Dragon Tree Haikus

Dappled sun skirt smile

Red light bush on prairie road

Squirrels hoard small nuts. 

Backpack and scuffed boots

Sand dunes reveal seashells

Dragons nip worn heels. 

Gold dust minstrel girl

Squirts her nipple in my flask

Hero slays dead bones. 

Swing from the bent branch

Crackling sinews melody

Kick up the fig leaves. 

Tannin bark and bones

Sprinkle dyed mushrooms and poems

Campfire girls sing songs. 

Published by Michael Sean Erickson

I write, act, and produce films in Los Angeles. Everything else is conjecture.

4 thoughts on “Dragon Tree Haikus

    1. The title, “Dragon Tree Haikus,” suggests that the haikus should be read as fantastical, or at least as touched by fantasy. All haikus come to life in the imagination, of course; but these are meant to be read in the context of a “dragon,” a fantasy creature from the fabled past. The “dappled sun skirt smile” compares a tree (the branches and leaves dapple the sun) and a woman. The next line suggests a lascivious woman, “red light bush,” as in the red light district. This is also a reference to the burning bush in the Book of Exodus, which like the story of a man in a red light district is also a story about a sojourn. The same sojourn can be seedy or holy depending upon the context. The “small nuts” reference is sexual, of course, but it also implies meticulous planning for the season. In this case, it is a season of traveling literally and figuratively into the wilderness. “Backpack and scuffed boots” returns to the sojourn theme, but this time our traveller is walking not from one place to another so much as away from the fabled past. When “sand dunes reveal seashells” we see that a desert wasteland has overtaken what in the ancient past had been a living sea. This past had been more fable than history, though, for our hero is walking away from “dragons” nipping at his heels. “Gold dust minstrel girl” refers to a gold glittering medieval vaudeville performer. She allures sojourners with false charms in the form of milk secreted from her bosom into a man’s flask. The flask indicates a man who is drunken on this beautiful witch’s charms, and so he imagines himself as a chivalrous knight (medieval hero) but is only slaying dead bones (futile gestures of heroism). In essence, this haiku is a classic morality tale warning heroes to avoid the snares of beautiful witches. “Swing from the bent branch” refers to a hung man, but also refers to Christ on the cross. In Galatians 3:13, St. Paul refers to Christ “hung on a tree.” The “crackling sinews” refer to the sound of a tightening noose, but the “melody” suggests something more pleasant to the ear, perhaps the response of heavenly song to the redemptive death of Christ on the cross. The Christ reference is made more explicit with the reference to kicking up the fig leaves. The fig leaf is what Adam and Eve wear when they are fallen into sin, so kicking them off refers to the redemption from sin and return to innocence. At the same time, it refers to a swinging corpse on a noose kicking away leaves. The picture is both majestically theological (Christ on a tree) and cruel and common (unknown corpse on a tree). The sojourn theme continues here, for it is on the road we come across a stranger who may be as much Christ as an outlaw. At home, we are surrounded by what we already know and find comfortable, so we are not confronted with the Christ/outlaw dichotomies with which we may have to contend on the road. “Tannin bark and bones” refers to an ancient writing tool (“tannin bark”) and bones cast into a hot cauldron. Also in this witch’s stew are “dyed mushrooms” (mental hallucinogens) and “poems” (spiritual hallucinogens). When we mix writing (artistry), bones (incantations), and hallucinogens (mushrooms and poems), we can see witches as “campfire girls.” Either this is a trick, and we are being duped into seeing sinister witches around the bonfire as “campfire girls” singing songs. Or this is a deeper insight that in fact the scorned witches from the fabled past always had been innocents. On our sojourn out from fables we are forced to ask ourselves what had been real and fantastical in those living stories.


      1. So I’m guessing you didn’t write this poem over night? Because holy cow.
        That was an intensely elaborative break down. I truly love that you just shared all that with me and allowed me to see your process in that way.
        Clearly your work is beyond my understanding. regardless, I still value it and treasure its depth.

        Liked by 1 person

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