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from Slow Fire


I can't write you because everything's
wrong. Before dawn, crows swim
from the cedars: black coffee calls them down,
its bitter taste in my throat as they circle,
raucous, huge. Questions with no
place to land, they cruise yellow air
above crickets snapping
like struck matches. My house on fire, crows

are the smoke. You've never left me.
When you crossed the river you did not
call my name. I stood in tall grass
a long time, listening to birds
hidden in reeds, their intricate songs.

The grass will burn, the wrens,
the river and the rain that falls on it.
I can go nowhere else: everything
I cannot bear is here.

I must listen deeper. Sharpen my knife.
Something has changed the angles
of trees, their color. Do not wait to hear
from me. I cannot write to you
because this is what I will say.




Let’s build a house.
Let’s build a bigger house.
Let’s build a hundred very big houses
in rows. No, closer. Okay, let’s

sell them to each other, build
another bunch. If we turn
outdoors inside out,
we’ll be in. Did you
say something?

Outdoors needs doors.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan.
A man’s home is his palace, I mean
a person’s house is his/her palace.

The outdoors is great. Look at it
through this window.
It goes well with the rug doesn’t it?
Do you think we need to change

What did you say?
I thought I heard something.
I thought we had a deal.
You’re not sold on this one?

Wait. The voice is louder.
Voices. Do you think they
want to buy? Maybe--
not. They’re saying something
that sounds like earth,
something that sounds like war.