The Truth Stings

she has to ask it again as I lean in closer / “Do you ever have doubt?”

The Truth Stings
Photo by Aljaž Kavčič / Unsplash

by Justin Karcher

Sunday dinner on the patio of Taqueria Ranchos
on Niagara St near the river and the wildfire smoke

from Canada is making the bees go crazy and Ben has
to trap one underneath a small salsa bowl so we can eat

in peace, but the buzzing only gets louder and we worry
it might shatter the world, suddenly the DJ really starts

pumping up the volume and now little kids are dancing
as dusk descends and when Bianca asks me a question

she has to ask it again as I lean in closer
“Do you ever have doubt?”

and I’m not sure how to respond, so I stab my California
burrito with my fork until the past comes pouring out

a soft and messy thing like a wounded animal
you have to put down but you never do, do you?

“Nah, I’m cool,” I lie, and after we’re done eating
Ben frees the bee and we watch it clumsily fly away

hopefully straight into the wound of a flower that needs it most

Justin Karcher (Twitter: @justin_karcher, Bluesky: is a Best of the Net- and Pushcart-nominated poet and playwright born and raised in Buffalo, NY. He is the author of several books, including Tailgating at the Gates of Hell (Ghost City Press, 2015). Recent playwriting credits include The Birth of Santa (American Repertory Theater of WNY) and “The Trick Is to Spill Your Guts Faster Than the Snow Falls” (Alleyway Theatre).