Tohm Bakelas

Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. He is the author of 18 chapbooks and several collections of poetry, including “The Ants Crawl In Circles” (Whiskey City Press, 2022). He runs Between Shadows Press.   

“three hours”

she comes in and throws 
microwaveable food
her jacket and her purse
onto the counter,

everything but the jacket 
spills to the floor

she screams “the agreement is 4:30pm, 
it’s fucking bullshit to have the kids 
call to see where i am”

i say nothing as my kids watch in horror
at the poor theatrical performance
my exwife puts on

i pick up the food and 
leave the purse contents
scattered on the floor

 “bye daddy, i love you” my daughter says

“are you going to uncle ryan’s?” my son asks

“i’m going to uncle ryan’s” i say

and with that i give them both 
high-fives and tell them “i love you”

i close the door behind me,

three hours is all i have
and time is everything.

“shades of green”

my left hand
outside the window
goes numb.
i don’t know
if it’s from driving 
against the wind
or an oncoming
heart attack.

an alpaca spits in the sun,
chewing grass and dreaming
of penguins flying.

the radio is low enough
that nothing audible
is heard—these roads
have a rhythm
all their own.

i drive twisted blacktop
over double yellow lines
and get stuck behind
someone doing
15 under.

i prepare to
hammer the horn
but back off
after seeing
their old 
lost face
in the side

“308 Wootton Street”

she takes the cellophane
off her fresh pack of cigarettes,
casually throwing it on the ground
with a smile that reveals missing teeth

her skin is pale white
and riddled with acne
that surrounds
a neck tattoo
which reads

our eyes meet
for about
three seconds,

i break it off it
by looking away

my pizza isn’t going
to get eaten
by itself

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