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(for A.S.)

There is nothing I can write about you
Without making you sound like a lost lover

But perhaps that is the truth,
We were lovers the way truth and art have lovers,

In the way you can hear nothing but traffic all day, and yet be a music lover,
See nothing but buildings all day and yet be a tree lover.

And if they should ban song
Or cut all the trees,
What would I be to you?
And what you be to me,
Without that walk in the shade of giant samanias,
Without its memory, set to the music of a lost friendship?

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the exhaustion crept
slowly up her fingers
resting in her knuckles,
turning them stubborn and brittle.
taking over her arms,
which stiffened when bidden.
quietly over weeks,
the tiredness climbed
down her legs, up her back,
and finally came to rest
in her eyes.

the fatigue of tears—
most evident
in their absence.

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the house is decorated
with small horrors.
a word by the sink,
a clenched fist on
the table, a barely
audible curse there
at the doorstep.

offset so perfectly
by small fears,
small whimpers, small tears,
small wounds.

only the silences
are large,
hanging stubbornly
on the quiet walls.

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a memory that will keep nothing
is an unexpected blessing.
filled to brim years ago
it is apt to reject the new—

faces and names are hopeless,
tastes and smells have to be
particularly foul or fine
to find a grudging slot.

tempers and passions aren’t
altogether missing, yet
my skin and tongue swear
they know more than my mind.

no old lies, truths or poetry
light recognition in my eyes;
but what a gift their vanishing,
permitting gasps and wonderment

anew and over, each time we meet.

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Does blood flow to the metronome of galaxies?
How stilling it would be if you answered yes
On an evening we’ve spent
Trying to slow not only time
But our very veins and their needless efficiency.

For how would we carry on
Bartering vulnerabilities
If not under that brief lamppost
Of a supernova.

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In the democracy of clumsiness
There are no elections.

We are all winners, everyone an MP
In that parliament of memorable embarrassments.

I don’t suppose you can recall either
A single suave first move,

Or that intensely desired gaze
You knew how to return.

(for S.)

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and what would you have done
different in the years
you wish we could have had,
had we met earlier?

what would we have said and seen
in that alternate universe,
what would we have made
of each other’s slow succumbing
to gravity and gravitas?

perhaps it is better we have met
after the wrinkles have found their
places, and we have made ornaments
of our oddnesses, lined the lonely
crevices of our younger selves
with vices and devices.

so we can now speak or say
nothing, and still be heard
uninterrupted
by air or anxiety,
distance or desire.

– – – – – – –

(for a.)