Tubular Hells (Haibun)

This is my first attempt at a, chronologically confused,Haibun. I’m not entirely sure I’ve got the hang of it but it was fun trying. For other examples, please follow the link.


King Otto the Penultimate of Schleswig-Holstein had his moments, like all despots do. He was a tyrant, a philistine, a philanderer; his twenty-years on the throne did more damage to his state than the machinations of either Bonaparte or Bismarck. It would be the usual combination of syphillis and hubris that undid him in the end but not before he’d had an epiphany of sorts.

He wasn’t around when Fyodor Dostoyevsky made his remark about societies being judged by the way they treat their prisoners, but he did find himself embracing the cause of penal reform. It wouldn’t have done to let the insurrectionists go, but he could make sure they were kept in fitting conditions. The only trouble was, he was such an unappealing autocrat that he’d set most of the country against him. Eventually, even his finest architects ran out of ideas and were forced to repeat themselves. At least some of their creations are still standing; the cylindrical prisons for millers and lighthouse keepers are particularly breathtaking.

No prison has walls
Harder to scale than those
We put up ourselves



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9 responses to “Tubular Hells (Haibun)

  1. Al

    I think you got the hang of it pretty well 🙂 You told the story and then summed it up in the haiku at the end. You told the story of how he destroyed himself by his actions and lost the trust and support of everyone. It is a great story and good Haibun. I enjoyed it. Thank you for taking part and joining in 🙂

  2. I find Eastern forms difficult. I see that here you stick to the old English version of Haiku with syllable counts as 5-7-5. While this construct is still taught in schools here in the US, Asian Haiku is more specifically minimalist. I’ve been struggling with Haiku itself and Haibuns as well for years. For some great examples of Haiku in English, check out the archives of the Haiku Society of America http://www.hsa-haiku.org/hendersonawards/henderson.htm, Keep reading, keep editing. You’ll get it.

  3. This is a pretty good effort etienne I did enjoy the story and nice haiku. But it is a form I find I have to work on to get it near to how I think it should go.

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