Sumo Haiku 4: Last (Kisenosato, Abi, Hakuho, Takayasu)

With this last posting day of the month comes my final set of Sumo Haiku. If you’ve stuck with me for all four days of this little event, thank you!

In addition to devoting these days to haiku for NaHaiWriMo, I was hoping to make Sumo interesting in a novel way for those who aren’t fans. I’ve only been a fan for three years, so I know how different it can be to regard these guys as humans among us, out and about. Let’s face it: If you’re not a Sumo fan and you’ve no knowledge of Sumo’s traditions, what you likely see of the sport is a bunch of obese men in diapers trying to push each other out of a sandbox. I hope I’ve managed to bring some personality into this perception, if nothing else!


If you haven’t seen it already, click here to read Sumo Haiku Day One with its introductory, explanatory opening text. I’ll go ahead and re-post the disclaimer part here, though:

[DISCLAIMER: In these haiku, you’ll read purely fictitious portrayals of the wrestlers, simple whims of my imagination as I considered each one. I actually know nothing of the inner lives and selves of these guys.]

I’ll introduce each haiku with the name and photo of the wrestler. The haiku about that wrestler will appear beneath his photo.

That being said, enjoy this last set of Sumo Haiku!


Sumo Haiku 4: Last (Kisenosato, Abi, Hakuho, Takayasu)

(by Kristi Garboushian)




  1. Kisenosato

Satisfying his

pressing need for clarity

requires nine days.




2. Abi

Energy bound in

slim sheets of stationery:





3. Hakuho

He met a guy who

knows a guy who will purchase

his grandmother’s urn.




4. Takayasu

Thunder clouds lifting

the earth on a planet turned

upside-down, shining.


The End, and Happy Friday Eve, my friends!



Sumo Haiku 3: Third (Ishiura, Ikioi, Sokokurai, Nishikigi)

It’s my hope that you’re enjoying these sumo haiku as much as I’m enjoying writing them, even if you’re not a part of a cross-over, niche world of readers who are both haiku and sumo fans. Whether you’re one of those or the other (or neither), I’m happy to introduce you to some of these combat athletes as they appear out in the world – in actual clothing, no less! (Pun not intended.)

Today is the third day of my Sumo Haiku project. Thursday will be the last TALC posting day of February. NaHaiWriMo will be over, my next post will consist of February Favorites, and then I have some newsy-news for you that I can’t wait to share!

If you haven’t seen it already, click here to read Sumo Haiku Day One with its introductory, explanatory opening text. I’ll go ahead and re-post the disclaimer part here, though:

[DISCLAIMER: In these haiku, you’ll read purely fictitious portrayals of the wrestlers, simple whims of my imagination as I considered each one. I actually know nothing of the inner lives and selves of these guys.]

I’ll introduce each haiku with the name and photo of the wrestler. The haiku about that wrestler will appear beneath his photo.

Have at it!


Sumo Haiku 3: Third (Ishiura, Ikioi, Sokokurai, Nishikigi)

(by Kristi Garboushian)




  1. Ishiura

Self-conscious, he keeps

room for flexibility

in his bright jacket.




2. Ikioi


takes out-of-season fables

from spring libraries.




3. Sokokurai

Possesses secret

talent for dance instruction

willed to him at birth.




4. Nishikigi

Goal for the new year:

enchant beasts of granite strength

with handfuls of stars.



Sumo Haiku 2: Second (Terunofuji, Kaisei, Daishomaru, Okinoumi)

Whether you’re a faithful reader or just someone who stumbled into this space, welcome to the second day of my Sumo Haiku project!

I’m enjoying this project. I would love for others to see and appreciate the beauty of Sumo as well as that of haiku.

If you haven’t seen it already, click here to read Sumo Haiku Day One with its introductory, explanatory opening text. I’ll go ahead and re-post the disclaimer part here, though:

[DISCLAIMER: In these haiku, you’ll read purely fictitious portrayals of the wrestlers, simple whims of my imagination as I considered each one. I actually know nothing of the inner lives and selves of these guys.]

I’ll introduce each haiku with the name and photo of the wrestler. The haiku about that wrestler will appear beneath his photo.



Sumo Haiku 2: Second (Terunofuji, Kaisei, Daishomaru, Okinoumi)

(by Kristi Garboushian)



  1. Terunofuji

Ancestral fighter

redolent of sandalwood:

the older brother.




2. Kaisei

No expectations.

He doesn’t want to offer

anything that asks.




3. Daishomaru

…adores reading and

inviting consequences

into rooms of art.




4. Okinoumi

He looks in their eyes

like he’s gazing at his death.

He rarely wears gold.



Sumo Haiku 1: First Four (Mitakeumi, Endo, Tochinoshin, Asanoyama)

In February 2016, I started writing a series of haiku, some of which I posted here in TALC. I didn’t post all 76 of the haiku I wrote between February and August that year, but I did share a few, each accompanied by a photo.

It’s now February four years later. Considering that February is National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo) and that the next Grand Sumo Tournament (basho) is less than three weeks away, I wanted to write some haiku about Sumo. Haiku is a Japanese poetic form. Sumo is Japan’s national sport. I’m a big fan of both.

Sumo-related haiku could come from any number of angles, but what came to my mind in a moment of reflection was the idea of imagining the inner lives and selves of Sumo wrestlers (rikishi), like when you’re people-watching and your need for amusement spawns backstories for some of the humans you notice.

