They smoke Gauloises at the bar below the signs that show they're banned,
blow out rings of grey to still their hands, smooth the lines on their faces,
inhale each other's tales of the places they can't shake:
Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen: this roll call of fickle mistresses.
They've never felt so light or so alive as when they're there,
their heads so free, bodies immune, hearts seduced into breaking the rules.
Now drink is the armour they crave.
The first beer slides down. Then on and on, making them greater men, braver, their fragile
frames upheld by the scaffolding of shame.
They are the tellers of tales that grow in the silences they can't share, truths they can't bare to
anyone else but the names half there.
Only when they're blind drunk, can they cry for their daughters and sons - the lucky ones.
Hannah Storm is an award-winning writer whose work has been published online and in print. A journalist for the past 20 years, she writes flash fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction often inspired by her experiences travelling the world. She lives in the UK with her family and works as a media consultant and director of a journalism charity. She is on twitter @hannahstorm6 .