Surrounded by crumpled words
Because failed poems are like head-nods
When silence demands a response.
I correspond this moment
To flickering a red-eye,
Watched an old patron
Un-fold his newspaper,
Seated in the booth
Beside me. I swallowed
Dollops of coffee
Along with a headline
That captioned the afternoon,
Teen slain; suspect surrenders after standoff.
As I waited in line to pay my bill,
Two men with frail voices
Spoke about how beautiful
Of an afternoon it was.
And it was a beautiful afternoon,
The sun shined
And yesterday the same shine spotlighted
Young blood trickling into silent nuances
A cracked sidewalk displays.
Later in the evening I made a new friend;
She spoke with a molasses tongue
And explained how her speech impediment
Was due to a seizure in the womb.
We continued with small talk
Until my new friend’s nose twitched
After I mentioned the diner
I attended earlier. “My brother’s girlfriend works there,”
She explained. “She has a PICC line. When we went to Disneyland
She had to carry this backpack with all this stuff in it. It was scary.”
On the corner of a neighboring table stationed in the cafe
I spotted the same newspaper the old patron was reading earlier.
My new friend coughed into her clenched fist,
Which is supposed to resemble the size
Of an adult’s heart. “Scary and kinda embarrassing,”
And as I drove home
I turned off my headlights.
The dark provided a comfort
The light couldn’t sustain.
Surrounded by crumpled words,
I forced this poem. People with PICC lines
Will walk through Disneyland
Forever contending with the social stigma
Of their survival.