Wednesday, February 8, 2023

New on Kindle: Soldier-Poet Targets Moral Puzzles through Lens of TV Show

In the new Kindle e-chapbook Twelve O’Clock Haibun: Parables & Poems from a Classic TV Show, humor-loving soldier-poet (and former “Army lessons-learned analyst”) Randy Brown invites readers to view the 1964-1965 first season of the “12 O’Clock High” as a series of moral dilemmas and puzzles.

The TV series is now viewable FREE on Amazon Prime Video, as well as Internet platforms.

In this standalone spin-off to the author’s ground-breaking 2022 lyrical meta-essay Twelve O’Clock Haiku: Leadership Lessons from Old War Movies & New Poems, readers can now match wits and wisdom with the charismatic and brooding Brig. Gen. Frank Savage (Robert Lansing), commander of the fictional 918th Bomb Group, as he and his heroic air crews stoically navigate tests of endurance, morality, courage, and loss.

A haibun is a Japanese form, comprised of a short prose narrative followed by a haiku. In haibun, the prose and poetry elements traditionally do not address each other directly, but they do relate thematically. Ideally, the impressions left after reading a haibun should be greater than the sum of its two parts.

The Twelve O’Clock Haibun project comprises brief, spoiler-free summaries of all 32 episodes of the TV show’s first season, plus one additional “final” episode in order to complete a narrative arc. For each, a prose section first describes an episode’s situational frame, without offering resolutions. A companion haiku then illuminates a moral question or dilemma suggested by the story. Readers are left to reflect on the implications of each situation. As in war, there are no easy answers.

In addition to other accolades, Brown is a three-time poetry finalist in the Col. Darron L. Wright Memorial Awards, administered annually by the Chicago-based literary journal Line of Advance. His 2015 collection, Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire, was awarded a gold medal distinction from the Military Writers Society of America. His chapbook So Frag & So Bold: Short Poems, Aphorisms & Other Wartime Fun was published in 2021.

He is the co-editor of two non-fiction books: Reporting for Duty: Citizen-Soldier Journalism from the Afghan Surge, 2010-2011, published in 2015; and Why We Write: Craft Essays on Writing War, published in 2019.

As “Charlie Sherpa,” he blogs about modern war poetry at, and about writing on military themes at

TWELVE O’CLOCK HAIBUN: Parables & Poems from a Classic TV Show (Middle West Press LLC) is available as a $2.99 Kindle e-book edition exclusively via Amazon.

Middle West Press LLC is a Johnston, Iowa-based editor and publisher of non-fiction, journalism, and poetry. As an independent micro-press, we publish one to four titles annually. Our projects are often inspired by the people, places, and history of the American Midwest.

Friday, February 3, 2023

5 Haiku about Studio Ghibli's 'The Wind Rises'

The author of "Twelve O'Clock Haiku: Leadership Lessons from Old War Movies & New Poems" and "Welcome to FOB Haiku" has published a new aviation-and-war-themed poem.

The haiku sequence is part of a “Ghibli Week” themed package at The Daily Drunk Magazine, an on-line literary journal that focuses on popular culture and film. Editors there recently called for less-than-500-word tributes to the work of Japanese creator Hayao Miyasaki's animation studio, Studio Ghibli.

Poet Randy Brown's "five haiku inspired by 'The Wind Rises'" regards a 2013 animated feature written and directed by Miyasaki, which explores themes of aviation, war, and the artistic struggle to create.

Studio Ghibli animated movies are celebrated for magical character designs and dream-like settings, as well as delivering clear-eyed, nuanced, and empathy-inducing narratives.

The stories Miyasaki has written himself notably also often feature examples of flying, whether through magic or machinery. Examples include a novice witch's broom in "Kiki's Delivery Service" (1983), and a pack of swashbucklers' seaplanes in "Porco Rosso" (1992). The studio's name itself, which translates as "hot desert wind," notably also derives from an airplane design used by the Italian military in World War II.

"The Wind Rises" tells a highly fictionalized biography of Japanese aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi (1903-1982), and incorporates unrelated story elements of The Wind Has Risen, a 1936 novel by Tatsuo Hori (1904-1953). Horikoshi aspired to make beautiful airplanes; while Horikoshi thought war was a mistake, he helped produce such war machines as the celebrated A6M "Zero" fighter plane. 

As Brown writes in one haiku:

our country pays us
to make beautiful warplanes;
embrace irony

Read the rest of Brown's haiku poems here at this link.

"When I was writing 'Twelve O'Clock Haiku'—my recent deep-dive into World War II aviation, ethics, and 'bomber' poetry— I first encountered the haiku of Santōka Taneda, who protested Japan's bombing of China in the late 1930s. I was also familiar with Horikoshi's life through Miyasaki's 'The Wind Rises,'" says Brown. "I hope my Ghibli-inspired haiku inspire people to watch the movie, and, if only for a moment, to engage with a hope for peace and resilience."

In addition to Brown's haiku, a sampling of the other “Ghibli Week” prose and poetry published by The Daily Drunk Magazine includes:

Read all 23 items in the “Ghibli Week” package here at this link.

You can follow The Daily Drunk Magazine on Twitter: @dailydrunkmag

Or on the World Wide Web: