When I come home from work,
you ask me– drunk– to turn on
music, shoot tequila with lime.
But my stomach hasn’t settled
after a long day in the plague.
Today, in the office– the blue-
faced accountant lumbered into
his white pick-up truck mid-day
to go home. Gabby insists the
devil’s inside her. Natalie says
she’s walking on string. Jim–
healthy since 2014– told of a
friend who had bird flu and
survived, but lost a thumb
(years later being something
even he could laugh about).
But I feel fine, beside the knot
in my gut. I am told to eat bread,
rice, applesauce, and toast to settle
the stomach, but I choose burger,
rare, because I want to sail a shore
with risk. To fight fire with…
I know I live in raging flames.
But everything around me
seems tame and far away–
cancer, car accidents, shootings.
This is what people joke about.
We assume we’ll see tomorrow
those who leave today. But look
at the bags under our eyes, prune
skin we are ourselves, sapped of
sun within bricks of artificial light.
(originally published in The Cannon’s Mouth, Fall 2019)