For the anonymous and their loved-ones, may they find peace before the end.

I didn’t know the man,
But I saw him every morning.
I was working construction,
Right across the street from his home.

I would arrive a little before seven each day,
And I’d see him sitting in front of his window.
The blue smoke of his cigarette,
Drifted through the screen,
Like the house was breathing fire.

Through the screen I could see his silhouette,
But I never had a good-look at him.

He lived with a woman,
But I never saw her.
Around Eight, like clockwork,
I would hear her screaming at him in disgust and anger.
They would argue like this every day.

One particular morning,
I noticed him there at his window sitting as always,
But on this day there was no smoke.
And then again at eight that morning,
I heard the woman screaming.
Only this time there was no argument after.

Her screams were different too.
They were louder and increasingly inconsolable.
Me and some of the other workers became worried,
And ran across the street,
To see if we could help.

I knocked on the door,
And she answered the door with tears in her eyes.
She was wearing an old black sweatshirt and blue jeans.
Her brown and silver hair was pulled back in a pony tail,
A few strands fell to the side framing her face.

Their front hallway smelled of cigarette smoke, cat piss, and fried onions.
To the left an archway led to the linoleum-floored kitchen.
The man was sitting at a white-topped table with rusty metallic legs.
His shirt was off and his thick gray and black bushy beard sat on his chest hair,
Flowing together as one.
Under the rug of hair, his skin was red and loose,
Spotted with a few moles and faded tattoos.
His eyes were large, black and empty,
Glassed over and blood-shot.
He held a glass in one hand and a bottle of bourbon in the other.
He was dead.

The police and medics were called and arrived after ten or fifteen minutes.
They picked him up and put him on a stretcher,
Covering him with a hospital sheet.
Rigor mortis was setting in,
And the man was stuck in the sitting position.
The EMT tried to push the man’s legs down,
But this only made his upper-body rise.
As he rose, his extended arm came out from under the sheet,
And his thumb contracted giving the appearance that he was grabbing.
“Look…” said the policeman in a dry voice tinged with morbid humor,
“He’s still reaching for the bottle.”


Andrew Borne is 2 Cups Poet 1 teaspoon Musician 1/4 teaspoon Salt 1/2 cup Absurdity 3/4 cup Chef 1 egg, beaten 2 1/3 cups Family Man. Mixed together and served raw. His column appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.