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Welcome, poets, to another Haibun Monday, where we blend prose and haiku together to form that famous Japanese poetic form! I am Frank Tassone, your host, and today, I’m taking us back to school!

It’s the penultimate day of August. Many schools have reopened, and many students return in-person for the first time since late last Autumn, if not since March of 2020. Many colleges have already welcomed their students back to campus; some have even begun classes. In the US, Labor Day weekend waits in the wings, where even more schools and colleges will begin the new academic year.

While we celebrate New Years every 1st of January, many of us know that our year authentically begins with the inauguration of school. And why not? School centers the ordinary activity of families, particularly those with school-age children. Plus, for those that experienced them, who can forget the turning points that the beginning of school represents? The anxiety of children, leaving home for the first time. The anxiety of parents, leaving their late-adolescent children on campus, to live away from home for an academic year for the first time. Yes, going back to school is a celebrated transition in our societies.

Consider what these poets proclaim about school in:

This Is Not a Small Voice

Sonia Sanchez – 1934-

This is not a small voice
you hear               this is a large
voice coming out of these cities.
This is the voice of LaTanya.
Kadesha. Shaniqua. This
is the voice of Antoine.
Darryl. Shaquille.
Running over waters
navigating the hallways
of our schools spilling out
on the corners of our cities and
no epitaphs spill out of their river mouths.

This is not a small love
you hear               this is a large
love, a passion for kissing learning
on its face.
This is a love that crowns the feet with hands
that nourishes, conceives, feels the water sails
mends the children,
folds them inside our history where they
toast more than the flesh
where they suck the bones of the alphabet
and spit out closed vowels.
This is a love colored with iron and lace.
This is a love initialed Black Genius.

This is not a small voice
you hear.

From Wounded in the House of a Friend. Copyright © 1995 by Sonia Sanchez.

 American Syntax

Ching-In Chen

The teacher straightbacked,
faced me off, her eyes.
            My face in the cleave of
her shoulder, my bones
sitting high my cheek.
             The word proper
arrives in the hall.  The order
of things, rolling
neat into pine drawers, dead-
clean. Squeezed juice of greedy
              Her teeth not match.
One chipped.  The corner lifted,
peeking a window, furtive.
              The other, pearl, round
and perfect, looming above my
arched head.  About to bite

Copyright © 2014 by Ching-In Chen. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Mary’s Lamb

Sarah Josepha Hale

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow,
And every where that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go;
He followed her to school one day—
That was against the rule,
It made the children laugh and play,
To see a lamb at school.

And so the Teacher turned him out,
But still he lingered near,
And waited patiently about,
Till Mary did appear;
And then he ran to her, and laid
His head upon her arm,
As if he said—”I’m not afraid—
You’ll keep me from all harm.”

“What makes the lamb love Mary so?”
The eager children cry—
“O, Mary loves the lamb, you know,”
The Teacher did reply;—
“And you each gentle animal
In confidence may bind,
And make them follow at your call,
If you are always kind.”

This poem is in the public domain.

Whether you begin a new school year yourself, you send your first (or last) to college, or you recall your own back to school adventures, write your haibun alluding to back to school!

New to haibun? The form consists of one to a few paragraphs of prose—usually written in the present tense—that evoke an experience and are often non-fictional/autobiographical. They may be preceded or followed by one or more haiku—nature-based, using a seasonal image—that complement without directly repeating what the prose stated.

New to dVerse? Here is what you do:

  • Write a haibun that includes, states, or references back to school.
  • Post it on your personal site/blog.
  • Include a link back to dVerse in your post.
  • Copy your link onto the Mr. Linky.
  • Remember to click the small checkbox about data protection.
  • Read and comment on some of your fellow poets’ work.
  • Like and leave a comment below if you choose to do so.
  • Have fun!