November 11th

I work in fraud prevention
looking at lives online
like a pariah watching family dinners
from the bushes.
A woman at a wedding stays seated,
gazes onto the dance floor — head turning over
memories while her face rests in thought —
smiles when her name is called
from behind a flash.
Her mouth falls back but I don’t see this,
I see a happy woman who should be sad
at work.

I sleep on my aunt’s couch
in a quiet one-bedroom loft,
where the lights stay off
and my books sit in boxes
like report cards in the attic.
My phone doesn’t ring;
my school friends forgot me,
my ex girlfriend moved on.

A few people adore my company
because they are worse than me.
They invite me out and I drink
and smoke and banter with them and they eat it up,
cackling at one another and sharing eyes that say
“isn’t he great?”
When it’s time to go I call a cab and wait outside;
I light a cigarette and look down
at the shaky numbers on my phone.
I feel fine at first, even happy. They must love me;
I smile.
But then I realize what this means
and I think about the life I live while I ride home
in a dark car feeling lost,

– Torrance, CA


Taken in Painted Rock, MT