Heat Wave
by William Ogden Haynes William Ogden Haynes

William Ogden Haynes is a poet and author of short fiction from Alabama who was born in Michigan and grew up a military brat. He has published in literary journals such as California Quarterly, Quantum Poetry Magazine, Front Porch Review, Full of Crow, Indigo Rising, Forge, The Houston Literary Review, Bolts of Silk, Blue Lake Review, and PIF Magazine. He believes that the mark of good writing is that, at the end, people feel glad they read it. In a prior life he taught speech-language pathology at Auburn University and authored six major professional textbooks.

He lies naked in bed
Next to the half open window,
After a night too steamy for even a sheet.
He sits up and looks out at the new morning
Through peeling paint on the sash
And glazing torqued like frying bacon.
Rooftop silhouettes stand against
Another hazy summer sunrise
And steeples have already begun to squirm
In the searing heat.
In the town square below,
Plantings of withered leaves and flowers have grown pale
Like chemotherapy patients in a waiting room.
A hound is scratching and panting
In the shade of a blue curbside mailbox.

As a boy,
On days like this,
He would dance through a lawn sprinkler
In front of his house.
Then he would hurtle headlong into the street
Chasing the chimes of an ice cream truck
To exchange wet coins from his swimsuit pocket
For a popsicle or sno-cone.
Later, he and his friends
Would spend the sweltering afternoon
In the cool basement playing Monopoly
And running the electric trains.

But now, in an old downtown apartment
He lights up his morning cigarette
Beneath a wobbly ceiling fan.
And before he leaves for work,
He squints through exhaled smoke
At the old Lionel diesel locomotive
Sitting on the dresser by the door.

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