The Flagman

The screams last for hours on some nights.
A man comes tumbling out the screen door
with a bad cough fingering his lighter,
twisting and clutching it about with calloused hands
like it was something that offended him -
a few puffs
as smoke pours out his pointed nose
and his broad shoulders lower.

The next morning he’s wearing an orange vest,
standing in the street with a sign.
Stop. Slow, and switch.
The traffic murmurs by.
The sun must move so slowly holding that sign
for a living:
Stop. Slow, and switch.

Tonight his children will be playing in the back yard
making snow men with carrot noses
but never eyes or ears
while he’ll be slapping her around the kitchen counter
and clutching her like he might
clutch a sign,
or light a cigarette.

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