One old and one new

by Gary Hardaway

Dinner Party

The coffee tastes slightly
of the soap with which
the carafe was washed

but is delicious
served as it is
among these friends.


My beard abrades the inner lining of
my mask. The frayed filaments
tickle my chin and irritate my nostrils,
encouraging a sneeze which,

in less troubled and troubling times,
would elicit blessings instead
of the disgusted curses which now
would come as particulates and panic
spread throughout this supermarket.

I resist.  The sneeze subsides
and I'm allowed to keep my slow
purview of what's on offer
this otherwise lovely late September day.