Blank Cards

In his wallet, he carries business cards,
coal black, with no text, no nothing,
on either side.
His fingers, long as grasshopper legs,
store them in his left breast pocket,
the place where he pulls out his neatly
stacked 5-dollar bills to pay me for a coffee.

He asks me what I can offer him
in black.
I laugh.
This is a café after all, I say.

He hands his business cards
to all he chooses to talk to.
From behind my counter I watch him carefully,
with steam rising from the espresso machine.

He walks with a gait that inspires
roses to wilt and cats to purr.
He pulls out the cards from his breast pocket
with mischievous fingers wanting to play.

I take my break, sit and stare blankly,
stirring my spoon into the bleak, black brew.
I feel his presence approaching.
I hear the shaking of his breast pocket for a card.
My turn is now.
What question will he ask me?

His black wild eyes lock with mine like
two magic eight balls.
He hands me a card.
Yes or no? he asks.
I say yes.
We pause.

He smiles as I take his card and slide it
between my two front teeth.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This poem was selected from entries submitted to our Creative Challenge Series #1: First Sentences, which required that the first sentence in the text must be used as given. Read other Creative Challenge winners. To find out how to participate, go to Creative Challenges.


Monica Czerniak lives in Montreal, where she is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.



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