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February 26, 2024

The Truth About What Could Have Happened

By Charlie Brice

The Truth About What Could Have Happened

I never caught her name.
After coffee, after a silence
that stood between us like
an unexploded landmine,
she left my trailer with
neither a kiss nor wave.

Budweiser, peanut butter, and
a Camel for breakfast --
they say life is short.

Outside the welfare office
I wait for the work truck.
I'll cut pulp in the UP today.
On the way to the bridge
we pass birches, cedars,
aspens, and evergreens,
but it's the jungle in Nam
that haunts me: the weed,
the smack, the blood mist
when I scored a hit -- 22 kills
that I'm sure of -- all that
I was ever good at.

Tonight, I've got enough
for a six-pack and half the rent.
I knife into the peanut butter jar.

After the jobs, rehabs, and relapses,
mother threw me out. When she died
she left her money to the church --
the only place it could do any good.

Someone slaps the trailer door.
It's the woman. "I thought
you could use this," she says,
hands me a bucket of KFC.
Inside I pass her a beer.
The chicken's crispy good.

Article © Charlie Brice. All rights reserved.
Published on 2020-02-17
Image(s) are public domain.
2 Reader Comments
01:43:07 PM
Ow. Raw and brutal. I find it interesting that the piece does not ask for sympathy, rather it simply presents a series of stark black and white photos of someone where they are.
09:16:15 PM
The poem tells a life story in 6 stanzas..second line is very cool
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