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WHITE PARK, 2:57 PM    (WINTER 2007)

standing in the woods at the park

            i cannot conjure anyone's face                        but his

(& isn't that                 just /

                        the saddest joke?)

 

the only time i saw him hit                 someone

who was not me,         i caught hysteria

            mob fever / & helpless relief

            then

                        the kind           of shame

                        that swallows

                        without chewing

 

                                    we, thirty-some circling

            vultures,          kettled

 

            around the two boys / no more

                        than fifteen /                & in the middle

of winter                     with christmas coming

 

            i held his backpack the way,

 

            years later,                  someone would hold

                                                my hair

 

                        it was cold                   us standing there

                                    watching what we thought

            would be a fight          to the death

 

watching boys                         be boys

                        & cheering /                 a tradition

 

            i grew into (practiced despite)

 

                       

            tiny holly berries

peppering

                                    the snow

 

 

LIBERTY STREET, 3:32 PM    (WINTER 2007 REPRISE)

maybe if i had stayed              there

i would have said                    something /

            anything

 

& i could have walked home

            or ran away                 from it

 

maybe if i hadn't seen

            the tooth pop out

                        of his mouth /              have you ever plucked off

                                                            a dandelion head

                                                            with your fingers?

 

if the snow      didn't look

            like a poor excuse

                        for light

 

if he hadn't practiced

            on my blank canvas

                        of a face

 

if i hadn't taken

            a pregnancy test

                        the week before

 

if i hadn't slid

            into the driver's seat

                        of the Beamer

            if i hadn't had to learn

 

how to make a clean                break

                        (the only time i ever drove stick

            was running from the cops

                        & i didn't stall once)

 

 

EAST SIDE DRIVE, 3:42 PM  (CEILINGCLOUD)

 & the boy who hits you lives on a street

            with the same name as your mother

 

which teaches you everything

            you need to know

 

about silence / & time doesn't give a shit

            about anything but itself

 

& so it leaves you there

            in a bedroom in a stained apartment

 

staring at the speckled ceiling

            waiting for the end

 

for anything

            else

 

& asking          why?    why have you forsaken me?

            when you don't even believe

 

in god

 

 

HAMPTON STREET, 8:03 PM    (BIRDHOUSE)

he, a deceit of vultures

            kettling with fist & mine

& i will not get out for good today

            & the cop who will be

in my parents' living room tonight

            is an old owl of a man

who knows me too well

            & so my mouth will be

an empty wooden room, i will say

            nothing at all

& there will be no blackbird

            trilling thorns

from my throat, no great potoo

            wailing into this too big night

there will just be me

            & this birdhouse built

for silence

            there will be a shower drain

catching feathers as if a sieve

            gleaning luck or pretty coins

but in the morning, he will be

            nothing if not a vise of finches

rising purple

            from my blood