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ISSUE:  Spring 1987
I have got to leave you.
I walk out the door, the thin metal teeth
of the screen we keep promising to mend
tear my sleeve, the cloth
only stretches so far.
Why don’t we admit it? How close we are

to the country people up the road, perched
on the ridge in their trailer,
moved six times before the county let them stay.
We laugh and cringe
when we hear about the hammer he slams
against her head, the mud she says he claps

against the wound, here’s your doctor, heal.
His comic halloween mask is made of pocks
and moonshine flush and black snake eyes,
I’m not surprised to hear he meets the kiss
of the copperhead more than halfway,
stabs with his hunting knife, the broken

bone handle is real, he tells us,
into the two small holes,
sucks the poison from her leg.
They’ve reached some final poem of the flesh,
like we have, walked inside the harmony
and closed the door.


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