Came on the birthday of a dozen Facebook friends.

Came like fast food at the drive-thru window.

Came like forwarded junk mail,
like a gift shirt someone thought might fit.

Came like the robocall about the cruise no one wants or wins,
a punchline that forgot its joke,
the calendar’s next blank day.

Came crawling like a cockroach from the shower drain.

Came while I was deciding: New Yorker or Netflix?

When poked, felt fake, like cheap cake gone stale on a styrofoam plate.

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BRAD RICHARD is the author of four books of poems, Habitations, Motion Studies, Butcher’s Sugar, and Parasite Kingdom. His poems and reviews have appeared in many journals, including American Letters & Commentary, Barrow Street, Gettysburg Review, Guernica, Iowa Review, The Laurel Review, Massachusetts Review, Mississippi Review, New Orleans Review, and Xavier Review. After teaching talented young people for twenty-eight years, he now writes almost full-time. He serves on the faculty of the Kenyon Review Summer Writers Workshop for Teachers and co-directs The Waves, an occasional LGBTQ+ reading series in New Orleans.

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