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and, Michigan

Our country is drenched in oil

and your body is


has rubbed together

all the dry books you read.

                           You learned nothing

                            about how polluted

                            friendly people can be

like too much lead in water.

Say What You Will

Our town ventriloquist
amazed without a dummy,
putting his words into the mouths
of local people and their pets.

Politicians on TV certainly benefited.
It took skill, so few of us even bothered moving our lips
after a few years of silence and/or doubt.

Especially uncomfortable conversations
he would have with himself

when neighbors weren’t around to hear.

After Orlando

The Angel of Death had yellow—
and-black wings that looked
gold and gray in the setting sun.

You can be killed any time
by someone you don’t know.

My mother’s side of the family doesn’t
exist anymore. Someone killed them all—

had them gassed, shot, hanged, injected.
I can’t think too much about it without

feeling I’m meeting the person I might’ve
been. Billions of us occupy the same small

planet, but it only seems like we’re sharing...


My Demise

after a career of running guns
in North Africa, Rimbaud succumbed
                        to either syphilis
or carcinoma (depends on who you've read)
in Marseille in the care of his sister,
            much as he had written.

he was thirty-seven–
same age as Mozart.

Zen Masters, it is said,
recite a poem at the exact
moment of their death,
often ending with
the exclamation "Ha!"–
                they die...

Letter to Afghanistan

Because the pitch pines have been frozen
all season, they clatter in the dunes,
snap down to the blood sap,
slender and rigid as boys at attention.
In the frigid sand, to move is to break.
Each overlapping wave a shard,
here, tectonic plates of ice crowd the shore.

Yours is a burning earth.
Wind-ground sand, fine as talc,
claims the air, no tolerance
for emptiness. The space in your sleep
where we belong, where our daughter belongs,
is sealed up tight and safe—
too safe to be of any comfort.
We are none of us free from harm...


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