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A Nickel on Top of a Penny

ISSUE:  Winter 2014

after César Vallejo

I am going to disappear in Belmont,
after taking a walk in intermittent rain.
I will vanish one day in Belmont—don’t correct me—
on a warm day like today, a Thursday, in fall.

I know it even more than I know how we all want
contradictory things, like security and excitement,
immortality, hang gliders, gumdrops, a home, and all
the space in the world—Eden, Paris, Tokyo, Cockaigne.

My writing hand hurts. To the good friends who asked me to dinner,
I’m afraid I should tell you not to expect me.
When you set the table, say, “Stephanie couldn’t be here,
although we were good to her; we gave her presents

for Christmas and such; we answered most of her letters,
importunate as they became; we tried not to offend her;
we sat through her chatter about piano lessons,

and telephoned her in the midst of a snowstorm last year.
We think we could not have treated her any better.
We never believed she’d simply disappear.”



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