Shadorma: The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang

Hard black smoke
And the whistle’s shriek:
She’s comin’.
Palms grip guns,
Sweat runs, fired by dreams of gold.
A bored horse whinnies.

In first class
Whale-boned dames complain:
Lord, this heat.
How far now?
And whatever possessed you
To bring us out here?

The men point
Out of the windows.
Hell, woman –
Look at it.
One section is just the start.
Boy, have I got plans.

Brakes. A scream.
Masks and revolvers.
All of you:
On the floor.
Now. Ground-shaking shock. Smoke clears.
Hoofprints in the dust.

The bad guys
Have swapped their black hats
For dark suits,
For bonuses and bailouts.
But they’re still out there.


I’m indebted to the witty and wonderfully talented Ina for introducing me to the shadorma – a kind of Spanish haiku with a syllable count of 3, 5, 3, 3, 7 and 5. I love the laconic, economical style of Robert B Parker’s Cole and Hitch novels, and thought it would be fun to try rendering a classic (or do I mean cliched?) western scene as my first attempt at this highly constrained form. To see how it should be done, I recommend this one! N.

7 thoughts on “Shadorma: The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang

  1. Better than any western novel, Nick: Tight, narrative enough to flesh out the universe in which it is placed, and then the spear at the contemporary world. I’ve never tried a shadorma, but will do so one of these days. I saw the one Ina did on her blog. I had never heard of the form either. This seems to be the perfect way to handle it, though: short sentences, images that flash rather than sing, and a denouement that echoes into the past while slinging blazing guns at the present. Wow!
    I’ve finished by Italian sonnet now, but won’t publish it for a few days. I’m not sure about it at all and need to publish a photograph and one of Ethel’s poems first.
    This is simply a fun lol poem.

    • Thank you, Tom – as you may have guessed, I also had Butch and Sundance in mind when I wrote this. I’m glad it raised a smile; it wasn’t meant to be too serious! Looking forward to reading your Italian sonnet…I’m sure it will be wonderful. N.

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