First published in Drifting Sands Haibun #22, July 2023. Originally written in October of 2022.

The bookcases I have at home celebrate books on topics and genres dear to me. They are stuffed full, books sideways across the tops of other books, books stacked on top of the bookcases, more books piled in front of the bookcases. My shelves on typography and graphic design date from educating myself on these arts when I began book design on computers more than thirty years ago. Another entire oversize bookcase houses years of books I edited when I worked for a publisher, on topics as broad as soldering, herbal medicine, young adult literature, jazz, plywood manufacturing, animation, digital photography, computer-aided design, and dozens of other computer topics. Other shelves focus on children's literature, which I used to teach as a grad student. E. E. Cummings and concrete poetry are two specialty subjects filling other bookcases. Books on art and philosophy and travel take up other cases. Music, photography, world religions, the theory of play, optical illusions, Japanese culture, grammar and writing, and layperson’s books on science and mathematics. Textbooks from college, the ones still important to me, fill half of another case along with old yearbooks, self-help, and reference books. My collection of Lewis Carroll books, some dating to the 1800s, fill another bookcase, reminding me that I need to renew my membership in the Carroll Society. Humour fills part of another case, Zen another, and they are not so far removed. Three bookcases house poetry, although no haiku. But nine other bookcases, my biggest collection, are home to my haiku books, some four or five thousand of them—large academic tomes, historical translations from nearly a century ago, a box full of minibooks, trifolds, haiku journals, haiku ephemera, anthologies and individual collections, haiku criticism, art books, handmade books, and yet another case for tanka books. Many of these books remind me of where I bought the book, such as my first haiku book, a collection of Bashō translations from an eye-level shelf at Kinokuniya near St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, or remind me of friends who mailed their books to me. Every book, acquired at a rate of more than one per day for more than thirty years straight, is logged in a database, each one marked with the date and location of acquisition, and the date when I finished reading it.


rumours of an albatross

my wife and I

talk of downsizing