The Detective (a haibun experiment)


________The Detective

Got his aching body to the mirror and fought off a smile, knowing that even if wryness really was found in every gesture, no-one was around to appreciate it anyway. And wasn’t travel just the most elusive of criminals? Frustration was going to overwhelm him if he let it. He made a fist and took a deep breath, but instead of driving it through the glass, he shoved a plug into the basin and turned on the hot water. He did not lather up, he was late. Once the basin was full, he took a razor and dipped the blade in the steaming water, raising it halfway. A dripping filled the room.

________in the street the detective
________has lost his keys
________passport and wallet, everything has slipped
________into the sepia
________of older films, a gunshot and
________a skirt split at the leg,
________a wisp of perfume
________carrying a girl into the office

________and everything about him yet to be ironed

________just a splash in a well
________when he tries to speak

________all romance gone from the lids
________of his eyes, this time
________unlocking a dream as if from a jar
________and spreading it across
________his chest,
________letting it sink into his heart

________as all around him clues that won’t
________come together
________spin and whisper.

10 thoughts on “The Detective (a haibun experiment)

  1. I love it, Ashley. Haibun is not easy to do, and you do it with a beautiful flow. It works really well with the theme of your poem, because the ending of the prose feels like the fade of a camera. “A dripping filled the room” is a great last line for that stanza. Then there is a wonderful “camera shot” with the next scene in the street. I love how it transitions so smoothly.

    Egad, the details are great. I keep going back and reading it and finding more things I like. Everything slipping into the sepia of older films is fantastic. I also love the ending. Excellent work!

    • Thank you, Julie! I was a little hesitant to use the word ‘haibun’ in the title there, so I quickly added ‘experiment’ but it is pretty close – same structure anyway!

      So happy to hear you say that you found it cinematic, that is great, a fantastic compliment, as I was definitely trying for that.

      And I’m leaning on the film noir genre there but it might just work in other modes perhaps

  2. For me this really works Ash. And it definitely stretches the whole notion of haibun… but the prose is tight and the poem… well to steal a line, it spins and whispers.

    • Cool! Thank you – as I said to Julie, I guess it’s not really haibun but I wanted to try and use the general structure/idea of haibun and see what happened, really relieved that it works. Wonder if a whole novel could work like this?

      • I have always thought that the haibun form would make for a really tight little novella, so yes… thinking about it, I think it could cast a real spell.

  3. Remarkable. I read this in a much different form (when it had just been drafted and was part of something much larger) and what amazes me was how good it was then and how brilliant it is now. I just so love how willing you are to turn things inside out, upside down, and see how they look. And for what it’s worth, I think it’s so damn good now I kind of hope this is it. Though I wouldn’t put it past you to throw it up in the air again.

    • Thanks, Alec! I’m glad you think it still works – I think it might be how it is, especially after the great feedback, especially yours! I do like to re-work my own stuff – it keeps me honest, never satisfied at time, but keeps me trying to make a piece stronger!

  4. Really cool mood here you created. I like the discussion of a novella with Graham. Your style scrapes around the edges of the scene so well it makes me feel like I’m there looking around myself. I can imagine a short story like this would be entrancing.

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