KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 7: Spring 2017
Haibun: 593 words

Embracing the Tiger

by Ellaraine Lockie

The first morning in East Greenwich Village wears the date label of April Fools’ but cloth from Day of the Dead. Marble Cemetery a brown/grey library of quiet framed between tall buildings and iron bars with locked gate. Monuments and markers indexing inhabitants. Trees brittle as bones. Dismembered in Hurricane Sandy’s wake.

My daily Tai Chi view for the next month. Movements stutter instead of flow like water in a slow stream. I stumble into Grasping the Sparrow. Balance compromised by degrees of difference between a California patio and NYC sidewalk.

Dogs lead their walkers like it’s Wall Street business. Both a motley mix of breeds and colors. Smells walk by wearing armpits, urine, mothballs, garlic, kimchi, and curry that blend with perfumes, aftershaves, coffee, cigarette smoke, and sunblock.

A perfectly formed
rat flattened into pavement
Exhaust from taxis

The next morning, twin toddlers pull their au pair over to see the squirrels in the cemetery. Last night’s leftover stumbles around in a shroud of slurred words, whisky and spoiled milk. A siren from 2nd Avenue. I Carry the Crystal Ball in the same tremble as the barfly holds his booze.

A three-legged squirrel
sequestered from the others
Old man with peanuts

Casualties, he mumbles, left after the storm stole their nests from high in the magnolia tree. I miss the hole when Threading the Needle. Make a mental note to buy nuts, as I wobble on Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg.

The morning after, I feed almonds between iron bars to the squirrels. Who become Tai Chi audience seated on trees and fence top. Along with a life-sized stuffed tiger staring from the passenger seat of a parked 1970s Cadillac. A smile when I teeter into Embracing the Tiger. A business-suited man with headphones and Starbucks cup smiles back.

Pigeon gurgles urge
the fast-forward of my moves
Nuts in shirt pocket

On Sunday, air announces Orthodox Cathedral chimes and the scent of hyacinths. Double-parked cars block the now-quiet street. Men in long black beards, cassocks, hats. Two jog-walking women talk about the pile of fruit remnants and candle wax on the sidewalk. A pagan rite last night with three cat heads. How the Cadillac tiger must have roared!

White Crane Spreading Wings
wobbles above earthly angst
Ants build their own shrine

Mid-month, the Cadillac’s owner sits in it...sits and sits. Finally turns the ignition. Clamor like a dinosaur thundering across the tundra. Except the car moves only a few feet for the street cleaner. I hear through East Village gossip the car is headed for a new life. To be restored by a local teenager.

Giddy-up tongue-clicking calls the squirrels. Who now have names: Black Barts, Marilyn Monroes, Squirrel McNuts. And one Gimpy.

East Villagers with cameras honor the Cadillac. A local landmark. They film me as well. Gather me in the arms of the neighborhood. I Part the Wild Pony’s Mane in almost fluid moves.

Nice Day isn’t it
Waterfall murmur of doves
Purr of one-way cars

April’s end wears Spring in full regalia. Scarlet and deep purple drape the ground. As green as California lawns. Forsythia and magnolia have birthed yellow and white blooms. The squirrels, their babies.

Solar powered pink
and turquoise iridescence
The throats of pigeons

Seaside scent of crocus. Ivy covers the magnolia tree. A going-away party for the Cadillac. Transfer of Gimpy’s feedings to the Cadillac owner’s empty arms. My Return to the Mountain before I return to California. As smooth as the ascent of a mourning dove.


Ellaraine Lockie
Issue 7, Spring 2017

is a widely published and awarded author of poetry, nonfiction books, and essays. Her eleventh poetry collection, Where the Meadowlark Sings, won the 2014 Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest and was published in early 2015. Other recent work has been awarded the 2013 Women’s National Book Association’s Poetry Prize, Best Individual Collection from Purple Patch magazine in England for Stroking David’s Leg, winner of the San Gabriel Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest for Red for the Funeral, and The Aurorean’s Chapbook Spring Pick for Wild as in Familiar. Ellaraine teaches poetry workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh.

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