Blowing Up While Fading Away

77 Words About Nothing 
2.21.2012 [1]

I always thought we belonged in some gutter –
Trading punches and clinking bottles.
Shooters, mostly.
Tiny vessels of strawberry wine. Or maybe something peach flavored.
Something breezy to kill the sting of the harder stuff.
Remember that time the bus driver didn’t let me on?
Said the Greyhound was no place for drunkards.
That was Memphis.
She hated my face, my stale smile.
She said it made her miserable.
More miserable than the smell of the river.

77 Words About Nothing
2.21.2012 [2]

We met up with Slow Slim while he was taking the trash down to the curb.
His hair was messed and blood was gushing from the web between his thumb and index finger.
He paused a little to look at us while globs pattered and melted the fresh snow behind his bare feet.
We never talked to Slim.
We’d just walk by to catch glimpses and see if he’d smile.
Give us a toothless grin –
Or maybe wink.

77 Words About Nothing

When you’ve spent as much time as I have cleaning up spilled coffee and steak sauce, it’s the little things that you really begin to appreciate.
Stuffing shells, smelling empty bourbon bottles, buying books,
and burying your blues.
It’s the easy things like these that begin to define your time when you don’t know what else to do with it.
Filling notebooks with jibberish because empty pages are depressing;
and people seem to like gibberish.
Don’t they?

Blowing Up While Fading Away

As a kid,
we blew up a fish.
We shoved a bottle rocket into its respiring mouth and lit it.

When it didn’t die,
one of us flicked it back into its habitat
while it slowly descended,

its wiggles fading –

we watched it bury itself.
Later that day I set off M80s and more bottle rockets with a lit Newport
while secretly hoping I’d blow my fingers off for the fish.

But I only got grounded.
And told there must be a black cloud hanging over me.
It was the last night of summer.
The breeze danced through the screen and past the shade in my room,
calming the guilt in my heart
while kids reveled, laughed, and “made time” with the neighborhood girls on that final night of freedom.

No one would talk to those girls again until next year.
Or winter break.
They were summer specific.
I can still smell the cool night air and hear the conversations that lived vibrantly without me while the moon rose and my eyes flickered until it faded away.


Tony Van Hart is a writer living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His work has been featured on WUWM’s Flash Fiction Friday. He blogs at Blondeonblog.