A.C. Koch

Broken Haiku

Dark night–a dinner
somewhere across the city
then drinks in a club

jazz tunes–red, blue lights,
my wife–beautiful and young
the star of my life

she claps, just polite
at song’s end, then a gaunt man
takes the mic and says

something about time
and how much has gone by now
and then he plays

something simple, sad,
a melody of triads
over in seconds

while stillness takes her
and roots her to the moment
–with tears in her eyes

I sip my whiskey
and look at my hands, I can’t
understand, or won’t

really try. Am I
bringing this on? Have I said
or done something wrong?

The moment passes
the song is done, another
begun: Blue in Green

a rustle of drums
chiming chords on the keyboard
as the gaunt man plays

eyes closed, far away
in the landscape of the song
his escape, I think

from the memory
of what sparked that melody
that pulled my wife’s tears

She gathers her coat.
“Did you pay yet? We should go.”
My drink is half drunk

but I am not yet.
I down it with a swallow
“Not another song?”

But her smile is gone.
It’s late and we’re far from home
and her look is dark.

Later in the car
as I touch her stockinged knee
street lights wash us clean

She turns towards me
“Is there anything you can’t
forgive, I wonder?”

Rain gems the windshield
city lights paint the highway
rear view mirror shines

a bandit’s mask on
my face. “I’ve stolen your future,”
I say, eyes on road.

“Can you forgive me that?”
I don’t know who the man was
or how she knew him

but I saw the look
the music put on her face
Gaunt fingers on keys

that once touched her skin
Love still there under the tune,
living in music

“The future is ours,”
she says towards the raindrops
“But my past is mine.”

We’re still far from home,
Freeway cleaving the city,
Low clouds bright as chrome

Jazz on radio
A version of ‘Blue in Green’
and we share a glance

“He’s nothing,” she says,
“but I miss the me he loved.
I’m not her. She’s gone.”

Kill the radio.
Steer for the open highway.
We’re here and it’s now.

A.C. Koch is a teacher, writer and musician whose work has been published in Analog, Split/Lip, Puerto del Sol, Hobart and F(r)iction. After spending about fifteen years living and working overseas (France, South Korea, Mexico), Koch resides in Denver, Colorado, working with language learners and making music with Firstimers, a power-pop ensemble.