Issue > Poetry
Robert Joe Stout

Robert Joe Stout

Robert Joe Stout’s books include Monkey Screams (FutureCycle Press) and A Perfect Throw. A novel, Where Gringos Don’t Belong, was published recently by Anaphora Literary Press. He is a freelance journalist in Oaxaca, Mexico.

The Price One Pays


Beyond our balcony view
of seaside palms and billboards
advertising banks and beer
the bay sorts sailboats and catamarans
into white slivers reflecting
the hot morning sun.
My wife rounds the ash
from the day's first cigarette
and tells me
"Justi's falling apart..."
and goes on to describe
our friend's battle
to keep her house
and custody of her sons.
She repeats
the advice she gave
—strong words,
she says, that our friend
is afraid to use. Half-a-dozen
pelicans plop into the bay
beside a bell buoy
visible beyond the pier
as the smoke
from my wife's cigarette
divides her expression
into separate painful grimaces.
I reach for her
and she turns, each face
forming
how-to-be-brave
grunted little words.

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