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The Up-and-Up

There is infinite precedent
for the perversion of clemency.
I have held the envelope up to the light.
When the President pardons a guilty man,
clouds the color of the night sky cover
most of the night sky, and the remaining
stars seem to huddle together.
This is one of many pet projections,
I admit, to fancy the fires
of far off encampments and each
with a single sleepy sentry
not unlike myself.
No weapons, no maidens,
no vessels, no beasts.
Actually, exactly like myself,
how mirrors catch and cast,
flash back, at last, a hopeful signal.
The less I can identify the constellations,
the more I identify with them.
Call it cathexis, a false positive,
or New Moon, another name
for looks like nothing now but wait.
I have tried to compose myself.
When the coroner handed me the watch,
I couldn’t look, unsure if I’d rather find
it stopped at the time of or still telling.
I live by the fault line, infirm firmament’s
faithful child. Outside, the two-faced grove
bows one way and the other, opens its cones
first for rain and then for flame,
annulling the trunk where I offered
my mark, where the live wood healed
to a black love knot, proof of conscription.
I saw hands break both haft and hasp
to axe the hatch and burn the last
bridge at both ends. Perhaps
I should have shook them, grateful.
Instead, I practiced casting shadows,
flat stones in the hope of the day they find
me blameless. I have prayed, and pray,
for a patient anthropologist
to teach me how to be myself again.

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