Last thing needed right now is the return of the old toad, with all his half-prince drama and identity issues. Glad to see my camouflage pants again, though couldn't help but notice they fit him better than they fit me. I missed the looseness of them, the five large pockets, which seemed crammed full of something.

I was about to ask how he had been when he croaked a sorry hello and explained the pockets were full of haiku, written on forest leaves. Great. Confused about his body image, life, love, and now he writes haiku. Can't blame him, with all the Nature surrounding him, the Japan-sadness in his New Jersey toad heart.

I asked, not unkindly, "are these to impress the next princess?" He shook his head no.

"Then why haiku?" I was curious.

"Your language is hard to speak, even harder to write, but I've lost hope of ever being more than I am now, half-toad, half-man."

Either he was adept at acting or it actually drained him to admit his shortcomings. Though more of a turtle-lover, I tried to be encouraging, "you never know about life. Could I read one?"

He shyly handed me with his thin-skinned amphibian fingers a brown leaf:

Down stream, fish rainbow
under water become trout
sad toad half wishes

"Not bad," I said, no expert in haiku. "You have another one?"

He shuffled another leaf from a back pocket:

Reflecting sky clouds
Old pond remembers old toad
a friend in winter

"You captured nature and evoked feelings in few words," I commented, repentant of my initial pessimism seeing him, at judging his sadness. I looked up, considered giving him a kiss but he was gone again, his leaf poetry in my favorite pockets.

Brevityquest12 (299 words)