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Friday, July 02, 2021


by Jen Schneider

Dave Granlund cartoon via Milford Daily News.

1. Something bitter. Noun. Plural.
2. Something sour. Noun. Plural.
3. Something sweet. Noun. Plural.
4. Something vulnerable. Noun. Plural.
5. Someone who is vulnerable. Noun. Plural.
6. Something that is increasing in number. Noun. Plural.
7. Something else that increases in number. Noun. Plural.
8. A Whole number. Greater than six and less than eleven.
9. A whole number. Less than six
10. An antonym for permanent.
11. A synonym for the adjective just 
12. Another word for exonerated

Breaking news alerts proliferate. 
Prosper, too. Prime time menus 
of mixed reviews mingle and morph 
amongst clam covered 
palms and sweat stained pits.
Stomachs ache 
of __1__ and __2__. 
Memories of __3__ fade into
forever setting suns as storm 
clouds crystallize. Frowns
form. Red and blue ink
blur. Times New Roman
font crosses paths with Lato.
Wet signatures dry. Personals 
pay final respects. Records
are released. 
Wild prey wait on nearby wires. Dollars
wait in nearby banks. Electric
energy both watching and waiting. 
Lighting strikes in predictable patterns
and on predictable prey.
The vulnerable press. Charge, too.
No matter. Mathematics makes
for logical work and two consonants 
(F / R)
and two vowels 
(E / E) 
yield a limited
number of combinations. 
Permutations, too.
Reef(s) hover at or near
the surface of stormy seas. 
Barriers built to protect those
in need - __4__
and __5__ weaken
until those in need become
no more than numbers. 
Data most revealing. 
Most numbers grow - 
__6__ and __7__
while others diminish. 
Brute force always finds a way
to unlock combinations long
proffered as secure. Sentences
often flip, then flop. __8__ turns
to __9__with a subtle twist.
Zippers release and seams snap.
Nylon curtains drop and faux
satin sheets fall. Silver
linings dissipate.
Accounts empty then fill.
Golden standards have always been tarnished.
Gambling has always been a predetermined 
proposition. Printing presses turn out F.R.E.E.
passes as pressed charges turn off the lights.
Light, too. Games systems everywhere.
Not all Aces are pure. 
Not all Spades are sacred. 
To win is not always ___10___.
To be free, not always __11__.
Hands reveal hidden tricks
and luck turns. Locks turn left 
and engines run. Game on 
and now over. Energy depleted.
To be free 
is not to be __12__.

Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. She lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Philadelphia. Her work appears in The Popular Culture Studies Journal, unstamatic, Zingara Poetry Review, Streetlight Magazine, Chaleur Magazine, LSE Review of Books, and other literary and scholarly journals.