A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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September 2009, vol 5 no 3

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Carol Pearce-Worthington


One Good Man

The search for one good man can take a lifetime but he finds that man on the first day. He has been five days without a toothbrush without toothpaste or deodorant without soap a comb. He needs glaucoma eyedrops but they can’t be brought in. He has been brought here chained at the wrists and waist and ankles to a line of men cursing weeping bleeding peeing just like him. Now in this waystation he wanders into commissary after the announced opening and he picks up a tray and he selects a tiny tube of toothpaste the smallest he can find a toothbrush a narrow toothed black comb a sample size of deodorant and the clerk says you jerk you can’t come in here and take that stuff it isn’t your day and besides you got no money in account somebody got to send a money order that takes at least a week then we got to process it so come back when you got money under your number NEXT get out of the line don’t waste my time. My time he thinks. My time. My time. A man shouts from way back in the line put his stuff on my tab it’s all right. A pause. OK go ahead the clerk says. A stop a breath a break. He grabs the toothpaste drops the comb searches for it on the ground takes it up and runs. He does not look back – does not look back. Man in the commissary line. The longest search. One good man. Sometimes short sometimes long. Always brief.

corn growing
on both sides…
civil war cemetery

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