"Watching You Pretend" by Kristine Brown


to say you’ve never felt

your chest shrivel up

tear apart like the last

remittance envelope for

the year’s second ride

on a two-faced ambulance


I sincerely envy

the upright curtness

of false confidence


over-rehearsed, sure

but repeated enough

that I’d walk away

if tasked with this

jaunty piano piece

I’d manage without

some meted grin


you’ve got your vodka

while I shake right after

the smallest macchiato

and while you pilot

with everyone’s trust

we’ve both agreed

on creaking balconies

that wonky curbsides

keep you walking straight


if only more people

feared less of life’s

impolite clarifications