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The morning dawned cold and bright,
and I felt happy.
The poem I’d meant to write
paled before the day in front of me.
It was itself the poem.
All day I read it, the slash
of the jet’s trail, evolving form
till it became bar, feathers, ash,
then nothing. Brittle leaves
littered the sidewalk, tossed
like bets to the track after a race
by fools who think they’ve lost.
Pick up the ticket. Cash it in.
Celebrate your fortune. Begin again.

 

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What We Know

What we know, we know only
because we once did not
back then when we did not know we did not

What we want, we want solely
because we learned what it was to want
endured that gnaw, that knot of lack in our gut

What we will is simply what we do or do not
And do not wills just as surely as do
Our fate arrives: equally final by either route

Prunes

My young friend tells me they now come
individually wrapped like candy. Some
market focus group showed they sold better.
So, musical fruit. Easy BMs. Furtive fiber.
My brother will not ever immerse his fingers
in the water of the hot tub. For hours on end
like a surgeon he holds up his hands, removed
from harm, to keep them smooth. The stigma lingers,
unlike the indigestible in a dried plum – which they’re
calling them these days, because it’s uncool to care
too much about the inner workings of one’s gut.
Most homely and unfashionable of all dried fruit:
oh, forgive our shame. Thank you for your stealth
and sorbitol, and for your contribution to our health.

Bot

Little larva of the botfly, what
sort of pale soft mooch are you
you whose name we filched, too
to truncate the word for metal wrought

by force into a mind of sorts? Or a hive
of oversimple yeas and nays, who sways
and turns brains to and fro, lends weight
to fame, keeps flesh and ire alive

chews over it long past its date?
Even excreted, you leave a trace
a trail of slime, smear of detritus
testifying to the devoured’s fate.

You pass whole, pupate, having first hectored
what you ate: our innate unholy altered vector.

Mid-October

A fine, crisp slice of moon.
Tomatoes blotchy, furred
now on one side. One chirp
at sunup. The bane and boon
of the fading year. Harvest
and glean and what’s left behind:
rustling stalk and feathered pod,
all that’s sweetest, best, and last.
The roundness of the pumpkin
which houses flesh and seed,
the promise of another round
of vine and fruit with tender skin
that toughens as the summer turns,
but slowly, and even as it burns.

Guest Room

I make up the bed with crimson sheets,
the quilt my great grandmother made.
I leave open the white paper shade
so the sun can warm the wood in slats.
I send a letter saying, “The whole top floor
is entirely yours.” And then I wait for word.
A week. Two. Dust settles on the headboard.
By turns the shadows shift, the light goes meager.
Outside, the last leaves dangle by a thread.
I imagine you nestled beneath the coverlet
or reading in the easy chair, a sleeping cat
across your lap. The yellow lamp stays lit.
All winter I wonder about you, the downy quiet
of the snow outside muffling your slow advent.

The Garden

The garden is without flaw – sylvan, remote, holy.
A place to wait. The wall around it begins slowly
to feel narrower each night than it did before. You start
to wish for some chink to appear, though this would hurt.
You don’t voice that, not aloud. Instead you say, the point
of this life is how to live it. But silently you know: the point
of this life, at its center, is how to leave it. Day after day,
the giraffe couple twine their necks together. The frog pair
leap one over the other over the other over the other,
a Moëbius strip of arcs. The maker comes each evening
to collect his strokes. Why, you wonder, do you begin
to long for something to go awry? The sky above looks clear:
beyond it, you know, there is no limit to what the perfect can bear.