slow burn red

slow burn red
a cigarette and
silent promise
to watch
to wait
no facial outlines
only the grip
on wire fencing
in the dark
observing
in plain sight

slow tendrils of tension
malice
mixing
in the quiet
night air
fear catches
like a struck match

feigned innocence
until one afternoon
he walks up the driveway
tries to come in the
back door

my hackles
words
sharp as knives
tell the stray wolf

go home

hide the tremor in my chest
because I’m alone
facing down
300 pounds
of ex-convict

just me
and an unaware pup
packing up the scraps of an old life
while my ex-lover drinks away
my final goodbye
in a dark corner of the city
the one that couldn’t fathom putting his lips
anywhere but on more bottles
the infidelity
that burned everything
to the ground

so now
in black ink
I check the box
on apartment applications
that calls my dog
a legal
documented
buffer
to the dark nights
that hang
heavy
haunting
in the corners of my mind

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