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As dusk muses inside the park,
a rotting picnic table and two benches sit uncompanioned in a darkened alcove.
Garrisoned by undergrowth and redwoods,
the forsaken furniture takes on a troubling, misplaced air.
A rash of bilious green and yellow moss envelops
these corpses of human conviviality.

The surreal ocean gravesite,
disinterred in brine-filled air from a spongy floor of pine needles,
transfixes a passerby.

What years have lapsed, she wonders in the twilight,
since laughter and high spirits last spiraled
skyward from the picnics atop these cadavers?

Feeling a chill in the park
and loath to linger,
she thinks to herself as she walks quickly past the scene:
Happiness and mirth are no more durable than the blue cook smoke
which, once upon a time, use to tang the air here.
But good cheer is a vital lie, she thinks,
even when, ineluctably, exposed.

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Paul Mann

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