South Loop Reality Show
A couple on an asphalt roof-top,
touching while talking, it’s evening.
They guess stories of strangers, actors
from apartment scenes, moving independently
in window grids of shorter high-rises.
Each square’s show is an amalgam of pathos
and passion. Quotidian malaise rules a few shoebox
situations. Ambiguous sentiments in play
are more various than the couple recognizes. This old owl
can pinpoint more—years of observation
make interesting conclusions. We’re less amazed
at learning how to fly. Infatuated pair in the morning
of their drama, laugh at miniature lives
they won’t let theirs become. Too soon
to interrupt and ask what makes them immune.
They’re in a halcyon bubble. They’d have to squint
to see my easel. No lights needed.
I paint by intuition, take liberties
layering brush strokes. A voyeur of voyeurs
perched atop assumptions. Lamp-shade yellow tint
renders players in those diorama-flats
marginally more vital than they feel or really are.
I could project the flight path of the man
and woman, but wouldn’t ruin their moment.
I’m another local-access channel
to the bird above us, circling. The bird
(who thinks I’m lonely) sees me,
guessing over-broadly why I
flee my shoebox studio for the open air.
TODD MERCER won the Dyer-Ives Kent County Prize for Poetry in 2016, the National Writers Series Poetry Prize for 2016, and the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Flash Fiction Award for 2015. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer's recent poetry and fiction appear in: Bartleby Snopes, Blast Furnace, Cheap Pop, Eunoia Review, The Fib Review, Flash Frontier Magazine, Fried Chicken and Coffee, In-flight Literary Magazine, The Lake, The Magnolia Review, Softblow Journal, Star 82 Review and Two Cities Review.
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