Dan could hire a detective
to follow his wife, but that
seemed ridiculous. All he needed
was to ask her. Even though
he was sure he didn’t want to
hear her answer.

Before he could light his next cigarette,
a gunshot punctures the night,
followed by a blast
like a gas tank exploding.

Sirens growing closer,
coyotes join the choir.
Police cars, an ambulance,
and two fire trucks rumble by,
a carnival of swirling lights
reflecting off houses.

From a block away,
the inferno consumes
the two-story house,
while embers dance
a hundred feet high.

Mesmerized, he realizes
if he strikes the match,
this is how fast
his marriage will burn.

Mark Thalman is the author of Stronger Than the Current, The Peasant Dance, and Catching the Limit. His poems have appeared in the Paterson Review, The MacGuffin, Pedestal Magazine, and Valparaiso Review. He retired from the public schools after teaching English and Creative Writing for 35 years. Please visit markthalman.com.