Two Poems

Kristi Helgeson


Working the Liberty Bay Cafe Closing Shift

Couples move in and out in rhythm 

to water on the jetty, snapping 

sunset selfies between happy hour 

sliders, truffle fries, and Poulsbo Porter. 

From the window you see local junkies that use 

our bathrooms to pop counterfeit pills from China.

In three hours, they’ll rummage the dumpster 

for what you’ve already cleared from table nine;

Grass-fed Skagit Valley filet mignon ordered 

rare, served medium, and three-fifths

of the crab Alfredo special ordered 

by the woman at table twelve to prove

she’d overcome her eating disorder. 

When the bar closes at 2 a.m. and the 

streetlights play on the water, you’ll wipe tables 

and mop floors and synanthropic wildlife 

will enter the scene, stage left—crow, rat, raccoon— 

noses down, sniffing and scratching 

the asphalt under your car tires, 

digging for the human word for more.



Stay awake 

just a little longer

avoid happy dreams

in Costco clamshells

pallets of stars 

stacked by forklifts—

thanks be to factory 

workers from afar.

Still, we long for dark empty rooms.

Some find them in tiny pills

YouTube on autoplay— 

And when night drops its curtain

70 inches of pixels illuminate faces 

behind walls and windows—

Oh, Great Box of Blue Light, say