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O Merciful God (And Some Angels)

ISSUE:  Summer 2003

I stand at the kitchen counter sharing cookie crumbs with an ant—
one for me, one for you, no, please sir,
have two. Listen—
an angel overhead is brushing her lap after lunch—
wind licks the trees
like a rough cat bathing her kittens,
dirt stats against the windows, curtains shiver on the rod, heave—
sickness, Oh—
Death owns my house again, I crouch
to the World like a dog at the feet of an irascible master—
Please, Boss!

Centuries of grieving form a guerrilla army and obfuscate the landscape
with platitudes, prayers, and principles the consistency of rusks.
The Greatest Happiness defeats my army with an abacus.
Then Reason legirons love, quarantines compassion—
heaves all counterarguments in the river where they float
like alphabet soup. Still Death hopscotches
every syllogism crosseyed.
So I catapult my virtues, cloying and jittery like balls of mercury,
at angels, barter religious ecstasy to co-pilot the white bowl of souls across the
   violet water.
Finally desperation’s centripetal force slings whole treatises
at the enemy in heaven—
justice is fairness,
not mercy,
pay up.

The pawpaw leaf tips backwards, then
gracefully tumbles
like a fisted hand opening
at death.
The inch worm holds the barren node, and
kisses it all over, kisses
it again,
like a sleeping face.


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