Ramrod at the Beach by Wayne F. Burke

I walk down the beach
to the benches
by the pier
and sit,
pull my newspaper
from my pocket;
a nice mild morning
no one near
except a guy
on a bench
some yards away
his feet on the bench
and rear on the top rail
“hey!” he calls, “how are you doing?”
I turn to my horoscope
“bad day for social interaction”
“hey! How are you doing?”
I do not like the look
of the guy’s face
or his orange-tinted sunglasses
that glow like the sun–
“hey! how are you doing?”
“good”
“doing ‘REAL good’ or just ‘good’?”
“great”
“oh! ‘great’ not just ‘good’!”
A gull squawks overhead.
On the guy’s t-shirt an imprint
of a raised middle finger.
“You looking for trouble?”
He reaches down into a back pack
at his feet;
“don’t do that!”
I pull my snub-nosed .38.
He looks up at me, then at the gun
then goes back to fumbling in the pack.
The gun goes off:
he grunts, falls forward
arms cradling his gut;
“you shot me,” he croaks.
“Why did you shoot me?”
He spits the words out…
Above his head three pelicans float
in the hazy sky.
I hear the surf splash onto shore.
I could tell him that
I did not mean to,
but–so what?
I walk down the beach
thinking
maybe he will die;
tell myself that
if so
nobody will miss
one asshole
less.

wayne-f-burke
Wayne F. Burke’s poetry has appeared in a variety of publications (including “In Between Hangovers”). His three published poetry collections, all from Bareback Press, are WORDS THAT BURN, DICKHEAD, and KNUCKLE SANDWICHES. His chapbook PADDY WAGON is published by Epic Rites Press. He lives in Vermont.

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