Permanent Pause

Birthdays are present
tense even when the honoree is past

tense. In a year’s time,
I will surpass him in living

years. It’s a lie
that we can’t catch up

to, surpass, one another. I make
no predictions. Stand still could be

a quality of light
or shade of blue. I can see

only glare—no faces reflected
in the atrium wall, could be

a window if
you’re into that kind of thing.

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Garbled

When her grandfather paid her
a nickel for each half
hour she could sit still

and mute

neither could know how
her father’s words would evaporate
into close Jersey shore air

for free, how the other capital A
disease untreated might do the same
to a friend she can’t bear to be near—

and stillness becomes

permanent. Even if
she kept those nickels
all these years, she couldn’t purchase

a reprieve
from either for anyone.