KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 9: Spring 2018
Tanka Tale: 293 words


by Claire Everett
Turn him to any cause of policy,
The Gordian knot of it he will unloose,
Familiar as his garter: that when he speaks,
The air, a chartered libertine, is still.

—From Henry V (Act 1, Scene 1) by William Shakespeare

If this were a horse and cart, I would likely fumble to unhitch the leather traces from the whiffletree. I would unwind each over-long holdback strap from the shaft, slip it through the slot, and detach it from the side-ring on the breeching body. Lastly, I would unharness the dapple-grey mare, unbuckling the buckles, unsnapping the snaps. Then I’d bring her water and feed her a handful of oats, cooing to her all the while, before scratching her gently where her neck met her withers. She’d be sure to like that, just as the breath would catch in my throat when I saw myself cradled in the dark moon of her eye.

But I know nothing about horses, and even less about carts.

If this were a locomotive that had seen better days, I, the brakeman, would seek permission from the engineer to “go between.” He’d nod, and I’d slip down, quickly kneeling to disconnect the gladhands. When I lifted the cut lever the couplers would open and as the brake hoses parted I’d be sure to get a faceful of overnight rain. Time was, when we’d fastened car to car in that vast engine room beneath the cloudless sky, we’d done things the old-fashioned way...worked together so companionably, so gently, so quietly, we would hear the pin drop...

But I know less about trains than I do about carts and their horses.

festive lights
wire coat hangers
and fish hooks
our lives still entangled
years after the divorce


Painting by Jakub Schikaneder: The Sad Way
The Sad Way (1886)
Oil on canvas
By Jakub Schikaneder

Publisher’s Note: While Schikaneder’s painting is in the public domain, the original resides at the National Gallery in Prague. The reproduction here was downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.


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