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)