NR Digital

Country Life

Flash of Light

by Richard Brookhiser

During Jack Kerouac’s lifetime, haiku went from being a countercultural affectation to a staple of high-school literary magazines. Kerouac wrote good ones, partly because he loosened the 5-7-5 syllable corset, keeping only the three lines (when there weren’t two or four). More important to him was the shape of the thought, a moment’s focus that he identified with Buddhism. I’m no Buddhist, but even gaijin goyim can have their moments.

By Independence Day
  I notice the days
growing shorter.

The only thing moving
  in the heat
Snake on a branch with a nest.

Taking a breather
  by the stone wall
Copperhead sliding along.

Topless sports bars and
  Orthodox summer camps
all need paint jobs.

The only blue flower is
  chicory, and it only
grows in roadside gravel.

When all these leaves
  are dead and gone
I’ll see my neighbor.

When all these leaves
  are dead and gone
I’ll see bird nests.

Crash on the thruway
  People get out
of their cars and stretch.

The farmer mows
  the grass, the earth
turns toward winter.

Congratulations
  Class of 2012
Now get out of here.

90 yr old woman
  born in Lomontville
died in Hurley.

Little flags
  at old graves
Brother, remember.

Fireworks in town
  Firing at the gun club
Fireflies over the lawn.

All along the thruway
  the same rest-stops.

Cross, flower
  and a balloon
mark the crash site.

It’s so dry, nothing
  trickles in the stream pool
Frogjump.

Cough, burp,
  Bark
Frog oratory.

Spinout tiremark
  Somebody
was drinking.

Woman swimming in her
  pool, frogs
sit motionless in theirs.

Catbird newscast
  Every little thing he’s heard
All day.

Coyote yowled right
  across the lawn.
That was close.

The frog’s eyes
  are big
as the Dalai Lama’s.

When it snows
  I’ll know who you are
and where you’ve been.

Spring peepers
  God is with us,
we will not die.

Bean stalk winds round
  tomato planter, then back
to garden fence. Bye now!

Bean stalk really thinks
  it can go any damn where
it pleases.

Midnight wind
  in February, howling
like Nietzsche.

College kids wearing
  their parents’
tie-dyes.

It’s so hot, I
  think I can’t
think.

Looking at a hummingbird
  through binoculars
It came right at me.

Possum played chicken
  with a car
Not playing dead now.

Possum played chicken
  with a car
Not a good look.

Took a dead possum
  out of a trap
Away he ran.

Every bird I saw
  when I first moved here
has died.

Creeper vines
  in pine trees
Larry, Moe, Curly.

Creeper vines
  in pine trees
They fight silently.

Crickets
  in the autumn field
say “I am, I am.”

Freed the nuthatch from
  my screen-deck. Saved
by the merit of my father.

Freed the nuthatch from
  my screen-deck. I
escaped the monster.

Send a letter to the editor.

Get the NR Magazine App
iPad/iPhone   |   Android