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To wear a vigorous shirt. At See-See Coffee

ISSUE:  Summer 2018

       in the bathroom, a sticker on the hot-water tank 
 says, It only takes one or two 

seconds to become 
 helpless in flowing grain, or among flowering graves, 
            down where the boats are being unloaded. 
   It happens so swift, that one 

becomes another. 
       The door opens and it’s a new house, new knife 
        and fork, new restaurant 

by the railroad station. 
       The wave crushes its salt, cloud into a cup.
  It saved your life once at a coast

 pinstripe skulls 
             and cherry-blossom smoke. Help me up hit 
           me up hit me, while steamboats throw 
        themselves at the shore 

and low hills 
   shag into farm. I’m a snap, says the resident. 
               I’m what there is about the dead beyond change. 
    It runs out. How easy, the wave farewell.

      All along the way out was a new year’s kiss
beneath a Supremes poster
      the daisy-decorated leggings
   unfurled on the floor. 
        She tells her boyfriend 
  who was the boy who has been writing this poem
          ever since that night, that she was not dying 
  it was all a joke, the trip to the hospital

 the chemo
     all a lark that lasted an hour
 a lark, so, to fly. I don’t know if you learn anything 
             about love from poetry, but you can learn about 
           poetry from love

 the way you can know a city 
      from walking around it. The boy who has never been 
            in love before doesn’t understand and, never-understanding
  leaves the apartment, the Supremes
          the year of 1991, and the leggings 
   rolled up on the floor like bird nests
          the body that was dying and then was not dying
 but still shivered under sheets
  when she came—the breath

            down the stairs that turned halfway down
     beside a flowering tree with a birdfeeder
 which in winter had pocked the ice-persisted ice.
              I love her for pretending to die
   a lie of such richness

  and for being able to die, both of us
             any moment, so that when I begin to, in whatever hour
  I may find it again that adrift sense
       that abandon, to be careless
about the future again.



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