp knife, and yet I barely knew him.  Only his work and the scratching sounds of pencil on paper that came from his room. "His noisy silence (in an emphatic tone) hangs over us like a long, dark cloud," one of my other housemates once said to me.

drafts of old poems
on the water-stained wall
a starry sky

One week before his death, I was standing on the edge of the table hanging a clock, when he passed through the living room.  He suddenly turned to me, saying, “I have this insatiable urge to commit pencil to paper. It soothes my soul." He went back to his room and continued to spin poems out of the gathering darkness.

World Haibun Anthology

Note:  Read Ruth Holzer's in-depth thematic and structural analysis, titled "On Chen-ou Liu's 'A Room of His Own'," which was first published in Haibun Today, 8:3, September 2014.