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Issue 3: May 2020
Haibun: 106 words
By Alexis Rotella

A Stranger Here


The book Japanese Death Poems finds its way into my hands. Ryosa wonders “Is man a / morning glory that he passes / in a day?” Saiba shifts his pillow to be closer to the moon while my eyes rest on a scroll where blackbirds graze the folds of a snow-covered range.

I open a folder filled with handwritten letters. The script is open and honest. This writer prefers a fountain pen. I want to read further but an alarm inside me sounds. Someone else lives here. The concierge gave me the wrong apartment key.

The wind
crosses the river
leaving its mark



Publisher’s Notes:

1. The lines above by Ryosa (1723–1807) are from Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death (Charles E. Tuttle Publishing, 1986), compiled and with an introduction by Yoel Hoffman. The e-book may be accessed via the following links; see page 198 for Ryosa’s haiku in English and Japanese.


If the long link doesn’t work, then please try this tiny URL:

2. Saiba (1807–1858) “shifts his pillow to be closer to the moon” refers to his haiku on page 202 of the e-book mentioned above.

Alexis Rotella
Issue 3, May 2020

was honored to be included in the American Haiku Archives as honorary curator in 2019. She is the curator/editor of Unsealing Our Secrets, a MeToo anthology of short poems about sexual abuse which was awarded a Touchstone Distinguished Book Award (2018). An award-winning poet and digital artist, she has been writing Japanese poetry forms in English since the late 1970s. Her work has been published throughout the world, and she is the author of dozens of books. Her latest include Dancing the Tarantella (tanka and cherita) and Scratches on the Moon: Haibun, both of which are available on Amazon and Kindle; and The Color Blue, which was released by Red Moon Press in 2017. Her out-of-print haiku and tanka books, as well as her newest works, can be read on Kindle.

Ms. Rotella’s passions include her acupuncture practice in Arnold, Maryland, and mobile photography. Her mobile art has been showcased in Porto, Portugal and in Florence and Milan, Italy and continues to be featured in many on-line venues. Her digital art is for sale online at Alexis Rotella Designs.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Purple: A Parable by Alexis Rotella, with pictures by Diane Katz (Rosenberry Books, 2008)

Purple, the first poem Alexis ever wrote, and one which has been reprinted many times during the decades since

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