But While I Am Here I Am

And then leg-shaped tree trunks grew
where my legs had been
and my skin calcified so I was
a barnacle
on the side of something large, vague
my heart no longer muscle but
a clock in a box
I am governed now by a clock in a box
I am aware of all my
circuitry
its tendency to misfire,
all the gaps and faults along the wires
but while I am here I am
beating back the choking vines
and moving forward,
I hope.

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One Day, He’ll Be Gone

One day, he’ll be gone
suddenly
like when your child has a cough
that annoys you at the breakfast table
day after day
and then you realize it’s gone,
though your child is still here, of course,
one of two children you nevertheless persisted
to create,
not knowing what a world this would be
and nevertheless persist to be glad of,
even now,
even knowing.
One day, he’ll be gone
but my children will still be here,
and yours, and you,
and I.
Promise me what no one can promise:
Promise me it’s true.

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A Pastel World of Frozen Foods

I imagine a world and put myself in it,
a pastel world of frozen foods, indifference
and pantyhose. I am trim from eating
cottage cheese and canned peach halves.
I imagine a world and put myself in it,
a station wagon and a dog named Champ,
my two boys playing football on the lawn,
a postcard from myself to myself, a symbol.
I imagine a world and put myself in it,
dusting the drapes on long Tuesdays when
my husband stops after work for cocktails
and there’s another long week before bridge.
I imagine a world and put myself in it —
what world do you imagine and put yourself in?

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With Hands and Feet and Signs and Eyes

He expected to be loved,
perhaps after a brief, respectful
moment of mourning for
the regime we’d left behind.

He thought we would
embrace the new,
being lovers of novelty
and motion —

colors and sounds flashing
across the brain, like
whatever blares on his TV screen
while he rides in Air Force One.

Now he sees us on the screen.
We have signs, and we hate him
in our cities and at the airports,
with hands and feet and signs and

eyes

that look back at him,
that ruin his TV time,
that make him ask:

Don’t they know that I’m the president?

He who assumed he would be loved,
he who believed power was the same as love

until now.

 

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Snowflakes

This is a trifling thing
if you are here for trifling things
like I used to write
before I went where I’ve been
to the blood in my veins
and yours
I sing for that blood
mine and yours
all of ours
for marches and for anger
despair and hope
the things that get us up
in the morning
up and breathing
another day.

Snowflakes,
my snowflakes.
Never forget:

We have sharp edges,
too.

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The World and the Words We Say About the World

My eyes are made of agate
and reflect agate all the time.
My left breast was torn by eagles
when I was remade so a man could live
where I had been born several years before.
Nothing is vengeance except vengeance.
Every remaking remakes the world
and the words we say about the world.
My teeth slash your ankles
as you walk by in your terrible boots;
someday, you’ll take your boots off
beside my bed
and I’ll rise up like a snake
and bite your eyes, not made of agate,
stop your words, which are not my words.
The words you say about my world.
The world you are remaking.

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Sharing

In these times, I’d like to share with you
something of my winnowed self,
now that we have all been scourged
by flame, made essential by having
everything stripped away—every hope,
every false optimism, even the tremulous one
I felt that day in the voting booth, wearing my
Hillary-style jacket. I’d like to share with you
how it feels these days, being so hollow,
pierced to the marrow of everything indignant,
an unholy phalanx of grackles pecking
in the poisoned grass. This poisoned earth.
This poor, sad thing. Share with me
what to do next, and if you have no ideas,
share with me your love, which is nothing
and still may be the only thing we have.

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