An Imagist Reads the Newspaper Over a Modest Breakfast 

by Jess Walter


A woman with short dark hair 

marries. Her last name goes 

from Walker to Flowers. 

A young plumber who loved 

his two black dogs and growing

meat-red tomatoes dies 

on a storming, gray Sunday. A photo 

of round-faced children building 

asymmetrical birdhouses is perched

next to another of a balding, 

thick-browed cop holding 

a hunting rifle with his fingertips, 

as if to say This isn’t mine.  

A twelve-hour prison riot quiets, 

fire sprinklers and a window 

the only casualties.  A nervous man high 

on meth and wearing a crooked 

ski mask walks a neighborhood 

carrying an empty gun, the wrong

ammunition, enough white powder 

to incapacitate a rhino, brass

knuckles.  The police question him, 

and he sits on the ground, begging 

for arrest.  The yellow yolk bleeds

onto the glazed white