The Planet Killer

by Tom Barlow

He stands in his backyard
scanning the night sky
for a planet-killer
the exclamation point

to his life that he has come
to expect any day now.
A pinball man,	
his wife slaps the flippers

every morning to launch him 
caroming off the bumpers of 
his disaffected child,
the job, the barstool,

knee pain, lost friends,
lost faith, tedious love, 
whiplashing him around
the neighborhood like a teen
was tilting the table.

At three tries for a buck and
fifty years in the game, the mad bells 
and flashing lights
have finally exhausted him
so he stamps an X in the snow.
For the comet.
For the jackpot.


Tom Barlow is a widely published author of poetry, short stories and novels. He writes because conversation requires a great deal of give and take, and he's always thought of himself as more of a giver. See more at