by Robert Joe Stout

The kitchen

smells of cleanser,


and spices. I sit among them

when we talk, my elbow on the table,

window ajar despite the cold (a choice

—fresh air

instead of cigarettes).

To go to work

I ride a bike

despite rain streaming off my coat

because the bike is mine. The car is hers.

I am sufficient (in a sense)

unto myself. I am, at least, myself

and prove it by the lines I draw,

those to be crossed,

those not.

Robert Joe Stout (Oaxaca, Mexico) is a freelance journalist and former theater director. His poems, stories and nonfiction have appeared in over a hundred publications, including Third Wednesday, Eclectica, Poem, America, Two Thirds North, and Chic. His books include Monkey Screams and A Perfect Throw (poetry) and three novels.