New haibun by Ron Koertege


Light from everywhere this afternoon, every windshield and sheet of glass, light off of cuff links and earrings, from every concealed whim,  light from belt buckles and clasps on the vintage shoes of that assistant manager, light off the foil that guards the yogurt, from inside the bottle of Orange Crush, from the Timex on his wrist and the stud in her tongue, from the shattered mirror at the infidels’ shine beside Los Tacos, from every living retina including the eye of that placid spaniel on the rhinestone leash. And then all of a sudden there’s this big black Lab in the middle of the street, tail curled under his belly, cowering, to and fro, willy nilly, lost and scared. Men get out of their cars,  whoop and cluck.  Women crouch, one hand out, and kiss the air. Light, nevertheless, off the polyglot, the lisps of their scoldings.  Then a little boy beside me starts to whimper:  his dog is at home.  The ones on TV are busy rescuing crippled girls.  Those in the library are pulling sleds or at least chasing a ball thrown by a good-natured kid.   His father points to a man in a brown uniform, “Look, he’ll catch him and take him back to his mommy.” “Don’t lie,” wails the boy.  “You said you wouldn’t lie anymore.”  And just like that it’s dark.

Rasp of a Zippo
lighter. It’s so cold someone
holds both his hands out.

* Ron Koertge is a poet living in Southern California. His latest book is FEVER (Red Hen Press).

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