“Beauty and the Beast,” oil on canvas, by Joseph Edward Southall, 1904.

by Claire Matturro

Checking out in a long line
my mind on what the hell
I’m fixing for supper
I notice the guy in front of
me has a gun strapped to his hip
like he’s fucking Wyatt Earp
I start to say something but
my tongue twists tight like the tie
on the bagged potatoes
while my chest thumps
with something like pain and I freeze
there with canned beans
and red apples vibrating in my cart
and the whole damn place
reeking of fried chicken from
the deli with its week-old bread
while I try to breathe without moving
I could just leave my cart
get out quick in case
he goes off but then
he starts humming what sounds
like Amazing Grace and even
from the back I can tell he’s clean
so I mull it over
fret about having to shop
again at another store
with traffic getting thicker
every second I waste
because of this fucking Wyatt Earp
and I really need that bottle of red wine.

Claire Matturro is a former lawyer and college teacher, author of eight novels, including four published by HarperCollins. Her poetry has appeared in Kissing Dynamite, New Verse News, One Art, Muddy River Poetry Review, Topical Poetry, and is forthcoming in The Tiger Moth. She is an associate editor at The Southern Literary Review.