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The Astronaut

The Astronaut


On the morning

of the day

they are going

to shoot him

to the moon

the astronaut

wakes up yawns

and stretches

then remembers

he must leave

his children

his wife who

awake now

yawns and then

remembers too

his penis especially

doesn't want to go

into all that

cold black space

it wants to stay

right here

where it's warm

but if

he's going

to have to

go it sure as hell

is going too

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When Writing Poems Could Get You Killed

When Writing Poems Could Get You Killed


I used to like to pound the typewriter

keys and pretend

I was hearing gunshots in an almond orchard,

the bullets neatly unbuttoning

the poet's white dress

shirt, this back when

I used to spend a lot of time wishing

we lived in a time when writing

poems could get you killed

instead of getting you a tenure-track job.

But when I think of Lorca

leaning on the shovel the fascists gave him

to dig his own grave, out

of breath from digging his own grave,

when I think of Lorca I think

what was I thinking?

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Golden Eye

Golden Eye


Real woods were filling up
with real snow while I sat inside

listening to Kid A on repeat,

playing Golden Eye.

The only level I remember
there was snow everywhere,
satellite towers I suppose
I was supposed to blow up,

enemy combatants

wearing winter suits,

or were they
for nuclear radiation?

I don't remember anything
really but the snow and how
I always found my way

to the edge of the game

where the details were
all a little blurred. 

Some designer got lazy, 

tired of playing God.


Whoever it was I was 

waiting for under

those pixalated pines,

I thought I gave up


waiting for years ago, 

but here I am again.

You who've come this far too,

take my cold hand.


Tell me it was you.

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On the walls of your house
there were hung

antique tools
of woodcutting and agriculture.


Where is the wheat 

the scythe reaped now?
I asked. Where the pine
the crosscut saw cut down?


Vanished, you said,
into other forms,
as well they should have.

Such as? Such as


the bread on the table,
or the table under the bread.

But all I see, I said,
is the scythe and the saw.


You're in the wrong
room, you said.
And we sat down at the table
and broke the bread.

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[Shortest day of the year.]

Shortest day of the year.

Disappearing against my flesh,

the last sliver of soap.

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Electric Christmas Candles

Electric Christmas Candles


At some point there must have been one
too many housefires around Christmastime

maybe the tree went up in flames or maybe
they left a candle burning on the windowsill

then there were sirens seething through

the carols and ashes blowing over the snow


so someone invented the electric candle

marketing it as safer around children 

safer around eggnog but they were made

to resemble real candles down to the flame


-shaped bulbs that curved as if upon a wick

in a draft while the candlesticks were made


to look as if they were made of actual wax

right down to the dripping drops so that


it was as if they were always burning

even in summer when they were shut


away in a drawer that smelled of pinesap

wrapped up in their cords and the little glass


bulbs like a memory of flames like flames

you could have sworn you blew out

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First Word

First Word
My mother tells me
my first word was key.
I was trying to say
kitty but instead
said a word that
unlocked the language,
turning in the soft
lock of my mouth,
opening the door through which
every word since
has come pouring out
on the heels of the first.
And the room will never
be empty, nor
the door locked again,
it being the kind of key
that only turns one way.

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Cattle Guards

Cattle Guards
In our lives also there will sometimes be
Something like a cattle guard between us
And what it is we want – the lush pasture
Across the dirt road, or the road itself,
Emptily winding through the green mountains.
It may be nothing more than a gate laid
Flush with the earth, but when we come to it
We shy away. We know it shouldn't be
Enough to stop us but it always has
Before, which is why it works, every time.

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