Grade A: Simplify

Written in Albuquerque (Terrace SE), June 2007.  “The stranger” recalls a man who showed up, very drunk, and rowdy but somehow dignified, at that month’s reading for our zine Central Avenue, when the coffeehouse had double-booked us with some dancers and we had to hold the event outside on the sidewalk.  Published in my books The Hardest Thing and Wings of the Gray Moon.



We have to come upon the sleep of the animals

before men and women’s sleep can be available to us—

sleep not a relinquishment but a gathering,

in the slots of sun between high shadows.

We wasted our yells on the wind

which is never over,

our feet are shaped to its sand.

We wanted the stranger gone

who stood up too straight, whose smile was too jumbled.

We should’ve kept a table for him.

He is the tomorrow we escaped, when death is just the next room gleaming

and breath is forgotten and forgotten.

The mystery that was our blood

runs down the insides of our ears.

We will have to come upon the sleep of the animals

before anyone can imagine the sleep of angels.

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