I selected my 16 favorite Sumo wrestlers with the intention of creating fictional personas for each of them. Between now and the end of the month – there are four more TALC posting days in February – you’ll see four haiku sets, each containing four haiku about four different wrestlers, one for each of them. The poems are short, as haiku traditionally consist of 17 syllables distributed across three lines. (I personally enjoy working within this tradition.)

Some of you are here for the poetry. Some of you might be Sumo fans, but I’m guessing that most of you are not. For those of you who’ve no special affection for either poetry or Sumo… yes, I went and combined the two! Thank you for bearing with me here today, and, in advance, on Thursday, and also on next week Tuesday and Thursday. [::sheepish grin::]

[DISCLAIMER: In these haiku, you’ll read purely fictitious portrayals of the wrestlers, simple whims of my imagination as I considered each one. I actually know nothing of the inner lives and selves of these guys.]

I’ll introduce each haiku with the name and photo of the wrestler. The haiku about that wrestler will appear beneath his photo.



Sumo Haiku 1: First Four (Mitakeumi, Endo, Tochinoshin, Asanoyama)

(by Kristi Garboushian)



  1. Mitakeumi

Maybe he believes

that evil fairies exist,

love notwithstanding.




  1. Endo

“He’s the pretty one” –

I think, Goth, black eye-liner,

cold night, street light mist.




  1. Tochinoshin

Mountains wake and roar

ten minutes into his sound

sleep. He’ll sometimes dream.




  1. Asanoyama

Perhaps amber ale.

Watery, late-summer fruit.




“Less One Decision on the Eve of a New Year”

I don’t know about you, but it’s New Year’s Eve where I am. 2020! We’ve reached a new decade!

In the spirit of celebration and on this occasion of reflection, I have New Year’s greetings (delivered by Nenette) and an original poem, respectively.



Less One Decision on the Eve of a New Year

You looked to see if your reflection was chance.

The stillness was there –
you bent to take a drink.
Above the agitated circles of your vision
there was the sleek tube of scales
sliding near and you, the skeptic,

named this for your own doubting mind.
You said, Viper, return us as leaf-shadows
on tin awnings, crisp and certain,
or as the sky in rust, defined as the cracked
blood on the ground. Return us
as rain.

Such precision could cast us back in.
It could revolutionize everything.


May 2020 bring out the best in us all.



“I should” (Sharing an original poem.)

I knew. I heard you. You’ve been wanting a poetry post!

For something different and heretofore unseen in this space, I’m posting a form poem. That’s right: for today’s dug-up offering, I’ve got this poem I wrote in a grad school forms course. There’s actual rhyming in this poem, which most post-modern poets wouldn’t deign to write… they didn’t back in the early aughts, at least.

One of our assigned tasks in the forms course was to write a sonnet, and I do mean the standard English kind (iambic pentameter, 14 lines, three quatrains and a couplet).

It’s more difficult to do than you’d think.

I ended up with a sort of dark comedy in sonnet form. There’s something about a sonnet that brings out a degree of elevated language in conjunction with a built-in silliness, which I blame on Shakespeare. I thought I’d share this “gem” with you today. Also, I recently learned how to single-space within a WordPress post, which makes me wont to post more poems. Aren’t you lucky!

This one is called “I Should” ~Enjoy.

I Should

have known… when music caught my dream about
the street whose light emits from your garage.
When burns exposed the candlestick in house
arrest and prison sentence – more to dodge

– and stands of trees between o’clocks unpinned
themselves from dark alarms of your “awake.”
The only songs beneath the violin’s
remains are moments – those I need to take,

my blindfold off in order to see clear
the ash I’d presupposed, botanical
and all. Smoke that disappeared
before the instrumental, vagrant lull
resurfaced, asking for a newer room…
as I have wanted back the winter moon.


the end.

Mayhaps I took a small liberty or two with the form, but that’s what we’d call “creative license.” Or something like that.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!



From the “new poems” file. (Haiku 18: Regime)

Two years ago, I started writing haiku (poems) in sets of four. I stopped when I started work on my novel, and I’ve picked it up again now that the novel’s finished… in addition to the longer poems I’ve been writing, that is.

These haiku sets adhere to the classic three-line, 5-7-5 syllable count, with the four haiku centering on a single theme. This is just the way I’ve been working with the form. I’ve taken liberties with it. With each theme, I’m basically writing a poem with four stanzas that happen to follow haiku structure.

Anyway! I know I’d said I would no longer publish new work here, but it seems I’ve been doing it again, so here you go – today, I’m sharing “Regime,” one of my recently written haiku sets.


Haiku 18: Regime

Kristi Garboushian, August 11, 2018



Vision: thresholds lost,

kindnesses overtaken,

old pockets ripping.



Possibly, maybe

likely – blind faith severing

children’s daisy crowns.



Redwoods on fire.

Semiotics gone awry.

Glass of cabernet.



Otherwise in thrall.

Spinal columns buried deep

beneath lost cities.


roses (23 August 2018)






“Fallen Meditation” (Sharing an original poem.)

I write poems when I’m speechless, or otherwise at a loss for words whether spoken or not. This one is a re-write. I’ll just leave it here.


Fallen Meditation


I sit down to write a letter.


