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October 2019 Vol. 15 No. 3

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Bob Lucky

Random Praise: Peggy Turnbull’s “Chihuahua Desert”

In his reflections on haiku and haibun in the last issue of CHO, George Swede writes about how living in Mexico and writing about his experiences there nudged him towards haibun. Free verse and haiku weren’t “capturing the essence” of what he wanted to say. Haibun’s “combination of prose and haiku,” he notes, “enabled me to deal more effectively with the complexity of life in a country very different from Canada.” Haibun has long been used to capture reflections of travel and encounters with others and the Other. Since Mexico has a part in Swede’s journey as a haibun writer, it’s fitting that we tap Peggy Turnbull’s “Chihuahua Desert” for our Random Praise.

Peggy Turnbull

Chihuahua Desert

We drive to a pool ringed by sandpaper oaks, prickly pear, century plants. He wears a swimsuit bright as calendula flowers. I find a twisted purple barb impressed into his pale thigh, a bullet wound from student days when the police shot him at Tlatelolco. Later, he spreads a blue and white serape onto the bed of his Ford truck. Most nights we peer light years into the past, find faint glimmers behind layers of meteors and stars. Tonight mist rises from the spring. He asks if I see them, the dead wandering among the prickly pear. Bodies piled high on the ground, mothers wailing for dead children. Now you share my nightmare.

swirling vapors swarm
across stony land
ghosts’ footsteps