by John Hazard
In this stiff booth, how can I soothe
my sobbing mother, who insisted
we come here—cheesecake for her,
beer-battered shrimp for me.
We’ve earned it, she said, the day after
the end of my father’s long dying.
In his hospice room, she slept
four months on a cot.
On the phone yesterday
she told a one-year widow friend,
“Your Dan was easier—he went so fast.”
This morning she cleared my father’s closet,
called Goodwill, had me drive her
with the revolver to the pawnbroker,
who gave us three dollars for the gun’s bones—
my father had tossed the cylinder
when she offered to kill them both.
Two-thirty now—the three other diners
have noticed our drama
and complain with their eyes.
I’m supposed to do something.
Who can blame them on this sunny
October workday? They came for the shrimp,
the creamy linguini, the key lime pie.
John Hazard grew up 35 miles southeast of Zanesville, Ohio—his metropolis—but he has lived, taught, and retired in suburban Detroit. His poetry has appeared widely, including Ploughshares, Poetry, Shenandoah, Slate, Gettysburg Review, Carolina Quarterly, and New Ohio Review. His 2015 book of poetry is Naming a Stranger (Aldrich Press).
Nicholas C Casciano has been drawing for over fifty years and during his professional career served as the founder of a first-of-its-kind multimedia production center within a Fortune 500 company. Born without depth perception, he has refused to accept his visual limits and lives by the mantra “talent survives.”