The Robot Petting Zoo

Look for it close to the Amazon warehouse district,
not race tracks or the railroad station.

Don’t expect auto-vacuums or auto-lawnmowers,
it’s a fur-ever home for snuggle pups that don’t grow

into rambunctious black labs and for calico cuddle cats
that purr at any touch and home in on shoulders

in bed. Admission fees are need-based; declare
your loneliness on a scale of one to ten. Best

to come alone for the cheapest price, and best
deals are on Friday just after work, advertised

as Thank God I Feel Friday when you have one hour
for free. Leave your striped tie at home; the goat

teases by trying to chew on ties but gladly accepts
carrots. Shoelaces are sometimes a problem.

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One Night on the Riverbed

Nighttime medicine, 
Benzene blue his eyes and soul— 
How slowly we fall. 

Silent Lorelei,
An embrace of glassy green
On my skin again. 

Dark blue, pinhole stars,
My body the midnight sky
Bending over his.

Hand on hand. Dreams slip
Into the underbelly
Of the universe. 

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What Crows Say About Black

What else is black?

A dragonfly frequenting backyards,
hunting metallically.
Flat wings, smear soot thin.

A rural road’s moonless night
where tree branches take
the passer-by pulse—they rustle

the scrape history lammed
onto bark thinly thinly
as dragonfly wings and first time

hearing white tail bucks stamp
and hiss in the pitch dark I tumble
into the ditch prostrate like a penitent.

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Unmasked

Repealing the
mask from my lips is
not an act of protest.
no liberation has
been performed;
rather and excusatory
removal from a
collective
responsibility
we shun
in the name
of individuality

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Convalescent

My body the underside
Of a river at night, dark blue water
Strewn with a pinch of stars.
All is quiet now that I’ve lost
The will to fight. All I can conjure up
Is a lonesome silent fish, a gentle splash
Of gold on the face of the moon.
Then all falls backs into the soft,
Watery black. I’m on my back,
And my legs will not move.

All I can do is wait to be reborn.

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how clandestine can a day be?

in the morning my hands hold an ocean. a ghost
of a note hanging on a clothesline the air plays

each night. i put it there but i don’t remember. i feel fine at dawn &
a needle weaves its yarn around slick fingers like a travelling sun.

my hands are faster than my feet so they dig a well. i think
in another life i’d have been a slug. pulling against myself always
leaving discard gossamer.

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Our Danny Petoskey

The anniversary of his death is the cruelest fishhook. Yanking us back, violently. When the days turn crisp, as they have now, when summer fades and autumn crawls into our tiny farming town—that’s when we most grieve our fallen classmate. One year we tried to ignore the date, but the hook came anyway and somehow was even more brutal. So now we meet it head on: we make a day of it. The downtown is strewn with somber-black ribbon. Coffee is shared and then, later, whiskey. We pass the yearbook, we muse, we moan. If a stranger such as you wanders by, the story is told in fullest detail.

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the door, the tornado

that was so big it could hold a thousand hearts racing
at the sight of a face they thought would never show up again
beating down the road like a breathless storm or worse,
finding only the wind’s racket forced into a fist
perfectly rapturous and strange how we’re all picked up
and dropped off at some other threshold. fate and chance
met up this way, plucked and flung in the same gust
like a thousand seeds mingling into entirety.

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Beyond Reach

Like the arc of an asteroid’s predicted landing
none of us are sure what’s yet to come as we ignore
skin’s craving. We stay in this strange apart space where
we cannot shake hands hug dance kiss cannot simply slide
next to one another on couch park bench diner booth as we’ve
always sat, loops for the same belt.

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