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ISSUE:  Autumn 1980

The lambs are to market, the cattle will be culled
and the maples seem all trunk, switch or bone
and loose ends. Who wouldn’t join them, hone
the edge of himself and let go: fall curled

and clacking—or, refined, leaving off
the stink of memory’s mean bookkeeping. I offer
my first unborn child; that old man, my father;
a niece and nephews to the flames; my youth.

As if they hadn’t been taken and I were more
than hide to strop a blade on, my close shave
the one I begged for, gorging on desire.

The markets claim their lambs each fall. I’d starve
for meat to cut and chew, my sweet and sour
portion, but for the heart’s muscle, love.


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