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November 2006 Issue VI:4

Southwestern Haijin Spotlight

This issue we are proud to showcase the work of Foster Jewell, with an introduction by Karma Tenzing Wangchuk. I would like to to thank Charles Trumbull for helping us find these haiku and extend a special thanks to Foster's granddaughter Deborah LaFauce for graciously allowing us to use them.

Foster Jewell

In 1991 I found myself living in El Rito, a village in northern New Mexico, population only 1,200 souls. Later, when I rediscovered haiku in the summer of 1998 after a hiatus of some 30-plus years, I soon also found the poetry of the late Foster Jewell, and was amazed to read that he and his poet-wife, Rhoda de Long Jewell, had lived in this tiny town in the mid-1960s to the very early 1970s.

They were still remembered by many of the old-timers. Greg Martin, whose family has run Martin's General Store since the early 1900s, took piano lessons from Rhoda, and remembered Jewell mostly as a fine sculptor. Elizabeth Searle Lamb of Santa Fe shared fond memories of him, as did others in the haiku world. I don't remember who it was who told me that on his deathbed, unable to speak, Jewell could still write haiku.

The Jewells published a small handful of books while they lived in El Rito, as they would later in Venice, California; Bob Spiess kindly sent some to me so that I could donate them to the El Rito Public Library, wanting to leave something of the Jewell haiku legacy for villagers to enjoy down the years.

Several of Jewell's poems were naturally centered in El Rito and New Mexico. Many were also written about another place I happened to know well, the Anza-Borrego Desert of southern California. In a tribute to Jewell, I wrote a poem about the Dos Cabezas area of the Anza-Borrego and submitted it to the third annual Shiki Internet Haiku contest:

Desert waterhole:
a yellow finch dips its beak
in the puma track.

It won third prize. Had Jewell written it, the poem no doubt would have been much better.

Karma Tenzing Wangchuk

Coming in the night
mushrooms in the orchard
   as if we still lived here.



of a butterfly weed!
The crow’s cold eye.

Nearing the Mountain
yesterday, and still today...

  Somewhere behind me,
seeming in dark-silence
to feel a slow coiling.

Finding this cavern—
following the lantern light...
followed by silence.

Dreaming ...
the inconsistent world of cloud
moving away

Dew lights in greasewood —
  the lost radiance of stars
     that fell in the night.


  First light of dawn
and out of lost horizon
looms the Joshua tree.
From vanishing world
     a last coyote call.
    The final silence.
Ghosts of desert roads
and their way of wandering
where I want to go
Hidden from the moon,
a shadow keeps creeping
around this saguaro ...
Gravel flying —
 tearing up the arroyo —
roadrunner’s wild eye —

These haiku previously appeared in Jewell's books, Passing Moments, Yield of the Fallow, Sand Waves, Leaves in the Wind and The Haiku Anthology, second edition, van den Heuvel, ed.

Copyright © 2004-2006 by Roadrunner Haiku Journal. All rights revert to the authors upon publication.