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Stories Have No Manners

I'm listening to the words, but as usual,
watching something else. I hate myself for this,
but who could not watch as the tip of his cuff
nicks the top of the egg yolks smashed in the grits.
Some day next week he will take out the coat
and see the yellow scab and think how little
keeps us from drooling, even in a tie,
drooling when we should be driving, drooling
when we should be keeping the crazy bastard
at bay. It's the crazy bastard story again.
He doesn't want to tell it, but, like listeners,
stories have no manners. They track mud in
no matter how much you scrub, down on your knees,
and remind them, this is my tongue and groove,
my bunched little rug in front of the fire.
Is that running water, a bird up the flue?
You start making noises behind closed doors.
Friends think you probably ought to be watched
or at least let go. Though no one knows where.
There's no pasture out here for horses who
break down and cry. Horses who say on the sly,
I'm expecting a call tomorrow.
Horses who just want to sit under a tree
and look at a cloud. Horses who think too much.
You've decided to eat your grits and not
smash up the eggs and leave them dead on the plate.
And you're watching your cuff, for the first sign
that the story won't lie down, won't stay told.

Roger Mitchell

5 AM


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