Haibun by Ignatius Fay

Food for Thought

My two young daughters and I are at the grocery checkout. Ahead is a homeless woman of indeterminate age, a fixture in the neighborhood for years. Stooped, hair in disarray, teeth in need of more than a good brushing, she is wearing multiple layers of clothing, several more than necessary for the warm fall weather. She keeps glancing through the glass storefront at the shopping cart full of her stuff that is chained to a No Parking sign.

summer hours
between her groceries and mine
a wooden bar

One at a time, she places sixteen cans of cat food, a box of crackers, a box of tea bags and a couple of bars of soap on the counter. Short of money, she puts the soap aside. The girls look at me expectantly, barely able to restrain themselves until we reach the parking lot. The woman and her cart are already quite a ways up the street.

‘Pretty bad choices, eh, dad?’ asks my younger. ‘She is so poor. As if she spends most of her money on food for her cat.’

We are most of the way home before they get the implications of my response: ‘But she doesn’t own a cat.’

homeless man
wearing my plaid shirt
cool fall evening

by Ignatius Fay (Canada)

GENJUAN International Haibun Contest 2019, Honorable Mention


Ignatius Fay, a retired invertebrate paleontologist, writes haiku, tanka, haibun, tanka prose and rengay. His poems have appeared in many of the most respected online and print journals. In 2012, he co-authored a collection of poems, entitled Breccia, with Irene Golas. He is the current editor of the Haiku Society of America Bulletin and does the layout for the HSA’s journal Frogpond. Ignatius resides in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.

About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. In 2018, I was honored by the Governor of Illinois for my thirty-eight years of accomplishments in the literary arts, and my work to promote and advance the field by educating adults and students alike. I am the author of seven books including: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; Your Original Personal Ad; and my latest, Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu by Charlotte Digregorio." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I regularly sign books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores, and do poetry readings at art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. I was recently nominated for two Pushcart Prizes in poetry. I have won fifty-nine poetry awards, writing fourteen poetic forms. My poetry has been translated into eight languages. I do illustrated solo poetry exhibits 365 days a year in libraries, galleries, corporate buildings, hospitals, convention centers, and other venues. My individual poems have been displayed at supermarkets, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I am self-employed as a public relations/marketing consultant, having served a total of 118 clients in 23 states for the past several decades . In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America, and for two years as its Second Vice President.
This entry was posted in Haibun, Ignatius Fay, Japanese-style poetry, Poems, prose and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Haibun by Ignatius Fay

  1. Christina Chin says:

    Reblogged this on Christina Chin Haiku and commented:
    Take a minute to read a very moving haibun by Ignatius Fay.

  2. Christina Chin says:

    Very moving haibun, Ignatius. Congratulations!

    ~ Christina 😊☕

  3. Reblogged this on Frank J. Tassone and commented:
    #Haiku Happenings #2: Charlotte Digregorio presents the Genjuan Internation Haibun Contest 2019, Honorable Mention #haibun “Food for Thought” by Ignatius Fay! (courtesy of Christina Chin’s referral)

  4. MaryJo says:

    What a fabulous haibun. Congratulations. I so enjoyed reading this.

  5. Paul Beech says:

    She could have been a client of mine when I was a housing manager helping the homeless. Many of my real cases were equally tragic.

    An excellent haibun. Thank you, Ignatius, for highlighting a vital social issue, which too many turn a blind eye to.

  6. Janice D says:

    Wow! This haibun left me too stunned to move on to the next part of my day. Sat pondering for a long time then called my spouse into the room. Nearly broke into tears as I read the haibun aloud … the plight of the woman and the compassion that resulted in the man wearing Ignatius’ shirt.

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