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Working Outside at Night

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The moon swells
and its yellow darkens   
nearer the horizon
and soon all
the aluminum rooftops

shall appear, orange   
and distinct beside   
the orange sun,   
while the diamond   
flares in its vacuum

within. It is simple
to be with the shovel,   
thoughtless, inhabited   
by this divorce,
it is good

the luminous
machinery, silenced,   
waits, nice
that the conveyor
belts choked with sand

convey nothing.
When I return home to   
coffee at
7:45 the lithe
young girls will be going   
to high school, pulling

to their mouths stark
cigarettes through
Arizona’s sunlight.
These last few months
have been awful, and when

around five the roosters   
alone on neighboring   
small farms begin
to scream like humans   
my heart just lies down,   
a stone.

Denis Johnson, “Working Outside at Night” from The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly: Poems Collected and New. Copyright © 1995 by Denis Johnson. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Source: The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1995)
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Working Outside at Night

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