An Ounce of Pretension

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There are few opening lines more pretentious than
‘I have a hot tub’—maybe ‘I don’t own a TV’ or

‘I read The Economist’—but it’s true and anyway
it’s for my wife’s fibromyalgia and it was on sale

and there’s no other way to explain the leaves that
become trapped and float unnoticed to the surface

sink beneath the jets lost in the flotsom to wind
between our toes and lay at the bottom of this

chemical bath dying as we relax color fading like
an astronaut without oxygen who can’t keep her

eyes open as the warnings flash 15 10 5 3 percent
red through her eyelids but she’s long since succumbed

to an isolated slumber and slipped down to death to
wind between God’s toes, a leaf in the filter but

he still knows her name.

Three Counts

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I cannot draw
but I did
my best to gild
the functional canvas of
his
field-trip lunch sacks
with apple trees and
iron gates and
atoms and books.

(It was the only way
I could be
there and anyway
PB&J
is boring enough.)

The truth wasn’t,
though.
Needed neither apples nor atoms
to make it
any more
there
but we can’t help
ourselves with
such scintillating sin.

(We save our
sharpest
crayons for the
cleanest
lines of our
deepest
fears.)

Still
I wanted to draw
that Sunday,
as someone stood
in your stead,
the way you were:
hands raised in blessing
bouncing on your feet
so willing to
love
us and me and them and
him
as God so
loved
the world
with, surely, angels
at your side and behind
and around.

But I could only
see a darkness
billow from
organ pipes
to claim your shadow,
sneak from
under choir robes
wrap your wrists
(again)
in chains and
the laughter couldn’t’ve
been yours because you
were screaming
as its claws sunk beneath
your soul.

So instead
I wept
because I have such trouble
drawing hands.

Urgent Message When Flashing

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It’s power, of a kind, to draw
the attention

ACCIDENT EXIT 93 EXPECT DELAYS

of zombied motorists with a
silent,
amber scream

FLOODING HWY 2 ALT RTE CR KK

to warn of jackknives, pileups, sinkholes,
(perhaps) transdimentional hordes

COFFEE ON CAR ROOF FULL DARK ROAST HELP

on southbound I-85.

As the boundaries of traffic form and
fade within
roving, elongated

GLORIOUS DETOUR RTE 17 EXIT 12

search lights
how bleary and half-dozed must seem

DO NOT IGNORE CHECK ENGN LIGHT ASK UNCLE JACK

the line of urgency at 3:27 AM.

How stippled, how cracked.

DID YOU HEAR THAT

Yes, But

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Our fear of slippery slopes
kills joy in its sleep,
ties God’s hands behind our backs,
rises from Satan’s coffee to
curl about his face as he stands
in his bathrobe watching a black
dawn loom above the trees.