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You can identify your own flaws by scrutinizing strangers.
I watched a woman
from across a platform
at the subway station:
Straight, dishwater-blonde hair
glimmering in the subterranean fluorescence;
a dancer's figure—
and a thrifty ensemble that bespoke good taste
in spite of budgetary constrictions.
She pulled a circular compact from her purse
the way people in films exhume a pack of cigarettes.
Then, in deliberate fashion,
she removed a pill and swallowed it.
Birth control is like receiving a governor's pardon
in the process of planning a crime.
I resent her having that kind of indemnity.
I pass judgment on assumptions of character,
high on the blissful soapbox of bigotry.
As that pill crested the ridges of her teeth
and met the soft tissue of her tongue, then esophagus,
my mind conjured a phantasmagoria of lewd images
on the surrounding subway walls--
more a reflection of my character
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