“More” by Tom Barlow

Boxes everywhere, boxes overflowing, traffic cones
stacked in the parlor, a brown Christmas tree in the
dining room peeks out from behind a tower of
nested plastic chairs. Flattened cans in milk crates line

the aisle to the refrigerator next to a broken neon beer sign
perched atop the kitchen table. Eight or so cats demand
their breakfast, shivering: snow is in the forecast, but he
can no longer reach the furnace to light it. Newspapers

for a decade are neatly piled in the living room, he plans
to read them all soon and this is his notion of America as
a gigantic spigot pouring bounty into his pockets and he
can’t empty them fast enough to keep up. If he could

just turn off the tap for a little while, maybe he could clear
an area large enough to sleep lying down, but every time
he carries one box out to the garage, two more show up
and they cling to him like melanoma.

The boxes don’t love him, he’s given up expecting
anything like that, but there must be a proper place
in this world for everything and the notion of waste
is gibberish. The treasures upstairs are pleading today

for his attention but he can’t clear the stairs to respond
so he will stay up all night worrying that he has
unbalanced the world by falling behind in his work.
He doesn’t know what will happen next, but he’s certain
it won’t be good.

Tom Barlow is a Columbus, Ohio writer of poetry, short stories and novels. His most recent poems have appeared in Voicemail Poetry, PlainSongs, Aji, The Bangor Literary Journal, the Aurora Review, and other periodicals. See more at tombarlowauthor.com.

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