Let's say this Killian's® is her first
and not her third on a Monday-night empty
stomach halfway home but stopped,
side-burrowed into a tight, two-person booth
at Old Bag o' Nails after battered pickles.

Let's say this guy in the gray-striped polo
wonders what that woman is writing about,
smiling into that journal while the crowd around her
sways in their seats to smooth easy
in this wood-warm room, monotony
silent on monitors.

And let's say...
striped polo is brave enough to cross
softly to booth from bar, breach the shell, expose
his neck to the blade of her response,
that this swift greeting breaks a pattern
that has ruled his race for years.

Say this Monday night she scored
the sharp edge from her tongue, tastes instead
slight-sweet nectar in his almost dance, gazes
amazed at his slow approach while
lithe servers cross, two thirty-somethings chuckle by,
and cable TV footballs to commercial,

answers his lope and caution with smile, a word,
a cold-beer-clammy handshake, and a let's…
let's anything… just let’s.


Rose M. Smith is a Cave Canem fellow and author of Shooting the Strays (Pavement Saw Press, 2003), A Woman You Know (Pudding House Publications, 2005), and Holes in My Teeth (Kattywampus Press, 2016), and was co-editor of Cap City Poets: Columbus and Central Ohio’s Best Known, Read, and Requested Poets (Pudding House Publications, 2008). Her work has appeared in The Examined Life, Mom Egg Review, Naugatuck River Review, Chiron Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Main Street Rag, The Pedestal Magazine, A Narrow Fellow, other journals and anthologies. She is a Senior Editor with Pudding Magazine, facilitator of Columbus Salon monthly poetry workshop in central Ohio, and has served as contest judge and coach for Ohio Arts Council in support of their Poetry Out Loud program promoting poetry in Ohio high schools.