It hit like a bullet to the brain,
hell, it may have been a bullet,
afterwards things were never the same.

There was physical pain for awhile,
then nothing, and after:
years of watching, waiting, waiting,
for what?

Finally, there was that look in her eyes,
the unbearable one,
the one that showed her desperate, thwarted need.
The need that he was now dead to,
that she needed so badly,
that he could not give.

It had hit like a bullet,
hell, maybe it was a bullet;
and there was that physical pain –
at least it seemed to be pain,
but later, after the slow bleeding time,
there was nothing,
nothing at all.

“I Get That a Lot”

He was sitting in a padded lawn chair on the patio
trying to read Gorky Park while
several colorful parrots sporadically squawked
their appreciation of the tropical afternoon.

The three-day fever had broken earlier in the day
and now, as he waited for the fog in his head to clear,
there was a bustling nearby, new arrivals
at the Casa Internaciónal.

He looked over at the noise,
trying to focus his tired, red eyes, and
suddenly she was there, hurrying toward
one of the rooms across the way.

He had never seen, feverish or not,
a woman so beautiful.
Who was she? Why was she here?

He imagined, from her olive-skin
and fine features, that she was an actress –
an actress from some fortunate acting company
from Spain here to perform at the National Theatre.

She came back out of her room again,
saw him, favored him with a radiant smile.
He was sure of it now – a Spanish actress.

Two days later, the fever and fog completely gone,
she introduced herself. From Israel, she said,
just a hydrologist helping the nation produce clean water.
Had never acted, she explained, never even been to Spain.

I knew that, he lied with a weak laugh,
I could tell right away you were an Internacionalista.
It was the fever had me confused, and
the way you look.

She lightly rested her hand on his arm,
presented him a near fatal smile,
of course, she said, it’s a natural mix up,
especially down here, I get that a lot.
Of course, he said feebly, of course you do.

“When You Died”

When you died
there was only the image of
your lifeless body
in the open bitter coffin –
your hands limp and useless
face not quite real,
jaw too square, the flesh too loose;
your intelligent eyes were closed,
your brilliant mind lost to us,
your voice still, then, forever.

J. B. Hogan was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize for his story “Kerosene Heat.” His dystopian novel New Columbia was published in Aphelion and his prize-winning e-book Near Love Stories is online at Cervena Barva Press. He has 165 stories and poems in such journals as: Cynic Online Magazine, Istanbul Literary Review, Every Day Poets, Ranfurly Review, and Dead Mule. He lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

© 2004-2011 Underground Voices