It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Gabriel Bates


We spent the Fourth of July
that year
in the parking lot
of the Mazzio’s restaurant
back home
in Kansas.

Remember that,

It was right after
the divorce,
so we could all finally do
whatever we wanted
since Dad wasn’t around.

You had a Bud Light
and a Marlboro Red
in one hand
and a smile on your face
so big that it looked like
someone else’s.

“Grab it like this,”
you told me,
“Then spark it
and stay real still.”

So I held out
the sizzling Roman candle
with shaky hands,
trusting that you knew
better than I did.

But within seconds,
a giant ball of flames
was coming right at me.

It ended up
hitting me in the shoulder
as I was running away,
burning through my shirt
and into my skin.

I guess you were so drunk
that you handed the firework
to me the wrong way.

I never kept a grudge
against you for it,

Because I knew that
you never wanted
to see me hurt.

You were just trying
to show me the lights.





Gabriel Bates is a poet living in Tiffin, Ohio. His work has appeared in several publications, online and in print. Keep up with him at