Abstract Magazine International | First Visit to Canyon Country: Haibun by Ray Rasmussen
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First Visit to Canyon Country: Haibun by Ray Rasmussen

12 Apr 2017, Posted by admin in Fiction

Art Credit: Martha Winterhalter



Friends, who on occasion join my outdoor adventures, suggest I should slow down, be in, not just move through a place. They complain that I hike too fast to enjoy the landscapes we passing through.

And I think, perhaps defensively: Dervishes dance, Buddhists meditate, I hike. If a practice serves the spirit, why change it?

After all, it’s through moving that I wear myself down, and at some point, break through that crust of armor I’ve acquired as protection from urban chaos left behind: noise, pollution, crowds, traffic, everyday human problems, the dismal news.

Yet, when at first I hiked here, in Utah’s canyon country, along channels carved by ancient rivers deep into time’s hardened sandstones, the sun’s intensity insisted that I slow down. The heat waves, the glare, the dry river beds, cause a squint, my eyes refuse to take in, and thus prohibit being in.

And so it’s my body, not just friends, saying pause! wet your neckerchief in springs and ponds; stop! rest beneath a Juniper’s umbrella of shade; relax! enjoy the coolness, and see what comes to you while you’re there.

It’s not until the sun begins its descent that my eyes can again take in. Now reds and oranges creep up sandstone cliffs, turquoise Juniper berries begin to glow, and a claret cup flower becomes wine red.

It’s now I can smell barberry’s fragrant yellow flowers, hear the bees humming as they sip flower nectar, enjoy the evening songs of tree frogs and spotted toads.

The desert is dancing in sound and color.

land of little water –
washed clean
by the walking

And when I approach camp just after the sun has set, after my companions who arrived earlier have cooked and enjoyed their dinner, they ask: “How can you stand to be out there all day in that heat?”

campfire talk –

the soft hoots

of a spotted owl.



1) Revision of a piece originally published in Road Runner Haiku Journal, 7:1, February, 2007.             Haiku modeled on a poem by Chris Bullock.

2) To my ear, the call of the Mexican Spotted Own sounds very much like laughter.

About the Author:

Ray Rasmussen lives with his partner, Nancy, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and in the Halton Hills of Ontario, Canada. He’s the General Editor of Haibun Today and Technical Editor of Contemporary Haibun Online. His writing has been published in numerous haiku genre journals and has been included in several anthologies. In a previous life, Ray dreamed that he was a university professor. Presently retired, he enjoys canoeing in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park, hiking in Utah’s Canyonlands and Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, and at his partner’s cottage in an Ontario mixed hardwood forest. A collection of his haibun, Landmarks: A Haibun Collection, and can be purchased through Amazon.



Ray’s Web: http://raysweb.net

Ray’s Haiku, Haibun and Haiga website: http://raysweb.net/haiku

Ray’s Photography website: http://raysweb.net/photography

Ray’s Wabi-Sabi website: http://raysweb.net/wabisabi

Haibun Today: http://haibuntoday.com

Contemporary Haibun Online: http://contemporaryhaibunonline.com

Art Credit: Martha Winterhalter

  • Angelee Deodhar

    Ray’s poetic prose embellishes his writing,so that you are walking along with him as he treks the bejeweled canyon lands.A memorable haibun!,best wishes,angelee


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