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“opportunity cost” by Michael Patrick McSweeney

john, who used to work on my team,
once dragged me down from the trading room
into a liquor-flooded crevice to bid
on the chance to shatter our loneliness
on a cold Friday. his wife had left him several years before,
their child shouting through the noise as she clicked out
their life together with the closing of a front-door,
as if it were some party she'd mistakenly entered
& awkwardly tried to escape---his words

john placed several 50s on the counter
& the orders bubbled up like indigestion.
martinis rang in unison while strange hands held up
their palms to ours. thin, red-nailed blondes began to drape
themselves over my companion's back
as if they were jackets in a too-warm room,
& slowly I was pushed from the bubble of conversation.
I watched other groups pass in clouds around me,
caught the flashes of credit cards striking out
over the bar to give their masters a last chance
at inspiration. the hours slowly poured away--
I spun coins & kept them alive with gentle taps
while john reached out for ever-escaping hips.
at 4 a.m. we were outside,
raking in the last gasps of cigarette butts
with our pale, shaking fingers while apologizing
to our stomachs,
sorry man I'm just gonna walk he said
to the wet street, his feet disturbing
a puddle from some rain storm
that must have passed hours earlier.
my hand rose to hail a cab
but I struggled to keep it up under a yellow jet
of mucus & liquor crashing
against the pavement. I lifted my head
& my eyes followed the rear-lights
as they dashed around the corner.


Michael Patrick McSweeney is an artist and educator from the Boston region. His work has appeared in numerous journals and various regions of the Internet thanks to truly wonderful individuals. He is also the founder and chief financial officer of a used submarine conglomerate, the business website of which can be found at discountsubmarines.wordpress.com, and he hopes you have a great day.