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I salute this virtual cupcake on the day I become older

than my grandfather ever was, and this cupcake

will be imagined to have a red filling

to honor his heart that failed him,

and a single candle for my only birthday

that he witnessed, this cake of one cup,

for one mouth, which, by being virtual,

is a cake of one mind, mine,


this dark cake of bright frosting, a shadowed depth

of thought, the way darkness enriches chocolate,

this cake whose ingredients can no longer be distinguished,

even when the recipe is read, as when records are released

of my grandfather’s military career,

or revelations made of his brother’s sins

against his own blood, or the day and time of my birth

recorded in Astoria General Hospital.


A virtual cupcake can be had and eaten, too,

like a promise secretly broken, or ideology

determined by psychology and culture

and defended by institutional literature,

like a Bible, like a visitation, like a dream for your daughter’s future,

like the end of rebirth, like a worm in the rain

imagining air, which is where up comes from,


and up goes a picture of a very real cupcake,

which incarnates a million flickers, like the network

of a single mind in a single moment

of beauty, and doubt, and consumption.

ODE TO A VIRTUAL CUPCAKE

ODE TO A VIRTUAL CUPCAKE

Donald Zirilli

Author Bio: Donald Zirilli doesn't drink soda unless it's a party. You know how it is. His favorite is Dr. Pepper unless it's Mountain Dew, except that he's really not going to drink Mountain Dew anymore. He was a finalist for the James Tate Prize and a nominee for Best of the Net and the Forward Prize. He edited Now Culture and is on the board of Red Wheelbarrow Poets, Inc. His poetry was published in The 2River View, Anti- poetry magazine, ART TIMES, Nerve Lantern, River Styx, and other periodicals and anthologies. His chapbook, Heaven’s Not For You, was published in September, 2018, by Kelsay Books. http://zirealism.com

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Dead Skunk Logo: round logo of a white skunk silhouette on a black background with the words “Dead Skunk” in cursive. “Dead” is neon purple and “Skunk” is neon yellow.

© 2021 Dead Skunk Mag