Inhuman Swill : Poems : Page 4

14 Februarys: A Sonnet

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Our first Fourteenth we went to Brooklyn's best
New restaurant. It seemed we walked for miles
Through freezing cold, but I knew by your smiles
I'd chosen well and you were well impressed.

Our third Fourteenth was filled with wedding plans.
I'm still not sure who popped the question first.
By Fourteenth number nine we were immersed
In thoughts of westward roads and moving vans.

Our tenth Fourteenth blew prudence to the sky
With fourteen courses served by silent staff.
Such frills on this Fourteenth? It is to laugh.
We're happy to stay home and order Thai.

My Valentine you've been, the count now stands,
Two times for every finger on your hands.

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Four road trips

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I'm still not sure quite how I managed it,
but I somehow talked my parents into giving me
the family van for two weeks that spring,
two long weeks that stretched into three.

It was my best friend Tim and me--
we'd been missionaries together in Idaho--
returning to the scene of the crime
visiting all the families we used to know.

No doubt I got the van because of that girl,
Miss Bonners Ferry, the lumberjack
who played classical piano, was a lifeguard too
and the whole reason I wanted to go back.

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Mug shot

The face is the biggest shock
after the name—
your name, almost.

The face you knew from childhood,
mischievous, wry, handsome,
now stony as battered granite,
the young features punched up
and pounded like wet clay
then fired hard in a thousand-degree kiln.

The face discovered with "burglary tools,
methamphetamine and more than 100 stolen items
belonging to more than 30 people

The face leaps out from the article
from fifteen hundred miles away,
like a fugitive in a game of
hide-and-go-seek, flushed out
from the shadows of the chicken coop
when you'd forgotten you were even playing,
racing to make it home free.

What could you have done?
Returned more of his phone calls?
At some point you knew, somewhere
in those twenty years of rob arrest repeat,
you had to keep your distance.
He was your cousin. It wasn't like
he was your brother.

But you weren't there yet
at that first apartment
where you lived on your own,
when you locked your keys inside,
when that confident, capable face
you'd known from infancy said,
"I'll get in." And did.

And you thought that was so cool.

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I am
a writer
a blogger
a podcaster
a programmer
a designer
an inventor
a collector
a cabinetmaker
a bowler
a moviegoer
a foodie
a traveler
a tinkerer
an atheist
a priest
a curmudgeon
a felon
a photographer
a chauffeur
a skeptic
a rube
a ruffian
a layabout
a lurker
a dilettante
a poseur
a pundit
a primate
an ancestor
an earthling
an alien
a canvas
a convenience
an improvisation
an illusion

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My trench coat

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My trench coat (a slightly later model)
I used to wear a trench coat
When I was in high school.


I wore aviator sunglasses too,
And a fedora.
I didn't want to hurt anyone--
Anyone who wasn't corrupt.
I thought that was how
A proper investigative reporter
Should dress.

I took some shit for the trench coat,
But not as much as you'd think.
It even helped me get a girlfriend--
Two years later. The memory of it.
My trench coat had sparked a crush
That could never have caught fire
In high school.

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A higher attraction

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If we were zombies
I promise you that I would
love you for your brain

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Golfers in the rain
with travel mugs of coffee,
like this is their job.

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I come to you, love,
like a zombie in your thrall,
hungry for your brains.

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You are here

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You Are Here - Roosevelt Island - New York City

you are here

the southern tip of roosevelt island
east river easing by to either side
beside your wife astride the bikes
you rode like phantoms through
the hushed streets of queens
over the red bridge at 36th ave

you are here

inside the four mile ring of the
concentric circles of immediacy
and inverse kneejerk jingoism
the two towers at their center
their sides pierced by spears
gushing ash into waterclear sky

you are here

holding hands in the swelling
congregation of silent cyclists
a u.n. of observers stunned and numb
distant sirens the only sounds
besides the murmuring river
or the murmurs might be yours

you are not here

to see or hear the first collapse
you're riding back over the bridge
retracing miles unwinding the clock
restitching time with no success
at home your t.v. sees just one tower
a dustblinded eye about to close

you are not there

originally read at Tuesday Funk, September 6, 2011 [video]

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stubbed-out cigarette
moldering wet in the sink
on the Paris train

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn