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Joe, Birthday Boy

John Grey

So this is decay at its core,
the birthday,
the solemn candle-lit cake
carried from the kitchen
like a coffin.

He can feel the wood-worm in the walls,
hear the chair creak
like old bones,
watch the knife cut quickly
as if to sleight-of-hand
its own rust,
see crumbs spill
like flesh with no clear purpose
once holding on
proves futile.

He lowers his head
into the scattered fires,
cremation the prudent option,
but instead he blows
as if to align himself
with ceaseless wind,
buffet the flames here and there,
even strafe a couple
back into their wax sepulchers,
until somehow,
every wick goes silent.

"Happy birthday!" somebody shouts.
Why shouldn't it be happy.
When midnight strikes,
it stays behind.

John Grey (he/him) is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Washington Square Review and Floyd County Moonshine. Latest books, “Covert” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Santa Fe Literary Review and Open Ceilings.

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