KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 11: Spring 2019
Haibun Story: 538 words [R]

Sweet Chariot

by Chuck Brickley

“Jesus gave it to me!”

Dale pointed to an old clunker he had just parked on the steep dirt road leading up to my cabin. It was a Cadillac from the late ’50s, primed for a paint job long forsaken, its dented chrome bumpers covered with rust.

I laughed. Dale smelled like an empty beer glass. A dozen of ’em. “Who gave it to you?”

“Jesus!” Dale slurred. “Brakes shot, but hell, the price was right!” He collapsed onto the bottom porch step, and fumbled for a cigarette. I leaned against the rail.

scattered woodpile
a raven feather glistens
in the morning light

“Last night this old logger sits next to me at the pub,” said Dale, watching his attempt at a smoke ring fade. “White ponytail, scraggly white beard. Born here, he claims, but I never seen him before. Seemed tired, like he’s been tired forever. Can’t get him to say much, so I end up telling my story—which you, my friend, know’s a sorry one. The whole time he just sits there, ’casionally nodding, hardly touching his beer. Then, when I say I’m a logger too, but can’t work 'cause I can’t afford a car to get anywhere, he grins. Geezer grins. I was about to ask what’s so funny, when he stands up and tosses a pair of keys on the counter. I thought he wanted me to check out his lucky charm. Carved cedar, man. Fit in my hand like I was the one worn it smooth over the years. When I looked up—bugger was gone.”

a wild twisting chinook
hooked through the mouth
by a key ring

“A joke, right?” Dale continued. “I finish my beer—and his too, of course—and head outside looking for the guy. Straight off I see this banged-up Caddy parked a ways down by the river. Kinda spooked me. I look up and down both sides of the street. Nobody, nowhere.”

outdoor footlights
a chainsaw carved bear roars
the river

“I’ll be damned. The key fit, and the beast started up! Hallelujah! I’ve been driving around this mountain all night, thanking the good Lord for crossing that guy’s path with mine. Once there was a siren. Y’hear it? Just before dawn, from somewhere below. Thought it was for me, for being behind the wheel. Hey, what was I gonna do? Sit there by the river and wait for my angel to maybe come back?”

a gull rides
a chum downstream
morning chill

Dale flicked his cigarette butt and stumbled back to the car. I followed, trying to talk him into staying for a cup of coffee. He managed to climb into the Caddy by himself, and rolled down the window.

“Have a little faith, brother. I just came up here to share the good news. He’s looking after me, he is.” Dale arched his brows toward the clear, Douglas fir encircled sky.

“What makes you think it was Jesus?” I asked. “Maybe it was your karma, Dale. Your carma.”

Dale gunned the engine a couple of times and smiled. “Hell no. Had to be Jesus. That karma guy don’t give me nothin’!”

dust swirling
the logging road’s sharp turn
at the cliff’s edge



—Published previously in Modern Haiku (48:1, Winter/Spring 2017); appears here in slightly modified form with author’s permission

Chuck Brickley
Issue 11, Spring 2019

is the author of a collection of haiku, earthshine (Snapshot Press, 2017), Winner of the Touchstone Distinguished Book Award for 2017 (The Haiku Foundation) and Honorable Mention, HSA Merit Book Award for 2017 (Haiku Society of America).

Learn more at the poet’s website.

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