Absquatulation: Haibun by David Cobb24 Mar 2017, Posted by Poetry in
Art Credit: “The Battle” by David Conison
steam from a cup of tea
The Lark Ascending
The prop I use for my PC screen is a venerable English-German dictionary, vintage 1870, source of scholarship then, now pedantry.
Once, during one of my self-imposed breaks, I fingered my way into the great tome as far as page 3. There, trapped between absorption and abstinence, was a verb the venerable lexicographer had failed to gloss.
Isn’t it a shame when a word is short-changed so, like a child baptised without being given a name? I instantly took the word into my vocabulary. At the very least for a soothing gargle at the back of my throat. Ab-squa-a-a-a-tula-a-ate.
squeezing out new sounds
between false teeth
There was a cruel trick I could play on other guys, slipping the refugee word into a conversation, tempting them to pretend they belonged to an in-set who employed the word.
“I say, budge up, old chap, you’re absquatulating my foot!”
“Oh, could you move a bit? So I don’t absquatulate you again.”
Much later I came upon the precious word in a contemporary Oxford dictionary, complete with definition, and the hoax had lost its edge.
my kid’s shot at a butterfly
to bring it down
David Cobb began writing haiku in 1977, but it was 1988 before he was successful in publishing any. His adventures with haibun began even later, around 1994, but there was a breakthrough in 1996, when part of his circa 10,000-word travelogue, Spring Journey to the Saxon Shore, was awarded in the International Haibun Contest organised by Woodnotes Magazine, San Francisco. The entire haibun is still obtainable if you visit his website, www.davidcobb.co.uk. Personal collections of shorter haibun are available at the same site. These include Business in Eden, which in 2007 received an Honorable Mention for Best Haibun Collection in the Haiku Society of America’s Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Wards.
Cobb was founder of the British Haiku Society in 1990 and served in the following 12 years variously as either their secretary or their president.