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Safe from the Elements


Hailing a Cab

The Mumbler Speaks of
Pigeon Wars

Squeeze Play: For Joe and
Norma Jean

A Local Virgo Makes the Paper

Safe from the Elements

St. Valentine's Day: When you Care Enough to Send the Very Best

Completely Well: For B.B. King and Wallace Stevens

April Dancing: For Dietrich

The Left Hand of God

Passing Thru for Ti Jean

The Rosary of Dachau

Way out
on the Island
in the hands
of black
immaculate strangers

We arrive
a Fall caravan
of dream cars
slipping in

A single dark
file through
the pointed iron
that gates this

Place of cornered
family plots in
the earth such
as 6th & Western

Where we stop
and listen to
the blue wet
funeral breath
of November
as it hustles

From the flower
car informing us
as if it were family
that, “Due to the rain

And the building
of new graves
it’s extremely muddy
over where Momma is
so we won’t be able
to watch them put
Poppy in beside her.”

So the weather
of ceremonies moves
and the gray raincoat
of a priest shepherds
our grief beneath
a green tent where

We are children again
our quick lips being
led to repeat centuries
of belief that tell us
these dry unmuddied prayers
we know by heart

Will rise out of our
sheltered breathing like
the ghosts of Abel’s gifts
drifting on the light

Coffin of wind
that carries the souls
of the dead to a heaven
safe from the elements


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