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from Twenty Year Marriage

Come on, baby, lay me down on my back.
Pretend you don't owe me a thing
and maybe we'll roll out of here,
leaving the past stacked up behind us;
old newspapers nobody's ever got to read again.
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from Lullaby

Now when he hears the sound of voices,
he growls, covers the bones quickly
and hides beneath the burned-out shell of a car
until they fade
like all the voices that once made us family,
but could not save us from our destiny.
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from Two Brothers

Death, Bobby, hit me
like the flat of a hand.
Imagine you are made of crystal
and someone ice picks you
and you shatter,
all your cells coming
almost to despair
it is so good.
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from Conversation

We smile at each other
and I lean back against the wicker couch.
How does it feel to be dead? I say.
You tough my knees with your blue fingers..
And when you open your mouth,
a ball of yellow light falls to the floor
and burns a hole through it.
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from Oswald Incognito & Astral Travels

If I'm anywhere, I'm still trapped
in the palace of lies,
where I'm clothed in illusion
and fed confusion with a spoon.
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from Afterschool Lessons from a Hitman

I always say
it aint a shame;
it's crime
and thank God somebody elese
is paying.
This time.
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from Rwanda

Dawn had come to the village
with more killing on its mind.
I heard screams and pleas for mercy,
then I realized those sounds were inside me.
They would never leave.
Now I am always talking to the dead.
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from I Can't Get Started

I'm burning from the bottom up,
a bottle of flesh,
kicked across the hardwood years.
I pass gin and excuses from hand to mouth,
but it's me. It's me.
I'm the one dirty habit
I just can't break.
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from The Suicide

The wharf has a tight deep vagina of water
and I'm going to fuck it until it novas,
just to let everybody see
how I cut through life like a diamond
in a sack of glass, with no regrets
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from The Psychic Detective: Destiny

A nightlight in the shape of a bear
burns in the center of my darkness.
It's clear acrylic and inside, a blue bulb
casts a pale blue light in the room,
where I lie awake,
my twelve-year-old insomnia,
a warning of future sleepless nights.
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from The Testimony of J Robert Oppenheimer

We tear ourselves down atom by atom,
til electron and positron,
we become our own transcendent annihilation.
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An Empty Place

There is nothing for Death
in an empty house,
nor left for him in the white dish
broken over the road.

Come and sit down by me
on the sunny stoop,
and let your heart so gently
rock you, rock you.

There is nothing to harm us here.
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Visiting Mountains

The plains ignore us,
but these mountains listen,
an audience of thousands
holding its breath
in each rock. Climbing,
we pick our way
over the skulls of small talk.
On the prairies below us,
the grass leans this way and that
in discussion;
words fly away like corn shucks
over the fields.
Here, lost in a mountain's
attention, there's nothing to say.
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Screech Owl

All night each reedy whinny
from a bird no bigger than a heart
flies out of a tall black pine
and, in a breath, is taken away
by the stars. Yet, with small hope
from the center of darkness
it calls out again and again.
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from A Spiral Notebook

It seems
a part of growing old is no longer
to have five subjects, each
demanding an equal share of attention,
set apart by brown cardboard dividers,
but instead to stand in a drugstore and hang on to one subject
a little too long, like this notebook
you weigh in your hands, passing
your fingers over its surfaces
as if it were some kind of wonder.
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from A Washing of Hands

She turned on the tap and a silver braid
unraveled over her fingers.
She cupped them, weighing that tassel,
first in one hand and then the other,
then pinched through the threads
as if searching for something, perhaps
an entangled cocklebur of water,
or the seed of a lake.
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from Garage Sale

All of your husband's shirts and slacks
and heavy sweaters—a bank of threatening clouds
that hang from a pipe between two ladders—
are much too big for me, and his extra boots
look cold and deep as abandoned wellws,
and his tools are no good to anyone but him:
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Flow Blue China

No real flowers would give of themselves
as these do, the soft tips of their petals
easing out under the painted gold borders,
then bleeding into puffs of blue, and the aunt
who in her old age gave me these cups
and saucers, the plates, bread plates and platters,
the gravy boat, and the big covered bowl
that for seventy years she brought to her table
heaped high with buttercup potatoes,
she too, like one of these soft blue flowers,
has slipped beyond the thin line at the edge.
I lift this cup to her. Flow, blue.
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Mourners

After the fungeral, the mourners gather
under the rustling churchyard maples
and talk softly, like clusters of leaves.
White shirt cuffs and collars flash in the shade:
highlights on deep green water.
They came this afternoon to say goodbye,
and now they keep saying hello and hello,
peering into each other's faces,
slow to let go of each other's hands.
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(Sorry I keep falling behind! We have one more week, so I'll try to keep on track!)

Gyroscope

I place this within the first order
of wonders: a ten-year-old girl
alone on a sunny, glassed in porch
in February, the world beyond
the windows slowly tipping forward
into spring, her thin arms held out
in the sleepwalker pose, and pinched
and stretched between her fingers,
a length of common grocery twine
upon which smoothly spins and leans
one of the smaller worlds we each
at one time learn to master, the last
to balance so lightly in our hands.

July 2016

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