Dirty Old Town


Somewhere Up North, sitting on the bones of its backside with a mangy dog for warmth.

white-knuckle sky
the homeless man’s
broken teeth

By the railway station, baring its forearms, silver-white scars and raw ones too.

“Look what I’ve done to m’self … can you lend me the money for me fare?”

Talks to itself like a madman, white-collar, bluetooth and handsfree .Or lumbers around in hi-vis, grumbling at broom and litter-picker, cursing into bins. Kicks an empty can of Special Brew just for the hell of it. One more thing to rattle away like tinnitus in the gritty cochlear of the universe.

spit and polish
sun on the veteran’s medals
and his shoes

Forms an orderly queue, stops for a natter, chats about the weather and the price of fish, marvels at the busker on the corner.

“He has a look of my son.”

“He could be on the telly…”

“I remember me Dad used to play a whatsitsname”.

ahead of the rain
A Whiter Shade of Pale

Struts in short skirt and high heels even when it’s brass monkey weather. Designer label sticking out and a baby to match. No better than she should be, but a canny lass.

“He’s banged up again, but he’s good with the bairn…”

Asked what she wants most for her daughter:

“A footballer… in the Premier League”.

sound of water…
by the broken fountain
a girl reads Basho

Appears out of nowhere with eyes that could fetch ducks off water, a gypsy smile.

“Can I read your palm?”

“I’m sorry, I’ve no spare change –“

“Just give me what you can…”

Can’t say no. Neither could Mam, nor her Dad before her.

“Do you take credit cards?”

a sprig of heather…
you’ll never have much but you’ll
want for nothing

Gathers at dusk in The Pig and Whistle. Jockeys for position at the bar.

“What’re you having, the usual?”

“Aye, a pint of mild”.

“Make mine a bitter”.

Digs deep to buy a round.

“Here, love, have one yourself…”

“Cheers, I don’t mind if I do”.

Imagines saying, “Tell you what, how about a chaser?” The clink of coins, then of glasses. Salt of the earth, a shot of tequila, a slice of lime.

another dream
floats in the gutter…
scratchcard moon

Note: ‘scratchcards’ in the UK are ‘instant win’ lottery tickets.

Contemporary Haibun Online, 8:2, July 2012


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. haikutec
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 21:32:07

    And you said you didn’t write edgy? 🙂

    Good solid contemporary haibun, more please!


    • Claire
      Sep 27, 2012 @ 11:08:26

      Thanks, Alan! I like the lyrical side of things, but I definitely want to cultivate my edgy side 😉 Thanks for all your encouragement!



  2. Kris Lindbeck (@KrisLindbeck)
    Sep 30, 2012 @ 01:59:52

    Just read this for the second time. It’s pretty amazing.

    A departure from your usual emphasis on nature, but not from your usual heart.


    • Claire
      Sep 30, 2012 @ 18:53:19

      Thanks Kris! That’s really kind of you to say. I’m hoping I can do more ‘edgy’ pieces. Certainly, my tanka have been testing new waters for a while now.

      Hope you are well, Kris.


  3. Geoff Sanderson
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 18:24:07

    This is great work Claire – and being a Yorkshireman, I can appreciate the honesty of these pieces. If this is a new departure for you, then even more congrats are due! keep workin’ away at t’coal face, lass! xxx


    • Claire
      Oct 23, 2012 @ 21:15:24

      Apologies, Geoff, I only just saw this comment. Yes, it was a glimpse of the edgier me 😉 Thanks for your lovely feedback, I’m glad you enjoyed it.



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