marlene mountain
other-line haiku sequence
c 1974

cabin sequences

cabin one

   an empty cabin:
      a dulcimer droning

a mist hangs
   then slowly takes
      the porch

the last pane
   now broken . . .
      cry of a phoebe

over the mantle
   unsmoked shape
      of a fiddle

the chimney . . .
   more of it on the ground
      this year

   the deserted barn
      an old woodchuck den

the path
   to the outhouse
      grown up

beside the rusty fence
   a corn stalk
      above the weeds

cabin two

the old cabin
   rented again:
      a new screen door

first day
   a path cut
      to the outhouse

beside the outhouse
      of new mown grass

the old man
   watches his grandson
      disk the field

old hoe
   now broken . . .
      a new walking stick

   in the root cellar
      the color in each jar

into the last
   of the winter ashes
      first spring rain

coal stove
   moved to the shed--
      quilts on the line

cabin three

   the chickens, too
      again the empty cabin

wood pile
   on the sagging porch
      unstacking itself *

left behind
   a dog in heat:
      the heat

   ankle deep in mud . . .
      the gnats

first day of school
   the bus slows . . .
      empty cabin

old trash can
   beside the creek
      floats off in the first flood

storm at dawn . . .
   puddles of color
      around the fallen outhouse

   snow and more snow
      a swift drops into the chimney **

cabin four

in the yard
   of the old cabin
       a car on cement blocks

beside the barn
   hepatica leaves
      poke through rat bones

on the cabin wall:
   'class of 73' and
      'fuck you'

   get out of big cars
      smoke and talk on the porch steps

a hawk
   circles the black top:
      the heat

   in a pile with briers
      cabin, barn and outhouse

a big burning
   and a sign
      'lot for sale'

not one bird
   or its song--
      distant cicada

cabin five

young sharecropper
   studies the cabin:
       a wasp flies in and out

two small rooms . . .
   in one corner
      a home-made potty chair

between cardboard
   and the chestnut walls
      newspaper recipes from '34

rechinking the fireplace
   a snake skin
      drops with a bird nest

   from the open door
      a sudden cricket

fallen outhouse
   moved from the spring
      patched with the chicken shed

weed-cutting . . .
   from a white-washed tire
      old pine

bull tongue plow
   edge of its blade
      in the spring rain

cabin six

cabin warming:
   some clogging and fiddling
      in the oil lamp glow

skillet of bread
   and cornfield beans; shine
      of the new wood stove

   brimming with branch water
      an old gourd dipper

on the shelf
   brown bottles, a gallon crock
      from the dump

dust pan on a nail
   beside the yellowed
      jesus calendar

old letters
   found in the shed;
      odor of honeysuckle

over the mantle
   a Tennessee long rifle
      newly made

   in a mason jar . . .
      a distant rooster crows


* Modern Haiku 7:4 1976 (Honorable Mention); The Haiku Anthology 1986

** may not be seasonally-correct

several of the haiku to appear in the old tin roof 1976


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