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scurried around a classroom papered with poems.
Even the ceiling, pink and orange quilts of phrase...
they introduced one another, perched on a tiny stage
to read their work, blessed their teacher who
I was a kid other kids’
parents gossiped about.
They told their children
what I was: too negative.
I get it. Fair to fear
contagion of bad attitudes,
You used to be so
and now you’re all
like, you’ve transformed
I don’t know how to describe
you don’t like canasta anymore
you text IN ALL CAPS
My first job was when I was about 15. I had met a girl named Hope who became my best
friend. Hope and I were flunking math class so we became speed freaks. This honed our
Two dicks, sitting in
my daughter’s inbox,
like men without hats,
waiting for any door
Sighting a stranger’s penis
used to be rare. Remember raincoats?
The hallway is an empty
riverbed, smooth and barren.
At three o’clock classroom
doors open like dams.
Gullies of teens stream
out, to become one
flowing body. A torrent
Our mother gave us a sack of weed killer
the size of a toddler, and told us
to spread it on the front lawn.
My sister and I lugged it there.
A light cloud of white powder
drifted up to our nostrils
I am fourteen
and my skin has betrayed me
the boy I cannot live without
still sucks his thumb
how come my knees are
always so ashy
what if I die
I triage the landscape. The prairies
are numb today and so am I.
I am too thin. Built
like I won't explode on hot
afternoons, a mirror
to the sky. My body is a hurt
where tall grasses grow, where
the other gold.
Now that's the stuff,
shredded or melted
My poem without me in it—would it be like
my room when I had returned to it
after my mother was done with me.
Under my bed, only the outer
space balls, of dust, only
In the empty classroom, at sunrise, a girl
sits on the floor, staring at a glockenspiel.
She’s shredding the cuticles on her left hand
Would I have seen her?
The tide tugging her gently past
the Comfort Inn; houses, tall and gabled,
This is our welfare half
a duplex with mint green
siding shrugged between
Both guitars run trebly. One noodles
Over a groove. The other slushes chords.
Then they switch. It’s quite an earnest affair.
At the heart there is a hollow sun
by which we are constructed and undone
Your best friend falls in love
and her brain turns to water.
You can watch her lips move,
We were combatants from the start. Our dad
Bought us boxing gloves when we were ten —
Champions like Euryalus, say, or Epeius
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today