The smoking area in front of the Greenwood Fred Meyer, Friday morning, at 11:15 a.m. (a poem)

I stopped at Fred Meyer this morning on my way home from my annual physical. When I saw a bunch of people in black shirts out front, between the sidewalk and the parking garage, I figured it must be the smoking area. I was right.

It reminded me of a steam bath
but without the drooping bellies
of slow-moving old men
determined to take up all the space—
and, of course, all the smoke

Cleverly positioned next to the path
where shoppers walk by with their newly purchased jams and jellies
and regularly occupied from around ten
each smoker with that zoned-out look on their face
holding their cigarettes, breathing out smoke

All those black shirts looked like statistics from a graph
the kind people wrap their fish in when it gets smelly
but then think twice about it when
they realize the smell has already permeated every surface in the place
and take it out to the trash before they start to gag and choke

where they encounter a neighbor having a smoke, and laugh
because the last person they expected to see smoking by the dumpster was Shelly
But if you knew her well, well then
it’d be no surprise that that was the case
her laundry basket always overflowing with black shirts that smell of smoke

(3 June 2016)