Two Minutes to Midnight
Sitting on the far side of the bar, he bellows that a man's leg weighs 17.5 % and an arm 5.3% of total body weight. I can't make out his face, but I note a lament lingering within a Tajik or Persian accent. Still, some drunken patrons bark, "Boot the Arab out." Undaunted, the man sputters, "You Arab." The patrons boo. A moment of silence - then the bartender snaps, "Leave him be." The man screeches, "My heart heavy. 9-1-1 grams." I hunker down. The patron next to me erupts, slams his glass, and tromps toward shadows as dark as the Old Crow spilling down the counter. And then he stops short. His mouth open. A clanking sound fills the burgeoning stillness. The man hidden from us - wheels past. As he disappears into neon red, the bartender rasps, "Afghan War, surgeon."
Chris Bays lives on the outskirts of an Audubon-sanctioned reserve in Ohio. When not recovering from a long night of screech owls, he is grading college students' essays or gallivanting around the country with family. His haiku and haibun have appeared in the Boston Literary Magazine, Contemporary Haibun Online, Frogpond, Haibun Today, Heron's Nest, and Modern Haiku. Shot Glass Journal has published some prose poems of his in the past. One of his Fibonacci poems was published in The Fib Review this past year. Some years back, Silenced Press nominated his minimalist sonnet for Best New Poets. This year, he has won 1st place for a haibun in a national contest sponsored by the Haiku Society of America for Best Unpublished Haibun of 2017. His winning poem will be forthcoming in the journal Frogpond.