What I know from experience,

comfort a step off O Luxurious

a posteriori

where the realm of having-done

remarks to the inner sensibility

sensible enough to ask,


How is this known. How is that known.


– what was known before.


The door may offer possibilities:

it may swing open, or shut, or it may

start to close, then stop,

fall off its hinges into the “room of things known”


open for inspection, analysis,

asking what is this. An answer

tearing quietly through the air we breathe

toward how is this known, how is that known.


Other things coming through the doorway:

A nudge of ants.

A file of drizzle.

Second-hand smoke.


I sit down to write a letter.


What I know from experience:

Train. Open window. Night.

Unconscious and literal, the answer might be

my desk next to the window, a railroad

track going past, which I’ve come to expect,

love, the shaking of its rails

east, west –


What I mean to tell you is this:

when I sit down at my desk,

the window next to me is already open,

already the cool and dark star-glint, and since

I’m in some state of undress when writing at night,

all flickering finds my skin

open to gusts passing

probably to Quartzsite.


Anyway a train

stirs the air and the three become sublime –

train, open window, night – and then

I know why


and what I wanted to say.


What I do know.

What the aperture in the wall excludes from oblivions

more realized and independent of anyone’s

search for answers.

Nothing some particular.

Nothing some concept,

what kindred body of problem – what

passes through here, what filled the room before passing,

no longer known.


Look at it looking at itself –


then the phenomenon losing interest,

wandering out,

leaving muddy footprints where rain

moistened the tile.


(collage I made c. 2003)

“The Beast of Romance” (Sharing an original poem.)

I re-wrote an older poem of mine and thought I’d share it here today.

Let me re-phrase: I didn’t “re-write” this poem. I added two words… two words that I’d originally included, then removed at the suggestion of one of my MFA committee members. Reading it decades later, I wondered why I’d acquiesced. In most cases, I saw the light when a professor brought it to my attention. In other cases, I resisted. Acquiescing after resisting doesn’t mean that you want to do it. It means that you do it even though you don’t want to. You finally just do it. It’s the path of least resistance. Years later, you might look back and feel exactly the way you did before you acquiesced.

Especially if the matter was something profound, like two words. If it’s just giving in to Chinese food when you wanted Mexican, not so much.

Here’s the restored poem. The pic beneath it shows the printed version minus the line… the line missing its words.


The Beast of Romance


The camel fills what she emptied by lifting

a hoof, sand leveling the prints

across the dune to a vanishing –

the risk on the left with the right’s deflection.


When I decided to remove

myself from all of your embraces,

the sky wore its palm-stricken eclipse,

the circular ghost breaking into song, lunatique,

pallid Clouds of Eleven

careening to our old green and white names.


Weighing-in takes precedence:

readable things stowed away like water

in her bony satchel of a hump.


There is always this necessity.


She relinquishes what

she has stored. She comes to court

with all the evidence

locked tight in the file of her flesh.


[The Beast of Romance 1st version, Kristi Garboushian, early oughts]


The End.

“…Nor There” (Sharing an original poem.)

This one is from 2011.


“…Nor There”


…Nor There


Mid-morning, the groom waits for the arborist

while gifts begin to arrive.

Two days ahead, the wedding sways the house,


the green sputter of early spring

draping the tree.


He knew he’d get caught in the scrolls of rain

running down to the roots. He wants the tree scraped clean.

He’ll ask the arborist

(if he ever shows up)

to make a quick peel of the bark

before everything dries.


He spends the next day

turning from the rustic to prepare the wedding

ceremony, rinsing his shirt,

wringing it on the rail, because it’s all he can do.


There’s nothing to be done

about the brassiere, the lacy red one,

her last conversation with him

hooked around the handle of the remaining suitcase,



at least she didn’t take all of her.

She left the halo of her voice,

her braided hair,

purple mouth, genitalia.


He thinks it happened

when she recognized the painted eggshell

as a favor.

He tries to take it back,


but she’s flown to the Himalayas

where she found ice reflecting a bride

poised with her soaked lungs

fueling the despondency of mountain goats.


In the crevasse, brindled in the cold,

she sets a lien on her bones

in the name of the groom

still waiting for the arborist’s call.

She separates her tendons,

weaves them into her shawl.

“Scene from a Traveling Play” (Sharing an original poem.)

I woke up thinking of this poem I’d written several years ago, then thought I’d re-write it and share it with you. This is my day: go to the gym, re-write a poem, feed a tortoise, play with a cat, work on a novel. There could be worse days.

Oh, and look for February Favorites next week Tuesday! The month ended before I could prepare. (Read: my time-management game left much to be desired these last few weeks.)

On with the poem, then.


Scene from a Traveling Play


Imagining you as a child: happy, climbing

a tree where you sit above the campfire

where your mother stirs

sunrise into wood beneath the flames.


If I were to sit next to you, I’d find the branch

no heavier with your lean form,

the pause before you take off like hundreds of birds,

weightless as sparks from the fire.


Years later, you’ll remember the moment you recognized

punk undertones in an Eagles song.


Later yet, you’ll find yourself startled to see the narrative

you’d left – you thought it’d flown off,

too, but it came back

before the wind could tear away the part

describing the fullness of the voice

your mother tried to keep.


You might be as tired as the ribcage of a boy

reaching upward through water, or tired with your eyes

dry in the desert city,

dry like horses

wild as news from town, the last thing you saw

before your canine pierced your tongue-tip –

dry like the cracked tooth, the crusted blood, the scarce rain –

dry like sepia grit and blur of hooves kicking to dust.


