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Poetry

The Week Before She Died

I dream us young, again,
mother and daughter back
on 69th Street inside
our old brownstone—across
from the church, patch of lawn— 

a house neglected, wrecked,
as if the family
had been forced at gunpoint
to move away. In corners
dirt stacked like miniscule

Bat House


Turn out the light and I’ll explain. 
—James Fenton

It’s where I’m heading
It’s what I overheard
The lines in the corner
The flaming word.

It’s what you expected
Your greatest fear
A chip in the teacup
Bills from last year.

The Elevated

Train on the rails
Moon buttonholes the sky
The sorrow, the sails
Your hand, my thigh.

Moon buttonholes the sky
Lines trail airplanes
Your hand, my thigh
Doors close again.

XII.10

Africanus has a million bucks, 
and still he wants and wants and wants. 

III.52

You bought yourself a low-cost house
  for only forty thou’.
Then lost it in a city fire;
  they burn so often now.

Look, the Human Is Shrinking

It’s normal to do it alone, the feint-and-jab
           of forgetting. I believe in only what I can recite 

from memory, like the ninety-nine names
           for thirst: soft-hell, root-torn-from-soil, rain-

Against Vanity

Away from the cruel magnification
            of a shaving mirror, I clean up well.
I am content with orange teeth and salty
            skin, with having borrowed my beauty 

            from the ocean. See my kelpy eyes, the pearl
on my tongue? Flatter me, flatterer! I still care 
            about dignity, like a blindfolded duke
being led to the gallows. It’s hard not to smile 

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