The Haiku Muse

[fiction]

—For my godson and his brother

Tipping over trash cans and stacks of empty crates as he went, Ben created an obstacle course behind him. Ashen-colored snow flew up from under his feet as he ran through the alley at an all-out sprint. Dirty snow crunching, he thought. Flight of the muse underway, Urban brick canyon. His pursuer, Trent Waller, a known bully, was easily a hundred pounds heavier and stood a good ten inches taller than Ben. Trent shouted after him, red face puffing.

Murder is my gift!
Escape shall not release you
Winter on your soul!

Ben stifled a chuckle. “That’s pretty good, Trent,” he called back over his shoulder. “Can you try it again with a little more local color?” At that, Trent let out an animalistic scream and Ben, for his part, ran that much faster.

*    *     *

Ben didn’t see his gift as a superpower, at first. It was anything but practical and not the least bit heroic. But, Ben admitted to himself, he could still use it to help create beauty and new ways of seeing, new ways of expressing. Still, he found himself wishing he could do more with it. As with many endowed with super abilities, his power first manifest itself in early adolescence, about the same time his voice took a deep turn.

Tipping over trash cans and stacks of empty crates as he went, Ben created an obstacle course behind him. Ashen-colored snow flew up from under his feet as he ran through the alley at an all-out sprint. Dirty snow crunching, he thought. Flight of the muse underway, Urban brick canyon.

His world literature class had just spent a two-week lesson on Japan, and when they read the haiku of the great and timeless poet, Matsuo Bashō, the beauty of it surprised young Ben. The presentation of the everyday in simple elegance, the subtle reference to seasonality, they captivated him. Infected him. He stayed up late nights reading haiku with a flashlight in one hand, under the covers of his bed, hoping to go unnoticed by his parents. He began to see haiku moments, as he would later call them, everywhere. He wrote haiku to his family, leaving them posted on the refrigerator or microwave oven. A simple note meant to tell his parents that he was across the street at his friend’s house itself was rendered in the age-old syllabic formula: five, seven, five.

Crossing still black ice
Warm Victorian refuge
Dinner returns me.

The problem, of course, is that any poem, by its very nature, is subject to a myriad of meanings and interpretations. Would dinner return Ben home, or had dinner been what returned Ben to his friend’s house? After a few such mix-ups, and to the relief of everyone involved, Ben restrained his love of the poetic form, deploying it more tactfully.

Haiku had imprinted upon him. It filled him up and changed him. The peculiar poetic power revealed itself to Ben at home when, one Saturday morning, he was trying to explain his deep affection for the art form to his older brother Anthony.

“Anthony, you’re going to love this one,” Ben said, preparing to read the eleventh (twelfth?) haiku since breakfast. Anthony shrugged. He was focused on upgrading the apps on his phone.

“In a minute, Ben,” he said. Anthony’s nonchalance triggered Ben’s frustration. He had such lackluster admiration for something so important.

“You just don’t get it!” Ben shouted and waved his hands in exasperation. In that instant, a certain transference occurred. Anthony caught a variation of the infection (or spell, whatever it was) that had imprinted upon Ben. But it was different, a thing done to him and not born of his own appetite or aesthetic.

Anthony’s confusion mounted as he tried to respond to Ben. He couldn’t form a coherent sentence.

Such a change in view.
What trickery visits me?
Poetic prison.

Anthony realized that he could only speak, only think, in haiku. Every word and idea structured and expressed poetically, in syllabic precision. His very vision, transformed. Whereas for Ben the infection left his freedom of expression intact, the constraining spell only frustrated Anthony.

This must stop brother
As sunbeams melt winter snow
Unfetter my speech,” Anthony said.

Ben jumped half out of his seat, excited at Anthony’s spontaneous haiku. But as he took in its meaning, he knew what was wrong. The poem that Anthony spoke connected to Ben’s very spirit, conveying Anthony’s angst.

“Anthony?” Ben asked. But when Anthony only repeated the same verse it confirmed to Ben what had happened. “I release you,” Ben said, not entirely sure what else to do. Anthony let out a gasp, as if he had been holding his breath and had just come up from under water.

“What happened?” Anthony demanded.

“I… I made you a haiku poet,” Ben answered.

“But how? Why?”

“I don’t know,” Ben answered, shaking his head.

The boys agreed not to speak of this, at least for now, until they could better understand what had happened. But, as it turns out, neither were very good at keeping this secret.

