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Picket Fences
Lauren Machado

What are they hiding? I ask myself.
I peek over the backyard fence
Certain that if I scratch hard enough
Scrape at the barbeque grill they all surround
I’ll excavate a story.
Out of their happy lives
I could fashion a tragic lullaby.
I think I could then finally sleep.

Nothing can be good all the time, I tell myself.
But my slice of putrid pie seems too large to ingest.
I want to poison their grilled burger patties
Pollute their condiments
Relish in it.

Feel what I feel, I think to them.
I’ll never say it
Never tell them I hate them
That I despise perfection
That my eye is trained to scrape away the fresh paint
To smell the muck underneath
Every time almost wishing my scratching will come up
Reveal nothing
Maybe then I’ll believe in it.

Nothing can be good all the time, I remind myself.
It comforts me like a car wreck:
Twists my spine into knots
But finally breaks what’s been paining me.

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