The Bookstore Jazz Quartet

Across the table conversation spreads
as fierce wildfires withholding nothing in,
intensity, and savage words are said,
shooting out their mouths as aural sins.

He drops a point, but rebuttals are next raised—
the loud debates concerning policies
disapproved while seeking the perfect phrase
to fuel contention for the cause of peace.

As voices climb past to the spires of books
clustered around the sterile dueling match,
strolling patrons bash the table with looks
so sharp and measured that a cautious slatch

blows throughout the nervous atmosphere,
and the four leave again, hushing the scene
to the wan quiet of a funeral bier,
where patrons yield to tame their growing spleen.

Christopher Fried (b. 1985) is a native Virginian, a resident of Wiliamsburg, VA, and an alumnus of The College of William and Mary. He has had poetry published in journals such as The Lyric, The Road Not Taken, Blue Unicorn, and The Chaffin Journal. He had his first collection of poetry, All Aboard the Timesphere, published Summer 2013. His website is