...while the prisoner is being transferred from one cell to another, there is hope.
— Nahum Glatzer, Kafka: I Am a Memory Come Alive

See, there’s this light, and from where you sit

you can’t determine its origin. But the room

is bright enough to draw tears and here you are

in this chair that is just a few iotae too hard

to be comfortable and there’s a plate in front

of you where one dish is a touch too salty

and one is a smidgen too sweet and the wine

is right over the borderline into bitterness.

You crush out your cigarette against a lima

bean that fell from your plate to the counter

and turn to the obituary section since there was

nothing of value in the classifieds. Once again

there is no one you know but you can count

the time now in days, maybe hours, until

that changes. A snap, a twist, a kiss against

the hollow of the throat, and the nurse

turns the TV off for the final time, the bed

is stripped, the sheets thrown down to launder,

the room prepared for its next inhabitant.

But you know, don’t you, and you have always

known that it’s never so simple as the owners’

manual would have you believe. These aren’t

apples on the branch that sit there and wait

to be plucked by hungry six-year-olds. They

slip, they drift, most of them just wander

until you take them by the shoulders and steer

them through the gates, but sometimes you

get that one who’s just on his game and takes

a header through the window or whatever

and sometimes you wonder where the ones

you lose track of end up, but no one can tell you.

About the author

November 2018 marked Robert Beveridge's thirtieth anniversary as a publishing poet. When not writing, he makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Pink Litter, Triadæ, and Welter, among others. 

Robert Beveridge