A Lousy Pack of Smokes

Cole Depuy


The cement shoes fit Marty well,
the bucket filled to his knees.

He sits, gagged and bound
to a chair in a shack off the barge docks.

His own sock balled up
in his mouth, held by a slice of duct tape.
Marty draws hot breaths from his nose.

Three thugs carry him out
of the office on the chair.
The air is muggy. Close. I-95 echoes
a drone of rubber.

The thugs set Marty down
at the edge of the dock and cut
the rope around his waist.

Marty stands facing the bay
where he tilts to-and-fro like a buoy bell.

The men take turns prodding
the bucket with rakes,
one by one,
inching him towards the edge.
Marty looks into the water and sees
no reflection.

As the bucket leans,
he chokes on the sock
slips off the wet dock.

Heavy. He plows through the depths.

The bucket pulls
his knees
break then collapse
on the seafloor
summoning a mushroom
cloud of muck.

His head pulses.
His eyes open
and he rips the tape off
to cough out the swelling sock.

It hovers like a jellyfish.

He thinks of his girlfriend, Cynthia.

Earlier today, Marty stood on the garbage
bin inside their garage to compact the trash bags
before he closed the lid,

when she walked right past him
and hopped into her violet Accord.

Marty wobbled atop the rubbish
and watched her
ponytail hit
the A/C and roll up the windows.

Marty called, “Cynth, grab me cigarettes!”
She didn’t flinch. Just turned her head,
backed out of the driveway and took off.

He wondered
if she had heard him. It felt impossible
that she hadn’t. That she would pretend.
His lungs beg to let go.




Cole Depuy’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Penn Review, Boston Accent, Heartwood, pacificREVIEW and elsewhere. He is a Ph.D. student at SUNY Binghamton’s Creative Writing Program and recipient of the Provost’s Doctoral Summer Fellowship.