Dry like the hands of the last generation.


One thing’s for sure: you’re not an ember

burning slowly from air into the blindness of earth.

You’re the smolder of an oar dipping beneath

the water you’ll never forget.

“Harvest in Phases of Night” (Sharing another original poem.)

Revisiting some of my older work this morning, I came across a certain poem and decided to share it. I very rarely use this space to publish poetry previously unpublished, but for some reason, I wanted to share this one. This is for you who found me through poetry, you who enjoy poetry, and you who enjoy the art of words. I wrote “Harvest in Phases of Night” in 2011.


Harvest in Phases of Night


The old woman ought to be

guarding the flower beds,

not spilling from acres to plots

hawking for signs:


pumping blood, an earring of pulse,

a car in flame intersecting the right

passages of dark.


Later, flinging her tampered

sleep in the night, she opens

her eyes to the kettle detached,

spectators caught

overhanging the wood fire.


Before dawn, her three arms

have fallen asleep, the accidental one

blackened, smelling of gasoline;


she adjusts her blanket, keeps it close…

she waters the early

streets and telephone lines,

sparking fury and grail;


she says her crushed-metal

prayers at sunrise,

chewing breakfast of concrete

peeled from asphalt walks,

punishment for ignoring the grain,


her old shoe and its sole

gold for the wake,

nourishment boiling over.


The headline of the day passes

unnoticed by the draw,

by the brass shield clouding the tide –


the old woman’s spine a chain of goblets,

auric meningitis, dreadful error,

unfortunate ride down pitted roads.


By the time I get there

the next night,

she’s rid the yard of gawkers.

She’s doing penance,

threshing stalks, sugar cane,

wheat of heritable caution

under a half-moon.


She’s answering to the nobility

of chrysanthemums.


There are more ways than one

to crash an ending:


fitful meetings of burnt tire,

fragmented window, misfires of logic,

passion we’ve never imagined….


Ore and secrets. Who knows

what causes these accidents?


She sleeps while the killed

find their way to the sidewalk, stone above

sketches of lighting at midnight.


In the end, it’s garden

mower to traffic signal.

The moon makes the dying right.


by Kristi Garboushian, April 2011


[17 January 2018] [ETA: no filter… just weird lighting!]

Throw-back poem: “Pursuit 3”

Tomorrow, it’ll be exactly five months since I’ve posted a poem. Apologies to you who are here for poetry! As you may remember, I’m no longer posting new work here, so today I’ve got another early piece from my grad school days. “Pursuit 3” first appeared in one of those wonderful small, independent literary journals no longer in existence. The journal was The Lucid Stone.

The issue:



“Pursuit 3” (one of my two poems that appeared in this issue):


[“Pursuit 3” Kristi (now Garboushian) The Lucid Stone “A Quarterly of Poetry” Summer 2001, Issue No. 26]

(I drew that line through the “s” in “toward” because I didn’t intend for it to be there. I just noticed the typo now.)

As always, thank you for reading. I wish you all a creative day!

Throw-back poem: “Gold”

It’s been quite a while since I’ve offered a poetry post, I know! I thought I’d share a poem today for those of you interested in my older work, especially since some of you started reading here specifically for the poetry. As you know, I’m not posting new poems here these days, so back in time we go.

This poem, “Gold,” was first published in Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Comparative Studies. The issue was Volume 2, 2001; it looks like the journal’s work from that time is saved in PDF. I thought it would be easier, for the purpose of sharing the poem here, to take pics of the poem as it appears in my MFA practicum. I did get online to snip out the readily accessible abstract, though. (Once again, I redacted my former last name.)


Here’s the poem:




I hope you enjoyed this! It’s odd revisiting my older work. It seems longer ago than 16 years, and yet… 16 years?! That means 15 years since I graduated. Yikes. Time is a relentless creature.

Happy Tuesday, All!

Throw-back poems: “Who Knows”; “Nonni” (+ writing updates)

Updates and more updates! Well, just writing updates, this time.

Update 1: My main project is 46% complete, which isn’t bad considering that November was pretty much a wash, as I knew it would be. Things should progress more quickly now that my calendar is clear of major/time-consuming agenda items. Whew! We got through it. Now back to it.

Update 2: My latest strategy in the war on sedentary lifestyle is to write while standing. At my washing machine. For at least half of my working day, often a little more. Since I’m no longer sitting on my ass all day, said ass has less of a chance of flattening out and widening in the wrong direction over time. You know what I’m talking about. A blob of cookie dough on a baking sheet is round and perky, and then you put it in the oven and it spreads out in the baking process. I’m not hyper-vain, but I don’t see how it can help anything to bake my ass, either. It’s not like I had much of an ass to begin with, so I want to save what I can of it. Moreover, it’s not healthy to sit so much.

Ahem. Onward, then!

In closing, I have some old poems to share with you today, two that were originally published in the 2011 issue of Clackamas Literary Review (Oregon). The pics are dark and murky, but then, so are the poems. Enjoy!











On that note, Happy Friday!


Maui: a lava love to give. (Haleakala volcano crater + Waianapanapa black sand beach!)

One summer, when I was a teenager and the Big Island’s Kilauea volcano was also acting up, I sat in my Uncle’s living room in Hilo and watched the surreal sight of red-orange lava coursing down in the distance.

Many years later… and also many years ago… (it’s funny how time works)… I wrote a certain poem. An excerpt:

…do you remember the first / map you traced in the shape of the island / you left… An ocean between us fires / up, inhaling its own ash from the powerlines of existence…

The ocean becomes one with the volcano when flowing lava hits the salt water. I read that the meeting of the two explodes into black sand, creating a beach. A volcanic black sand beach is the lovechild of the ocean and the volcano, rich with lore and sacred to native Hawaiians.

The Hawaiian archipelago was formed out of massive volcanic events, which is why the islands are studded with active and inactive volcanos and craters. On Maui, from the road to Hana, you can turn onto Waianapanapa Road, where, emerging from the rain forest, you find yourself on the grounds of a park that features a small black sand beach. Let me tell you: If there’s one reason to drive the road to Hana – and there are many – this is it, as far as I’m concerned. The Waianapanapa black sand beach is a gift of the Haleakala volcano, and it is beautiful.


Waianapanapa black sand beach

Waianapanapa black sand beach


Looking over the rim of lava rocks at this point, I spotted a large sea turtle swimming below in the clear blue-green water. I couldn’t get a pic of him, though, unfortunately.


Descending to the black sand beach

Descending to the black sand beach


Most people think of the Big Island when they think of Hawaiian black sand beaches, but Maui has this little gem tucked away…


Stunning contrasts: sparkling blue-green water, white ocean spray, black sand, rain forest

Stunning contrasts: sparkling blue-green water, white ocean spray, black sand, rain forest


Wet black sand, metallic in the sun

Wet black sand, metallic in the sun


Waianapanapa black sand beach

Waianapanapa black sand beach


I was quick to kick off my shoes and run down to the shore. That’s a strong tide! I had to use all the muscles in my legs to keep myself planted as the water rushed in and back out. It hit me at knee-level, and I was enthralled.


Enraptured at Waianapanapa

Enraptured at Waianapanapa


Life: complete!

Life: complete!


Driving in from the Hana Highway, you know you’re there when you see the sign:


Entering the Waianapanapa State Park

Entering the Waianapanapa State Park


The day we visited the summit of the Haleakala volcano crater, the sky was blue and the air was typically thin and cold above the clouds. But we were dressed for it, and other than Callaghan’s very mild touch of nausea, we weren’t bothered by altitude sickness.


Heading up the Haleakala crater path

Heading up the Haleakala crater path


Mid-morning light on the lava rocks

Mid-morning light on the lava rocks


Haleakala under a blue sky...

Haleakala under a blue sky…


The inside of the volcano crater is another planet.


Looking down from the summit of the Haleakala volcano crater

Looking down from the summit of the Haleakala volcano crater


The Haleakala volcano crater is too vast to capture in one phone pic...

The Haleakala volcano crater is too vast to capture in one phone pic…


Blue sky, carpet of clouds

Blue sky, carpet of clouds


We tried to get a selfie with the other-worldly crater floor visible behind us, but alas… this was our best shot:


Haleakala volcano crater – selfie at the summit

Haleakala volcano crater – selfie at the summit


Haleakala volcano crater (10,023 ft above sea level)

Haleakala volcano crater (10,023 ft above sea level)


Haleakala volcano crater

Haleakala volcano crater


Treading on lava (Haleakala)

Treading on lava (Haleakala)


Entering the Haleakala National Park

Entering the Haleakala National Park


I can’t think of a structure of nature that intrigues me as much as the Hawaiian volcano.

And for some reason, I didn’t get pics of the one Haleakala Silversword we saw. The Silversword is a rare succulent plant that only exists on and around the Haleakala volcano; it grows on volcanic cinder.

That concludes this post. Next up on Tuesday, I’ll share some pics from the road to Hana, and another gem we visited along the way!

Throw-back poem: “Canon of Disassembling an Iceberg” (+ writing updates)

The writing’s been going well, i.e. shenanigans abound… in a good way. So,

Thing 1: Big project writing updates, in brief.

  • 30% through, if my targeted 60,000 word count estimate is accurate. That remains to be seen.
  • I’m about to start the third section, where the main action will get underway. This is encouraging. (I’ve arrived at this point!)
  • Now using Scrivener as a secondary tool, and it’s awesome.
  • Still working at the dining room table, but I’ve been migrating my workstation to the back patio to write out there several hours each day.
  • Currently listening to Russian music to get my head in the right place.
  • But still need total silence as I write.
  • I’ve stopped with the iced coffees; my current afternoon beverage of choice is flavored l’eau gazeuse. (sparkling water)


Thing 2: (Still) no longer posting new poems here, I’ve got another old one for you who enjoy my poetry and/or come here specifically for that. This poem, “Canon of Disassembling an Iceberg,” was first published in Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts of Virginia Commonwealth University.

I wrote “Canon of Disassembling an Iceberg” in 2010, and it appeared in Blackbird’s Spring 2011 edition.





Being more recent, this poem was published with my current name, so I didn’t black it out (my last name, that is).

Without further ado!



Canon of Disassembling an Iceberg

How about this: first
I’ll jolt the gutter,
ache for its town
without mourning—
nothing is unfixable
in light of the inevitable.

Then I’ll taste the blood
you left on the letter opener.

