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His Song

ISSUE:  Spring 1996
Drunkard’s song, lost
itinerary lyrics, a self-love
lisp, its language hovering
a feeble shore-fire
I put out with my hands over.
Empty colored bottles
surround him, fill with luminary
light, each one, a light mistaken

for living, and I am now
redundant collecting them,
blowing down into their bellies
deep boat warnings. Tonight

the birds that follow
the ship out to sea only so far
are flying in and out
of my breathing until he yells
again from his pew, pulpit, altar,
bow, shouts out the obscenity
of my name. I can tell we are
earning emptiness here:
with bone-anger I dress in
the darkened garments of
inability and I wear appropriately
his singing tonight, what
is like a sailor’s companion;
there is a story in the chorus,
little moral, lasting image:
flying oars of men
are returning in
the radiant wind,
a body at the bottom
of each boat.


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