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By Mark DeCarteret

You couldn’t have wedged
a small target slid sideways
between us all those years
you were preparing for senility
so why try even now to shout up
to the gods on their scaffolding?
You had promised me a parable,
these miraculous implants of wisdom
but all you talked was more doughnuts
in these faraway haunts,
performed tricks that left splotches,
your invocations all bone-poor, nothing else.
A moth humps a light switch
all greasy with fingertips
while you went about explaining this last face—
the pillow you take to the monsters each night
while the transistor cracked updates,
more commercials for aching,
your doll legs a continuous mess
best kept far under the sheets.
Once you laid an old buddy out with a drive,
his head pouring out from most everywhere
and you tell me all the doctor could do
was say it’s a sunspot for the love of God
and what the hell were they thinking?
I swear he could once fit
most the apostles sideways in his mouth,
could see to most worlds and their undoing
with the passion of a chess bum,
always dropping himself where
he couldn’t be missed or denied.
So let me explain those lost highways again—
how he ground out those gears while he slept
still muscling his likeness into meaning,
and the fingernails I clipped now rocking
like gondolas on the end table
while he asked for a mirror to see
where even more of him’s escaped
even though there is less and less light
and a lot fewer mornings to complain.

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