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Two Poems
When I See This X-Ray of a Hand’s

long, jointed bones, floating like a bird’s, prehistoric, knuckling

in their brightness, as if to perform some magic trick, to pull 

a kerchief from the debut of darkness, I feel dangerous

as a spy, though unwilling as that reach toward something

between milk and sorrow, yet a gift, though be it

a knife, slow like time’s, then I feel myself straining, listening

(touch me, touch me) to the long echo of flesh say hello

The Living

You were reaching for flesh. It
turned to cloud, then the long rain
streaming down your body that slightly carves 

of skin a home 

for loss. Welcome pilgrim. Make of that broad leaf
a toque, then journey far into the mountains
where snow vanishes as it reaches 
and your yellow cap sails. 

Mark Irwin’s eighth collection of poetry, American Urn: New & Selected Poems (1987–2014) was published in 2015. Large White House Speaking appeared from New Issues in spring of 2013. He has also translated two volumes of poetry. Recognition for his work includes The Nation / Discovery Award, two Colorado Book Awards, four Pushcart Prizes, the James Wright Poetry Award, and fellowships from the Fulbright, Lilly, NEA, and Wurlitzer Foundations. He is an associate professor in the PhD in Creative Writing & Literature Program at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles and Colorado.