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Handy Guide

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Avoid adjectives of scale.
Dandelion broth instead of duck soup.
Don’t even think you’ve seen a meadow, ever.
The minor adjustments in our equations
still indicate the universe is insane,
when it laughs a silk dress comes out its mouth
but we never put it on. Put it on.
Cry often and while asleep.
If it’s raw, forge it in fire.
That’s not a mountain, that’s crumble.
If it’s fire, swallow.
The heart of a scarecrow isn’t geometrical.
That’s not a diamond, it’s salt.
That’s not the sky but it’s not your fault.
My dragon may be your neurotoxin.
Your electrocardiogram may be my fortune cookie.
Once an angel has made an annunciation,
it’s impossible to tell him he has the wrong address.
Moonlight has its own befuddlements.
The rest of us can wear the wolf mask if we want
or look like reflections wandered off.
Eventually armor, eventually sunk.
You wanted love and expected what?
A parachute? Morphine? A gold sticker star?
The moment you were born—
you have to trust others because you weren’t there.
Ditto death.
The strongest gift I was ever given
was made of twigs.
It didn’t matter which way it broke.

Source: Poetry (November 2011)

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

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