Three Poems by J L Smith


She shows you the photograph—
four smiling teens,
two athletic sons,
two beautiful daughters with braces.

She tells you how wonderful life is
when you are a close family—
you do things together,
you laugh together,
play laser tag together—
when you tell her
you spent a boring weekend
during the mundane:
picking up soap crayons
for your toddler’s bath,
taking her for a haircut,
watching Disney all weekend.

You take the photo from her hands—
for a moment thinking
how it would be to be so happy—
when you smear your finger
over the glass corner,
notice the crack,
and dare not tell her
that imperfections are present.


Independent, he says,
I like that about you.
His eyes peer into you.
he edges.
You imagine his breath
on your face,
as he pats the blueberry scone,
pushes aside the napkin—
just the way he wanted.

You lean back
from his scrutiny,
back from the microscope,
as the barista calls
out his name for your order—
coffee he suggested.

Just try something different,
he said,
leaving you no room to differ.

He serves yours first
like an unwanted birthday gift.
You smile—
because your mother always told you to do so—
before asking him
if he would mind if you left to touch up a bit.

Of course not, he said.

No, he wouldn’t.

Never to look back.


His words filled the table,
leaving little room for your elbows to rest,
let alone a path for you to leave.
His lack of pauses,
leave no room for such breakaways.

So, you stir your spoon
in the cappuccino he ordered
for you,
watching the current,
pulling the cream down
to the bottom of the cup
before it is absorbed into the base,
indistinguishable from the body of liquid.

Your head snaps back,
his pause pulls you out.
You choke back fluid,
as he asks you,
did you hear me?

J.L. Smith has published two collections of poetry: Medusa, The Lost Daughter and Weathered Fragments, Weathered Souls. Her work has appeared in many literary journals and magazines. Follow her blog at or on Twitter @jennifersmithak

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