Belligerent, but not intending to be rude:
the drinks in small glasses
were strong, the olive tapenade bruschetta
too light. Normally a conversationalist
and even then was thinking dialogue
could bring down prices, stop
blizzards, overhead, buzzwords—
but I was out of control,
at any moment could’ve fallen over
an ottoman, spilt my drink
on some quiet wife
and have ruined my name forever. 

Later in the Lexus
she’d ask her husband,
a name like Clement:
“Did you see the delinquent
spill the Gewürztraminer
on my dress, his choppy hair
and misfit suit?” 

But then street lamps along the ocean, gulls,
warm digits on the console, news faded
distant in back—would let her forget
my faux pas, until, of course, she needed an example
of the despicable. 

Then I’d be her something,
her rule on which to count. 

But I manage manners
enough to say goodnight, shake
hairy old hands out the door
and with my date walk on driftwood
along the sand of expensive beaches. 

Joshua Butts


I understand your need to pester
when the dog is in heat. Locked
in the shed,  you make her bark
like fire— but what kind of lie do you hold
to your chest to keep alive?
It’s true, dying is like walking
forever through trees
and briars—but why break
cobwebs as I watch? Why sort
my silverware in shut drawers?

I have delivered myself from evil
and then fallen back
to video poker, pornography.
But you are the real sinner
I suppose, to break the rules
with your echoes and overtones.
Even when sleeping I feel you
watching. I pull the white afghan
over my head to hide
your bloody hand.

Joshua Butts

JOSHUA BUTTS's hometown is Jackson, Ohio: a place where the cops can’t solve a murder and where murder is more common than you might expect in a small town. He received his MA from The Ohio State University in 2001.  Currently a lecturer at The University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University, he used to weedeat tombstones in a cemetery. On breaks and weekends he records pop songs in a makeshift studio. This is his first poetry publication.
The Adirondack Review