“Intolerable End” by John Douglas

(She ex-ed the calendar days off with a permanent marker like a countdown to a birthday or a special holiday gathering to determine their nonexistence, instead Monday – Friday will expose Saturday’s painless plan, her escapism from his alcoholic menagerie)

The garage door slides comfortably
on its tracks to the cement floor;
She twists the interior latch
to activate the lock mechanism
and sets about the task at hand.
she flips the stud-mounted light switch,
the fluorescent bulbs pops on.

She knows the carbon monoxide scent
like a fine cigar, sweet lethargic death
to carouse with friends except today
its solitude dressed to go to QuickCheck,
handbag draped over the shoulder, navy blue
skirt zipped to the chin, hair a disheveled bees nest.

Barefoot she treads across the master
cylinder stained floor and unclips
the handbag, empty save a Bic,
last menthol cigarette,
and the ignition key, her savior
from his drunken hell.

Unlocked she jolts the Impala door
handle open, the dome light to flicker
once and die, she wants to replace it but
decides tomorrow another will make
the decision for her.

She slips in to slam the door shut.
Bastard she shouts in anticipation
someone will listen. She understands
what has to be done. The window handle
winds leisurely inside her hand and drops
inside the window frame out of sight.
She tilts the rear-view mirror upward
disgusted by what she’s become.

Day after day she mutters
he’d attend to the Seagram’s Seven
quart bottle drunk, deaf in the Lazy Boy
recliner, the television blare heard four
houses in every direction, the bumper
to bumper traffic on Seven Lakes Drive
a buzz by comparison.

She cranks the key kadunk, kadunk
and jackrabbits the accelerator
to the floorboard; white smoke clouds out
the exhaust We need an oil change old girl
she murmurs and jams the pedal to the floor.

She puts the menthol between her lips,
wheeze for breaths, to strike the lighter to flame,
the tip to burn red to ash, the gray remains
quit in her lap. In her delirium
her reflection retorts:
Death is your affliction mother says,
The last option, says she,
Are you blind to life, mother pleads,
I want to be dead. Now leave.

She flicks the lit cigarette butt
into the mist to bend out the window
to remember last week her inebriated
attempt to outdo the men, head thickset
with Kentucky Colonel cocktails
until her stomach surrendered and then
unable to drive, the walk home alone;
she vomits into the exhaust fumes
and blacks out over the door frame,
quiet serenity.

In dream she bides for him to salvage
this last breath and share her unshackling;
she can distinguish the coffin,
her corpse and acquaintances,
the family’s remembrance a red and white
carnation wreath pinned with the short obituary.

John Douglas is a member of the Poetz Network with various featured poet readings throughout Orange County, New York with accolades from The New Yorker, Three Penny Review, and others.