The woman evaluating my honesty at the liquor store
looks at my face as it was five years ago
and then at the face I am wearing now
and then at the small plastic rectangle in her hands
and she examines the date written upon it
and she says “You don’t look like an ’80s baby.”
I have walked to the counter with a handle
of Canadian Club and a fifth of Four Roses
because I know myself well enough to know
that early tonight I will want to taste everything
and later tonight I will still want to fill myself
with something I could confuse for fire.
All of this must be showing, because the woman says
“It’s a compliment, honey” as she hands back
the thing with my old name and my old face
and we laugh together, gently, as I slide
my face back into my wallet, and open my pack
to slide the tasteful thing and the tasteless thing
away from anyone who could see.
Michael Alden lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they teach middle school and high school language arts and occasionally try to scribble out things that could be construed as poetry. Their writing has been published in Drunken Boat, Magma, and elsewhere. They won the first annual Rain City Hoodie Slam, and have represented Seattle and Pittsburgh at national poetry competitions.