Little Huffer’s Lit Cigarette

Michelle Matthees

Red flowers drag themselves back into the earth

which is playing poker, isn’t bluffing

this hand or is bluffing and flips

an empty palm for the boy alone on a

blue stone, face an amazed dove, when

the cloud of a coupé opens over

a post-Soviet street’s fruit stand

and plums so sweet with eerie green

flesh burnt by snow. Christ is there? In the pit!

Watch your face will come right off

to leave a grill of gold teeth, October

hair burgundy, trampled cerulean smock,

lamé piping in the muck.

The silver paint precipitates. Blind

tadpoles thicken the pond. The joker

pisses. Sad enough but the transplanted

boy of the white churches

forgot about artifice when he lit his

cigarette we know—because

we have history on our side—

how he burned out, is burning still

in the minds of the little watchers

beneath whatever it was that

once passed for water.


Michelle Matthees lives and writes in Duluth, Minnesota. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s MFA program in Creative Writing. Recent work of Michelle’s can be found in PANK, The Prose Poem Project, Cider Press Review, 22 Magazine, Proof, Memorious, Anderbo, Defenestrationism, 5 Quarterly, Humber Pie, Specs, Third Wednesday, Paradise Review, The Mom Egg, Sou’wester, Thrice Fiction, and elsewhere.