I have come to learn that places like New Jersey and California have barely enough people residing in them to keep them operating. Japan is so crowded, last minute. Christmas shopping in the US is a lonely activity by comparison. It has always been an unlikelihood that any boy born mid-century in the industrial upper Ohio Valley would one day find himself in Japan, of all places, especially not enjoying the role of a visiting poet. I was born at a time and in a place that practically dictated that I work in one of local steel mills. At times, fierce competition from the Japanese automobile and steel industries made steady employment in the American steel industry uncertain. It would be unlikely for any particular male my age to have cause to visit Japan. My guess is that few poets who work in steel mills ever achieve much recognition at all, especially not from citizens of a foreign country.

Let the powers that be bless the internet. And bless the members of Shiki team for sponsoring the Shiki mailing lists on the internet. And bless Matsuyama University for supporting the activities of the Shiki team. Maybe I should stop blessing everybody before I sound too much more as if I'm at a sneezers convention. I am deeply grateful to all those involved. Thanks to them, the improbable became possible.

the egret shifts from stillness
to stillness

As a result of winning the 4th Shiki Internet Haiku Salon haiku contest, I left my home in Toronto, Ohio, early Thursday morning September 9, 1999. Forty minutes by car is all it takes to get from my house to the Pittsburgh airport. The route involves a rural shortcut.

setting out-
geese above Kmart
organizing themselves

a troop of wild turkeys
crossing the road

having set out-
a Cooper's hawk flies low
in front of us

At Pittsburgh, I climbed aboard some kind of contraption operated by Mesaba Airlines, which I think could be a pseudonym for Floppy's Aluminum Storm Door and Prop Company. Two goofball volunteer firemen going somewhere to claim possession of some kind of emergency vehicle sat in the only seats between me and the exit. I told them they should figure out how to open the door, in case of an emergency, because both of them together were not big enough to stop a 6 foot, 4 inch, 240 pounder, and I didn't plan on hesitating if the situation called for an expeditious exit.
I was not aware that some planes stay aloft by means of flapping their wings.

my hat blows off
at today's second airport-
clear sunshine

At Detroit, I boarded a Boeing 747-400. I've flown before, here & there, now & then, at the beck and call of the military and for a funeral or two when I was still a young pup, and more recently to this or that place for some literary function, but I am not any kind of frequent flier. Yet the sound of the air rushing through the jet engines was quite familiar. It sounded exactly like the 6th floor of the Boiler House at Weirton Steel, the induction fans being on the 7th floor. My seat companions were two young Asian women who were not particularly friendly, even to each other, although they were clearly travelling together. The smaller one, near the window, ate and slept, watched a movie or two and slept. The other one, in the middle, did the same things in a slightly different order, but watched all three movies, two of them twice, and slept less. The flight lasted thirteen hours, of which I slept one or two, before setting down in Osaka.