“Merry” © Bonnie Matthews Brock


At the Houghton & Wilkes Holiday Party

Beer bellies, Christmas ties,
over-decorated wives
top of the economic food chain
overheated air sterile except for perfume
At the buffet table roast beef pink
as alcohol-flushed faces.
After her wedding
Donna from the DC office
gained thirty pounds.
She used to be so pretty.
Mrs. Wilkes complains
the tour bus wouldn’t stop
at her Irish ancestors’ home.
Bluetooth earpiece flashing,
her husband talks to his cell phone.
Nothing to discuss at my table

except the specs of Don’s digital camera.
A tired joke about Hillary.
Me standing in the corner, not an option.
Up front Houghton slurs the company’s history.
He would never have succeeded if not for his employees,
employees toiling in cubicles long after dark.
But who would want
to return to a home smelling of dirty diapers
and wife whose lips purse in disapproval?

Houghton and Wilkes hand out door prizes. Baptist Fred
gets a bottle of vodka. Cindy, the vegan,
a Burger King gift certificate.

Under my Christmas tree
            I hope
                        a better life


Jon Wesick is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, New Verse News, Paterson Literary Review, Pearl, Pirene’s Fountain, Slipstream, Space and Time, and Tales of the Talisman. His most recent books are The Shaman in the Library and The Prague Deception.

Bonnie Matthews Brock is a Florida-based photographer, as well as school psychologist. She enjoys capturing raw single-capture photos of a wide variety of subjects, and learning and experimenting with shooting techniques such as long-exposure and intentional camera movement, as well as with editing methods. You can find Bonnie’s images on the covers of publications such as Ibbetson Street, Poesy Magazine, and Wild Roof Journal, and on the pages of Oddball Magazine, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Ember Chasm Review, Beaver Magazine, and Unstamatic. Her works are archived at institutions such as Poets House NYC, Brown University, University of Buffalo, and Harvard University.