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Eight Presidents

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October five. Seven years older in dog years and then your November
the day record snowfalls hit Randolph New Hampshire in forty-three
and I am thinking of something intimate and impossible to waste:
Brazil’s undiscovered caverns of amethyst     endless smooth oval stones
along Washington’s moody Pacific chewing a continent. But I am wrong.
We pass St. Michael’s the cemetery that asks the public to mow and weed it
and perhaps draw larger conclusions about the already wasted and tidy up names
frayed at the edges by the ions that bind     by age the chemical salt of time
that jostles stones over at their bases to remind us or alter their sentiments.
We read and read and each time nothing new has come up on their markers.
At home we hear the fishermen bring up their nets smack water to scare them.
By now the flounder’s secret pocket where its heart and everything separate
from meat and bone is cleaned and empty as a silk purse not a nickel left
down in the freezer. Nothing really shines but this: I have loved you
eight presidents. Forty years. Five point seven in dog.

Allan Peterson, "Eight Presidents" from Fragile Acts. Copyright © 2012 by Allan Peterson.  Reprinted by permission of McSweeney’s Publishing.
Source: Fragile Acts (McSweeney's Publishing, 2012)
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Eight Presidents

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  • Poet and visual artist Allan Peterson earned degrees at the Rhode Island School of Design, Southern Illinois University, and the Claremont Graduate School. His books of poetry include Anonymous Or (2002); All the Lavish in Common (2005), winner of the Juniper Poetry Prize; As Much As (2011); and Fragile Acts (2012), which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. His chapbooks include Assurances (2011) and Omnivore (2009). Peterson’s poetry is known for its wild logic and painterly effects. Marilyn McCabe, reviewing Peterson in Rattle, noted, “his poetic eye takes in the world, as we view a painting, not an orderly left to right, but a scan, a darting from one interesting element to another.”
    As a visual artist, Peterson has exhibited widely, including shows with the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts, the El Paso Museum of Art, and the New Orleans Academy of Art. His...

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