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Late December


It's the day after Christmas
a flat gray morning where the rain
has fallen on the crooked streets
and no one has stolen our newspaper,
its headline denouncing the young Nigerian,
someone's devout beloved son
who tried to blow up a plane,
my own son half asleep on the couch
in his Levis and unraveled socks,
his brother still out looking for work
and the sound of coughing on the back stairs
like the ghost of Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Now the horses of North Carolina
bend down to drink
from their starry pond
having listened all night to the spacecraft
hovering like metal angels
over the fields and tobacco barns,
their plutonium shutters and platinum fins,
their calamitous holy light.


Joseph Millar

Ploughshares

Winter 2011-12


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