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Poems

Something Stronger

you said he likes it dark in the morning. every morning
he made black coffee by the light through the window over the sink
well anyway he used to. well anyway that’s why it’s so dark in here beg your pardon
the monitor beeped and i ate my yawn and said no problem almost my lunchtime anyway
you laughed and i laughed but he did not see the joke
i’d seen his mri i wondered if he could see anything at all out of that eye
seventy-four-year-old male temporal mass

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Portrait of My Father

…the son of a ragman

Half-tilt at a stack of 78’s looking for a gem
For Nina, for Dinah, for Phineas Newborn
For Monk

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Educating a Surgeon

My grandmother’s bed bounced high
But I lost the pillow in my hands
Four stitches in the small town
green tiled emergency room
where peering intently into the mirrored light
I was mad because I couldn’t see

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Wreckage

It must have come in a hurry
on a ship of pain, breaching
the weak seawall of her lungs.
The tumor, split from its moorings, set adrift.

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Sounds of Reconstruction

They’re pounding out the broken sewer line beneath the street
at the intersection of major roads by our house, day and night
men and women move earth, drill new wells to control groundwater,
lay pipe, footings the size of shattered memories to bypass
the damaged places.

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Earth to Earth

You would have loved the simple maple box.
Corners smoothed and lid sealed tight,
we haven’t tried to pry it open yet.
It weighs more than I would have guessed,

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Even Now

Two decades ago, during my first week
as an X-ray tech, I watched a boy die.
He was, thankfully, not a boy I knew
or loved but one I’d gone to X-ray.

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Fourteen Months

from your ship in Vietnam.
Love letters.
Six pages in one of them
on the thin Navy stationary,
listing the ways you loved me.

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This Is How You Cope With Cancer

Bleach your hair,

get drunk on champagne,

pretend the left and right halves of your face are the exact same,

ignore and deny it, laugh loudly–too loudly,

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