Scoundrel Time

Two Poems by Judy Halebsky

Writing a New Year Haiku is a Thing

first word, first night dream, first glimpse of Mt. Tam

“cast your bread upon the water,” my mother would say to mean take your chances, do something, try 

 a new year haiku—which might be January 1 or six weeks later or sometime between the first week of classes and the first snowfall

first song, first fist of cracker mush, first cooing at a mobile

 it’s the lasts I keep missing. last nap on my chest, last day in a onesie, last time in a stroller, vanishing into a swash of things she can do for herself

each lightening my load, each carrying her away from me

if you’ve watched a three-year-old building a fort, you know that all of our efforts have an aspect of futility

if my mother wasn’t such a heathen, she’d know cast your bread upon the water means to let go of past wrongs, to cast off your sins, to wash away


Key to Extant Map of Temescal, California

cherry orchard, pear grove, football field
ice pits for refrigerating food in spring and summer
archery hall, beer hall, sports bar
yoga (aerobic) (contemplative) (weight loss)
hair salon (with free whiskey shot)
(self-care) (overcare)
café (grain-free) (vegan) (high protein)
yoga (prenatal) (hot) (flying)
beauty supply (barrettes) (curling irons) (extensions) (rhinestone baseball caps that say Boss or Sexy)
tent camp (freeway underpass) tent camp (tree shelter)
bird feeder, fig tree, Zoroastrian church
shrine to Huey Newton
Taoist abbey
street corner where I told the DH about the baby
house of imperial musicians
persimmon tree
wisteria in April
wisteria in May
daylighted creek
ginkgo tree (male)
dawn redwood (planted)
coast redwood (hoping for rain)


Judy Halebsky is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Spring and a Thousand Years (Unabridged). Her honors include fellowships from MacDowell, Millay, the Vermont Studio Center as well as the New Issues Poetry Prize and a Graves Award for Outstanding Teaching in the Humanities. She directs the MFA Creative Writing program at Dominican University of California.


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