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Michael Mark




Baby grabs father’s eyeglasses and puts them on.


Adults ooh: So cute!—clap, clap.


Baby screams: Shut the damn door, you’ll let the heat out!

Think I’m made of money? College isn’t far off, ya know.


After a bottle and nap, baby bemoans, unstable

mortgage rates…government corruption…unbearable commute…

                                                                                                   dismal job prospects.


Bedtime, fed and bathed, baby returns the glasses.


Shrieks wake the sleeping household.


Shhh, what is it, you poor thing?


Wife hugs husband tight.


He can only sob inconsolably.


Palliative Care


We welcome our damaged selves 

into bed like waiting room receptionists, 

ask each other to sign in: friend, lover,


or are we still enemies from dinner? We take care

to distribute the pillows evenly, like nurses:

check vitals, note changes


since last time. How’s the stress? 

We are therapists as we light candles, 

soften our voices, remove 


our glasses; we are specialists examining

mouths, eyes, ears; surgeons when mordant 

words must be excised before they spread. 


We cut deeper still to reach the callused 

silences – down past the past,

in hopes of keeping it in remission.


We schedule regular appointments 

to save each other. Too often, for one reason

or another, we miss them.

Michael Mark is the author of Visiting Her in Queens is More Enlightening than a Month in a Monastery in Tibet, which won the 2022 Rattle Chapbook Prize. His recent poems appear in Best American Poetry blog, Copper Nickel, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, Sixth Finch, The Southern Review, The Sun, 32 Poems, and more. For more, visit

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