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On Style

ISSUE:  Autumn 1989
The one-armed pencil-seller
 at the Place des Vosges
spins out drum-rolls on a tin
             can topped with aluminum
foil, so dexterously—

three pencils, one between each
 finger of his
remaining hand—passersby
       are momentarily distracted from
the unsheathed stump

which gestures (which would soon
 repel, its raw,
rubbed weight like a face
        whose features
have smudged away)—gestures,

nods, inclines politely toward
 the pencil box
no one dares stoop to reach
        into, scattering coins
like petals at the Sun King’s feet.

Sherod Santos


The river, while it runs the gamut of
All idle eyes gathered on the sand bar,
Whirlpools in around a snagged tree-limb
Trailing the red flag of the drowned girl’s
Blouse, though her body was hauled out
Hours ago. Just moments before that moment,
She’d wrestled with her brothers while
Her father spilled a dip net full of minnows
In a mayonnaise jar, and now the jar, the net,
The flattened reeds beside their fishing
Poles, remain as they could not help
But remain. And now, in an upstairs bed-
Room five farms down the road, the oldest
Brother sets his teeth into his thumb
And sees it just that way, the minnows
Still blindly bumping at the glass.


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