Winter Haiku

Winter Haiku

no birds are flying
but the drifting snow everywhere 
deep winter is here

green juniper's branch
sticks out through the snow on it
what is going on

the town under the snow
so quiet, it is picturesque
lone rabbit hops round 

under the deep snow 
nothing seems moving, even trees
why the wind howls so

clouds seem to tell us 
looking at the deep snow here
put it to good use

©Byung A. Fallgren

January, Mother’s temper

January, Mother's temper

Twenty-five below zero has brought

six-inch snow;

was only days ago, days later,

it rains;

thirty-seven degrees, warm breath of

impatient spring. 

Who says only human can display uneven temper;
Mother startles us with hers. We only pray
she plays benign. Or should we say we 
check on our habit provoking her; we've done enough.

Listen to the cracking, artic ice in the January rain;

sea of the jagged pieces ice; bleeding polar bear.

The red setting sun shudders; echoes in our heart.
We whisper to the sun: we try hard.
January rain sobs, silent cry;
we listen, listen more.

Mother begs: dig out the muscle in the cove
of your heart.

©Byung A. Fallgren 

Fate of the Daogi, and others

Fate of the Daogi, and others

In my childhood, I used to hear at night 
the bird call: daok, daok. Low, intense cry.
I slipped out of the bed to the hall, stared
toward the dark wood. No bird call,
but a light swam in the black lake 
of the night forest.

Trees vanished into the new houses.
I heard Daogi no more.

Light swam in the dark lake of the night. 

©Byung A. Fallgren

Old year you must not…

from The Death of the Old Year, the poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"Old year you must not go;
  So long you have been with us,
  Such joy as you have seen with us,
  Old year you shall not go."

As I was reading The Death of the Old Year, by Tennyson, 
I was attracted especially by the above stanza of the poem. 
With what has been happening in the world, I'd feel quite 
the opposite; I am glad to say goodby to the old year.
Maybe, I'm not alone. However, I was stricken by the tenderness
and warmth of the old poet's view. And I thought: why not? 

  (Alfred Tennyson was born on August 6, 1809, in England, died
on October 6, 1892. Many of his poems are among the best known
in the English language.)

The Strange Woman

The Strange Woman
   How I learned for the first time of the  
   impureness of the world. (From the memory 
   of my childhood.)

My early child home, the thatched, rural house
at the foothill, sometimes attracts wayfarer for 
the overnight sojourn. So, when a middle-aged woman,
heavy set, sat on the edge of the entrance hall
with my mother, I thought, another one.
This one didn't go to the guest room near the gate,
gabbing low, stealing my mother's sewing hour.

Part of her story I heard was:
some say the bell is made of animal hide.
no one knows where it is, but it sounds 
deep and sonorous. It only tolls at midnight.
Although it is somewhere in the city where 
I live, you can hear it here if you listen hard. 

My mother nodded; didn't seem to believe the woman.
At the age seven, I was doubtful. 

I must go home to the city now, the woman said,
peeking in her bag. I have no money to ride a bus.
If you spare me some...

My mother gave her bus fee.
This is not enough, the woman demanded.
I don't have money, my mother told her.
The woman paused. What about the hidden one?

Furrowing her brows, my mother said, what money?
The one in the drawer, the woman said, her voice rising.
Tell that girl to bring it here, all of it. I'll take the half.

At the sudden turn of the woman's behavior, 
my mother and I, alone in the house, were shaken.
What's hidden in her bag? How does she know 
the money in the drawer, our life for the month?
Mother told me to bring the money.

All of it, the woman chimed. 

I hurried to the drawer in the room, took one half of the money
to my mother, which she gave the other half of it to the woman.

I know this is not all, the woman said to me. Go get all of it.

That is all we have, I lied.
Don't lie. the woman said.
I don't. I was angry at the rudeness of the woman. 
Did you get all the money? my mother asked me under her breath.

She's lying, the woman said.
That is all we have, I lied again.

The woman took the money and left. 

I feared, my mother said. the woman might harm us.
Blame the remote house. Naked and vulnerable.

Or the strange woman, I thought. She taught me the world
is not as pink and safe as I think; and that
I wouldn't become a part of it; angry no more.

Now, I wonder if the child of me had seen the woman
as more than just a robber, for I felt a gossamer of
sympathy for her, amused a bit by her story.
Like this world, good and bad, with many possibilities. 

©Byung A. Fallgren


The Warden & the coyote

The Warden & the Coyote
   from the conversation between my parents
   I eavesdropped as a child

My father loved his tiny office, his new world:

the old wooden desk,

the rickety chair; his new job as a warden;

low pay but better than the old job, police officer.

The solitariness, the pine trees, trees;
the meditating woods; the silence;
they mind their own business; don't bother 
to know what the new warden is like;
if he's square but sane and righteous guy.

One afternoon, returning to his office from
the routine work, checking round the woods, 
my father found a coyote in the chair,
with a smug smile. It resembled to the sly one
he'd seen at the old police station.
He winced at the dark memory; filthy 
as the frothy sea waves.

What are you doing here? He frowned.

Just checking on you. Coyote narrowed an eye,
still smiling. In this remote place, 
you could get killed and no one would know.

Ha. Why you care? Father stepped on the cigarette butt.
I know why you are here. He took a bill out of 
his pants pocket and toss it to the animal.

Go buy yourself a little bite and don't come back!

The coyote grabbed the crumpled bill, the warden's 
precious daily allowance, and jeered,
see you later, warden.

My father's eyes trailed the skunk between the trees.
In his mind, image of him drifted away in the red wind.
He shook his head; not this time.

(Note: in this poem, the coyote is used as a symbol of self-inviting, 
sly man who used his tactic to take people's money.)

©Byung A. Fallgren 

The Man Whose Voice has been taken from his Throat

The Man whose Voice Has been Taken from His Throat
 Naomi Shihab Nye--1952

remain all supple hands and gesture

skin of langue 
fusing its finest seam

in fluent light
with a raised finger

dance of lips
each sentence complete

he speaks to the shadow
of leaves

strung tissue paper
snipped into delicate flags

on which side of the conversation
did anyone begin?

wearing two skins
the brilliant question mark of Mexico
stands on its head
like an answer

At the Arts & Crafts store before Christmas

At the Arts & Crafts store before Christmas

hustle and bustle 
of the people
to buy the ornaments
as if wishing
the magic tree

colorful balls
crammed in the clear bag
look at the shoppers,
wondering if rainbow spirit 
is finally blooming

at the artificial flowers' shelves
blooming four seasons 
arranged neat and gorgeous
with absence of scents
like empty beauty pageant 

©Byung A. Fallgren 


Moment of the Sun in the Shadow

Moment of the Sun in the Shadow

When we don't see the negative
appearance of within,
the reason for being narsistic
or be wild goer,
while the cells shrink.
The reflection in the mirror or
still water points to 

what we miss to see;
how we correct the wrong;
the mind, the real us;
where the dark lake turns clear to mirror
the blue sky and the clouds; where 
the snake can be morphed and born a sainthood;
or the moment of the sun in the shadow;
if only we could grab it safe,
the gay youth, full of dreams,
would've grown to reach the peak. 

©Byung A. Fallgren

Matthew Shepard, who was gay, died in October 1998
after two men beat him and left him tied to a fence 
on a plot of land outside Laramie, where he was 
attending the University of Wyoming.  Today,
a portrait honoring the life of Matthew Shepard is
on display at the Washinton D.C.