You’re gone;

you’ve always been gone,
disregarding speed
limits on the tundra,
tearing perforated ice—

you’re an assassin
going after sedge, slow
process of lichen
truncating the philosophers’
question, yet pruning
their terraces of syllogisms
and proofs.

It’s a brain-wringing experience.

If I could hear
the bones of the hunted,
feel underpinnings of hunger,
see plasma and red cells
pull apart,
then touching the place
you used to be
could inspire me in the night.

I wait for New Year’s,
for tundra to become ocean.
We’ll say, let’s screw
the champagne,
pop vodka instead.

December 31st,
you’re still gone,
overlooking the sedge.
Your email wants to know
my resolution.

I say it’s to towel dry
an entire submarine.

Pain turns
everything bright,
but anger brings
dark where I can see.
I prefer ire to grief,
indignation to sorrow—
territories I know

well into the reaches
of my own stories.
You won’t
find me there.
What’s light in your eyes
becomes darkness in mine.
Unseen, untracked,
I disappear.  end


Throw-back poem: “Woman Ironing” (+ writing updates)

A couple of things to share with you today…

Thing 1: Big project writing updates, in brief.

  • Roughly 20% of the way done. Not as far along as I’d like it to be at this point.
  • In my defense, 50% of the work happens in my head, away from the computer. (Actually, a lot of the thinking work happens in the shower.)
  • Not using Scrivener.
  • Set up shop on our dining room table due to feline-related shenanigans, but sometimes migrate around with the laptop. An occasional change of scenery is helpful.
  • Made an 80’s playlist for related reasons, but only listen to it on breaks.
  • Need total silence while writing.
  • Afternoon iced café au lait greatly anticipated.


Thing 2: Honoring a couple of requests, I’ve got another poetry throwback for you. Like the last one, this was first published in a journal… because when you’re in grad school getting your MFA in Creative Writing, you’re strongly encouraged to submit work; the process is an unofficial part of your education.

LUNGFULL! magazine is a literary and art journal that’s especially interesting because they request a rough draft of your poem along with its final version. They print the two versions side-by-side so readers can see a fragment of the creative process.

I wrote “Woman Ironing” in 2000, and it appeared in LUNGFULL! magazine in 2001.





“Woman Ironing” was inspired by – and titled after – my favorite Pablo Picasso work. Picasso painted “Woman Ironing” during his Blue Period in 1904.


"Woman Ironing," Pablo Picasso, 1904

“Woman Ironing,” Pablo Picasso, 1904




That being said! Here is the poem, with my then-last name blacked out, as before…

“Woman Ironing” [Click on the images to enlarge them into readability]


["Woman Ironing" Kristi (now Garboushian) LUNGFULL! magazine number eleven]

[“Woman Ironing” Kristi (now Garboushian) LUNGFULL! magazine number eleven]

[2nd page - "Woman Ironing" Kristi (now Garboushian) LUNGFULL! magazine number eleven]

[2nd page – “Woman Ironing” Kristi (now Garboushian) LUNGFULL! magazine number eleven]


Happy Friday!

Throw-back poem: “A Garden to Tour”

Some of you have noticed that I haven’t posted haiku or other poetry in a while, and you’ve asked about it. Well, a few months ago, I decided to discontinue posting new poems here. Since you asked, though, I’ve got a throw-back to share today. From 17 years ago.

17 years. That is insane. The passage of time is just… creepy.


So I dug through ancient history and unearthed this poem. It was my first publication, published under my former name. I blacked out the name to protect the innocent.

A note on that: Several publications later, I married my X and took his name, then proceeded to publish more stuff under the new name. When I married Callaghan, one of my MFA professors strongly advised me to keep the name I had because of the publications (especially since one of them was major). There’s the answer, for those of you wondering why I never took Callaghan’s name.

My style has gradually taken new shape in the last 17 years, but even this poem was more narrative (I don’t at all mean that in a pejorative way!) than typical poems I was writing at the time. I do like this poem.

Have at it.

“A Garden to Tour”


["A Garden to Tour" Kristi (now Garboushian) cimarron review fall 1999]

[“A Garden to Tour” Kristi (now Garboushian) cimarron review fall 1999]

Backyard hibiscus who didn't make it.

Backyard hibiscus who didn’t make it.



“A night with Venus, and a lifetime with mercury” (Haiku 10: Syphilis)

One thing I’ve learned in the last few months is that the mind, left to its own devices, can wander and dwell on bizarre things.


Haiku 10: Syphilis

(by Kristi Garboushian)


Romantic aside:

Keats’ “La Belle Dame sans Merci,”

blown-glass femme fatale.


Dead rose

Dead rose



Hedonism spawns

creation: le maquillage,

acerbic beauty.


Beneath the skin

Beneath the skin



Artists, dictators

(brilliant cast of “The Great Pox”),

poets, writers, kings.


Thomas Hardy's Ale

Thomas Hardy’s Ale



Voltaire’s Candide smirked.

Syphilis an affliction?

Tout est pour le mieux.


Candide, Voltaire's famous satire

Candide, Voltaire’s famous satire


La Fin.

I’m still obsessed with the syllable, infatuated with the value of these units that make words. It’s strangely soothing.

“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!” (Haiku 9: Steampunk)

~Mary Shelley, Frankenstein. Shelley also wrote: “There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.”

Steampunk happens sometimes. It just happens.


