I heard the sound, the bump from downstairs. I heard it from my room.
I paid no attention
I needed to sleep.

I heard it again that sound that didn’t fit, didn’t quite belong.
This time a creak from the stair;
Fold the pillow, turn on my side, ignore it again. Try to get to sleep.

The near silent squeak of the bedroom door
So familiar to me,
So out of place for now.
It garners my full attention.
Senses on alert, I lie still; peering into the darkness through half closed eyes,
feigning sleep.

The door swings wide admitting a soft white glow.
On the heels of the light I recognize Darlene,
“Paul? Are you awake?”
The chain operates the lamp on the bedside table, bringing more light, yellower light.
Light the color of cornbread.

Darlene’s face is bruised and bloodied. Her left eye is swollen, almost shut.
Her dress is torn and the heel is broken off of one shoe.
“What happened to you?” I swing my legs off the bed, feet on the floor.

“I was walking home from the theater. He came from behind.
I didn’t know where else to go so I came here. I used my key.”
I stood and moved to take her in my arms.


Yeah – Editor’s Pick!

Bump and Grind



The work-night was over; still too early for dawn.
“See ya, Jimmy,” Darlene said to the doorman.
Stepping into the morning chill she adjusted her scarf.
“G’nite, Miss Drake!”

She walked away from beneath the darkened marquee that read:
“Girls, Girls, Girls”