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Sick to death of the hardpan shoulder,

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the froth of noise
the undersides of the cedars make,

the windblown dark that hints
and fails for hours at effacement—
maybe I could claim it isn’t

praying, but it’s asking,
at the least, begging
that these lungfuls of this blackness

eat whatever keeps on swelling
and collapsing in my chest, and be done
with it, no more noise

left hanging in the spaces
between brake lights than a smothered rush
that sounds like suffering

and is nothing. Instead a sobbing isn’t
so much easing from my throat
as shining like black light from my torso,

veining the leaves of weeds, stoning
the whole roadside in a halo—I can feel
the heat of truck lights on my back,

I’m inside that brilliant gravity,
I think of time, I’m in the driver’s
nightmare and it shudders by—

Source: Poetry (February 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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Sick to death of the hardpan shoulder,

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