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January 4th, 2011

07:05 pm - In the Nursing Home - Jane Kenyon
She is like a horse grazing
a hill pasture that someone makes
smaller by coming every night
to pull the fences in and in.

She has stopped running wide loops,
stopped even the tight circles.
She drops her head to feed; grass
is dust, and the creekbed’s dry.

Master, come with your light
halter. Come and bring her in.

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07:02 pm - On Watching Darla Smoke Out Of The Window - Kirsty Logan
smoke braids with steaming tea
her mouth moves

stories about victorian drugs
& hearts she broke

stretching to tiptoes
window ledge ridges her belly

still it

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06:54 pm - Snow - Carol Ann Duffy
Then all the dead opened their cold palms
and released the snow; slow, slant, silent,
a huge unsaying, it fell, torn language; settled,
the world to be locked, local; unseen,
fervent earthbound bees around a queen.
The river grimaced and was ice.

               Go nowhere-
thought the dead, using the snow-
but where you are, offering the flower of your breath
to the white garden, or seeds to birds
from your living hand. You cannot leave.
Tighter and tighter, the beautiful snow
holds the land in its fierce embrace.
It is like death, but it is not death; lovelier.
Cold, inconvenienced, late, what will you do now
with the gift of your left life?

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06:49 pm - Taking Down The Tree - Jane Kenyon
"Give me some light!" cries Hamlet's
uncle midway through the murder
of Gonzago. "Light! Light!" cry scattering
courtesans. Here, as in Denmark,
it's dark at four, and even the moon
shines with only half a heart.

The ornaments go down into the box:
the silver spaniel, My Darling
on its collar, from Mother's childhood
in Illinois; the balsa jumping jack
my brother and I fought over,
pulling limb from limb. Mother
drew it together again with thread
while I watched, feeling depraved
at the age of ten.

With something more than caution
I handle them, and the lights, with their
tin star-shaped reflectors, brought along
from house to house, their pasteboard
toy suitcases increasingly flimsy.
Tick, tick, the desiccated needles drop.

By suppertime all that remains is the scent
of balsam fir. If it's darkness
we're having, let it be extravagant.

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06:43 pm - Another Reason Why I Don't Keep Guns in the House - Billy Collins
The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.

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06:30 pm - The Planter's Daughter - Austin Clarke
When night stirred at sea,
And the fire brought a crowd in
They say that her beauty
Was music in mouth
And few in the candlelight
Thought her too proud,
For the house of the planter
Is known by the trees.

Men that had seen her
Drank deep and were silent,
The women were speaking
Wherever she went --
As a bell that is rung
Or a wonder told shyly
And O she was the Sunday
In every week.

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06:26 pm - You Were Long Days and I Was Tiger-Lined - Simone Muench
master wear a mask when you break out the leather
the whip’s encounter loosens the back to plumage

how strange whip’s sibilance moving
through ears like a wet ribbon        harmonium

harpsichord        its lisp then nothingness

it once lived past the pecan orchard        past the barn
where a young girl hung herself in summer

with the reins of her horse    past the river and its stash
of leaves    small animals’ waterlogged bodies

master the whip is whispering          birds gather
around her handle               the night thick with red feathers

I am encumbered by the whip’s lasciviousness
by the monarchy of your posture         by breath and braid  

master you are a totem pole with zapata mustache while my back
is the z-coordinate      pattern on vellum            satsuma plum

the room grows thick with incisions         weather me better master
white votives         and odor of cascarilla float to the river

stutter          startle     wind can carry a whip but how
can a dead girl swerve into flight and miss the sky altogether


god, I don't even know what to do with this.

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06:20 pm - You Don't Know What Love Is - Kim Addonizio
but you know how to raise it in me
like a dead girl winched up from a river. How to
wash off the sludge, the stench of our past.
How to start clean. This love even sits up
and blinks; amazed, she takes a few shaky steps.
Any day now she'll try to eat solid food. She'll want
to get into a fast car, one low to the ground, and drive
to some cinderblock shithole in the desert
where she can drink and get sick and then
dance in nothing but her underwear. You know
where she's headed, you know she'll wake up
with an ache she can't locate and no money
and a terrible thirst. So to hell
with your warm hands sliding inside my shirt
and your tongue down my throat
like an oxygen tube. Cover me
in black plastic. Let the mourners through.

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06:12 pm - This Poetry - Jon Pineda
It is where she has gone. A spoon clicks
in her mouth while her eyes fall back,

& the one holding her hand is not me
or you. It is a boy, her brother, & he is afraid,

though he remembers something about pressing
a spoon to her tongue so that metal catches

the flesh, so that the tongue does not follow
the eyes into leaving a part of this world.

Years later, this boy will read he was wrong
for using a spoon. He will spend the summer

lifeguarding at a pool, & more than once, he will
hold a body while it seizes in waist-high water.

Each one returns the same way, a pause & then
their life, all they have ever known, rushing back

into the mind. Forget the boy in the beginning.
He has grown into someone who spends too much

time remembering. For this, he has already lost a part
of himself, & from those people he saved, holding

them in the sun as they came to, the color in their eyes
sharp as glass, there was a time when he thought

this could be her, a body becoming weightless.
Then a stranger cried in his arms. She didn’t

know anyone around her, especially him.
It did not matter. This is not about remembering.

Forget there was ever a spoon. Forget the sound
metal makes against the teeth & the tongue.

Forget it all & come back to your life.

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06:08 pm - Good Girl - Kim Addonizio
Look at you, sitting there being good.
After two years you're still dying for a cigarette.
And not drinking on weekdays, who thought that one up?
Don't you want to run to the corner right now
for a fifth of vodka and have it with cranberry juice
and a nice lemon slice, wouldn't the backyard
that you're so sick of staring out into
look better then, the tidy yard your landlord tends
day and night — the fence with its fresh coat of paint,
the ash-free barbeque, the patio swept clean of small twigs —
don't you want to mess it all up, to roll around
like a dog in his flowerbeds? Aren't you a dog anyway,
always groveling for love and begging to be petted?
You ought to get into the garbage and lick the insides
of the can, the greasy wrappers, the picked-over bones,
you ought to drive your snout into the coffee grounds.
Ah, coffee! Why not gulp some down with four cigarettes
and then blast naked into the streets, and leap on the first
beautiful man you find? The words Ruin me, haven't they
been jailed in your throat for forty years, isn't it time
you set them loose in slutty dresses and torn fishnets
to totter around in five-inch heels and slutty mascara?
Sure it's time. You've rolled over long enough.
Forty, forty-one. At the end of all this
there's one lousy biscuit, and it tastes like dirt.
So get going. Listen: they're howling for you now:
up and down the block your neighbors' dogs
burst into frenzied barking and won't shut up.

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