It asked a crumb of me
and nothing more.
Even that I could not give.

Joe’s value wanes
once cellophane is stripped,
scotch tape cut,
cardboard lid pried open,
and he becomes a GI
maimed in the sandbox wars
saving Barbie’s beach house
from Captain America.

Sherry’s reputation sours
once condom is unrolled,
belts unbuckled,
undergarments lowered,
and she orgasms
in her Subaru’s backseat
enjoying an awkward moment
with her boyfriend.

Nostalgia must be pristine,
memories bubble-wrapped
in fear they will be exposed
as worthless fraud.

I hoard every last crumb
hanging on so tight
the captive mourning dove
suffocates in my grip.


Note: The first line of this poem (italicized above) is the final line of the poem “Hope is the Thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson.

©2023 Kenneth W. Arthur