Tobi Alfier is published nationally and internationally. Credits include War, Literature and the Arts, The American Journal of Poetry, KGB Bar Lit Mag, Washington Square Review, Cholla Needles, The Ogham Stone, Permafrost, Gargoyle, Arkansas Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, and others. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (

Dead of Night Dilemma

Midnight and he clocks out—
heads out the back door, prays
no one’s waiting to mug him,
that his car’s still there
and that it starts. All is well.

He skids into a drive-thru—
small burger and large Coke
take the edge off another
boring shift and quarter flask
of bourbon.

Night-humid with barely a breeze,
he’s sticky all over. Is it home
to shower, stare at the fifty-year-old
ceiling of cottage cheese and grime,
or strip off and dive through the waves…

No one’s waiting for him anywhere.
He drives past her house, the blinds
are drawn. She used to make the nights
bearable, but now it’s the clean,
raw scent of the coast he relies on.

She’s surely out, tapping glasses
and toasting with other men.
He’d learned the hard way
that her promises meant nothing,
merely betrayal down the line.

Glad he discovered her heart
before his was destroyed.
Hence the options for this evening—
home to solitude and insomnia,
or the brief benevolence of starlight.

Father-Daughter Phone Dance

He came back to the island
some years ago, a family ago.

Skills helpful anywhere,
he was a pharmacist.

He befriended all and helped all—
a haircut, sweets to help with tremors,

whatever they needed except drugs
and they respected him for that.

Every Thursday night he spoke to his daughter,
the sweet angel of sugared peaches and velvet.

On the mainland with her mother she’d run to the phone,
voice breathless like rain and shadows.

He’d wait for her composure and they’d talk
—their time disappeared in a heartbeat.

Her picture in his wallet, her name the first he said
at sunrise, last on his lips as moonlight

fluttered over the lip of the sea, he hoped
someday this road will hurry them home.