Inhuman Swill : Poems : Page 4

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.

Black.

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.

Full entry

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.

Full entry

Raaarrrr

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

Full entry

Butt

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

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Rules for dog owners

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We often say, my wife and I,
that Ella is our first dog,
the one you make your mistakes on.
But for me, that isn't true.

My first dog was Jessie,
a runty black shepherd mix.
Some of the mistakes I made
with Jessie were things like

Don't scold the dog unless
you catch her in the act.
Don't let the dog bite you.
Don't ever hit the dog.

Don't buy a dog with someone
you don't like, let alone love.
All mistakes I wouldn't
ever ever make with Ella.

Full entry

The stumbling block

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I can't sit down
to write a poem

without hearing
Garrison Keillor's

voice, reading it
over my shoulder.

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Woman in burqa
Pushing her grocery cart
Texting on her phone

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Under their skirts

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Under Their Skirts
The sidewalk trees drop
their skirts of dirty snow
for a silver-tongued winter rain,
exposing a careless mulch of cigarettes butts,
not to mention the occasional dog turd
and chicken bone.

Nothing better to do, trees,
than eat, shit, and smoke
as you wait at the curb
to be picked up by spring?

Full entry

Infidel dog

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Infidel dog
This morning,
with a high of seventy degrees in the forecast,
amazing for a November in Chicago,
I drove the dog to Warren Park.
That's where we go for a special treat
instead of our usual neighborhood walk,
because the squirrel chasing is most excellent,
and there are never any cops there to harass you,
a scofflaw walking his dog off its leash.

We like to run up the steps of the sledding hill,
which a parks department sign actually proclaims "Sledding Hill,"
and then charge down the slope,
after which we make our way around the skirt of the hill
where the squirrels rummage through the leaves
like so many bargain hunters.
We crunch crunch crunch across the orange carpet,
and if we're lucky we spot a squirrel far enough out
in the open that Ella can chase it full-bore
back to its tree.
She has never once caught one.
Or at any rate never killed one.

Next we like to follow the cinder jogging path
all the way around the little nine-hole golf course embedded
like an off-center yolk
in the albumen of the park,
and that's exactly what we did this morning.
I walked in the leaves at the side of the path,
trying to encourage Ella to do the same,
but unless she has a rodent, lagomorph or marsupial in her sights
she prefers to walk on pavement. Go figure.

We were on the south side of the golf course,
the tall chain-link fence meant to protect us from flying balls
off to our left,
when I saw two men coming our way along the path,
youngish men—younger than I, at any rate—
neatly bearded men dressed in long robes the color of wet sand.
It was already warm enough out that I was regretting
the heavy coat I wore over my hooded sweatshirt.
I snapped my fingers imperiously,
calling for Ella to return to my side,
to leave the path and get out of the way
of the two youngish men engaged in animated talk.

Full entry
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William Shunn

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