Paul presses the tart O of his kiss
against a soft cheek
then recoils from the sharp slap
that raises a welt upon his face.
His tongue tastes the smoke
released from her resentment.
A flame flashes as his hand
refuses to let go her shirt sleeve.
He starts to pull her back
for round two with better aim,
but a low blow crumples his
bloated beer body.
Paul feels lumber hands
heft him as easy as an axe.
The door opens to neon, the moon,
the toss, the skid on icy concrete.
Immediate couples skirt
his sidewalk bruising
and brush against a blue Ford
as they retreat to the nearest home.
copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney
Paul takes the term locked and loaded,
applies to his state of stubbornness and inebriation,
looks down the barrel of another beer can,
digs in the desert soil with bare hands
and replants a prickly pear his bare foot knocked over.
There is a cage called his apartment.
Lori disassembled all her illusory barricades,
then mined the sofa for change
to pay tolls on the road out of Paul’s life.
She left no note.
Paul watches a roadrunner size him up
as if it could swallow him whole
or at least peck out his shriveled liver.
He bleeds dots where he removes
spines from his calloused foot.
Lori’s hand bag is full of Paul’s gun metal blues
bullets, bullshit and a turtle rattle.
She intends to pawn these toward her escape.
She presses her tongue against a molar
tastes the last minty swish.
Paul limps back to his car.
The trailhead lot keeps his car stationary
and sand drifts like snow around the tires.
The wind blows a heavy chill laden with grit,
blasts blurry what should be transparent.
copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney