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The waiting room and other awkward silences
(for mom)
Brien Dawson

It’s the muttered choir; the second hand soprano ticking accompanied by small bits of
conversation, scratch of nurses shoes from freshly sanitized linoleum that demonstrate
there are things that happen; everyday things that are unjust/wretched/depraved and I
know man is the great transgressor and is not to be trusted. I can only stand to see so
many eyes swollen to the size of peaches and I know I can only hear so many after work
stories and hear so many screams.

The woman had too much to drink
woke up in a parking lot
with bruises on her knees
throb of torn flesh
between her legs
and tire marks
like fingerprints
on her clothes.

I once witnessed
A woman in an after-hours bar
near 7-mile & Van Dyke
struck suddenly with thick fist
into her bar stool
then to the ground
like a dress falls in the movies.

I sit five stools away
Don’t do anything
to myself
It’s not your business
a cigarette quick
watch the smoke
slide around the air
and hang

do anything but

how long can you stand it?
The mirror asks me

I raised off the stool
the ashtray
by grabbing it.

The husband
no more than five stools away
silent smiling drunk
over the woman,
he never saw me coming,
ashtray shattering/ upon cheek bone
landing two quick lefts
into teeth
and down/ he went
like water
and three kicks to the face followed.







The Women’s College Magazine at Santa Monica College
Copyright 2003 Santa Monica College