Friday, August 23, 2013

Charles Trumbull - A Five-Balloon Morning: Small Press Friday

Charles Trumbull is a poet of quiet, deep emotion. His haiku are ripples on the pond; the source invisible, yet of paramount importance.

A Five-Balloon Morning has a subtitle, New Mexico Haiku, and, though that sets the scene, it is in no sense strictly regional or limiting. In fact, as regular readers of haiku might attest, the more particular the focus, the greater the potential for a more universal theme - in the hands of the right poet, that is. 

Charles Trumbull is the right poet.  

raking into piles
leaves from a tree
I climbed as a boy

The great haiku poets, Bashō coming to mind here, can include an entire lifetime, or lifetimes in one three line verse. And that's what we have here. 

                                        first Christmas
                                     without my mother
                                   without my childhood

Time and memory intertwine again, with tone and subject that certainly is reminiscent of another of the great masters.

hometown visit
fine sand in the doorways
of vacant storefronts

I seem to be focusing on time here, but rather let's say the poet is. There is a sense not just of the past in these lines, but of the future, the reclaiming back of things as they were. Certainly thoughts such as these are never far away in a desert clime.

wild asters
brilliant in the field
after the fire

Nature again takes center stage - the wild joy of the first two lines is suddenly muted at the cause. Yet, still, the wild asters are brilliant and need we worry why?

wind-twisted juniper
at the precipice
you take my hand

This is a ku of balance, wherein the dual-hinge door of the second line swings both ways, perfectly. Certainly, the wind of the first line, even if not at the moment present, might conjure the caution in the third, at a pre or subconscious level.

in the dark corner
where the crucifix hung
a white shadow

There is something, always, about shadows - doppelgangers of sorts, and in this case the 'shadow' is white, and is a 'shadow' of something no longer there, something which perhaps no longer exists.

Yet something that persists.

There is a separate section in this collection entitled Trinity, which is about a visitation to the Trinity site in the desert where the first atomic bomb was detonated. Here are three ku from that powerful collection within a collection which grabbed 
me and held on:

Trinity site
in the guard's vehicle
fuzzy dice

The allusion to Einstein's remark about God and dice immediately leaps to mind and the reverberations take that mind to many a dark place.

we drive through the gate
feeling very American -
weeds through asphalt

The juxtaposition between feeling and reality here is more than the sum of its parts. Perhaps there is an implicit comparison between the weeds and the humans, perhaps not. 

What we do know is that they have both sprung up in a post-apocalyptic reality. 

squabbling children-
the grasshopper
hops away

Such a simple poem, such a complex world. Like how various animals are portrayed in horror movies - horses, dogs, cats - the grasshopper has its say.

This fine collection of contemporary haiku comes from Red Mountain Press. Trumbull has composed a set of poems that in some ways are like whispers, just barely heard, until we learn how to focus in on the sound. It isn't so much the volume of the sound as it is the locale.

It comes from within. 

As a bit of a bonus to the work above, what follows is a video from the Haiku Foundation of Charles reading some haiku. This video is part of an ongoing series entitled The Haiku Foundation Readings and may be found in the Haiku Foundation Video Archive.


this world of ours--
so fast the bonfires
burn out
translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.
Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 174 songs


patricia nelson said...

beautiful work, ((((((sigh)))))))

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

It is, indeed, Patricia ... thanks ...

Mary Frederick Ahearn said...

Brilliant - thanks for the post and your way of bringing this it to us.

Patrick Sweeney said...



Scott Wiggerman said...

Excellent poems and commentary! This looks like a must-have book.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


So glad you liked the work ... and the presentation.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks, Patrick.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Scott ... you won't go wrong. There is lots there to savor.