44 (twenty-dollar holiday)

Death is a twenty-dollar holiday.

The first dollar buys a seat on the train,

then a dollar on lunch and a redcap,

and at the stopover you send a drink

to a tall pale woman with red lipstick,

who slouches when she laughs but laughs and laughs.

Her legs are crossed and she scratches her calves

     with her heels and her bitten fingertips.

But it's too long a trip to sit and think,

count pennies against a line on a map,

and spend your days on days, three meals a day.

So you decide you're going to the grave

with this woman, and nothing to save. 

first published in the anthology Devouring the Green (Jaded Ibis, 2015)