Tohm Bakelas

life reflex

down at shoprite where
the poor whites make
the poor blacks and
the poor hispanics
look like kings,
they drink their
coors light tallboys
and smoke their cigarettes
sitting on benches covered in
advertisements and sparrow shit

i pass by and am asked for loose change,
but it’s the same excuse every time:
“i paid with a card”

my only offering is used air

i load up my car
with a week’s worth
of groceries and
look toward the setting sun

they continue
drinking their
shitty beer and
spit onto the curb

and when they are told to leave,
some will go to the hospital to sober up,
some will go to their boarding homes,
some will go to the church soup kitchen,
some will go into the woods behind the store,
but they all will eventually leave

and soon I will be home,
drinking my shitty beer,
thinking about cape cod
or shoebill storks
or san francisco
or suicide
or bar harbor
or masturbation
or bank accounts
or my girlfriend’s smile
or nothing at all.


rust beers

jeff had these rust beers
that he got for free
from the bar he manages

all the beer was expired
and the bottles were
sealed by rust

ryan gave me one
they had 39 left

we drank them as the sun went down
and the earth began to sleep.


Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He has published 14 chapbooks. His most recent collection of poetry No Destination (Kung Fu Treachery Press, 2021) is still available. He runs Between Shadows Press.