*    *     *

Anthony handed Ben his tablet. “Read this,” he said. The browser showed an article titled “What every Parent should know about Superpowers,” on a parenting web page. Anthony had highlighted a paragraph.

“Competing origin theories about superpowers abound: exposure to a special type of radiation or the awakening of a long dormant strand of DNA, magic, extraterrestrial lineage, ancient gods from the pantheons of old brought out of hiding into the modern world. Among the superpowers there exists a hierarchy. Omnipotence, usually with an Achille’s Heel, anchors one end of the spectrum but the other end, though diverse and difficult to explain, is no less critical to understand, and no less important in the lives of the people who have them. Whatever the origin, parents should understand the challenges of raising a child with superpowers.”

Ben set the tablet down. “We should talk to Iris,” he said.

“That’s what I was thinking,” Anthony said. “Nobody knows more about superpowers than Iris.”

*    *     *

Iris lit a slender reed of incense in the art studio in the back room of her basement apartment. She flipped her locks of chestnut brown curls out of her face, only to see them flop right back where they were. Her rosy cheeks contrasted with the milky white of her complexion. The incense she selected was a lemon aromatic to counter the winter bluster outside. Though she looked vibrant in her early middle-age, Iris was an old soul, and, indeed, an ancient being. Ben and Anthony lived in the house upstairs and were frequent visitors to her art studio. The two of them sat on stools that were stippled with flicks of color, the painted byproduct of the art that was created there.

Twelve students in all paid for the haiku services. None of it was cheating, they told each other, because the words weren’t Ben’s, but came from each person, and the images and connections conveyed were truly those of the author. Ben’s power was to restructure their thought and speech, but he took no credit for their poems.

Iris placed her sketch pad, colored pencils, and markers on an old, worn wooden table. She took a deep breath, appreciating the aroma from the lemon-scented incense.

“Have you come here to watch me?” she asked.

“Not really. Not this time,” Ben said.

“Well, then?” Iris asked.

“You’re the goddess of color,” Ben said. Iris smiled.

“But, listen,” Anthony interrupted. “Something happened. Maybe something you’ve seen before.”

“To me,” Ben said. “It happened to me. We’re hoping maybe you could explain it.” Ben paused, waiting for Iris to say something. When she didn’t, he continued. “I have a sort of spell I can cast, but it’s weird.”

“Magic, by its very nature, is weird,” Iris said. “Have you cast it?”

“By accident,” Ben said.

“On me,” Anthony interjected. Iris looked Anthony up and down.

“You seem fine now. Is everything okay?”

“Yes. I’m okay,” Anthony said.

“Tell me what happened,” Iris said.

Anthony started in at the point in the story where the spell—if that’s what it was—had been cast on him.

“But that’s not where it started,” Ben interrupted. “It started in my world lit class, when we studied the writings of Matsuo Bashō.”

“Ah, yes, Bashō,” Iris said with a nod.

“Then, you’ve heard of him,” Ben said.

“Heard of him? He was my friend,” Iris said, smiling at an age-old memory. Both Ben and Anthony looked at her with wonder in their eyes. “And I will tell you that story another time,” she said. “Tell me more, Ben, about your magic.” Ben spoke of his first time reading the poetry from Japan, of his love and then infatuation with it. He spoke of haiku moments, and how virtually everything either seen or done could be presented in its elegant format. He told of his voracious appetite for the form of poetry. Finally, he told her about Anthony, and his casual appreciation for haiku and of Ben’s frustration with it, and of Ben’s casting of the spell.

“It’s like everything changed,” Anthony said. “It was more than me just thinking up poems. It was like, I thought in haiku and only haiku.”

Iris nodded, intrigued though not alarmed by what the boys told her. “You’re not the first to have this kind of power, but you may be the first in over a thousand years.” She walked over to a book shelf and pulled off a dusty, faded volume. Blowing the dust from it, she handed it to Ben.

The Muses Through the Ages,” Ben read aloud.

“You can borrow it, if you’d like,” Iris said. “But all you really need to know is that for thousands of years there have been those entrusted with special powers such as yours.”

Ben nodded. “It’s just… When I imagine all the superpowers in the universe, I never would have put haiku on that list. It’s not like the ability to fly or walk through walls or turn invisible. I never knew this one was even an option. It’s not even really a superpower,” he said.

