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glean: 1. to gather slowly and laboriously, bit by bit. 2. to gather (grain or the like) after the reapers or regular gatherers. 3. to learn, discover, or find out, usually little by little or slowly. 4. to gather what is left by reapers.

Easter Grass

EASTER GRASS

Somewhere they are making Easter grass.
There must be an Easter grass factory.
I imagine huge sheets of transparent green
Plastic cut by blades into blades that roughly
Approximate the color and width and length
Of grass in a spring pasture in which
There were cows once but aren’t any longer.
No one working in the factory is deceived
By the grass but the grass believes itself
To be real, seems to dimly remember
The pasture where it grew until the day
A man and his son came swinging scythes.
It doesn’t know it was made in a factory
To fill the baskets of suburban children
Who live far from the nearest place where
Actual grass is allowed to grow as long
As it is. But the grass cannot be blamed
For believing that the cold, dyed eggs
Set down gently in the basket it beds
Might still hatch. And even after Easter,
When stray strands have collected
Like the hair of the dead in the vacuum
Cleaner bag, the grass will go on believing
It is real, and try to cheer up the landfill.
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Missed Connection Sunday At Garage Sale On Fulton and Baker

MISSED CONNECTION SUNDAY AT GARAGE SALE ON FULTON AND BAKER

You: standing in a mirror, holding
A dress up to your neck, the mirror
Itself for sale. But when you asked
The woman who was moving
To Oakland how much it was
She was asking too much,
So you hung it back up and turned
Your attention to a music box,
Which you balanced on the flat
Of your palm, turning the crank
Like it was a fishing reel
So that as we browsed we listened
To some song that had been locked
In that box for years and that only
You had the key to, and when
It was over you said,
“Just listening,” gave the woman
A dollar, and walked away.

Me: Typing this letter to you
On this old typewriter
With keys that stick
And a fading ribbon
That needs replacing
But that I would buy
If I didn’t want to leave
This note curled in it
Covered with the tentative
Words people pecked
In order to try it
In case you come back
Having changed your mind
About the dress
Or because you wanted
To hear the song again.
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White Lie

WHITE LIE

Christmas Eves our dad would bring
home from the farm real hay
for the reindeer that didn't exist
and after we were asleep
would go out and take
the slabs up in his arms
and carry them back to the bed
of the pickup making sure
to litter the snow with chaff
so he could show us
come morning the place
under our windows where
they had stamped their hooves
and shaken their bells
to make us dream them
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Premature Elegy for Claude Eatherly

PREMATURE ELEGY FOR CLAUDE EATHERLY

Climbing the steps to the hotel room you've taken
in New Orleans to kill yourself, you're aware
of your shadow climbing beside you. How you wish
it would unhook itself from your body and remain,
a stain on the Victorian wallpaper, but it insists
on climbing with you, like a friend you wish
would just let you go home alone when you're drunk.
In your pocket, a bottle, the pills kept chalk-dry
by cotton balls. You know their strength, know
what it will mean to swallow them all. You open
the door, enter the room, see that you left
the window open. The curtains are swollen
with wind. You lie down on the bed and remember
radioing Tibbets, telling him the weather was clear.
That was all you did. Stated that fact the way
a farmwife would. But you knew what it meant
to say that, and now you think you know
what it means to twist the cap off that bottle
and throw thirty perfect white pills down the hatch.
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AUTUMN TURNS

its gun of slick black leaves
on the man who takes care
of the graves and the boys
who like to make fun
of him tiptoe up to the gate
and yell "Fucking faggot!"
and run away as the man
resumes his raking,
the tines skittering
over my grave.
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Standing In Line at the Anne Frank House

STANDING IN LINE AT THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE

The line is long, so long
it bends at the corner like light
in a telescope. It's quiet.
If anyone has anything to say
they whisper it to the ones
they came here with.
The wind is cold. People pull
coats out of their bags
by the sleeves, bags they kick
forward every time
the line moves. Every now
and then people give up
and leave. No one tries to
stop them. The couple ahead
of me, I watch them turn
to one another and agree
to come back some other day
when the line is shorter.
They'll find a café. I stay.
I shuffle forward into the space
they've left me, thinking
of all the lines we form
on earth, and what for.
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Country Things

COUNTRY THINGS

Some days even nature seems sinister.
Walking around the farm with a beer,
Seeking some solace after the evening news,
You meet the cat you love coming back
From the windbreak, a rare songbird
In his mouth. In the mulberry branches
The silkworms writhe in nests that, backlit
By twilight, look like X-rays of lungs.
In the pasture the cow kicks at her calf
And won’t let her nurse, while in a seam
Of gleaming honey in the oak lightning
Cleaved the queen daintily eats her offspring.
In the rafters of the barn the starlings are
Pushing the owls’ eggs out of the nest,
While the owl herself is out hunting.
Going in, you nearly step on a swarm
Of ants ravishing a butterfly like people
Tearing a capsized ship down, its wings
Like torn sails, and the first thing you hear
When you enter the kitchen is the snap
Of the mousetrap you set this morning,
Tired of being kept awake all night
By their scratching in the walls. And so
You are met with your own small act
Of cruelty, your contribution to the whole.
With a pair of pliers that are themselves
Always biting something, you take
The broke-necked mouse by the tail
And throw it into the darkening yard,
Never knowing that in favor of it the cat
Let go of the bird, who was only stunned,
And whose song you woke to in the morning.
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Rustic Winter Scene

RUSTIC WINTER SCENE

The lab asleep by the fire
Pheasant blood in his whiskers
Like watercolor on brushes
Leaning in a coffee can
In a cold shed
The artist has given up painting
In because he can’t see
The canvas through his breath
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Dark Day

DARK DAY

Birds that had sung all morning
Fell quiet in the branches
Like ampersands in a sentence
A boy doesn’t know how to say.
Candles were lit midday
To see the Bible by. Fathers
Had their sons take turns
Reading prophecies
Their generation was blessed
To see come to pass.
Even the rebellious daughter
Who mouthed all her prayers
Felt afraid when she parted
The curtain and saw stars.
But in the graveyards
The tongues of the coffin
Bells hung still, and the doors
Of the mausoleums were mum,
White as the lips of witnesses.
The dark meant nothing but that
The flowers closed early,
Leaving the drunken bees knocking,
While all the dark day the taverns
Were full of men without families
Who wove their fingers into baskets
Into which they placed gently
The quail eggs of their eyes.
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I'm Tryin' a Get Me a Hot Meal

I'M TRYIN' A GET ME A HOT MEAL

Sorry but I don't
I don't have any
money on me
on me I don't
have any money
don't have any
on me no money
sorry but don't I
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