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Category: Poetry

Scenes From a Spiteful Business

I. Pressure

start in midair, say, on a plane
the change in your ears as you descend–the pressure–is the
weight of the air
it is laid out in the barometric formula, which is
unerring, and explains, too, the freezing drizzle
that pelts the taxi’s windows on the drive from the airport, the cabby
lamenting the goal line fumble
that cost his team a spot in the final–they just couldn’t handle the pressure–you in the back seat, shivering, sour-breathed and
wishing you’d brought an umbrella, whispering under your breath,
just drive, just shut up and drive

II. Force

it was once called the badger game
a man would meet a stranger in a
shop and be offered an envelope of photographs–the man and a woman,
a woman and the man–this man’s wife never needs to know if certain timely
payments were made
your client wants nothing but an end, wishes to
pretend it’s as tidy as cutting in on a couple dancing a saraband in Cario or
another pulsing city
the man in question–his haircut and the knot in his
tie both
too tight–says, there is no evidence to support that claim treats you
like you’re the boy who always spoils it for others but his eyes,
litmus blue ruins, confess he is a man who has lain in the wrong bed
for too
long the sheets still warm to the husband’s palm

III. Release

you spend most of your work hours slouched in your car
a thermos of coffee,
a bottle to piss in, a camera on the passenger seat
your boredom is mute,
unlike your kitchen faucet, which complains in irregular beats
the ice in your glass does not work by inertia, it reaches out cold tendrils
to gather in the whiskey’s heat, much as the mind collects memories
(ice is the
truest archive of the past–consider the soot and seeds at the heart of
glaciers–we cannot beguile ice)
the bartender places a fresh tumbler in
front of you and looks at the man in the corner the
ice clicks against your teeth
you left your offering on his table
later he will insist
he was only seeking shelter

A version of this poem won the Contemporary Verse 2 2003 2-Day Poem Contest.
It first appeared on the Contemporary Verse 2 website.
Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved.

Best paired with Wild Turkey 101 sipped from a pocket flask.

Reprint and reproduction rights for this story are available for purchase. Contact me for more information on Anthologies, Course Packs, Reading Comprehension Exams, Translations, and Dramatic Adaptations

Photo credit: crowt59 on Visualhunt / CC BY

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This blog is written and produced on Turtle Island in Winnipeg, MB, on Treaty 1 Land that is the territories of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Lakota, Inuit, and Dene peoples, and is the Traditional Homeland of the Métis Nation. All material, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved. Header photo credit: darkday. on