“Isn’t it?” Iris asked.

“I can’t fight crime with it,” Ben said.

“Can’t you?”

“I can’t stop a bad guy.”

“You can’t?”

“I can’t even make people like it!”

Iris walked to a cabinet in the far corner of her basement apartment. She pulled a framed picture off the shelf which the boys immediately recognized as one of her creations. The frame was a simple, unstained wood, and inside of it appeared a Gaelic wreath concentric circles. At the center of the circles was a white sphere, the reflection of the sun or moon on water. Forming a perimeter around the white center was the still water of an aqua-blue pond. The next circle was a band of vibrant green, the stems and leaves of lotus lilies growing out of the water. Little green frogs rested on leaves. The final, outer-most band of the concentric circles was a wreath of rich, blue lotus blossoms, perched atop the green stems.

“Tell me,” she said, showing Ben the print. “Does this print lie to you?”

“Lie?” Ben asked.

“Does it attempt to deceive you? Or, has it told you the truth of the matter?”

“It’s art. You made it with colored pencils and markers,” Ben protested.

“Answer my question, does the print lie to you or has it spoken the truth?”

“I don’t know. It’s beautiful, Iris. I like it a lot. But I don’t know what it says,” Ben said, her questions flustering him.

“Can you write a poem about it?” Iris asked. Ben’s eyes lit up, like this was the first thing she said that made any sense. He inhaled a deep breath and fixed his eyes on the print.

Citrus smoke curls ’round
Blue blossoms on still water
Tiny frog’s delight.

“Matsuo would love that one,” she said. Anthony set his hand on Ben’s shoulder and winked his approval. Iris continued. “What if your poem is like the picture, neither true or false? What if this image that I made with markers and pencils rests someplace outside of those types of questions? And what if that is your power, your gift, Benjamin? What if the poet stands apart from matters of truth and falsehood, creating in the realm of meaning, and irony, and allegory. Beauty and despair. Hope and longing. Fulfillment and unrequited everything. And the poet, who does not seek to tell the truth, also cannot lie.”

Ben was quiet, contemplating what Iris had to say.

“Continue your path,” Iris said. “In time, more will be revealed.”

*    *     *

To Ben’s mind, nothing more was revealed. Nothing except for Anthony’s plans. Anthony saw a market opportunity in his younger brother’s power. He organized a group of older kids as they were preparing their applications for college, a ritual Anthony would soon enough perform for himself.

“We can give you that extra edge,” he said. ” We can make your application stand out.” And the students, vying for whatever advantage to increase the chances that they might gain acceptance into their colleges of choice, were all too eager to pay.

A boy named Jared Bishop submitted one of his three essays for admission to different, exclusive universities as a series of gorgeous haiku.

A girl named Melody Armstrong explained her experiences as a daughter in a working-class, single-parent family and peppered the essay with the poignant three-line stanzas, enriching her story and moving it from one of stark, indifferent, hardship to one of hardship layered with the deeper beauties of resistance and resilience.

Twelve students in all paid for the haiku services. None of it was cheating, they told each other, because the words weren’t Ben’s, but came from each person, and the images and connections conveyed were truly those of the author. Ben’s power was to restructure their thought and speech, but he took no credit for their poems.

Ben looked at his newfound wealth. What was supposed to be fun and exciting seemed petty and even a little embarrassing.

“We’ve got six hundred dollars, Anthony, but it doesn’t feel right,” Ben said.

“I know what you mean. It feels like maybe we’re cheapening it,” Anthony said. The boys put the project on hold.

*    *     *

Ben remained infatuated with his new art form. He read books about and by the master, Matsuo Bashō. When he wasn’t reading or writing haiku, he would read about the muses in the book he borrowed from Iris.

One night, as the boys were preparing for bed, they sat together, leafing through super hero comics, sorting them according to powers and abilities. Anthony looked at Ben, a small dollop of mint-scented toothpaste still in the corner of his mouth.

“Ben, I’ve been thinking about your superpower. I think there’s more to it than making money turning people into poets, but I don’t know what that is yet,” Anthony said. “I think maybe you should drop your Spanish class and take Japanese. That’s where haiku started, right? In Japan? I mean, all the Bashō you read is translated from Japanese.” Ben nodded. “You could read it in its original language. And I’ve been thinking about the muses, too,” Anthony continued.

