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Caned

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A stick, pared clean—no, a silver-topped
bamboo-with-dagger, class doubling as club,
the advantage of gravity lifted high
overcoming the disadvantage of poking ahead.

He demurs. Weakness either way.
A man should crush opponents with a word.
Naive, I muse, at your age. A cane
replaces the sole’s sensors, bolsters them.

Balance is a matter for the unbalanced,
he says, all nuance, accusing me, Lear-lover,
of too much. The earth is now close, I tell him.
A sharp look. I’ll walk, he says, without.

Source: Poetry (November 2011)

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

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Caned

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