Shelf Life

And again we walk down the aisle
inhaling the Muzac exhaling our lives
between shelves stacked with cartons
and boxes each packaged product
bearing its stamped expiration date
like the foreheads on death row.

Verily, as the chaplain keeps saying,
there is life and there’s shelf life,
so here we are pushing our carts
through music picked by the warden
and provided as a customer service.
By the time you wake up it’s all over.

Jon Swan is the author of three collections of poems. New and selected poems can be found on his website. Jon and his wife, Marianne, live in Yarmouth, Maine. Read other articles by Jon, or visit Jon's website.