Mixed Forms: RJ Sobel’s Haibun “The Shortcut”

////Mixed Forms: RJ Sobel’s Haibun “The Shortcut”

R J Sobel


The Shortcut

“I am so sad and everything is beautiful” by Harriet Garfinkle.


Carefully mussed hair, ink smear on his neck, he catches up with me after class, both of us heading to the library, and asks in a sleepy voice – as if he’s not yet gathered the energy after spring break to face the day – if there’s a shortcut to the object of Rilke’s counsel that one ought to wait to live a whole lifetime before perhaps being able to write ten good lines. I’m reminded of my elementary school teachers’ timeworn admonition that to cheat on a test is to cheat oneself – as the ink smear to my old eyes resolves into a tattoo of the kanji meaning “song.” A song of a seasoned life, I think, given those few good lines, born of the journey, may rise above all the stubborn resonance … the cries and raptures of our vernal refrains … pebbles in my shoe. But feeling a bit slack myself – having stayed up late into the night, parsing memories for the faintest scent of their sweetness – I say, “I haven’t found a better way,” as we hop the fence.


morning fog
a crow and a dragonfly
each in its own lane




Note: Rilke reference is to a passage in the novel, Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge (Rilke, Rainer Maria, Insel-Verlag, 1910).



 About the writer:
RJ Sobel was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1949. He is the author of the four volumes of The Seasons Suite: Momentary Vagrant, Purview of the Sky, Leaves of Entropy, and Dreams and Other Lastings , as well as other works of drama, lyrics, poetry, and prose.

Image: “I am so sad and everything is beautiful” by Harriet Garfinkle. Garfinkle’s image “Gong hay Fat choy” won the first O:JA&L Art Prize and will serve as the cover image for the 2018 O:JA&L Pushcart Prize Nominees chapbook.

In the artist’s own words: I dance. I have danced all my life in one form or another. I dance when I paint or draw or when I write. I have choreographed many dances, sold many paintings, but never been a published author. I feel like I have something to say and am obsessed with saying it. Art alone is not complete enough: I also need the words. I let the page dance with me and I see what emerges. I let my inner voice speak as I quiet my outer voice. I try to enter a dream state and let the thoughts and images come to me. When I make art of any kind, you will find me listening and not talking. My art is therefore a challenge or a response to issues current in my life. My interest is people and the mundane, the pedestrian perspective and what keeps us going in our ordinary lives. How lives can change in an instant or be changing, changing over time without one’s consent: like a piece of beach glass, worn at the edges, but still full of light and color.

By | 2018-09-01T12:25:41+00:00 September 1st, 2018|Haibun, LITERARY ARTS, Mixed Forms|