The Straw Room Mambo

by Mark Mansfield

Rude awakenings happen upon you
with more frequency than zombie extras
doing zombie-ons
in The Night of the Living Dead.

A schlock-eyed optimist, your upper lip’s
usually about as stiff as a Shirley Temple
with the extra cherry.

Old Mother Hubbard’s your patron saint
and her dog, Cupboard’s
your guardian angel.

Wandering gamely as a cloud,
you recently awoke to find yourself
strapped to a gurney while your Doppelgänger
and the ER staff finished wolfing down cake emblazoned:

Happy Birthday, Markles!

For you, the glass has never been so much
half-empty or half-full
as typically aimed at your skull
by one of life’s less amiable patrons.

Next to you,
Rumpelstiltskin was Mister Rogers.

Mark Mansfield’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Adirondack Review, Bayou, Blue Mesa Review, The Evansville Review, Fourteen Hills, Gargoyle, Good Foot, The Ledge, Magma, Orbis, Potomac Review, Salt Hill, Scrivener Creative Review, Tulane Review, and Unsplendid. He holds an M.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins. Currently, he lives in upstate New York where he teaches.

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