The Messenger

A man stands facing the oncoming wind and everything it drags with it, and he knows, this man, that he will never be rich, never swim to the edge of an infinity pool with sun setting so warm and close in front of him he could put out his hand and allow it to travel into his closing fingers and believe he carries the sun and all its chaos and heat and power in his swinging fist, that image of himself that dissolves into his true aging face as he tells the same joke or the same story to a new set of strangers in a cool, badly lit room, to people who believe somewhere behind their smiles and gratitude that they, because they’ve taken this first step, might be closer to their own private dream palaces, even if most know, if they’re lucky, they might be able to push a child or two up that mountain of fog called success, and maybe, just maybe, if they’re lucky or pray to the right god, that child might turn and pull them along and offer a back room or an allowance or some other means to allow them even peripheral access to luxury and food and leisure—comfort as a base to drift and meditate and perfect their souls—all this unspoken, unexamined thought going on as the man in the front of the room looks directly at each one of them, his story having reached its message-bearing conclusion, lifts his hand and presses it just below his throat, eyes a little wider as if he just remembered something important he forgot to say.

Douglas Cole has published six collections of poetry, a novella and has a novel, The White Field, coming out in September with Touchpoint Press. His work has appeared in several anthologies as well as The Chicago Quarterly Review, The Galway Review, Bitter Oleander, Louisiana Literature and Slipstream. He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart and Best of the Net and received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry. He lives and teaches in Seattle. His website is