Poem

America

America, I would like to get closer to you, butyou are the unconscious patient; one hundred internsbicker this morning above your bed. Yesterday,I read for no reason an essay written a decade agoon game theory & economics. Apparently, the problemwith accurate predictions is that sometimes peoplesimply don’t make the rational choice. Illness & sleepare weary metaphors. The poor, who are now homeless,displaced by the storm, rest their heads tonightin luxury beachfront hotel rooms. All I want,one woman says, is my old kitchen where I could cooka hot meal for my kids.

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The Gist

We thought we wanted something cuddly,or at the very least, transparent.But everything has a bit of murk about itthese days, especially at this time of year.The box Carol is standing catty-corner tomay contain an antidote to your particular disease,or it may contain nothing at all.Better stick with the stuffed partridge,which can always serve as a token. No onewill ask you for what, or why its feet arepainted that “strange” color.

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Appraisal Theory

My son’s in his Watch This years. “Watch this!” He throwsopen the screen door, races through the kitchen, returns in a pant. “See that?” Although I’m watching,I don’t. “I’m back before the screen door closed.” It proves something: how fast he is, how slowthe screen door, how proportionate the rate of shutdown to round trip, like squaring a circle.I’m never sure what “Watch this!” means to show. The house, bought just before the bubble burst,loses value by the hour, the big hand 

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White Ashes

My dentist tells me about his dying white ash trees growing near the power lines.The blight that pulls apart            the roots, telling us we aren’t getting any younger.The tooth, he says, has its own widening rings;            each line not age but episodes. All tiedtogether with veins at our center.I’m always apologizing as tiny utensils            spread my mouth open.             Apologizing for all my shortcomings. 

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Rude Mechanicals

                            Against a white wall someone’s hair was a treetop, the body,the trunk of a tree. It was a time when everyone said,behind every great veil is only a human. If there was an overall ethos, it was self-forgetful guilt and sorrow was real enough. I don’t know how the stage curtain caught fire, she’d said. And I don’t how reluctance to act became a machine sucking air from every sulcus and Grand Canyon canyon.

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A New Head

Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid By Simon Armitage (Knopf, 80 pp., $25) THE ENGLISH POET Simon Armitage, born in the north of England in 1963, took degrees in two fields: geography—reflected in his ecological poems—and psychology—visible in his poems of ordinary life. He worked for six years as a Probation Officer, following in his father’s footsteps, and then began to earn his living as a freelance writer. Armitage’s poems, funny and savage, reveal unlovely aspects of modern life, but they also glitter with comedy.

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