Newsprint: Other Duties As Assigned
Wearing pale latex gloves, Ira dips a black metal comb
in his tin bowl of water, picks nits from Claudia's dull
hair still wet from the shower. In her hospital gown,
she sits in front of him on a blue plastic chair. The cops
found her unconscious on Holly Street, her sugar
levels over 800. Claudia doesn't think she's diabetic,
happens to be paranoid. A sign downstairs in the lobby:
We do the healing work of Jesus Christ. He's Jewish;
His plastic I.D. tag Behavioral Health
Counselor badges him in and out of double doors.
At least his sister no longer hears voices, no longer
sleeps with the moon in a cardboard box. His latex
gloves flesh-colored, his black comb, the flecks
and bits, half-sunken carapaces in clear water—
when he sets the comb down beside his bowl
on wet, gray newsprint, Claudia says, Thanks.
Richard Widerkehr's fourth book, Night Journey, has recently been released by Shanti Arts Press; his previous book was At The Grace Cafe (Main Street Rag Publishing). His work has appeared in Shot Glass Journal, Writer's Almanac, Atlanta Review, and many others. He earned his M.A. from Columbia University, won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan, and taught writing in the Upward Bound Program at Western Washington University. Later on, he worked as a case manager with the mentally ill. He reads poems for Shark Reef Review.