Prizewinner Pauses


            "Thought I heard something," he says
             with half a jaggedtoothy grinó

          Sitting opposite an authorized Prizewinner
          twenty years past his prime but still a name
          on spines on worldwide library shelves

          Face that's a field of scarlet blotches
          looking like it once (or several times)
          got sprayed by a flamethrower

            "Hear a lot of things, at night:
             burglars and cutthroats up in the atticó"

          Out peer a pair of unburnt blue eyes
          so contrariwise they stare ablaze
          at the afterdinner chessboard

          As here comes a gaunt hand agitated
          as though from hesitation but in fact
          to brinksmanship a little silence

            "Characters down in the basement,
             dragons with automatics in their fistsó"

          Not that you've done a thing noisier
          in the last thirty minutes than digest
          dinner, and is that what he's glaring at?

          Matching this onetime master of diction
          and selectivity, recognizing certain standards
          must apply while others be overlooked

            "And I  know it's only a damnfool Thing
             in my dreams, butóglad when I'm not
             alone in a house at night, even so"

          On which confessional note the hand pounces:
          Red Knight to King's 2ndó"Check" announces
          Prizewinner, lighting up with flourishes.


Originally published in Not Necessarily
(St. Charles, IL: Not Necessarily)
Number 4, Fall/Winter 1993

Copyright © 1993, 2004  by P. S. Ehrlich


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