mnemonic haiku

by strannikov

he plucked his banjo,

played Woody Guthrie, sang hymns,

wept for his dead wife.


Papa carved a five-

notched bridge for his banjo's strings

in his last five years.


to become human

I had to burn, crack, and bleed

until I felt pain.


I bruised without cries,

bled amazed at all the blood,

broke bones without moans.


even lit one hand

lighting a hot dog to make

it a lit cigar.


the well I was pushed

into was shallow enough,

home to sharp dry rust.


talk about my luck!

never once kicked by a horse,

though bit by a dog.


the goose was not nice,

clamped its bill hard and left marks,

its mettle to prove.


my siblings turned, fled,

left me sprawled to gape upon

a rattler's slither.


unknown skeleton—

rat, squirrel, cat—propped atop

dusty dry wicker.


savaged by a car,

an opossum still ugly,

more than a killed dog.

the tenant shacks dark

under their oak canopies

with tractor-tire swings.


fresh-fallen pears, sweet,

had only to be picked up,

rinsed, bitten, and chewed.


my eyes, mine, saw mules

pull sledges out of fields filled

with green tobacco.


irrigation pipes

stacked up could be talked into,

listened through, heard from.


suspicious sick dog

our father shot one Sunday

before burying.


skies electric blue,

limpid dewy air, the world

framed by a small farm.