6’4’’ 300 lb Male Walks Home at Night                       by Cody Shrum

The moon hangs low in the sky,
dropping light through tree limbs
on my walk home from campus.
October, black Batman hoodie,
backpack hanging from shoulders.

Kylee might have dinner ready—
she does that sometimes 
when I’ll get home late.
The dogs will jump on me, go crazy.

The shortcut from Grubbs Hall
to my duplex, a loose path
of scattered gravel, winds between
a house and the campus ministry.

Sudden footsteps in front of me
jerk my head up, choke away
breath caught in my diaphragm.
Nobody else around to yell for.

A woman, jeans, purple jacket,
walks my direction, sees me, stops,
phone screen showing wide eyes,
lips splitting apart like a fault,
turns back the way she came, fast.

I reach the mouth of the path
where the buildings stop. She’s gone.
Her shadow has slipped, spilled
around the building, sprinted away from me.

I lean against a tree, take a breath,
feel the grainy bark.
I think to apologize, yell out
into the darkness, soften her fear,
but she’s gone, a held breath dispersed.
My heart still beats fast, hard, 
panicked against my ribcage.

Cody Shrum is a teacher, writer, and gym manager based in Kansas City, and he has earned an MFA in fiction from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Cody’s fiction and poetry have appeared in such journals as Prime Number Magazine, Rust + Moth, and Harbor Review, as well as the anthology, Kansas Time + Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry.

Guest Editor Lori Martin is associate professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin, (parenthetical), Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, The Maine Review and upcoming in The Tampa Review.  Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly