South End Stew: Fall Is The Smoke

by Alex Gallo-Brown

wafting off a microwaved bowl
of gluten-free chicken noodle soup,
I tell the Trader Joe’s clerk,
watch as his smile dims.
I can smell the seasons
changing, I whisper.
I can feel them in my gums.

Outside, a woman tells me that she wants salami,
bread, and a few stalks of string cheese.
Are you making sandwiches?
the clerk asks me,
his smile a flickering gun.
How badly he wants comfort.
How desperate he is
to hold onto sun.

Outside, the woman’s mouth
is a bowl full of loose change.
You think that I am satisfied?
You believe that my work is done?
I wear smoke in my ears, in my eyes,
in my clothes.
When I slurp, the soup won’t come.

 Alex Gallo-Brown is a writer based in Beacon Hill. He is a member of the outreach and education team of the Fair Work Center.