Southern haiku

Alabama Living Magazine
Illustration by Dennis Auth

You can pretty much count renowned Southern poets on one hand.

Or at least I can.

And Southern poets who write in the ancient Japanese form, haiku, one finger.

Or at least I can.

(You know who you are.)

So, you can imagine my surprise when I was going through some old notes and found among them 14 poems under the category “Southern Haiku.”

I don’t know the author (s), but from the subjects and style, I’d say that he, she, or them are from around here. For example, one titled “Beauty” reads:

Naked in repose

Silvery silhouette girls

Adorn my mud flaps.

Brings a tear, don’t it?

Some deal with overcoming disappointment. Southerners are good at that. 

“A New Moon”

Flashlights pierce darkness

No night crawlers to be found

Guess we’ll gig some frogs

And our love of the simple things.


Joyful, playful, bright

Trailer park girl rolls in puddle

Of old motor oil.

Some of the subjects reflect life’s tragedies, of which Southerners have many.


Seeking solitude

Carl’s ex-wife Tammy files for

Restraining order



A painful sadness

Can’t fit big screen TV through

Double-wide’s front door

Or the passions we feel:


Dern, in that tube-top

You make me almost forget

That you’re my cousin

And my particular favorite:


In early morning mist

Mama searches Circle K for

Moon Pies and Red Man

With these few verses, my whole opinion of Southern poetry and poets changed. 

Why didn’t they teach me this in American Lit at Clarke County High School back in the 1950s?


In Walmart toy aisle

Wailing boy wants rasslin’ doll

Mama whips his butt.

If they had taught that back then, I might have studied harder.

Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist for Alabama Living. He can be reached at


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