The Surprise Party


the taste of autumn drips from empty trees
the same street you drive down as the one yesterday
but now a hollow brown

the tiny stab when you see him after so long
and the self possession of the new girl
that comes from knowing she’s with him

you play your part in the breezy circus of hellos
smile and shake her hand: you’re an old friend, introduced
as if you’d had lunch with him last week

the drink drowns you in its drowsy groove, but
the crowd parts every so often so you can see
him wrapped around her like Russian mink

finally goodbyes: you laugh and fluff her name again
the effort to smile is so small: you manage it, he doesn’t:
love lends you the tongue to be the better liar

the second you die you will be thinking of him:
the haunting of the living by the living
is the heart’s heaviest hook

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