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Can’t Stand It
I hear the elephant music
Of the rusted swings, and up,
Up higher, then down again,
Happy children take the sound.

No snakes can read.
Walking across the ocean,
Walking on flowers nowhere to be seen,
I walk on gold.
So says hummingbird. So said the fountain
As it filled with sand one day
When I wasn’t looking and my son grew old.

Music dies with the man.
It dies surely, like a finger.
We have no poetry by Wm Blake.
Not a single note of Bach survives.
Stop kidding yourself.
Time is no river.
It is a shard of glass, cutting.

My Buddha in the wheelbarrow
Holds up a broken bottle while he’s wheeled
Away. A diamond is a diamond.
A cloud is a cloud that looks like one.

In the afterlife,
I take my children to a playground.
Enormous birds perch safely on nothing.
The swings make no sound.

Donald Revell has written more than twelve books of poetry, translations, and essays, including Drought-Adapted Vine (Alice James) and From Abandoned Cities (Harper Colophon). His awards include two Pushcart Prizes and the Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative American Poetry, and a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.​