During the Shut Down (after David Berman)

How long would it take for the uninspected meat

to wind up on the toxic table?

Relationship dynamics are a sad stand in for actual pyrotechnics.

My wife snapped sections of the big city news. Her face stretched like a

tribal mask, her exposed incisors reminded him of flesh tearing and then torn.

I smoothed the palms of my fingers across the material of my button down shirt.

My heart heaves weakly, “i can i can i can”

and is not to be believed.

Upstairs, our children slept under rhymes gone straight, once upon a time presented as a fact.


Leaves see-saw ground-wards, dehydrated and curled; idyllic autumnal breezes, delicately scrape leaves across vacant parking lots. Sunlight bounced all around;

it seemed celebratory.

Mrs. Robuschard was on the line again.

The call center waited for her like monks in a hive, meticulously inching

the patterns of the district like,

Tell me the forthcoming season and

What number the dead in the century.

At 2:00 and 4:00, Tiffany unhooks her head phones,

clicks the Log Off icon on her screen,

considers the cartoonish woman stuck in a choke hold on the

Heimlich maneuver poster slowly sliding off of the break room refrigerator.

The day is never as good until what could have gone wrong gets its due.


After her shift, Tiffany strolls the vacant halls of a high end mall.

The shops erupt with the closing of metal entrance gates;

each gate closes as she passes it as if each store was boarding up

just because she was walking past. She knew this wasn’t true,

but it felt true.

She forced herself to remember that the trees were real.

Before she could turn it off, her car radio reported the shooting of a child, not 30 miles down the road.


Deciduous umbrellas patched a shadow play of alluring light from the gorgeous massacre of a Mid-Western sunset.

A Tennessean glanced up at the city’s famous moment, deconstructing it piece by piece until he felt that he was right to get the hell out.

He quit smoking years ago and still appreciated the taste of his own mouth removed from the sour milk heaviness of spent tobacco as if that train had only recently jumped its track.

Alone, in a car that can handle the drive, with a good 500 miles to go

he accepted whatever strangeness visited his mind,

and the fact that none of it will get down,

tonight, for this was the county he called his own and here he was

free to bullet its infrastructure

and every billboard proselytizing Jesus spoke directly to him

and he considered for miles

the possibilities of a new Bible,

the story our children’s children will lay down.


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