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CREATIVE STUDY: Hybrid haibun & new perspectives

Hybrid haibun & new perspectives

A Creative Study: Robin Anna Smith

Artist's Statement:

I write both poetry and prose, often hybrids, such as haibun*. My compositions are written plainly, the way I speak, because I want my stories to feel the way I do when I'm telling them verbally. As a person who has lived with a dissociative disorder since early childhood, I'm able to maintain a distance from my stories, while still being in the midst of them. When writing, I try to leave enough white space to allow a reader to come into my world and interpret things from their own vantage point and possibly come away with a new perspective. Sometimes, I'm told people are unsettled or disturbed by my work. While I don't purposely write to shock, I do attempt to reflect on subjects that people would often prefer to ignore, as well as highlight contradictions in everyday life.

*haibun is is a prosimetric literary form originating in Japan, combining prose and haiku. The range of haibun is broad and frequently includes autobiography, diary, essay, prose poem, short story and travel journal.

The Quilt

torture games

he convinces me to comply

It’s been a year since my long-time friend-turned-boyfriend-turned-ex began stalking and threatening me. He would show up at my school and work regularly to intimidate. Eventually, he graduated to breaking into my home at night. My parents, friends, and teachers probed me for information about my change in mood. I was evasive.

people full of assumptions

pregnant teen

One of the best and worst days of my life was the day I gave birth. It signaled the beginning of the end of his obsession with me, but also of an indescribable emptiness. Though finally able to reclaim my body, it’s not the same as before him.

adopted daughter

I wonder what her name is

* * *


borrowing a car we take Amtrak to the suburbs

Windows down on the highway in your mom’s Impala. We’re making our way down I-90, toward Indiana. It’s offensively hot, but we don’t mind. Happy to be getting out of the city for a few days. "Don’t Stop Believin’" blares from the radio and we're belting it out.

I’m riding shotgun and from the corner of my eye, I notice a motorcycle. Absorbed in song, I don’t pay much attention. It creeps back up again and then falls back. Still singing, I make note of the biker's face. A few moments later, the same guy is coming up on the driver’s side.

Suddenly you shout “Oh my God!” and swerve. He’s flicking his tongue at us like Gene Simmons. His pants are unzipped and he’s beating off, balls flapping in the wind. We scream, roll up the windows, and try to pull away. He speeds up next to us, never slowing down the activity of his hand.

Miles pass, as we try to think of other deterrents, none of which would work. We are panicking. Should we get off at the next exit? What if he follows us? We should throw something at him. But what if he crashes and dies? Will we go to jail?

He abruptly veers away onto an exit ramp, smiling and nodding at us with satisfaction. Dick in hand—still going...

Chicago ‘L’ train stars follow me home from the platform

* * *


red unicycles

the white space between memories

I open my eyes to a creepy clown face staring down at me. No idea where I am. Glancing around, I come to realize this is a hospital. Don’t know how I got here or why I’m in a pediatric room. Shifting in bed, I feel my body is crusted with something. Touching my hair, dark flakes come off into my hand. When I get up to use the bathroom, I can better see what’s all over me. It’s vomit, feces, and oil paint. Shortly after returning to bed, people start filtering in, asking questions. I don't know what to tell them.

After a lecture, from my Commander, I'm given a referral to the base shrink. I shower and dress, then I’m discharged from the hospital. My training partner gives me a ride back to the barracks. Anticipating a mess I’m surprised to see my room is spotless. Friends who broke in, and called the ambulance last night, come to check on me. They give a play-by-play of everything that happened.

a handful of pills

I overdose on negative thoughts

* * *

Sugar Daddy

I’m at a bar when a friend of a friend starts flirting with me. Brooks Brothers suit, Johnny Depp cheekbones. He buys me a couple cocktails and we talk for a while. He shakes a small pouch from his pocket and asks if I want to go to the ladies' room with him.

No one seems to mind as we shove our way to the back stall. A few lines later, I expect him to make a move on me but he doesn’t. Must be a nicer guy than I’m used to. When we return to the table, we see that our group has left. One more drink, then he offers to drive me home.

We sit in his BMW outside my apartment. He says a beautiful woman like me deserves nice things and should be treated like a queen. Wouldn’t I like that? Of course, I would.

mixed messages

he offers me a job

as a call girl

* * *


the lion paces the fence line canned hunt

I can see my hand shaking out of the corner of my eye. You’re sifting through your bag. I look you over. Dark greasy tendrils of hair. Sharp angles of a jaw and nose. Tall, gangly body that you slouch one minute and puff up the next, like an overcorrection.

white flag the deer scents a wolf

I can feel you hovering over me. The look in your drugged-up eyes, the smell of cigarettes, cheap booze, and ether, the drips of sweat from your face pressed into me. I feel my body giving way as you throw me onto the floor, your hands on my throat, ready to crush out my life like a roach under your boot.