In Jackson 5: My Wife’s Last Birthday by Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue

In the psyche ward’s
cafeteria, she sits,
barely picking at her food.

Her brow, wrinkled
like a hieroglyph,
meaning unbelievable suffering.

Cutters, schizos, manics,
substance abusers
form a rag-tag choir. .

Belt out an off-key
“Happy Birthday to you”
to someone they don’t even know.

My eyes flit from face to face.
Whatever private hells
they’re going through

(and there must be many)
look far

If I’d seen them outside
I’d figured these young,
good looking people

hadn’t a care in the world.
Tears flow.
I can’t help it.

And when they finish,
I cut two small pieces of cake for us.
Then tell these blessed nut-jobs

the rest is theirs.
And thank, thank, thank them.
Only wish I could’ve given them more, much more.