A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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March 2007, vol 3 no 1

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Collin Barber

Self Service

My car hasn't had a full tank of gas in months. A few dollars here and there–just to get me to where I need to go–often seems to be all that I can afford. Plastic debts continue to mount. I've been fortunate enough to have opportunities to pick up extra shifts at work. Nevertheless, this hasn't been enough for me to climb out of a seemingly bottomless pit.

shallow starlight
an empty cup
fills my hands

Penniless again tonight, I find myself using a credit card to get a couple of gallons worth of low octane fuel. From the far side of the gas station, I notice a man making his way towards me. I've seen him a number of times. He has worn the faces of every creed and color. I tell him that I have no money, but I know that he doesn't believe me. A few droplets of gas fall from the nozzle as I return it to the pump, and I cannot help but think that I could have come up with something to give him.

Indian summer
the homeless man's
gold teeth