The Difference between Screaming and not Screaming

is when you find yourself face to face with the cashier
at Rite Aid after waiting two hours in the check-out line

it’s the moment when you’re all soaped up in the shower
and the hot water turns off,

when you’re clean but not quite clean
and the cashier looks at your Boca Burgers, as if to say

‘tonight the sunset is going to be a hoax / the sky will break free at last of its weeping clouds / lagging behind them / like a child with so many fists full of unspent tears’.

time is suspended suddenly, as for terrorists at the airport,
and you don’t feel like waiting in line any longer

       blame it on the air
       avid and unchanging

the water starts back up again, and your mind tries to take flight like some halcyon bird cramped in a sextant of smoke and mud and you understand that by anyone’s standards you are probably unlovable,and that the air is a meth lab you will carry with you wherever you go

       blame it on the sky
       compelling as a river
       blame it on the sun
       empty beet-faced pretense

it’s too late to turn back,
you’re face to face with cashier number four
and she looks at you, towel-in-hand, as if to say:

‘You lost your core back there someplace / I watched you move today like a slow-turning clock / and what’s more, it might rain later and / your heart is sticking out a little / better tuck it in / so it doesn’t catch cold’.

       each day is going to be like this:

there will be no windows or exit strategies, no train to leap across the abyss where the bridge is down. instead, you will wake up in a cave larger than the earth, shuffling along, unsure whether or not your eyes have opened, just in

       time to make your final purchase.

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