Sunday, May 13, 2018

our universe

This was an entry for the Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2018, submitted in late January 2018. The results were out in early May. No, this haibun didn't win anything. :)

image from pixabay

our universe

After we have packed our hammers and saws and nails in the toolshed, and our daily wages have been tallied and registered by our foreman, we gather outside the doorway for a final smoke. Someone lights some incense to the earth god, giving thanks for another safe day. Another feeds the black guard dog, stroking its beastly head as it eats hungrily from a dirty dish.

It is mostly like this, the end of another day, the smell of sawn wood still clinging to us like a scab. Sometimes we drink some tea, over a stove fire, like our forefathers did, building railroads and harbours in America and Hong Kong, half a lifetime away from home. The red glows of our cigarette tips flare, taunting the stars that are coming out in the gathering darkness, over the bulky silhouettes of the unfinished buildings behind us.

We stub out our cigarettes, grunt some goodbyes and jibes, and start our trucks and motor bikes, for the journey home, the tires churning out a cloud of dust on the unpaved roads. Tomorrow we will be here again, the dog's barks, loud in the early light blues of our universe.

dusk descends
the cirrus clouds sing
of a flat earth


and if you are still in the office: Working Class Hero -- John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2018

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Blogger brudberg said...

I love how you captured that simple camaraderie among the workers... I almost feel that there was not so much home to return to when being a builder. I remember from my short time as a worker that everyone left as soon as they possible could.

13 May, 2018 23:16  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

i think because these people have been working together for many years, looking out for each other, they are more than just workers. plus, most of them are from the same clan. i was with them for a couple of weeks, and witnessed their camaraderie.

13 May, 2018 23:33  
Blogger Sherry Marr said...

You took me right into the scene. I could see it clearly - and hear the sounds. Wonderfully done.

14 May, 2018 02:07  
Blogger R.K. Garon said...

With a few "edits" I think you could have won. Great story.

14 May, 2018 06:01  
Blogger Mary said...

I really like your slice of life poems. You set the scene and draw the reader inside. I can picture the workers really......and how they got along. An enjoyable read.

14 May, 2018 07:05  
Blogger Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

The standard for the contest must have been very high! I think this is a great piece of writing.

14 May, 2018 10:05  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


thank you :)


thank you for the confidence you had in me. yes, i feel that with some editing, it could be better, but it was quite a rush job. you know me, a last-minute man. :D


thank you! :)


Yes, pretty high standards. The winner is from Japan, and merit mentions are from Australia, Canada & USA (the usual suspects? haha). I think maybe the judges felt that my piece may be too cliched. i suppose i will try again next year?
click on the link if you want to read the winning entries : Genjuan 2018 winner.

14 May, 2018 10:40  
Blogger Old Egg said...

This reminded so much of my time as a supervisor of construction workers long ago. If I arrived at tea break all sat round a fire instead of nervously getting back to work instead they offered me a mug of tea and I sat with them chatting until the foreman nodded 'time' and they rose to get back to work again. Thanks! Another theme for future writing!

14 May, 2018 13:51  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Robin, glad you found some inspiration for some future writing. :)
seems like a number of poets have worked in the building industry. my father, who worked in the construction industry, was not a writer, but was a fine chinese calligrapher.

14 May, 2018 14:35  
Blogger Gillena Cox said...

I really like your haibun. Sorry you didn't win this time. But you should continue submitting.
Happy you dropped in at my Sunday Stansard this week

much love..

14 May, 2018 15:13  
Blogger Sanaa Rizvi said...

This is deeply engaging! I seriously love your life poems 💜

14 May, 2018 15:30  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


thank you! i will try to submit in next year's edition. :)


thank you! :)

14 May, 2018 20:35  

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