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Two Poems

Duties of Waste Also

Or he attracts the devil he reflects, on all fours

like a pig to feed, and it moves against him
            in the singular chord
of its obedience, 
            or he walks the same tune
as his religion, and the god he calls everywhere
like a dog by whistle
sits down with him. Or he goes into the towns
and is seen by people and is needed for things
                 people need
from the people they know. 
            Or he escapes into a world made large 
by some eccentricities
he has, and goes into the cities to entertain them
            like a vanishing card
in the decks men have when they have nothing.
Or he is tied to an awful face
in a street market, is staked to a market to atone 
            for the mince of markets, 
or he goes to the market to purchase some mud
            to make things from mud, 
and sees himself 
at the stall with a hand deep in some pocketful,
pausing for that pleasure. Or a magic is pulled
           from his throat
and he paupers it the same way the same men
will do him
before it ends. Or eagerly, massively, in a chord
of obedience it ends, 
the decision made and a judgment held over him 
            like a blown halo 
by the devil he reflects. Or the devil repatriates
            his throat with winsome murk
and the only word
others mean to hear, and makes a face from him
to breathe 
            among faces. If I am not to be beautiful,
            then this.

God [Sic]

Never trust a book with maps
       was what I once heard,
& too true—but
by then I had already converted
to the religion of history. God
we believed in earnest

wore those clothes the histories
expected him to wear, & in this
            was positively historical—
even his hat was fundamental. 
He’d brought 
            a new world to bear

by way of assurance he could do
better than the last one,
which water-logged at ten eons.
This time there would be land
as well as sea, & so the necessity 
of cartography. He saw the maps, 
            & they were good
but not great, but the fairytales
            the maps necessitated 
(in the margins of course) 
captured something illuminating.
Even the goblins’ hats were

fundamental. Never trust a god 
who understands your situation,
I was told, & that was true also:

I never found myself any better 
       at prognostication
     just because I knew the story of 
my god—
& it seemed, too, as though all 
the fairytales ended 

                             with a slaughter.