Fall 2023, Volume 35

Poetry by Ruslan Garrey

People who bummed cigarettes off me the last few days

Cagliari (Sardinia), Italy:
Industrial street, beneath a palm
On a moped
(Might) be mugger in a scarf
Stops me 
Ehi amico una sigaretta?
Shrug. Reach into my ripped jean back pocket
Speeds away
Red light winking on a teal frame
Lazy wave to the sunset
And a quickly lost friend

Drizzling rain. Late. Man in hiking gear with grey stubble, bright eyes
Trudging like on a mountain incline
Cuts hard left towards me under an awning
Hey, could you please spare me a cigarette?
Pull out the pack from my soaked jacket 
He molests half of the bunch as he draws his pick
Glance down. The poor un-raptured bodies huddle close in the box
Pilgrims unchosen by God
Thank you. And you know, with this pandemic going around, I'll give you some advice. Green tea. Kills it right off. You know the samurai used to drink it right? And it even cures cancer...

Tel Aviv:
I’m drinking shit beer on an abandoned lawnchair under a Sheraton
Waves lapping my heels
Thought of how this is the same MED as … sailed
I’m drunk, last bite of falafel wrap in hand
The moon is a beautiful face
A massive man in cut offs and yamaca runs off the jog path
Takes a breather.  Asks for a light.

Slick streets. Angry, wet sky. Waterlogged shoes
Homeless woman sitting with companion under BK awning
Face like a kicked dog
Looks up.  Looks so hard I can hear through the crowd
You wouldn't spare a cigarette, would you?
Will I regret that I kept walking until I die?

Pouring rain. Not as late as the night before
Standing outside McDonalds to see when they open
Young man, buzz cut, leather jacket
Victoria Falls runs over his face
Could I have a cigarette off you?
Shrug. Reach into my inside pocket
12 warm pilgrims in a coffin extended outward
I'll let you pull it out.
Another rapture; rain drop pocks on paper
Thanks mate. I'm trying to sell this bike for a tenner.
Motions to expensive bicycle he's rolling




BIO: Ruslan Garrey is a Russian-born poet, now based in Miami, Florida. He previously founded the North Fork Oklahoma Writers and his work has appeared in The Torrid Literary Journal, The River Poets Journal, and The Scarlet Leaf Review, among others. In his free time, he chases dogs through haunted forests and beaches, and works as poetry editor of the Sublunary Review.