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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 4: July 2020
Haibun Story: 163 words
By Jonathan Humphrey

Song of Sweat
(A Substation In Whitley County, Kentucky)


A man tying steel in a six-foot trench, shoulders framed in rich orange clay, is a man prone to daydreams. Often he is laying the groundwork for an elevator that will lift into the heavens. Past this star, that. The scope nudging infinity, door opening. You need only extend your arm into pure white light. Or today, after the noon buffet fogged his frontal lobe, plucking a glistening beetle from the wall of dirt. Bejeweled. And knowing it to be auspicious. Worth its weight in diamonds. Trading its wings for endless rounds of cheap whiskey, and its legs for dance after dance with tall women, thin upper lips, coarse chestnut hair, like his mother. Him. Trench of him. Pockmarked, creased, burnt, sullen. Nothing more than himself. Diadem of brine. Constellation of salt. The sun presses down. In bird shadow he flickers off and on, off and on.

bald tires
the cicadas find
another gear

Jonathan Humphrey’s
Issue 4, July 2020

work has recently appeared in Acorn, Contemporary Haibun, Frogpond, The Heron’s Nest, MacQueen’s Quinterly and Modern Haiku. He is the author of a collection of haiku and haibun, How to Disassemble Your Father’s Ghost (Kattywompus Press, 2017), and his haibun story of the same name is anthologized in The Best Small Fictions 2015. With a fondness for whiskey and whippoorwills, he divides his time between the lights of Nashville and the woods of his native Kentucky.

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