People Leave When They Cannot Breathe

And the band is set to play
their next set,
but I’m at the end
of my capacity
for passive entertainment.
A pepper spray pen poised
in my breast pocket beckons me
to rewrite the end of the night.
A weapon disguised as that utensil
which typically bleeds only ink,
not made for scribbling
on another’s lungs.
I fiddle with this canister of fire
beneath a return vent,
and unwittingly spread its heat
throughout the venue
into unsuspecting respiratory systems.

The band stops. Mass exodus ensues.
The patrons and the players
depart the sea
of red pepper air
now too thick to breathe.
Outside I stand among them
like school children
at a fire drill
awaiting further instruction.
Amusing speculations abound
about the air.
Each has a theory for how it got tainted.
But it is I who turned us into dragons.
And while we’re all still breathing fire
I dare not disclose its source.

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