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Image by Lance Anderson

Five Shekels for a Haiku

(c) Linda Hutchison May 3, 2020

“Five shekels for a Haiku!”

The vendor called loudly as we entered the market. I was overwhelmed.

“I didn’t know this existed.”

My friend smiled, “You wanted words. This is the best place to find them.”

“Wow,” was all I could utter as I gazed across hundreds of stalls – Sonnet Treasures, Psalms Reader, The Genre Giant, Limerick Liam, Quality Quatrains, Words Recycled, and Essays.

“Can we look at the Haiku?” I tugged on his sleeve. We made our way slowly through the strange assortment of shoppers, stopping in front of a van with a distinctly Middle Eastern theme. I quizzed the vendor.

“Why are you charging shekels? I thought you only took Aussie dollars.”

“They’re authentic Israeli Haiku,” announced the vendor proudly with a strong, if not accurate, accent.

“But I thought Haiku’s Japanese?”

“No, no! Israeli. Read for yourself. Only eight shekels for two.” He handed me a cellophane-covered sheet with two poems. The first read:

Hope reigns eternal
Every dark day in Israel
A silver lining

“Okay.” I looked doubtfully at the second. The alphabet wasn’t English, but neither was it Hebrew nor Arabic.

“This looks like Russian. How can they be authentic Israeli Haiku if they are written in Russian?” My tone was one of disbelief.

“Ah, they’re secret Israeli Haiku, translated into Russian.”

“What does it say then?”

The vendor lifted his hands, palms aloft.

“How would I know? I don’t read Russian.”

“Seriously!” We walked away. Suddenly my friend pulled me across to a large tent.

“A word wrangler. Awesome!”

In front of us were bags and bags of words, all clearly labelled.

“Oooo, a bag of adverbs.” I snatched it and read through the plastic. “Close, well, clumsily, next year, timidly, often.” I was almost shivering with excitement. I grabbed another bag.

“Antonyms, yes!” My friend and I gave each other a high five. I grabbed another bag and scanned the sample.

“This bag has only copies of the one four letter word.”

The vendor looked across at what I was holding and replied, “Ah yes, but that word is so very versatile.”

After pondering for a moment, I had to agree. Then I spotted some brown paper bags of words in the corner. I nudged my friend.

“Are they…?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Oh.” I scanned the opposite end of the table, then remembered why we’d come.

“These are fun, but I need a 500-word story.”

My friend motioned down the end of the row where a large black trailer stood. We headed past Furious Micro-fiction, Wit for Comics, and The Platitude Specialist. A shopper was having an animated discussion with the story vendor.

“I clearly said that I wanted a story about a yak. You gave me a medical romance.”

The vendor didn’t seem very repentant.

“I thought you said quack. You can swap it for any of these.” He gestured to the front of the collection then looked at me.

“How can I help?”

“I want a story set in a market.”


Five Shekels for a Haiku: Work
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