“I just can’t find examples of how they helped anything,” Ben said. “They helped people be creative, write poems and history. But they were just minor gods. A superhero needs to do something more. Look at Morgan Carter,” he said, referring to a Canadian soldier who was all over the news for leaping three stories into a burning building and rescuing a family. “Or Leticia Del Villar,” he said, referring to a famous woman whose premonitions predicted with eerie accuracy deadly, but avoidable accidents. She worked with a tech startup to develop an app to warn people days in advance, saving scores of lives each year.

“Don’t compare yourself with them, or the muses, even. Stop thinking about them, like at all,” Anthony said. “The muses’ spells didn’t work exactly like yours does, anyway. They inspired creativity but didn’t force it. And they lived like, five thousand years ago. What would they know about life today?”

“But Iris gave me the book,” Ben said.

“She gave you the book so that you’d know you’re not alone. But what you do with it, that’s on you, not on Iris or the muses or anything in that book.”

“But Anthony, what am I supposed to do?”

“Try being yourself. That’s always the best place to start,” Anthony said. “I know. Easier said than done sometimes.”

*    *     *

Ben’s phone chirped. He pulled it from his pocket to see that he had just received a text from Jared Bishop, the kid from Anthony’s school who paid to have himself haikued.

“Gotta talk.”

“All done haikuing for money,” Ben replied.

“Still gotta talk.”

Ben forwarded the text to Anthony. “You’re the one who knows him.”

“I’ll see what he wants,” Anthony replied.

*    *     *

Ben walked down the rickety steps to Iris’s basement apartment. He smelled the scent of peachy incense even before he reached the door. Faint sounds of music escaped into the hallway. He knocked.

“Come in,” said a voice from inside the apartment. Ben opened the door and saw a wiry, dark skinned woman with a black, neatly coifed afro—like a halo—working on a sketch with colored pencils.

“Iris?” Ben asked.

“Yes?”

“I’ve never seen you in this form before,” Ben said.

“I needed inspiration,” she said. “So, I spent the day down at the boardwalk, selling paintings,” she said. Ben nodded.

“Does changing your physical appearance give you inspiration?” Ben asked.

“Usually. My appearance changes how others see me, how they interact with me, how they treat me. And that can help me see things in a new light.”

“Which one of them is the real you?”

Iris smiled and leaned in. “I’m the goddess of color, a creature of light, and an artist,” she said. “This form is as much the real me as any of the others you’ve seen. Tell me, Ben. How’s the haiku business?”

“We’re taking a break,” he said.

“Is that what you came here to talk about?”

“Sort of. I’m just tired of not knowing what to do,” Ben confided.

Iris gestured at the walls of her studio. Every inch displayed her artwork.

“Just write. See where it leads you,” she said. Ben pulled out his notepad, focused on a watercolor print, and began to write.

Pier rests on water
Steel blue ocean, virgin sand
Deserted beach.

*    *     *

“Ben, Jared’s being bullied,” Anthony explained. “Some guy named Trent Waller saw a copy of the college entrance essay that you helped him with and won’t let it go. I guess it was too artsy for him.” Anthony wasn’t sure who Trent was when Jared first texted him. He had to look him up on social media and in his year books. When he saw his pictures, he recognized him immediately as a twelfth-grade trouble-maker.

“What does he want us to do about it?”

“Jared thinks if you can convince Trent that you cast a spell on him, maybe he’ll stop bullying.”

“But a bully won’t care about my spell. He’s bullying Jared because he can,” Ben said.

“I know. I told him that I didn’t know what we could do, that he should talk to his parents and teachers.”

“What did he say to that?”

“He said he tried that already. Nothing changed and he’s scared to go to school now.”

“What do you think, Anthony? Do you think showing Trent my power would help Jared? It might just make me his next target.”

“That’s true,” Anthony said. “But we have to try something.”

*    *     *

“You said you once met Matsuo Bashō,” Ben said. “That he was your friend.”

“Indeed, we were friends,” Iris said. “I had heard of charming poetry being created on an island on the other side of the world and I went to see for myself.”

“What was he like?” Ben asked.

“Let me show you,” Iris said. “Let me show you using the technique I learned when I met Matsuo.” Iris waived her hands and colors flew from her fingers in puffs of mist. In the air between she and Ben a story began to unfold. She created an animated Japanese water-ink painting right before Ben’s eyes, floating in mid-air. The colors were gentle, shaded, subdued. A middle-aged man, Matsuo, walked along a wooded path. He was joined by a Japanese woman whose features told Ben that she was none other than Iris herself. Iris narrated her images.

