[Lawyers] possess limited but real skills.
    In this respect, they are like accountants
     or snipers. . . .

       — The New Republic, December 4, 2000

The light turns red. I slow to a stop
and glance in the driver-side mirror. Now
on foot, he's growing large, quickly, rep tie
streaming behind as in a wild wind.
I notice the gun in his hand and the dark
spot of death pointed my way. Keeping his
image in sight, I hitch my worsted pants leg,
pull the .38 from its calf-holster,
sweep it up and over the steering wheel
onto my shoulder, pointing back
out the lowered window, the cold grip
heavy into my suit-jacket skin.
He's filling the mirror now, sighting down
the length of his barrel. I cock my hammer,
take aim at his reflection. Like a sniper,
using his hate-filled bull's-eyes to bracket
the bridge of his nose, I squeeze off one round.
His body slumps off the mirror, out of sight.
I give my muzzle a puff of breath, movie-style,
and reholster, just as the light turns green.

Greg McBride


Just as you said, here they are, the ladies
with casseroles lined up at my door,
down the walk, around the corner,

each well-dressed, each my friend, about whom
you teased me along that shore of humor
where purpose and fear lap not so lazily.

I understood your vigilance, even
as the decades fell away like your
upright slices of red pepper

into our vegetable soup.
And with some pleasure, I'll admit, that fuzz
between longing and owning seemed to suit

me fine. I never understood
the straying man, and your fear of him
never fit my slim and smallish shape.

We sipped together from our one spoon
your carrots and parsley, San Marzano
tomatoes, oregano and basil,

cabbage, juniper berries, rutabaga,
mushrooms. I taste them all still, and you.
As I open the door to welcome

my first thoughtful guest, I wonder,
would she prescribe flight insurance to keep
me alive one more time? Would she laugh

with me at the political cartoons
on Saturdays and shake her head
when I can't find the milk in the fridge?

Would she hold my hand in the car?
Could I learn to love casseroles?
And where would you live for me?

Greg McBride
GREG McBRIDE has been an attorney, an army photographer in the Vietnam War, and a wrestler. His poems and essays appear in 32 Poems, Connecticut Review, Folio, The Gettysburg Review, Poet Lore, and other journals. His poems also appear in A Common Bond: Poetry and Prose by American and Vietnamese Veterans of the Vietnam War, Cabin Fever: Poets at Joaquin Miller’s Cabin, 1984-2001; and Off the Record: An Anthology of Poetry by Lawyers.
The St. Lawrence Book Award
The St. Lawrence Book Award
The St. Lawrence Book AwardThe St. Lawrence Book AwardThe St. Lawrence Book Award
The St. Lawrence Book Award
The Adirondack Review