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Destitute Peru

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For John Ashbery

We pullmaned to Peoria. Was
Gladys glad, Skippy missed
Sookie so. So Peru-ward, home.
“I’ll sew buttons on dresses yet.”

Nike’s peach-knife nicked little
finger Chinese straw finger-cuffed
to Minna’s Siamesed. Hartford,
how are your wheres, our whens?

Or extirpated traumas’ gifted
guilt smothered aboard a club
car. Lake Ontario spilled
Jo Jo’s knapsack: “Pasternak.”

An alligator ate an alligator-
trapping monkey. We ate because
“it’s dark, it’s air-conditioned”
like lurching to the movies,

shot marbles in lobbies. What
interests? Takes? Escapes? Eat,
moth-light, part and apart, slowly
we slow waiters serve hot plates.

James Schuyler, "Destitute Peru" from Other Flowers: Uncollected Poems, edited by James Meetze and Simon Pettet, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2010 by the Estate of James Schuyler. All rights reserved.
Source: Poetry (November 2009)

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

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Destitute Peru

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