We watched a fire burn
old newspapers and a dead
tree stump as it started to rain.
The smoke and wet ground smelled
like gravestones, but we refused to leave
until the Wild Turkey
was finished. We talked
jobs and girlfriends like we were taught
and called all the flowers daffodils
until someone spoke up,
said forsythia. We laughed
because one of us knew the name
of a flower and because we couldn't admit
the word tasted good.
The sky snapped and opened
its chest to cleanse us,
but we wouldn't be caught.
Through the chain link fence
across the yard, we saw four boys
hiding under an awning. For minutes,
they glared at us hard before running
into the storm screaming,
ready to accept anything the sky offered
in return. Their smiles burned
our eyes and we stood,
with our hands in our pockets,
four men under an awning,
watching the fire burn down
and cover the fence in smoke.
Michael VanCalbergh is a part-time lecturer at Rutgers-Newark where he also received an MFA in Poetry. He also works with the REaCH Program at Rutgers University. He often tries to convince his daughter to stop eating books, but secretly loves how motivated she is to interact with literature. His work has appeared in Weave Magazine, Naugatuck River Review, Per Contra, and others.