Hopscotch – by Ken Farrell

A man of thirteen walks
rubble-strewn streets
his Kalashnikov loose at the end
of his pendulum arm.
He stops and roots through debris,
toes at bodies, scrounges ammo,
then lights a cigarette and
squats to his haunches.

Day is almost done.

A dog barks.
In the distance,
a few shots are fired.

His cigarette smolders to a nub.
He pulls one last deep breath
through the tobacco
burns his thumb and forefinger
and flicks off the cherry.
He pockets the remains.

He stands and begins
the circuitous walk home:
in and out of akimbo ruins,
a field of burnt-out cars, craters,
hopping always hopping
to avoid the mines:
an old dance, a well-known path.

Sometimes a casual grenade
is tossed, bursts, unearths
usable cloth, sometimes
he finds pipe or wiring,
something to cinch together
this life, dross, charred
and broken, to share
with the others,
the other heirs.

Ken FarrellKen Farrell’s work appears in numerous anthologies and in journals such as Pilgrimage, Sport Literate, Watershed Review, Coffin Bell, and Iris Literary Journal. He holds an MFA from Texas State University, an MA from Salisbury University, and has earned as an adjunct, cage-fighter, pizzaiolo, and warehouseman.