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Tone Deficit

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Can't tell your oh from your ah? Go, go or else
go ga-ga. What, were you born in a barn? Oh.
Ah. What do you say when the dentist asks?
No novacaine? Nah. Then joke's on us, Jack:

we gnaw ourselves when we really ought to know.
Can't tell the force from the farce, nor our
cores from our cars. The horde works hard in this
new nation of shopkeeps, moles in malls, minding

our stores when we should be minding our stars.
Harmony, whoremoney—can we even tell
the showman from the shaman? Or are we
the worst kind of   tourists, doing La France

in low fronts, sporting shorts at Chartres
and so alone in our élan? Nope. We're Napoleons
of nowhere, hopeless going on hapless,
unable to tell our Elbas from our elbows.

Source: Poetry (September 2006)

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

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Tone Deficit

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