Updated: Dec 8, 2022
Hosts: Reid Hepworth and Shalini Pattabiraman
8th December 2022
Today we bring you the second haibun in the series featuring Terri L. French. This time we explore the fictional character, JT Blankenship, a precocious 11 year-old from rural Alabama.
Terri L. French
Fit to be Tied
I stole some shoe laces from the Five-and-Dime yesterday. I ‘spose that’s a stupid thing to steal. I could have easily pocketed that package of army men or that cap gun in my winter coat, but instead, that pack of 27-inch, white shoelaces wound up in my hand.
Randy Buckhorn, the school bully, always makes fun of my raggedy sneakers and I was getting plumb tired of it. Mama said I could get a new pair on my birthday, but that was a whole two months away. I figured if I just had new laces and cleaned my old shoes up as best as I could, maybe Randy would find somebody with nastier shoes than mine to pick on.
I shoulda asked Mama for the money, but a boy has his pride. So, I just snatched ‘em. Lord, I swear those shoe laces were talking to me from inside my pocket all the way home. I was afraid everybody I passed on the sidewalk could hear them screaming, “Help! Save me! I’ve been nabbed!”
a gum-shoe on
and off the screen
The next morning, I came down to breakfast with those laces in my ratty, but clean shoes. The laces were whiter than fresh snow and stood out like a sore thumb against my faded black sneakers.
“Why JT,” Mama said first thing, “are those new shoe laces?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” I answered, praying my ears weren’t twitching like they are prone to do whenever I’m fixing to tell a fib. Darned, if she wasn’t lookin’ right at my dad-blamed ears.
“And where did you get the money, JT?”
I knew there weren’t no sense in digging myself a bigger hole.
“Mama,” I said, mustering up all my courage to look her in the eye, “I must confess, I stole ‘em.”
She let out the heaviest sigh I’d ever heard. It was so full of sorrow, it hurt my bones. Then she made me put the old laces back in and sent me off with the promise that after school, we would take a trip to the Five-and-Dime and I would return those stolen laces.
I learned a lesson in humiliation that day, not to mention the pain I felt for disappointing my Mama. I also learned new shoe laces, nor new nuthin’ don’t make you a better man no matter what Randy Buckhorn says.
on the door frame–
Keepers a book of haibun
R: Nothing pulls me in more than a strong character with a moral compass and a penchant for introspection. This haibun, like all the haibun featuring JT Blankenship, reminds me of Mark Twain’s, Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn. Terri weaves a compelling storyline around a captivating main character with a unique voice and temperament. As a new haibuneer, I hadn’t read anything quite like this in my haibun travels. So refreshing.
There is nothing padded in the prose, it is tight, rich and engaging. JT’s voice is honest, humorous and self-aware (for an 11 year-old). Both ku fit like a glove.
Terri’s thoughts about Fit to be Tied:
Oh JT, he is my favorite imaginary boy and very real to me! His story (yes, it is his) reminds me of a time when my sister took a pair of shoe laces from a shoe store. I recall my mom made her take them back. Why do kids do the things they do? They tend to act on impulse. JT is a good boy and he knew he did wrong; his conscience was speaking to him. JT’s stories are very relatable to me because we both grew up in the 60s. Cap guns, plastic army men, Saturday matinees—these are all things I remember from my own childhood. Also, I have two sons of my own who were raised in rural Alabama, so many southern rural and religious elements are often a part of the JT haibun.
For this week, we want you to work on creating a strong storyline. Wow-us with the inner workings of your mind and/or try something a little out of your comfort zone. Think of how Terri laces humour with self-reflection and see where that takes you.
1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt.
2. Share your best-polished pieces.
3. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written. Let it simmer for a while.
4. When poets give suggestions and if you agree to them - post your final edited version on top of your original version.
5. Don't forget to give feedback on others' poems.
We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished haibun (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in the haikuKATHA monthly journal.