Three poems by Frank Richardson

War

sitting in traffic
stupid with rage
I wanted to kill the
bastard
in the minivan
in front of me.

hate like the sun
jerked in my chest
my eyes burned
my fingers clawed the wheel

and I recalled how I used to sign all my letters:
Peace, –

“Traffic in the rearview mirror” (photo by Flickr user grendelkhan)

A Bit Of The Whole

think of the
fox
the coon
the mink
perceiving or nor
the jaws of steel traps
just before
a bone is crushed.

most don’t see it coming
most are most
surprised
struggle a bit
then die.

but some are willing to
sacrifice

a bit of the whole

and chew off their bloodied parts
so that the rest
may live

just
a little while

longer.

“Smoking trap” (photo by Flickr user Two Hawk’s Eye)

Bootlegger

driving home
the exit still 3 miles ahead
the exit to the last open liquor store fast approaching
1 mile
(I don’t want to go)
½ a mile
(I don’t need to go)
¼ a mile
(I can turn off later…
I just need more time
…to think)
the car speeds along
my hands tight on the wheel

there it is

now!

I turn right
almost swerving off the highway
up the exit to connect
to the road into Missouri.

humming along
I listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing
“At last”
and miss
the last exit
toward home;
the car carries me on
past the state line…

midnight
I arrive
at Royal Liquor
500 yards beyond the Kansas state line.

I walk in casually

down a familiar aisle
and select a 5th of bourbon
bring it to the counter
need cigarettes:
“do you have cartons?”
“yes. over there by the window.”

I search the display, not finding my brand
“try the boxes next to you.”

ah
“wouldn’t have looked there, thanks.”

I hand the clerk my tenuous credit card
sign the receipt
and leave.

back on the highway
back across the border
I am content
the anxiety gone

I don’t need to drink the bottle
just because I have it

it just feels better
the security of knowing it’s there

I drive home.

I didn’t open it until 3 a.m.

Frank Richardson started writing poetry and fiction (as a way to maintain his sanity) while studying neuroscience in graduate school at Yale. His first novel, The Glass Artist, for which he is seeking a publisher, placed in the long list of the 2011 Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. His work has appeared in The Montucky Review, Do Not Look At The Sun, and in the San Jacinto College literary journal Threshold. He lives with his wife in Houston, Texas, where he teaches microbiology at San Jacinto College.