A Bouquet of Poems

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Contributor: Wayne Scheer

- -
Twenty Years

Twenty years have gone by,
two failed marriages,
two sons who barely know me,
yet I recognize you,
entering this restaurant, happy,
part of a small group.

I, alone, at the bar.

I see the the space between your front teeth
as you smile,
not at me.
Memories gather,
like birds searching for crumbs.

I squint to see if there's a ring on your finger.
Is there a man nearby
who loves you more than I ever could,
who vows to never disappoint you,
who possesses the strength
to keep his word?

I could blame my failings on youth,
on the seductive powers of another,
but that would be a lie
and I'm sick of lies,
sick of lying.

You look my way,
see me without recognition,
without a trace of curiosity.
You turn and offer a gap-toothed smile
to a man grayer than I, rounder,
a comfortable man.

I turn towards a redhead
half my age
and ask if she'd like a drink.


Twenty years, a lifetime lost.
Has so much life and love transpired
for you that I've been reduced
to a shadow, a vague memory,
a stranger across the room
you don't even recognize?

Or is this a game of cat and mouse?
Am I expected to make the first move?
Do I extend my hand and risk a blank,
“Sorry? Do I know you?”

I deserve the humiliation
after the way we ended,
me in the arms of another
and you in tears.
You deserve your revenge.
I owe you that much.


I small talk the redhead
who smiles and nods,
while her eyes tell me
she wonders how long she has to be polite
to this old man
before she can excuse herself.


I catch you glancing my way again.
You narrow your eyes and tighten your lips,
a look of contempt
all too familiar.

Is it general scorn for a man with a graying beard
trying to impress a babe
or a long suppressed memory
of a stupid boy you once knew?

To my surprise,
I say goodnight
to Ms. Redhead.
I turn to leave
and offer you a slight nod.

I think you nod back.

- - -
Wayne Scheer has been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net. He's published numerous stories, poems and essays in print and online, including Revealing Moments, a collection of flash stories. (http://issuu.com/noir/docs/revealing_momentspear). His short story, “Zen and the Art of House Painting” has been made into a short film (https://vimeo.com/27132239). Wayne lives in Atlanta with his wife.


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