six pack and a bottle of hawkeye-vodka at the grocery store

the clerk handed back my id
and asked
if i had a relative named janice hyde
in oklahoma .

not that i know of
but if she's crazy
we probably share blood,
i smiled
handing her a twenty.

she's dating my ex
apparently they're a good match,
she said.

told me her ex put hands on her
one too many times

eventually the hospital called her family
here in iowa
to come get her.

she handed me my change
said she'd met her ex
when they worked together at amoco
down in texas.

every other fingernail
on her right hand
was torn off at a jagged edge.
apparently they're a good match,
she said again.

an old man stepped in line
and dropped an armload
of canned tuna
on the conveyor belt.

i nodded to her
and walked off.

you just don't know
what to say.