at the 24 hour laundry
— poetry by Justin Hyde

there's a kid
sitting cross-legged
under a pinball machine

the end
of an opened wire hanger
against the wall

wanna play?
i lean under
and ask

not tall enough
he says

sure you are
i get a chair

he works the left flipper
i work the right

it's a simpsons

you watch simpsons?
i ask

i don't watch cartoons
i only watch wwe
he says
slamming a fist
as we lose a ball

he's got a face
like a badger
a little grey
in the skin

you here
by yourself?
i ask

mom’s out there
he says
pointing to a train-wreck
in cut-off jeans
sharing a cigarette
with a moon-faced
pile of bones

who’s the guy?

i don't know him

get out here
his mom calls

she gets in a rusted out
with the guy
and drives off

mom says
she'll be back
in an hour

he flashes a five

slides it
into the
quarter machine.

Justin Hyde is a poet and Literary Editor for The Commonline Journal. He is the former Poetry Editor of Thieves Jargon and the author of the chapbooks Down Where the Hummingbird Goes to Die (2008) and Another Casualty at the 34th St. Bus Stop (2009). His last collection of poems is An Elephant Hole (2014, Interior Noise Press). He lives in Iowa and works with criminals.