Two flags nuzzle each other in the desultory gust
because they are
fleeing the trees, who are cruel to one another,
shading their neighbors to death
a mixed bag
advocating small business in a loose confederation.
The flags don’t give any shade at all.
On the anniversary of our country
we throw dynamite at the air
we build into.
Daylight savings. A beeline
to a sea lion, as the children’s song extols, or is it
a beeline to a scallion?
You hear your own accent—
a child makes an error to see if you’re listening.
A heartfelt counterfeit.
A cough muffled
in its own sputum’s
in the next throat:
a family of coughs comes
to couch in us
while the sun rises
over the church,
treetops’ psych ops
combusting all over
with a snowdrop.
Source: Poetry (December 2008).
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This poem originally appeared in the December 2008 issue of Poetry magazine