KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Poem: 190 words [R]

The Great Depression

by Tim Hawkins

During one of those years 
about all I owned 

was an old black raincoat, 
as thin and cheap 
and reeking of smoke 

as barroom laughter 
in the early afternoon. 

Everything I loved 
could be carried in the folds 
of its dark pockets 

where my hands clenched 
their fistfuls of roses, 

and everything I desired 
bloomed there in the pretense 
of letting go, 

while scarlet petals rained down 
and splashed to the floor 
along the slick and splattered 
length of its blackness. 

Meanwhile, everything 
I tried to hold onto 
pricked shallow, thorny 
furrows of resentment, 

and everything I learned to accept 
took root in the scars 
and grew there in secret 

along with the mundane seeds 
of a throbbing, vestigial heart. 

At some point I found out 
that when the frozen nights 
come early and unexpected 

an old raincoat can save your life, 
but it can just as easily serve 
as your black and tattered funeral shroud, 

or fall from you unnoticed, 
never to be found. 

I never knew finally 
where I might have misplaced 
that god-awful, stinking thing, 

but those years took a war to end them. 


—Published previously in Underground Voices Magazine (January 2010) and reprinted in the author’s collection Wanderings at Deadline (Aldrich Press, 2012); appears here with his permission.


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