One Night at a Pak-a-Sak in Iraq
(or, No Need To Put That in a Bag, Dad)
It all hit home in less than sixty seconds.
You remember, it was the night
the sky started falling in Baghdad.
There was a harried-looking reporter
on a hotel balcony, giving his play-by-play
as fireballs wracked the city’s heart.
He was carrying on about how frightened
(shocked and awed) the populace must be,
what with the sirens blaring,
unseen jets screaming overhead in the dark,
tracers and ack-ack printing ghost lines in the sky,
saying over and over that this was a city in fear.
Just then, as if on cue, without a clue
that his world was deconstructing, he appeared.
Over the reporter’s shoulder, out on the darkened street,
an ancient, battered Toyota trundled past,
and, blinker obediently flashing, it eased
into the deserted Pak-a-Sak lot .
A slump-shouldered man got out of the car,
stood dumbly staring at the shuttered store,
and wondered just how he’d explain to his wife
that he’d forgotten the milk and bread earlier,
and now, for what seemed almost no reason at all,
the neighborhood store was closed.
He got back in,
adjusted the mirrors,
and backed out onto the deserted street,
a suddenly worried grasshopper
making his weary way home
through a city of well-stocked ants.
Jim Barton writes from Huttig, Arkansas. He works as a chemical
laboratory technician and has poetry published or accepted at Snowy
Egret, MOBIUS, Dana Literary Society, Between the Lines, Blue Collar
Review, and others.