Haiku

back from vacation

I let traces of sand

remain in the car trunk

Robert Epstein

(The Haiku Anthology, Norton)

After Prayers at Twilight

(Dakar, Senegal)

Pirogues in silhouettes on the sea,

fishermen hauling their catch

up the hub of beach brick, harmattan dust

in their hair and everywhere. Night tilts

this dry cup of the continent.

I, too, came from the sky. You can't see

my footprints anymore. Look there,

quickly, the spilled calabash of sunset.

Burnt air clinging to my clothes.

Now can you see them?

Crescent toes, brown stars.

Melvin Dixon

(Love's Instruments, Tia Chucha)

Country, Sligoville

I arise and go with William Butler Yeats

to country, Sligoville

in the shamrock green hills of St. Catherine.

We walk and palaver by the Rio Cobre

till we hear tributaries

join and sing, water songs of nixies.

Dark tales of Maroon warriors,

fierce women and men

bush comrades of Cuchulain.

We swap duppy stories, dark night doings.

I show him the link of a rolling calf's chain

and an old hige's salt skin carcass.

Love descended from thickets of stars

to light Yeats's late years with dreamings

alone I record the mermaid's soft keenings.

William Butler, I swear my dead mother

embraced me. I then washed off my heart

with the amniotic water of a green coconut.

In December Sally water will go down

to the Sally gardens with her saucer

and rise and dry her weeping orbs.

O to live, Inisfree, in a house of wattle and daub.

Lorna Goodison (Turn Thanks, Univ. of Illinois)

Harari Township Depot

One hawker has salve for night bugs.

Another has chicken baskets, but not a chicken.

Between slogans, a loudspeaker blares steel

drum music with static. Shrill sounds, raw sores,

filthy blankets make her at home in mango crates.

Cooking the gnarled yam over a little fire,

the old woman laughs. "The war don't never stop.

Who say we is safe, well, he a liar."

Susan Kinsolving

(Dailies & Rushes, Grove)

And Then I Headed on Back Home

I went to New York and went to the poet's address,

four flights up in a building with clean windows.

He asked what I wanted. He didn't open the door.

I told him I liked his poems and came to say so.

He said if that's true I thank you very much.

I told him his milk was out there getting warm.

Miller Williams

(Some Jazz a While, Univ. of Illinois)

"Haiku" from The Haiku Anthology, 1999, W.W. Norton and Co. "Harari Townshi Depot," from Dailies and Rushes, copyright 1999, by Susan Kinsolving and reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Grove Press. "County Sligoville" from Turn Thanks, copyright 1999 by Lorna Goodison; used with permission of the University of Illinois Press. "After Prayers at Twilight" appears in Love Instruments (Tia Chucha Press, 1995) and was reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Melvin Dixon.