I cherish most that ability
to accept responsibility for nothing.
Someone had moved the roadblocks aside,
and another driver gives the finger to the guy
who sets the stanchions back in place.
At home, the driver warns her child
to stay on the sidewalk
as she vanishes inside
to take in her favorite soap.
The child toddles down the walk
to see his buddy next door,
knowing a paddle’s coming if discovered.
Where’s the mountain, I want to know,
the one off which everyone’s so eager to jump?
I need to see them hit bottom,
He’d spent months in waiting rooms,
becoming a foreign and national affairs expert,
while his wife grew oblivious to needles and machines.
“Them girls who tell about the president’s reason
to bomb the hell out of a country don’t understand
that some people simply must die to keep
gas in the tanks and heat in the house.”
He smacks and swallows, considering.
“See, it’s all there if you just watch and listen.
This one makes noise about oil or food or land,
and then comes the bait,
the pitch that we have to save the innocent,
and we do it!
Yes, we do.”
“And people die.”
A nurse appears in the recovery unit doorway,
calls his name, and it registers in his eyes,
understanding without explanation.
He sits for a moment more,
then stands slowly, looks down at me.
“They tell you how many die,
how many we save,
but never how many who suffer,
or for how long.”
C.S. Fuqua’s books include White Trash & Southern ~ Collected Poems ~ Vol. I, Hush, Puppy! A Southern Fried Tale (children’s picture book), Rise Up (short fiction collection), The Native American Flute: Myth, History, Craft, Trust Walk (short fiction collection), The Swing: Poems of Fatherhood, Divorced Dads, and Notes to My Becca, among others. His work has appeared in publications such as Main Street Rag, Pudding, Dark Regions, Iodine, Christian Science Monitor, Cemetery Dance, Bogg, Year's Best Horror Stories XIX, XX and XXI, Amelia, Slipstream, The Old Farmer's Almanac, The Writer, and Honolulu Magazine.