“When I Read About Janis Ian I Am the Same Only Different” by Roberta Beary

Roberta Beary


Smoking pot in the cafeteria with my friend Susan singing “Society’s Child” and I sing along our matching flower shirts like we’d stumbled into a field of buttercups and we’re staring at a sky of blue butterflies we don’t see the gum stuck under the table cause we’re stoned and the teachers don’t give a shit and I want to be Janis Ian strumming a guitar but today I have piano and when I get home Susan’s in the backyard crying and I sneak her into my room and her married brother bangs the front door screaming you tell my sister I’ll the beat the crap out of that guy if he ever shows up again and Susan and I hide out all afternoon playing “Society’s Child” on my big sister’s stereo careful the needle doesn’t scratch cause she’d kill me and when my sister beeps we take the steps two at a time and for once she’s nice and gives Susan a ride to her mom’s and the decades roll by and Susan and I lose track but I send her my book anyway and she calls and talks about the old days and I tell her Janis Ian says she’s done with music and writes haiku now and I am the same as I was that day in the cafeteria and different too which is hard to explain but after I find Susan’s address I pencil a paper with buttercups and three lines that say

rising from
the pebbled path
blue butterfly

from Poets Respond
January 25, 2022


Roberta Beary: “I read this week that Janis Ian is releasing her final album at age 70 and now wants to write haiku, along with a novel and short stories. My haibun is about the effect of her music when first I heard it and in the years since and how haiku can evoke those feelings.” (web)

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