The Operating System

Poem: Foyer by Frank Ortega

You will wait here forever with the rabbit.
The same one, remember, when the nurse in Germany
told your mother it died,
piercing the needle in much too hard, hissing
“Have you seen the ruins of the Opera House?”
That was life starting.
You cannot touch the cupcakes
but like a fairytale,
you may look at the portrait of our leader.
He is well protected
and always shows his warmest features to us
through the black visor of his shiny helmet.
Would you like a cigarette? A last cigarette?
We pride ourselves on replacing the dead bulbs
and keeping our one plant alive.
You’d have to touch it to know what it’s made of.
This Persian carpet is to remind us of other places,
where life once was.
The doors on each side no longer have handles;
they have been slowly erased.
You can go out through the door in the center,
but it’s always locked.
If you squint you can almost imagine
that the lights are stars
and you are already blessedly dead.
But when you finally drop, please don’t make a mess.
Our floor is polished so that after you fall
you can see exactly who you were
and the reflection of the stars above
that never go out.
(Ed. Note: Foyer is featured in Exit Strata: Print! No. #1, hot off the presses and soon to be in NYC bookstores)

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