The Change Machine
Steven Ray Smith
That night they made up beer ballads, made cocksure
passes at women they’d always ignored, ignored
the law about the bar closing at four
and met the bus stop, both madcap and restored.
The weary, stubbled lawyers had barely glanced
sidewise at the TV when he stepped
onto the screen to say goodbye. They’d danced
with tube-dressed strangers, become oddly adept
at dancing, talking. Yet the uneasy
whispers from those barstools months before,
the cautious crawl toward insurgency,
resumed among them when the hydraulic door
opened to still air. The rattling whip
of copper chinks was gone. The change machine
was off, and none would take the gratis trip.
It was something they had never seen.
Steven Ray Smith’s poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Raintown Review, Garbanzo, Prick of the Spindle, Bayou, The Broken Plate, Poetry South, Skidrow Penthouse, Meat for Tea, Stepaway Magazine Dogs Singing – A Tribute Anthology, and others. New work is forthcoming in GRAIN, American Anthenaeum, The Lindenwood Review, The Conium Review, Common Ground Review, The Cape Rock, Big Muddy, Writer’s Bloc, Slant, and riverrun. He is the president of a culinary school and lives in Austin with his wife and children.