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Where were you last Thanksgiving?
Did you drive down to the old Victorian farmhouse on the road out past the fairgrounds,
park yourself on the porch swing between a couple of new in-laws,
chat them up about your pig-headed brother
while the smell of beef pot roast wafted out the window?

(Jack pissed Shirley off this year;
she refused to do a turkey after he pawned her antique sewing machine
to pay down a replacement guitar amp for the one that got water damaged
when it flooded back in July. Shouldn't
have kept it on the garage floor
in the first place.)

Did you smile, then, and remark on what a happy child Gracie is,
what a protective older brother Simon is turning out to be
(Simon asked to send Gracie back with the stork
because he'd rather have a puppy
and Jack pranked him by filling the crib with feathers.
Simon was inconsolable and ran away from home
and they found him at the beach front
kicking at the pelicans)?

Did Angie pull up in her brand new eggshell-blue hybrid
with all the bells and whistles
and the unmistakable streak of yellow paint from a bollard she backed into?

Did you all sit shivering around the table
(Shirley likes the house colder than Jack does, and if she catches him
messing with the thermostat one more time,
he'll have more to worry about than not getting turkey)
devouring hash brown casserole
(recipe ripped from Cracker Barrel, I'm pretty sure)

sad Roger didn't make it out to the house that year
(though he facetimed in from Denver
in one of his stupid Hawai'ian shirts that hasn't been
ironed in a year, and everyone had to admit he was
looking a lot better now that the chemo is out of the way)?

Did you play baseball in the unseasonable warmth, bases loaded
at the bottom of the last inning,
caught perfectly between your real life and something divine
that would make a real poet out of you, if
you'd just had a pen with you at the time,
or at least a camera?

How come that isn't the way it happened, would you say?

Is that why you're penning poetry that didn't happen,
long into the night,
itemising all the people whose lives you're not living, with your
omniscient view from above? Is that why
you keep tearing pages out of your notebook before
folding them into paper cranes?

It's not like you need my permission, but
I don't mind. You can keep writing us this way, if it's
how you keep the lights on.


Iron Noder 2020, 23/30