The next generation push into established neighborhoods,
assume leases, move from drone-work to management.
Prideful up-and-comers pressure the near aged-out,
drop hints of greener pastures. The experienced,
now dissipated, lack for business drive, reflexes.
Mortality waits at a train stop, not late
for an appointment. Watchful,
it brushes by intended quarry at a corner store
where the overzealous clerk cards everybody else
for alcohol. She rings this one through.
The inevitable purge of old guard, the fresh
humiliation of requiring adult diapers,
yet moving through the world a citizen.
The best day left is today, with tomorrow almost equal. The body-vessel
curves southward, descent unstoppable, but degradation
of condition needn’t trigger useless panic.
The replacements need this desk, the room, this town
and job market. They’ll stretch their reign
beyond the span their elders held on, trusting science
to address the lifespan problem. After work hours
they form families, create eager successors. Now in diapers,
soon in mail rooms. Too quickly after our last breaths
they’ll cut six foot holes, tamp the dirt,
get back to work, imitate immortals
‘til the wave behind them builds a crest.
Todd Mercer was nominated for Best of the Net by in 2018. Mercer won the Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Prizes and the won Grand Rapids Festival Flash Fiction Prize. Recent work appears in: Down in the Dirt, The Lake, Praxis and Star 82 Review.