For me best a paperback

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For me best a paperback:
No good hard boards,
No slick dust jacket that absorbs
The unpredicted inevitable knocks and tears.

Rather the words writ in a rush
Hastened to publication,
The immediate cheap paper
Not worth the saving:

The leftbehind vacationhouse detritus;
The not quite worth packing for home;
The someone else’s freshmanyear surveyclass albatross,
Borne till it could be misplaced in a move

To wash up not yet loved
In beachcomber thriftstores of the mind
In Simi Valley Marin Moscow or Iowa City

Priced to sell
With four neat Roman Xs
Stamped across the pagetops.

 

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A robin

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A robin, solitary, young by now raised, body gathered inward against the chill light, breast the color of sunset, color of embers blown with new life, that were embers yet and never would birth flames, perched taut on the taut catenary stretched from beginning to end, from end to beginning, and far nearer one than the other

was moveless the while

I watched

till time had gone

then did I cross the new mown lawn, then I walked on, past gray sermons of buildings, past black stones standing, moving along alone beneath the dark green trees and through the park and through the cheering dawn toward town

only, nearly there,

to pause, struck still, pierced neatly to the brain on glimpsing, pictured in the patternless cracked sidewalk cement, having hastened before me to lay itself as if by happenstance across my path,

my own shocked heart.

 

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What you owe your body

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What you owe your body
Is more than you
can provide

It will eventually
wander away from you,

end up
standing to one side
like a party’s incidental guest
unsure whether she is speaking to the host

still mad
about
the abstract betrayal
as you
played keep-away, or pounced again
and again
on your best friend’s
long
shadow
on the platform
waiting for your train
late that afternoon

and you said nothing

again and again

One day there you’ll be
lost with longing for
that playful noncommittal love
you had back
when your body
fit you like a glove
late that afternoon
waiting

 

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Amber

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The immense still heat trapped the day like amber:
seeped into the lodgepoles and the ponderosas,
immobilized the blue air, hovered over the lake
that dispatched idle waves to lap the sand.

The taste of coffee lingering in my mouth, on my hand
the smell of you, dust smell rising from the path.
It was the hottest summer on record.

The sun made idle progress of shadows
across the path; the taste of dust lingered in the air,
the grasshoppers’ shrill shirr-shirr-shirr hung
heavy in the heat, neverending.

Where was I in all of this? I was the footprint
trod beneath the lodgepole pine, the dazzled wave
sacrificed to beachsand, the grasshopper
immobilized by heat somewhere in dry grass,
invisible, as that great endless summer
lingered like the smell of you, the taste of you
through that hot hot day.

 

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Often in Error, Never in Doubt

(for Donald Trump)

John Skelton

John Skelton
put his hat of felt on
put his pants and belt on
and his shoes of leather
meet for any weather.
His outfit put together
no hesitation whether
he should go outside—
Aye! I shall! He cried!
And with furious stride
went out through the wide
open front door.
Never yet before
had traveler set out
with fewer pangs of doubt
and such a shout!

 

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I viewed a knight errant; he was

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I viewed a knight errant; he was
dressed in humble garb; he
knelt gingerly upon the sidewalk
avoiding cracks and mumbling
as if in contemplation;
a mantle of plastic wrap
he clenched about his shoulders
like a favor, a sturdy buckler
of greasy cardboard
pinned between his elbow and
ribcage (on the left wide
where he keeps his heart);
his shoes sprung but serviceable;
his equipage stowed in ample pockets.

From the bent of his spine
and his questing gaze
I guessed he was seeking
a suitable weapon
and a world worthy of his service.

 

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everything in between

Tears of Ink - August Brill - 6893084612_bcd12a913a_z

Yesterday the world
was made of grief
same way the sea
is made of tears.

I knew it wasn’t
the same stuff
just couldn’t tell
one from the other.

Today as usual
the world is made of
everything in between
heaven and hell

the way it’s
supposed to be but
I still can’t tell
one from the other.

 

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I heard of a girl who told

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I heard of a girl who told that she was haunted by her father
even when he was still alive
she was a Lesbian and lived in Berlin
back when you’d still capitalize Lesbian
like there was a homeland you’d visit some day
she’d let you know her father had more than one quirk

That man’s name goes in a drawer, was a thing he’d say

I heard she told that her father was unforgiving
unforgiving like God, that kind of unforgiving
I heard she was the kind who stayed careful always
not to allow love to overcome
respect for distance
and recognized that after all people, they are dangerous
even if they never act, even if they smile
and that you’ll never know everything wrong with the world

That man’s name goes in a drawer, her father would say

not to beat around the bush
I heard after her father pulled the trigger
they opened the drawer, sure enough it was full of names
I heard that was always the end of her story
but I believe it must have left her to wonder
what else that her father had said was going to come true

That man’s name goes in a drawer, that’s what he used to say

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