Vincent Antonio Rendoni is the author of A Grito Contest in the Afterlife, which was the winner of the 2022 Catamaran Poetry Prize for West Coast Poets. Previously, he was a 2022 Jack Straw Cultural Center Fellow and winner of the 2021 Blue Earth Review Flash Fiction Contest. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions multiple times. His work has appeared in The Sycamore Review, The Vestal Review, The Texas Review, Quarterly West, Another Chicago Magazine, Hippocampus, and So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library. https://www.vincentrendoni.com/writer
When you hear it, you can see a man on the train. Sleeping it off.
You can smell the beer on his collar.
The Tabasco & fry oil from a quick, after-shift meal.
He’s dreaming of a bar fly, past her prime,
asking if he’s a top-shelf kind of guy.
He’s remembering the emptiness in his wallet.
The clatter of impatient nails on the countertop.
Clumsy innuendo. Sorry, small bills only.
The sinking feeling, the knowing that
you’re going home alone.
But he’s got a feeling that maybe
he dodged a bullet, saved himself
a talk about commitments,
crappy morning-after eggs,
a dry cough.
The sun is coming up over a bad neighborhood—
In him, you can see Gerry Rafferty.
You can see the men who listen to him.
The men who see themselves in him.
Thinking they get it, but they don’t.
They don’t see the drinker. The man who disappeared.
Loved ones filing for missing persons
Hell, I never got how people just vanish.
How they skip the verse & chorus
go straight to the solo. & let those eight bars
just play & play.
Hearing what they want to hear.
Missing the point entirely.
Like rallying was the only way to live.