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Friday, April 01, 2016


by Jim Gustafson

   With thanks to Mikhail Iossel.

One by one, Mikhail says,
they are leaving through the door
permanently left ajar.
The party goes on without them.
Conversations and feigned laughter
roll into the hall. Ice cubes toll
the glasses. I will have one more.

They are not old.  Some younger
than I have left. The funny ones
see jokes that I just walk by.
They have left their drinks
on the table. Small napkins soak
the sweat. Carrying laughter,
they vanish down the stairs,
through the doors, out
onto the dark lamp avenue.

Others will follow. The songs
will replay. People will ask
did we hear that a while ago,
or is a while ago now?
The music is never forgotten.

Along the damp streets, heel taps
echo against the brownstones.
The funny ones hear and wonder
if they are alone. They stop and listen
then go on, thinking, have you heard
the one about the guy who was alone
and heard footsteps?

Jim Gustafson holds a Master of Divinity from Garrett Theological Seminary at Northwestern University and an MFA from the University of Tampa. His chapbook, Driving Home, was published by Aldrich Press in 2013. He teaches at Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida Southwestern State College. His work has most recently appeared in Prick of the Spindle and The Tishman Review. Jim lives in Fort Myers, Florida where he reads, writes, and pulls weeds.