It Could Be Worse
Grant Clauser
The air in purgatory stings
of bar smoke and bleach. 
There's broken glass on the floor,
and the band sounds like crickets
sawing through the after-
silence of battlefields. 
Every street sign is pimpled
by buckshot, every furry thing
in the shadows turns rabid
and bares its teeth. 
Bonfires of old birthday cards
line the road to an outhouse.
Here all your exes are loving
someone else in front of you.
Your best dog dies again 
and again in your arms.
The boy you picked on
in seventh grade gym
smokes a Cuban cigar
and flicks the ash in your face.
Every kitchen smell 
on your street, 
every voice leaking 
from window screens,
is a paper cut salted
on your palm. 
You stand at the entrance 
to a toll booth
where what you owe
is subtracted 
from what you've done,
and you know there aren't
enough fingers on your hands
to count off your regrets 
to the ferryman.

Grant Clauser is the author of two poetry books, Necessary Myths (Broadkill River Press 2013) and The Trouble with Rivers (Foothills Publishing 2012). Poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Cheat River Review, The Good Men Project, Mason's Road, Painted Bride Quarterly, Seattle Review and others. He also writes about electronics, teaches poetry at random places and chases trout with a stick. Grant's blog is

more by Grant Clauser:
A Tarot Reading
There Be Dragons