“He was a restless spirit. Not always the refined poet that people today like to imagine. He could have been a samurai, but chose the life of a poet and teacher, instead.” The water-ink image of Matsuo was then transported into a home, where he set down a samurai sword, bowed, and exited, leaving the sword at the feet of a feudal lord.

“A samurai,” Ben said, and his mind conjured thoughts of the fierce Japanese knights, defenders of the Shogunate.

“It wasn’t as you might think,” Iris said. “Before Matsuo, Japan had been at war, with itself and with its neighbors.” The scene she inked showed legions of samurai training with focus and discipline before it all erupted into raging battles. “But by the time of Matsuo, samurai had no more wars to fight. Many of them became scholars and studied the arts.” The explosive scenes emanating from her fingertips—scenes of massive battles and hand-to-hand combat—faded and the colors ran as if the inks were diluted with too much water. Iris dangled her fingers up high, as a puppeteer controlling an invisible marionette might, mystical ink dripping from her fingertips. The next scene that came forth was of samurai reading, writing, and trading in their swords for other professions.

His own words stopped him cold. He looked at his hands and scanned the faces of the students. All eyes were on him.

Ben never knew that samurai could be anything but steely warriors. “Perhaps for Matsuo,” Iris continued, “the best way to use his talents would not arise from the life of a warrior, but from his poetry.” The next image she conjured in the air was of an incomplete bamboo bridge, reaching halfway across a rushing stream, abandoned by workers as the first snow of the season began to fall. “Japan may have lost an anonymous samurai, but they, and the world, gained one of our greatest creative minds.”

“Thank you, Iris,” Ben said, giving her a hug. He turned and started back up the stairs.

“I’m glad I could help,” Iris said. Ben reached the top of the stairs and paused. He turned to face Iris.

“I guess not all samurai fought battles,” he said as Iris’s story sank in.

“More to the point, not all fights are won with swords,” Iris said.

*    *     *

Ben’s middle school was about a mile from Lakewood High, the school Anthony attended. He would have to walk there after school to see what could be done about Trent. They agreed to try to reason with Trent, explain to him that poetry is more than whatever he might think. As Ben walked there, light wisps of snow fell lazily from the grey sky.

Snow dampening sounds
Enchantments cleansing the air
Raven’s muffled caw

When Ben arrived at the school, he saw a small crowd of students gathering in the back parking lot. Anthony waved to him.

“What’s going on?” Ben asked.

“I just got here. But see for yourself,” Anthony answered. At the center of the crowd sat a cowering Jared Bishop, shoulders slumped. His backpack was empty on the ground next to him, his books and papers strewn about. Trent Waller paced back and forth over his victim. Some students tried and failed to persuade him to leave Jared alone. Ben swallowed deep.

“Look at this,” Trent yelled to the crowd of witnesses, holding up a copy of Jared’s haiku college entrance essay that he fished from his backpack. “These poems don’t even rhyme!” He tore the sheet into small pieces and released the scraps like a snow flurry over Jared’s head. Jared sat motionless. “What’s the matter, pixie, didn’t you know poems are supposed to rhyme?”

That’s when Ben stepped forward. “Actually, haiku poems don’t have to rhyme.”

“Who are you?” Trent demanded, his voice tinted with disdain.

“My name’s Ben. I helped Jared with his poetry.” Trent wrinkled his face in a look of befuddlement. “What he did was really intricate,” Ben continued.

“What?”

“Jared wrote a series of poems that alternated between the two forms of haiku,” Ben explained.

“What?”

“Don’t you see? Each poem alternated between seventeen and eleven syllables. In each one, he told something about himself and how he prepared for college and the other things he needed in his essay.”

“Who are you?” Trent repeated.

“I’m Ben.” Trent looked at Ben and then down at Jared, who was using the distraction to collect his things and shove them back into his backpack. “I helped Jared write his haiku.”

Trent took a step toward Ben. “You’re the one helping him be a pixie? What’s that make you? Queen pixie herself?” Trent said, taking another menacing step toward Ben.

“No,” Ben said, exasperation evident in his tone. “Pixies aren’t just female and they don’t have anything to do with haiku. Or any poetry at all, even.” Trent’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Get up, Jared,” Ben said. “Go home.”

