Occasional Visit

The glow under the bedroom door 

flickers blue 

 

from the muted TV.

 

I sketch in the spackled ceiling, 

fill in faces with seconds

 

& I wait for Old Smoke to return. 

 

His urn is buried 

on the top shelf of our closet

 

because “underground is too permanent.”

 

He often sneaks out 

for a chat after his daughter’s 

 

sleeping pills kick in

 

& I greet him with a stale cigarette 

he bought tax-free on the reservation.

 

He has cut back from three packs

and has never felt better 

in all his life, he winks.

 

He asks how it tastes, 

how his grandchildren are doing, 

 

if we’ve yet sold his place,

 

I blow four rings his way

& watch them break upon his face;

 

a kiss, I say, from each 

 

family member. Before he goes, 

I ask him to take his pack and 

 

put it back in its hiding spot, 

 

his urn. Shove it way down 

into his gray bones and skin, 

 

down deep,

 

into the dark place

his daughter never dares to dig. 

Jason Hackett is a small business owner, father of four and sleep deprived. His poems can be found in The Journal of American Poetry, Slippery Elm Literary Journal, Crack the Spine, Blue River Review, Sky Island Journal, High Shelf and Cathexis Northwest Press.

©2018 HighShelfPress. 

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