Haibun Paint Chip Poetry Prompt

I’ve been crazy busy this week, on top of having my power and internet out for two days because of an ice storm here in Oregon. I was tempted to go with haiku from the H section of the poetry dictionary. But then I pulled the paint chip words and phrases and knew that wasn’t going to work. Some of the options just screamed haibun.

What is a haibun? you ask. It’s one of my favorite poetry / prose hybrid forms that involves narrative nonfiction in a wonderful way. I’ve written quite a few. Some of my favorites are one titled Waikiki, another titled A Dog’s Summer Vacation, and one inspired by a Mother’s Day outing titled Blooming Season. Anyway, John Drury very succinctly defines the haibun as follows:

HAIBUN (hie’-bun, the”u” pronounced as in “put”) A Japanese form in which a prose text is interspersed with verse, specifically haiku (three lines containing a total of seventeen syllables). A haiku typically appears at the end of a haibun, but other haiku may appear earlier, even at the beginning. Haibun often takes the form of a diary or travel journal.

the poetry dictionary, p. 128

The Challenge

What I would like you to do is write a haibun in the form of a travel journal or diary entry. It must be nonfiction. I want to hear about your adventures. End your poem with a haiku (for those of you who were hoping for haiku this week, you won’t be disappointed). You can include additional haiku if you like.

The paint chip words and phrases are before the rain, mountain peak, supernova, tumbleweed, tropical, in the dark, and dust bunny.

I would like you to use at least five of the paint chips, including one in your haiku.

And there is no need for a title with a haibun, much like the haiku that has no title. But you can add one if you like.

My Haibun

I adore the tropical warmth of Hawaii, specifically Maui. On our last trip we did some things we’d not done previously. We shopped at a local outdoor craft market and found some neat souvenirs. On the same day, for our next adventure, we zip lined among the rainbow eucalyptus trees. What a rush! We even got pictures. But the day wasn’t over. The fun had just begun.

Even though most of Maui is warm, if you head to the top of the Haleakala mountain peak, you should bring a coat. We’ve been before so we were prepared. We weren’t quite prepared for how early the sun began to set in November. Still, we made it to the top before the sun’s spectacular light show. It was weird to watch a sunset I thought I’d seen before, but it looked so different because of the different season and where the sun actually set.

Standing at 10,000 feet, with few artificial lights around, once the sun fully set we were in the dark. We watched the stars come out, hoping to see a supernova. We didn’t, but a different kind of light show soon began. In every direction, lightning strikes hit the ocean and the neighboring islands. Burst after burst lit up the horizon. We finally decided it was time to head down the mountain before the rain came pouring down.

Not one tumbleweed
Is seen on sultry island
Paradise indeed

Your Turn

Okay, now it’s your turn. Whether you choose travel log or daily journal ideas as your muse, write your truthful haibun with a related haiku to cap it off. You can either write your haibun in the comments, or post it on your own blog and share a link in the comments. I can’t wait to see what you all come up with.

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


17 Responses

  1. Linda, I know this is a longer than a traditional haibun. I did shorten it some. Thank you for this. I only wrote once about my trip in 2001, or 2002. It was so good and timely that I revisit it.

    It was a chilly morning in March when we arose in the dark. Months of planning and preparation behind us, my husband packed the car and we drove to the church. We and 7 other Christians transferred luggage to the van that would drive us to the airport. We were going to Jamaica for 7 days to visit a missionary couple from our church. My husband and I had a special invitation to stay at their home, while the others paid for separate lodging. This Pastor and his wife held a dear place in our hearts. They counseled us when we lost our first two children.

    Everything proceeded like clockwork and I was excited to spend 7 days in the tropical sun, away from the snow and cold. After a while sleep filled my head like dust bunnies and I drifted off to sleep to the lull of the road underneath.
    Everyone stirred like tumbleweeds as our driver pulled into the busy parking area. When the luggage was being passed it was clear that two of my suitcases were not included. After deliberation back and forth between my husband and my Pastor, it was concluded that I did not realize we had more luggage than I thought, as we were also responsible for a couple bags of medical supplies. As I was transferring the luggage from car to van, I had left our clothes in the trunk of the car. It was too late to go back and I tried to suppress the impending supernova in my husband’s expression.

    We continued our journey. We were missionaries for seven days. Our pleasure was not God’s intent. My husband got severe motion sickness from riding in the back seat up the blue Mountains on the left side of the road. I had one borrowed dress to wear for the week, plus the slacks and blouse I arrived in. I listened to roosters crow, dogs bark and watched strange insects walk along the wooden slats in the middle of the night.

    Ten minutes every day in the afternoon was a rain season and water was scarce. It was piped down the mountain certain days of the week. High humidity made it necessary that I wore damp clothes much of the time. There was no dryer. I never saw the beaches you see on television.

    We visited families who lived in slums. We listened as they shared their struggles, losses, hopelessness. We shared the hope of Christ. The people I met ministered to me much more than I ministered to them. People laugh when I tell my story of my awkward ways and forgetfulness, but I look back and see How God works in His attributes and character through His ways, not ours.
    I know I experienced the best of Jamaica. I returned changed.

    Atop a mountain peak
    Our eyes take in earth’s splendor
    Descend and see more

    • This is splendid! Not too long at all. I wondered, as I read, if God hadn’t orchestrated the forgotten luggage as a means of allowing you to relate to the locals and them to relate to you. I suspect that many of them lived with few changes of clothes as well. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Nice encapsulation of magical Maui. I broke with my tradition of not reading yours before I wrote mine. That is because I already know what I’m going to write about: a surreal experience that I love to tell people about and that I’ve wanted to put on my blog. Thank you for presenting (prompting) me with the perfect opportunity. (Time to get to work and see if I can find those photos)

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