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Dear Friend

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What will be served for our reception
in the devastation? Finger food, of course
and white wine, something printed on the napkins.

We were not children together
but we are now. Every bird knows
only two notes constantly rearranged.

That’s called forever so we wear pajamas
to the practice funeral, buckeroos
to the end. We make paper hats
of headlines and float them away.

My home made of smoke,
tiny spider made of punctuation,
my favorite poem is cinder
scratched into a sidewalk.

My friend’s becoming the simplest man,
he sees a lesson in everything,
in missing his train,
in his son hollering from the first branch,
Dad, guess where I am.

I was with him for my first magpies,
governmental and acting like hell.
And the new nickel
with Washington hard to recognize.

We’d driven by a Rabbit flattened
by an upset truck, jars of Miracle Whip
broken over the toll road in heavy snow.

We watched an old lady
eat a hot dog in a bun
with a knife and fork.

A few emeralds winged off
a fruit leaf.

What happens when your head splits open
and the bird flies out, its two notes deranged?
You got better, I got better,
wildflowers rimmed the crater,
glitter glitter glitter.

We knew someone whose father died
then we knew ourselves.
Astronomer, gladiator,
thief, a tombstone salesman.

All our vacations went to the sea
that breathed two times a day
without a machine.
We got in trouble with a raft
doing what we promised not to.

Further out to be brought further back.

There’s my friend in his squashed hat
trying to determine if a dot
is a living thing and do no harm.

He’s having trouble remembering street names
but there’s still plenty of Thoreau.

All that a human is made of is gold,
very very little gold.

Source: Poetry (February 2006)

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This poem originally appeared in the February 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

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Dear Friend

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