Charlene slouches into yet another
poetry reading, because the guy’s a friend
and that’s what you do, even as she knows
she’s doing it to look good.
After, the moderator always lets
the group read their own poems,
but Charlene doesn’t want to stay
for their small, sorry expulsions of words
like the popping of zits, even if, once in a while,
someone captures a line
as beautiful as a caged leopard.
But tonight she sits in the wrong place,
and the needy woman whom she avoids like the flu
wants Charlene to read her poem, holds it up like a flag,
and Charlene’s exit explodes into a circus with her
as the performing elephant. Even the next morning
she feels the weight of it beneath her heart,
lonely and hard like fossilized bone.
image by Wendy Thomas