He pushed the
bent, iron poker
into the coals
the way a man
pushes his words into
a conversation he
knows nothing about.
Mindlessly scooting
the scorching chunks
against each other
like Minnesota Fats at
some volcanic
billiards table.

She placed the
last cigarette
in her lips and lit it
with a strike of
his glare.
Her fingers scraped
the remaining
bite of honey biscuit
breakfast from the
saucer and set it
on her tongue.

“There’s chicken in the
fridge from last night.
I’ll be late again.”

She grabbed her purse
as a cable car passenger
pulls the emergency cord
when going one stop
He clutched the
poker like a

The house smelled
of stale smoke
and country ham
just as he imagined his
grandmother’s kitchen
would have smelled
had she lived past
twenty nine.
“Too damn early,”
he thought.

Fireworks splattered
the air when the poker
smashed into the
smoldering stick.
The front door
slammed and his spit
sizzled as it hit
the ash.

     — © Rick Baldwin