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MY MOTHER TAKES THE STAND

The room is walking
                                into a woman. It’s lying
to you again—hasn’t learned.

The room is walking into a woman
                                  and he claims this time
he has evidence. A telephone

dangles from his white collar neck. Right.

That’s my cue.

                        Is it acceptable if I repeat myself?

I scan the radio,
                        hear nothing good. I argue my side
like a child crying

down the dead limbs of a backyard tree.

The room closes its doors, wanting just
                        to rest his eyes a little,
        and I open them back up.

No. A man on the side of a road
                        swaddled an infant and waved a flare.
No. In the field a prop plane
                        was burning the field, was yelling at the sky.
Yes. In a muggy room a woman,
                     with the blinds clacking in a breeze, with the television
talking buzz on mute, packed a suitcase,
                        a photograph on top, and every word
heard in the room
                        was an afterlife? The room became dumbly
an afterlife? This was her way

of apologizing. This was her way of sending me threats.

Who is it that never falls in love with a good lie?
                        Who the hell do you think you are?

WHEN THE BUSKERS LEAVE TOWN FOR GOOD
after Mark Strand

It’ll be funny
                        knowing for once they won’t be singing to me forever,
like hearing a woman’s voice
                        walking farther and farther into an empty field
wearing a stranger’s coat;

and forgetting, of course,
                        because by then the cruel music will have stopped,
that woman in the foyer
                        buttoning and unbuttoning her shirt, trying on
all of my winter hats,

when, as the sky went motionless, then dark, then loud
                        and precise, everyone at the party
covered their mouths, covered their eyes, and the mutt
                        sitting at my feet started to hum, started to froth,
which is to say the wine became unbearably sweet,
                        and the crack in the front door
             grew longer, not wider;

and realizing, also,
          what I’d always known to be the case, that I wanted to believe
I could finally walk on the brink
                        of my body, but didn’t know if belief
was the right response,
                        that I wanted to kiss each of my guests
on the cheek as they left
                        with the lights on;

and, especially then,
                        scooping the fallen ash, as if it were snow,
to lift just some of what was left
                        to your tongue;

and trying to recall
                        just what it was that had gone
so completely right, or why it is
                        the way you left me
              was over and over again.

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