The Moth

The Moth

Copyright © July 30, 2016 by Douglas W. Jerving.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise, without prior permission of the author, except as provided by USA copyright law.

Antoine kicked ceremoniously at
A moth that fluttered ‘round the davenport
(Where the girls, long gone, had been trading)
Not really expecting to connect hard
Upon it in its flight, but still it fell,
Stunned, but for a moment to the concrete
Floor before he got his footing stable.
It rose again before he saw it fly.
The cat in the cubby hole near the bar
Shook her ears at all of this, then slept.

“I heard shots One A.M. last night, five down
The blocks or so, so close I knew the guns.
(You know I was two tours in ‘Ghanistan!)
Eight in succession as I unlocked the door
Coming home last night. And then I heard more
Responding, like a train. The sound moved forth,
Then, like the train was passing, moved behind.
The next gun spoke to answer a third time
Like a terrible Doppler radar calling.
Then I heard the final six shots ring out.”

“No police or news report mentioned it.”
Said his older compatriot at drink.

The moth was up again, but no one cared
As it fluttered aimlessly ‘round the hall.

“I heard it plain as the key in the door.”

“Well, it was hot last night and they were cold
From bitter ales and tonics that make sweat
The fingers on those triggers; makes ‘em slip
A bit at times. It’s just a game of hide
And seek or see and shoot haphazardly
Until one or the other ends a life
Or rooms the night in the Emergency.”

Dantaye coolly spoke what he knew from years.
He was a youthful gangsta years before
Antoine was born. Before hip-hop was cool.
He remembered Juan Carlos Jobim, and Jazz,
And the first real rap from Gil Scott-Heron.
“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”.

The moth pitter-pattered around them both.

Antoine pulled heavy from his cigarette
While Dantaye expounded upon the past.
It was near the time to close for the night.
The air was cooling down like the last call,
And like it there was no response except
The sleepy blink of the cat in the corner.

Outside a single shot appeared too near
To make their departure feel comfortable
Within the next few minutes: one too young,
The other too old to die, so they stayed
For just a few more minutes of eternity.

As Antoine rose up to leave he heard,
And Dantaye saw out of the corner of his eye,
The snap of the jaw of the tavern cat,
Now quick as the bullet from a .45,
And the moth like a shot in the dark was gone.


Doug Jerving is the publisher of the You may contact him at


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