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Elbow Room

Boone’s genius was to recognize the difficulty as neither material nor political but one purely moral and aesthetic.

—William Carlos Williams,
“The Discovery of Kentucky”

Narrator is unmanageable. Demonstrates a disregard for form bordering on the paranoid. Questioned closely, he declares himself the open enemy of conventional narrative categories. . . .

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Large Black Landscape

It is black. Black and rearing up; rounded points, pointy points. Black and matted together; plates and plains, lines and radiant circles. Black on black. Black on black on black.

____

Is this a mountain? Mountains? Is this the ocean—all those rearing points, that shifting? . . .

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On Slaughter and Praying: An Essay in Two Parts

Part One. Before Getting to My Desk 

Before getting to my desk this morning I’ve woken to the back of Luke’s spine in blue light and understood for the first time that is the image I have been dreaming of after working the “I” entirely out of a poem that didn’t need it. . . .

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Lap Dance

 

I think everyone’s glad I’m dead, said the stripper

with the caved-in face. Her fingers were bone with no

sinew. She flapped her arms at the two wrens

caught up in the rafters and staring down

on the empty dance hall at the Möbius Strip Club

of Grief. . . .

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Notes from a Domestic Scene

 

I

Notebooks stood in a rack, straight and tightly shut beside a ruckus of birthday cards. Their colors drew my eye as I went past. I am overly susceptible to colors, even though so much of the world seems best in black and white. The first notebook had a pale blue cover, . . .

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Portrait of the Alcoholic with Shattered Pelvis

I am perfectly fine here: ice-choked, 

thin as an eyelash. The bootprints on 

my headboard are getting darker.

The chimney: clogged with fish eyes 

and sea glass. Somewhere my enemies 

are singing to the food on their plates.

As a boy watching movies with my father,  . . .

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Coming Home to Earth: What Purse Seines, Pumpjacks, and a Twitter Feed from Space Taught One Worried Citizen about the Beauty of Climate Change in 2016

Summer camp. The Connecticut hills. Cumulous oaks and maples surround the glassy surface of the lake. At a distance the water looks black. Beneath my small hands, paddling forward, cupping down and pulling back, it sparkles, mica specks drifting in the sunlit water. Transparent minnows scatter below me. I can see clear to the bottom: gold and tawny sand, . . .

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Ravished

He absolutely killed me: ravished

Their mother loved idioms, coaxed life back into the dead slang of generations past; cool beans, groovy daddy-o, and douche bag all had a place at the table, the breakfast table where she often discussed termite tracks along with her nightly rendezvous. . . .

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Legacy

My cultural legacy has revealed itself to me in unexpected ways. As a child of immigrants who came from a community of once-immigrants, I picked up some family mythologies via after-dinner stories, and some traditions through our special occasion activities. Being Saiyed meant being more than Indian and Muslim, not only descended from Persian missionaries to the subcontinent, . . .

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Coleman Barks: “auroral aliveness, powers, hilarity”

I first knew Coleman Barks in 1970 when I took his class on writers of American realism at the University of Georgia. We read Flaubert and Turgenev in that class because Coleman believed you couldn’t understand the American realists without the French and Russian authors as examples. Students thought of him as a nonconformist, . . .

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