Last night, I took off Emily Dickinson's clothes.

by JL

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you’re wrong
and the dogs who knew better are laughing at you.

That’s not thunder.
that sound?
The one
that you thought

That isn’t thunder.
It has absolutely nothing

or at the very least very little

to do with the natural phenomenon
of defiant clouds and hikers
known as thunder, static
stitches of electricity

hills and wide green fields
speckled, a shooting range,
the wiry grey smears
of underfed horses
melting in the sun, spooked
and confused
like a widey’d little girl

who thought that the books falling
from the high shelves and tables that this earthquake
shakes like a nightingale gospel church
were measured peals of thunder, hail or
Rain, weather and phenomena, somehow
opening books to meaningful pages.

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Jazz (#5)

Two sidewalks, as gray as you’d expect,
running parallel along the longer sides
of a side street in south Baltimore;
the smell of diesel and salt mix
with an expert toxicity, a grifter’s concoction:
which would make this street your crooked spoon:
the streetlights your tall, well-postured candles:
and the sidewalks

are wide & clumsy veins
snaking through the arm
or perhaps the too-long neck
of an eastern seaboard sort of nightmare,
left unconcluded and rabbit-awake
by a sudden whistle
from an unexpected train,
crashing through the meaner part of town
on bright rails as thin as dimes,
dull sheens of hot sun
sparkling free the triplets
of the endless, haunting coda

of a cardboard colored place
where they cannot afford
the privilege to a life
free from these powerful deliriums,
this noxious improvisation of the soul.

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Waltz Time

As a stream bubbles waltz time,
you are avoiding something.
Something large and cruel,
with black wings like volumes
spreading amplified
on the both sides of the body
to consume what’s left of your pasture.

This is nothing new:
when Galahad saw red
running thoroughfare streaks
of very specific cells
down the fine polished silver
of a chainmail bracer,
he yelled something similar,
chastising the patient dusk
of a too-green English forest,
sick to his stomach
while Blake hallucinated Jerusalem
in the fog that stumbles southward from Sussex.

Men are known, for the most part,
for their talents, their proficiencies
a certain adroitness
of thumb and forefinger
that sets them apart
on graceless wooden pedestals
from all those bats with untreated rabies,
leathery faces
raging against a crimson world
as untreatable blood flows a cautious circuit,
back and sallow forth
between London and Marygreen,
a slow train with lots of stops
that only comes on the hour,
and on Sundays?
Forget it.

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the steel-sided aerosol can
sits there crooked narrow nail
hole put right through the left-
hand side east facing to a shaking sort of wind and
all we can hear is the rattle a marble
inside the metal or maybe
that’s where all our teeth went,
the pieces of ourselves (no bigger than
candy) that we put under faces shaped like pillows
and were taken away by the time morning came,
(round and sudden suns)
but something came and took our teeth
when it was still dark outside
and somehow never woke us up.

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this gon taste aaaalllright

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Sorry about that, guys.

It’s been weird in here lately.
Don’t worry, I’ll post some pictures of hot girls smoking cigarettes or playing jazz marimba or something.

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The arcanely consistent, metered
minuscule bones of imprisoned ink
that constitute
the endoskeleton
of your literary corpse
rot in obscene repose
on pages
filled like graveyards
with decaying metaphors, septic prose,
attracting plagues
and lowering property values
without pause
or preoccupation.

This is their fate,
these midnight scratchings,
thrown in justice
and spite
to the reptilian vultures
of a scavenger reality,
gorging themselves sick
on your tender
mind’s eye
under the odiously loud rays
of a crisp Nevada sun.

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The Cattails Scream

Let the scene set itself:

platinum thrushes
hanging their heads
over the silver glide of water,
crooked water,
like La Llorona
screaming for the bones of her children.

Do not let this image
disturb you.
She screams like
the cattails scream:

for a past
that ran away
on the back
of a swift-course river
and into
the future’s
vast ocean,
a harsh and salty place
that yaws
even the best-made boats
back and sallow forth
like naïve willow leaves
in a late-spring,

that loud corner
of our humid year
that scares the wildlife
into a more shivering
sort of submission.

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32nd Airborne, Prose Division

If you took all of them,
the lonely ones who never got lonely,
and lined them all up
in an awkward row, hats of faded felt
and ties tied too tight,
you would have a sortie,
a rank and file
of unimaginable power,
ready to mock and
any and all orders
you could possibly give them.

You could wear your best green and
white and yellow, garish colors,
nothing at all like the color of blood,
colors that remind any possible
of how many screw threads you have stripped,
how many doors you’ve unstuck;
how many lawnmowers you’ve revved
when all hope seemed utterly lost.
They will notice them, this unsightly group,
your colors that insinuate
and sound like paperclips. They will not
be impressed.

And among all this mayhem,
this rampant insubordination
that will surely tear this nation
asunder, you won’t be able to help
being at least a little jealous
of their cheap hats
and cheaper suits. After all,
they have the words.
And you don’t.

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Un Cielo Pesado

Un cielo pesado:
pintado por su propia
sombrándonos oscuramente
y mojándose arboles
que no se puede ver.

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Green has grown where glaciers scratched the hide of the Earth.

If you concentrate
on the space not under
but between
the syllables,
you might just decipher
the raspy wooden howling all around you
and finally find out
what the trees are really trying to say.

They mourn their dead.
They praise their children.
And when only the ancient ones remain,
they admit with whispering leaves
their inferiority before
a flawless elemental God;

the concupiscent chlorophyll confession
that in spite of perfect roots and branches,
after all these years of woodpeckers
they are still not good enough.

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Sitting here in the great green echo
that precedes the embarkation of your sojourn of vapor
onto a thin silver ship shaped like the sky,
I stop to write something, anything,
so that if we veer and crash and rumble
into an unbreakable stone pillar of clouds,
there will at least be an epithet
(loquacious though it is)
to stand as a misty testament
to who I was
before I boarded this doomed and wild vessel,
back when I was still alive.

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see them, 12

see them, 12
bone monsters
throwing stones
at your albatross

the grand wingspan
of misunderstanding
that discolors
the firmament,

your bruise, gray feathers.
Iron sieves
onto the day’s
white sheet

ruby pool spreading
in time to the metronome.

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