Smoke Break

Abbie Kiefer



You don’t smoke but you take a break anyway.

2:30 on the Friday         of a three-day weekend.

You and your friends                      form a circle

behind an old shoe factory                         

now a call center             

where you take insurance claims:        
chipped windshields,

hail-pocked roofs. And isn’t that life.

Glass cracks, metal craters,

loafers cost less to make in Malaysia.


second shift will drift in and you will be done,

enough hours clocked and a few more left

before the day even dims.

You put your face to the sun,

let it squint your eyes.

Your friend’s telling a story. Madcap,

unbelievable.       Someone holds up a wait finger,

wants to clarify a detail,

but it doesn’t matter.        Your friend’s on a roll.      

You laugh            and the others laugh and smoke.

When their cigarettes grow ash
they shake them free of it.

Abbie Kiefer’s poems are forthcoming or have appeared in The Cortland Review, december, The Penn Review, The Comstock Review, and other publications. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and sons. Find her online at

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