“Oh, you think you’re in charge here, pixie boy?” Trent said.

“I’m not a pixie. More of a muse, if anything. Can I at least explain to you what’s so special about haiku?” Trent, muscles tensed, stormed up to Ben, who, with only a second to spare, waived his hands at Trent and said “Haiku!”

Enough with poems!

Day fades, so too my patience

I will pummel you!” Trent said.

His own words stopped him cold. He looked at his hands and scanned the faces of the students. All eyes were on him.

“You see: haiku! Not the best, but still,” Ben said with a smile, walking backwards. “Try to think, Trent! Don’t you see the beauty?”

Devious pixie!

Thoughts all twisted, transforming

Mayhem unleashed,” Trent said, his expression a mixture of wonder and frustration.

“Yes, Trent! Yes!” Ben said, excitement brimming. “Now, just stop, please! Can’t you see it? Can’t you see what you’ve created?” Ben quickened his pace, walking backwards.

Jared had collected his belongings and was running for the other side of the parking lot.

Trent let out a deep, angry howl and charged at Ben. Ben turned and ran toward an alley at the very back of the parking lot. Just as Trent hit his stride, someone’s foot jutted out, catching Trent’s ankle, sending him tumbling and then skidding across the icy pavement just before he could catch Ben. It was Anthony. But in the crowd and commotion, Trent didn’t know who tripped him.

Erupting!
Go, scattering stones!
Angry flames!” Trent yelled, rage and bewilderment pronounced on his face.

“A three, five, three alternative haiku!” Ben yelled, though he was fleeing at a sprint by then. “Impressive!”

Anthony, who had driven to school that day, ran to his family’s trusty blue SUV and drove through the center of the parking lot, away from the crowd. He stopped and picked up Jared who was still running at a decent clip. He knew he had to get Ben, but the alley he was running through was too narrow and cluttered for a car. He’d have to drive the long way around the block and pick him up on the other side.

Ben ran through the alley at an all-out sprint, tipping over trash cans and stacks of empty crates as he passed, creating an obstacle course behind him. Trent had recovered from his tumble and was gaining on him.

Murder is my gift!
Escape shall not release you
Winter on your soul!

Up ahead, Ben saw Anthony round the corner in the family car. “That’s pretty good, Trent,” he yelled, looking back over his shoulder. “Can you try it again with a little more local color?” At that, Trent bellowed guttural sounds as Anthony brought the car to a stop at the end of the alley. Jared swung the door open and Ben dove like a swimmer off a starting block into the open door. Jared swung the door closed and they sped away. The three boys laughed as they left the screaming, hapless, haiku bully behind them.

“I have an idea,” Anthony said. “Text Trent that he can never bully anyone again, or he’ll live his life in haiku!”

“Perfect,” Ben said. Jared nodded his agreement. “That would be a prison sentence for Trent. Let’s do it.”

*    *     *

Jared texted the terms of a truce to Trent, telling him that he must never bully another soul or he could spend the rest of his life in haiku. Trent didn’t respond at first. His pride wouldn’t let him. Three days passed before he begrudgingly texted Jared a note:

A truce I will seek
The terms, abundantly clear
Longest night must end.

“Any funny business,” Jared texted him, “and you can spend the rest of your life a poet.”

Trent was a depleted, defeated boy when they met him in the parking lot at Lakewood High that Saturday. Shoulders hunched, eyes downcast.

“I wish I could make you see what’s so special about haiku,” Ben said to him. Trent nodded. “I release you.”

Trent looked up, afraid to talk, fearful that he wasn’t yet released. But then the structure of his thinking reverted to normal. The world around him could finally be described any way he wanted. He turned to walk away, but Ben had to ask him one last question.

“Trent, did you see it? Did you finally see what you created? What Jared created? What poetry can do?”

“More than you know,” he mumbled.

“What do you mean?” Ben asked.

“Nothing,” Trent said, shaking his head. After a long moment, Trent looked at the boys as they waited for him to say something more. Another moment passed.

Barren parking lot,” Trent said.
“Sunbeams falling on the snow
Four boys planting seeds.

 

Jaime Balboa earned his BA in English from Adrian College. His stories have appeared in The Timberline Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Chaleur Magazine. An open water swimmer, many of his writing ideas come to him in the waters of the Pacific. He and his partner live in Los Angeles where they are raising a son. Follow him on twitter @jaimerb.