The courtroom, clad in wood veneer,
could be a lesser pharaoh’s tomb
equipped for immortality.
A civil servant drags her broom
around the bench and gallery
as jurors darken a questionnaire.

One coughs against the courtroom chill.
One drums her fingers atop the bar.
One finds escape through Stephen King,
as through a window left ajar.
One talks and talks, a reckoning
of who got sober, who took ill.

The talker seeks me out at lunch,
a bond of passing circumstance.
He slides the food around his tray
disdainfully and looks askance
at those nearby, as if to say,
In here, you can’t expect too much.

Across the hall, five years ago,
the talker fought for custody
and lost, his daylight blotted out.
He’d spent the decade carelessly
and sucked a mortgage up his snout.
He never sees his daughter now.