(for Jose C.)

Sagging coats
picked limply from
the chipped cubby.

slipped on like bruised
banana peels

or commercial straight-
jackets threaded
with stitched wrists
the zippers open onto

Dachau’s rib
indelible slashes
carved masterfully
in animal randomness.

A Spanish girl
flaked skin falling
covers her mouth
with a napkin
she’s drawn on,
muttering about germs.

filing along like
miscalculated index numbers,


“You, with the bruises
that have
a good memory and
a bandaged
wrist.      Go

sit by the telephone
is carved in the wall
by an earnest unfortunate.
Tonight is still CO:
constant observation
for short

I will
watch you when my coffee
is strong

When I am weak think
of how you got here,
and avoid anything sharp.”

* * *

“Smokebreak” comes from John Thomas Allen’s chapbook The Other Guy, published in August 2012 by Crisis Chronicles Press. The Other Guy is 16 pages, lovingly hand assembled, with a saddle stitch white and black card stock binding and cover art by Steven B. Smith. It is available for only $6 from Crisis Chronicles Press, 3344 W. 105th St. #4, Cleveland, Ohio 44111. 

John Thomas Allen is a 29 year old poet who lives in New York, for the moment. His work has appeared over 40 journals and he has been known to say that his chief ambition is “to write a real poem one of these days!”