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The Big R

—for MP

Hourglass figure
receiving threats

Lock and key at the gate
lost in song

Some combination
that suddenness built
of the tongue’s wandering eye

that sleepers enclose
in a boat sunk as it grows

that speaks behind water
an ocean of names
a blue voice calling
to an ancient love

Perfect circle, fever image
in a poem written to release
another paradox
from your head

Self as sign as suspect
greater than the whole
prison library
reciting its laws

Music moving toward a center
like a slow match burning
through an endless wall

Flames and smoke rising up
in a cloud you want to paint
with the day’s final glow

Single word picture
created because you
hope to meet its negative
two-note difference
in a book left out in the snow

Fault-line followed by a spark
crossing careless memory
with no reason at all

Telling you what you
want to hear but
cannot really defend

Telling you what
aspect of light
makes trouble for

those skeletons in the courtyard
embracing as never again

Sudden laughter back and forth
unfamiliar broken ice
scattered bones down the street

Experienced rain falling
tremor of body opening
terrible source of meaning

that can’t make out
where the path turned ugly

that can’t put down
the mark of a lifetime

that can’t stop searching
for something more effective
than a modern eye-witness
to the end