a sample from Haiku Wars

The Long Shadows of Acorns

On our walks, Poet kept me under control, he thought, by means of a pet store-purchased ferret leash: an oddly shaped leather contraption that I tolerated only because he held the chain attached to it ever-so lightly, allowing me to wander and lead him where I pleased. Even though the city, as he had warned, was indeed hopping with billions of fleas—of which I collected my fair share with every outing—the bites and baths were worth it. Poet’s mood during and after our walks improved noticeably. His attention began to refocus from within to without, from licking emotional wounds to paying attention to the universe that surrounded and sustained him.

pouring off
the bowling alley roof

the bronze general’s
foot soldiers

the leaf-blower
someone’s hat

Some days, we’d wander in our oak-shaded neighborhood of Mid-City and nearby City Park, where Poet’s poetry flowed.

sunset on the sidewalk
the long shadows
of acorns

all fluffed up
for his speech

a wild buzzing moment
the dragonfly

Other days, we’d ride the green, rumbling St. Charles Avenue streetcar . . .

pole dancer
on the streetcar
age five

how many years
of Mardi Gras?
beads in the old oak

strangers on a streetcar
we share
a yawn

. . . down the shady avenue all the way to world-famous Bourbon Street, where Poet mixed fresh air exercise with beer-guzzling and girl-watching.

smoking bar girl
my eyes

teasing the strippers
walking in
walking out

an orange balloon penis
some clown
left it

Yanking Poet into the outside world was a good first move, but not sufficient to warm the chill of self-pity that had stunted his spiritual growth. And so, as our second autumn approached, I decided to move on to Phase 2 of my master plan: find a flesh and blood cure for his ailing heart.

Each time I walked him, though he thought he was walking me, I let him believe I was engrossed in weeds, holes, and the crawl spaces under houses; but in actuality all of my senses, astral and otherwise, were scanning our surroundings for a thousand feet in all directions, searching for the fleshly answer to spiritually un-stick Poet.

Her name was Erin.