Haiku 9: Steampunk

(by Kristi Garboushian)



mechanics: Mary Shelley’s

gaunt ectoplasm.


Art by Edward Gorey ("Amphigorey Too")

Art by Edward Gorey (“Amphigorey Too”)



Inner workings breed

clockwork postmodernism –

no contradiction.


Antique helmet on antique German trunk

Antique helmet on antique German trunk



Dry leather-bound book

trembling with recovery,

Lovecraftian myth.







yesteryear, macabre air-

ship… gears, cogs, and all.


Antique gears

Antique gears


This was a fun set to write. Venturing into steampunk in my poetic imagination smacks of midlife crisis, perhaps! Finally! Also, I’m still marveling at the unexpectedness of this whole haiku adventure.

Unflinching (Haiku 8: Les Mauvaises Herbes)

This week revolved around ulcer pain. I spent time every day sitting outside with Cita the Unofficially-Ours outdoor cat, studying the weeds in our backyard.

Naturally, the weeds became a rabbit hole, and I fell in.


Haiku 8: Weeds (Les Mauvaises Herbes)

(by Kristi Garboushian)



acacia, mesquite, all your

rain shelters, sunsets.


Backyard weeds

Backyard weeds



Troubling beauty,

woodwork hovering above

lichen, strychnine, mulch.


Backyard weeds

Backyard weeds



Nomadic, les mauvaises herbes –

weeds unburying giants,

lost impermanence.


Backyard weeds

Backyard weeds



Subtropical silt

flickering immunity:

adornment and stain.


Backyard weeds

Backyard weeds


Thank you for being strange with me, wonderful readers!

Powers that be (Haiku 7: Power)

Questions I asked myself all week: Does power always, in every circumstance, corrupt? Is power breakable? What would it take to break chains of power, and would it take a super hero or a super villain to break them?

In these new haiku, I explore the correlation between power and corruption.


Haiku 7: Power

(by Kristi Garboushian)


Grand tribulation:

oak doors hewn by elected

justice. Reckoning.


Power of position

Power of position



Preternatural –

czars savoring backfire,

litanies of blood.


Power of risk

Power of risk



Gold, palladium…

lustrous, incorruptible,

soft nobility.


Power of heritage

Power of heritage



Ravishing spittoon:

molten glass posterity.



Power of fortune

Power of fortune


In a lighter vein, the week wound back down to normalcy after the in-laws departed. It was a good visit. We took them to typical Arizona places (i.e. Tombstone, Sedona), and they ventured down into the Grand Canyon. They saw a fraction of what Arizona has to offer… one really needs more than a week to take in all of its splendors. Our guests enjoyed what little they experienced.

Dusting off secrets (Haiku 6: Shadows)

Without preamble, I’ll go ahead and acknowledge that this set of haiku turned out to be just the faintest bit… creepy? Spooky? It wasn’t intentional, I swear. Not that I mind it in the least, though. I’m fond of creepy and spooky, and I like that these haiku came out this way of their own accord. Classical haiku has a way of taking on lives of their own within the 5-7-5 structure.


Haiku 6: Shadows

(by Kristi Garboushian)


Patterns will shelter

the historic, ancestral,

extinguished, entombed.


Shadow tree

Shadow tree



Prehistoric ghost

running Santa Monica

stairs, eyeteeth intact.


Shadow bike

Shadow bike




aging, voiceless between your

guardians… landlocked.


Shadow fence

Shadow fence



Palpable swivel:

alleles in a basin,

suspended in space.


Shadow self

Shadow self


In other news, we’ll have family visiting from France this week. They’re coming in tomorrow. I sense a whirlwind of housecleaning activity in today’s forecast… always a great side benefit of visitors!

My week in Haiku (Haiku 5: Emancipation)

[** This personal haiku discipline I’ve started has become something of a pleasurable habit. Helpful hint, if you’re so inclined: I’ve grouped my growing collection of themed haiku sets here. You can also click the link in the “Poetry” category in the sidebar. **]

I’m coming off of a fantastic and unusually creatively charged week, probably the most so of 2016 thus far. I wrote this set of haiku to sum it up…


Haiku 5: Emancipation

(by Kristi Garboushian)



snakes boiling over it all:

Laissez-moi tranquille.


"The Art of Strategy" (R.L. Wing, new translation of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War")

“The Art of Strategy” (R.L. Wing, new translation of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”)




No secret provocation,

no sly dorsal fin.


Newly created path.

Newly created path.



Bear witness: Too much

blinding white noise, stochastic

resonance. Failure.


Live a great story (and learn).

Live a great story (and learn).



Current volition:

auspices of Minerva,

prosaic temple.


My new office set-up – at home. Blessed.

My new office set-up – at home. Blessed.


There is not a paper on that desk.

Installation (Haiku 4: Car, pendulum, bougainvillea, interactive art)

Callaghan woke me up 25 minutes after the alarm should have gone off this morning. The alarm – my phone – failed to function one time before, and I couldn’t figure out why since I knew I’d set it. I didn’t understand why it happened this morning, either, and I was going to ask Callaghan if he’d heard the alarm and I somehow slept through it, except he was busy reading his email from Cècil the Goat in France (I asked him three times if the guy’s name was really La Chèvre because I was half-asleep and could have misheard him: Is his name really La Chèvre? Yes, it was), so I double-checked my phone and found that I’d accidentally set the alarm for tomorrow. Saturday. I SO wanted the week to be over that I subconsciously set the alarm for Saturday?

Anyway, I wrote another set of haiku last weekend in my mostly muted state (re-occurrence of laryngitis), and I was going to post it on Tuesday, but UFC 196 happened on Saturday night and I wanted to talk about that, instead. So here are the haiku.

This set of haiku was inspired by some pics I took on a stroll around my work campus.


Haiku 4: Car, pendulum, bougainvillea, art installation

(by Kristi Garboushian)


Curved mannequin, all

disintegration, gesture,

all black-framed, rasping.


"Society of Automobile Engineers Formula 1992 Restoration Project"

“Society of Automobile Engineers Formula 1992 Restoration Project”



Brass validation:

rethinking embodiment,

limbic perversion.


Foucault Pendulum

Foucault Pendulum




skeletal recognition



Towering wall of bougainvillea.

Towering wall of bougainvillea.



Critical dissent

momentarily vocal,

avoiding earshot.


Multimedia art installation (Todd Ingalls)

Multimedia art installation (Todd Ingalls)


I must say, I’m enjoying writing these haiku.

French art in Haiku (Haiku 3: Cromagnon, La Tour Eiffel, Les Fleurs, Absinthe)

Food poisoning this week. No details necessary… just to say that yesterday, I rose from the wish-I-was-dead and went around my house taking pictures and writing haiku.

These haiku were inspired by some of the art on our walls at home. The pieces are from France, except the one that was done by Callaghan, who is French. You get the common theme.


Haiku 3: Art

(by Kristi Garboushian)


Déjà vu hunting

blind, agnostic galleries –

counting hours.


Cromagnon detail (original art by Callaghan)

Cromagnon detail (original art by Callaghan)




vapor of millenniums,

vaporous château.


Eiffel tower pencil sketch

Eiffel tower pencil sketch



Rapidly displaced

spectra: brook waters culling

hand-painted headstones.


Watercolor flowers

Watercolor flowers



Slanderous tom-tom!

Axioms, acknowledgments

feigning percussion.


Tin painting

Tin painting


Here’s to a healthier week ahead for us all!

Sunny winter in Haiku (Haiku 2: Blue Sky)

It’s a new week, and other than some residual congestion, I’m flu-free. Seven days of viral craptastic downtime makes for a giddy return to work. I only went in on Tuesday last week. I went on Wednesday, too, but I was sent home almost immediately, so Wednesday doesn’t count.

(Aside: Remember when “viral” really was just a bad thing?)

Even on Sunday, I coughed so much, Callaghan said, “There’s no way you can go to work tomorrow.” But I felt much better when I woke up yesterday. The whole day felt glorious. It was warm and the sky was extra sunny, clear, and blue – even more blue than usual – so I went outside (glorious!) during my lunch hour and took some pics. I didn’t go far… just to the art museum near my building. The museum and the adjacent little theatre.

I’m sharing some of the pics with a few more haiku, because they go together. I’m feeling the haiku these days, and it feels good. It feels good to pick up poetry again!


Haiku 2: Blue Sky

(by Kristi Garboushian)


To be undulant,

an unfinished votive dream

soothing chess-players.


Blue sky with theatre box office.

Blue sky with theatre box office.




five hundred sodden leaves around

the arctic building.


Blue sky with art museum.

Blue sky with art museum.



Plumage battering

an alternative fossil –

carnage emerging.


Blue sky with fake lava.

Blue sky with fake lava.



A feast of words held:

tense, shy, the gloved telegrams,



Blue sky with art museum, 2.

Blue sky with art museum, 2.


I love how Haiku encourages pictures in 17 syllables.

Kitty updates in Haiku (Haiku 1: Cats)

Kitty updates today! I was feeling a pull toward something different when I sat down to write last night, so I went with it. What ended up happening was I wrote about Nounours and Nenette in haiku. It was a fun change of kitty-update pace, plus I’ve been thinking it’s kind of sad that I’ve written so few poems since getting my M.F.A. in Creative Writing with a Poetry concentration.

If you’re not into haiku or poetry in general, just scroll on down… I added a paragraph of non-haiku kitty updates under the last pic.


Haiku 1: Cats

(by Kristi Garboushian)


Bedtime ritual –

the voyeur of espresso,

wicker ball, a lyre.


Nenette cleaning her feet at bedtime.

Nenette cleaning her feet at bedtime.




His roaring soft self

to curl, melt the desert bright

in pastoral glow.


Nounours in the nest Daddy made.

Nounours in the nest Daddy made.




A swing, a feather

like a river marring stars:



Nenette deciding which toy.

Nenette deciding which toy.




The round vacancy –

morning routine, following

the feral other.


Nenette and Nounours enjoying a sunbeam.

Nenette and Nounours enjoying a sunbeam.


In plain speech, Nounours and Nenette have been happily snuggling down in their special nighttime beds that we put together for them: Nenette on her padded bar-stool (in the bedroom corner next to my side of the bed) that I’d swathed in t-shirts I’d worn, and Nounours in the couch nest that Callaghan made with a serape and random cushions.

Nenette still loves her toy corner in the living room more than anything! She studies her toy basket and paws at the toys she wants, lifting them out with her teeth.

On weekend mornings, I’m home to watch both kitties winter sunbathing in beams on the floor.

They’re doing well.