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The Swing

The Swing


With no one around to push you,

you started slowly pumping your legs,

pulling hard against the chains 

on the backswing to fling yourself forward,

staring up the links to the bar 

it was rumored you could swing over 

if you got going high enough, though 

no one told you what happened then. 

That feeling in your belly, 

you'd felt it once before, 

the time you caught Tina Nguyen 

showing Shawn Bradbury, who got 

shot dead in a bar last year, the hot pink 

shoulder strap of her undershirt.

You were seeing the same thing 

he was seeing, the difference being 

he was being shown it. 

When you felt that feeling

you knew it was time to jump off, 

falling to your hands and knees 

in the grass, the chains twisting 

and untwisting, twisting 

and untwisting, 

twisting and untwisting.

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Sowing Sulfur

Sowing Sulfur


I'm scattering pelletized sulfur

with the same gesture I

would make were I sowing rye,

cupping roughly the same measure


in hand and aiming only vaguely for

the furrows Quill is making.

He takes more care than I am taking

in straightly steering the tractor.


We keep passing one another, 

he leaning over to keep the tire

in its track, as if an invisible wire

ran from one end of the field to the other,


while I, less exact, am sowing

a crop that will never sprout

but that the potatoes can't live without.

What I'm doing will get them growing.


I am as pelletized sulfur is to seed,

here only to disappear

and help something green appear,

something people actually need.






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Mt. Barnabee Haiku

Also the mountains

wear masks of mist, nod at one

another, and pass. 




The poppies : brimming
cupfuls of sun, like children
running from sparklers.




Koan : consider
how a dog wears no clothes but
pants and pants and pants.




On Mt. Barnabee :
bumblebees in the blossoms,
barns in the valleys.




All of these days we've
spent in quarantine have gone
to form one pearl.




As for the mountain
itself, it keeps on climbing
via its flowers.




Inspired by the
butterflies, the butter flies
into the cat's mouth.




On Mt. Barnabee,
amongst the grasses I am
just another head.




If I would have known
it would be this beautiful,
I'd have brought more beer.




Along with a few
million gallons of water
the reservoir holds
the idea of a lake.




If the clouds are wool
there must be some awfully
big sheep in heaven.


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A Bathroom of One's Own

A Bathroom of One's Own
If I felt sorry for her then (I don't
Remember if I did), I feel sorrier
For her now. The only female
In our family, she had to share a bathroom
With a dairy farmer husband and three sons.
No matter how often she asked us to
Be more careful, the only constant thing
About our aim was its errancy. Had
We tried half as hard to hit the toilet
As we tried hitting the basketball hoop,
She wouldn't have had to clean up
After us before sitting down, not to
Mention the blue, snaillike globs of Crest
On the sink edge, the damp towels we tossed
Onto the floor, the shower curtain clouded
With lime. At least the bar of green soap
Was impossible to sully because, cleaning
A body covered in milk and manure and sweat,
It itself remained clean. She must have taken
The time to wipe our spittle off the mirror
Before brushing her teeth and her hair.
She must have opened the one window
So the curtains blew into the room,
The breeze carrying upon it the scent
Of the pines it had blown through
And the odor of the herbs in her garden.
There was always at least one fresh towel,
Still warm from the drier, and the sharpness
Of the blades that never grew dull
Scratching my father's face, the razors
Kept in a special drawer we knew not
To open. I realize now I was wrong to say
She had to share a bathroom with us.
Years before we built a second bathroom
Just for her at the top of the stairs,
She had a bathroom of her own.
A pureness amidst the desecration,
Like a park in the heart of a city,
More beautiful for the dust on the leaves.

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