Spoil Song

The man poses in the trees as a lion with a crooked tail.
He looks on the two girls with animal regret, if only he could play,
if they might want him. The upturned willow was commissioned
by the river. All afternoon he watches. The girls
leap from the willow. They hang their suits in the branches. Girls, girls
the world tells him. Girls should not sleep in the woods.
Their dinner, their fire, he watches. Pretend bear. Pretend gun.
In the air, a coal perfume. They wake twice—in the trash, raccoons.
Inside the tent they might want him. Not the raccoons,
not the bear. Girls should not sleep. Never animals
that bother you. One girl pulls at the other’s hair to wake her.
Again, the raccoons. A deer then. The lake. No. What
teaches them not to sleep. The man crouched over them.
Without light what teaches them. Soured air. Car keys.
He mentions the gun, crouched over them. Bear sighting,
there is a bear. They might want him with no light. Black bears
don’t bother you. What teaches one to play along. Over there.
Stand guard. Thank god you’ll help us
. A little actress
in a fake play. What teaches her what to say. What teaches her
to quiet the other. To unlock the car. Thank him. To drive away.

-35-

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Gray Matter
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Illusion of One 1
  • In Sleep the Brain Retrieves a Snake 5
  • Please Do Not Touch 7
  • Elegy 9
  • If I Think about It 10
  • Female Dorm, Barcelona 11
  • The Empty Museum 12
  • How Are You Feeling? 14
  • Cage 15
  • All Night I Felt My Teeth Loosening 17
  • Return 21
  • More Than One Way to Drown 22
  • To Know It Again 24
  • Olfaction 25
  • In My Kid Bed, Sleeping, Shotguns Stored below 26
  • Vision 27
  • Friendship South 30
  • What to Name This 31
  • The Same and the Next 32
  • Spoil Song 35
  • Desire 36
  • Trichotillomania 38
  • Staff after Hours 39
  • Crush 40
  • Audition 41
  • Gustation 42
  • Tryst 43
  • In a Time of Transition 45
  • Since He Asked 46
  • Marriage 47
  • Imperfectly Divided 51
  • Capgrass Syndrome 52
  • For Better 53
  • Problems to Solve- Methods Invented 54
  • Synaptic Sprawl 55
  • Cotard Syndrome 56
  • Café, Person Crying 57
  • Utility 59
  • Off Season 60
  • Notes 63
  • Poets out Loud - Prize Winners 66
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