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We looked for golden birds. We looked and looked.
We issued threat advisories. Our survival kits

were beautiful: tin, tin, pocket mirrors, root foods,
anodynes. We buried our seeds deep, we lined our bibs

with lead. Oh darling, we said, and rubbed a little bit.
We rode our fine horses, our sad horses, we sounded

the ram's horn and waited. Wanted. Rubbed cloves
on painful gums. Split the creature, crawled inside.

Told gorgeous lies. Catalogued the footed species.
Example: mastodon. In burnt-out churches, installed

pink lights that hummed and hummed. Bought
water rights. Visited the tombs, placed our rubbings

inside spiral notebooks. Stored everything we could.
Example: mercury. Chewed mint. Tooled leather

with desert flowers. Said leather when it was not
our skin. Drank from the river again. Inked our wasp-

papery outsides. Example: Om. Increasingly
did not wish to be alone. Said this mark means this.

Said this mark means. Said the moon a sliver. The moon
a hook. Shackled men to chairs. Tongued the rind.

Made our ponchos watertight. Loved string, the way
it marshalled points into a line. Were thoughtless. Thought

of nexts. Rinsed, spit. Pocketed. Rubbed more. Knew
what crepe was for, how to shoe a horse. Had names

for everything. Example: farrier. Thought trees
were weeds and pulled them up. Screwed men in canvas

tents. In brocade tents. In woolen tents. In tents so
shantung, no memory could hold them. Sieved metal.

Skimmed a little off the top. Said bottoms up and
swallowed. Leaned in real close. Carded wool. Etched

spirals, initials, dates from one calendar or another
onto metamorphic boulders. Had a site called Sharpening

Made Easy. Took the train. Burnt blessings. Wrung
the loon's neck. Said poor thing and would you look

at that. Looked at that. Put the loaf on the radiator to rise.
Drank the yeasty smell. Drifted through Aztec time.

Jangled keys as we traipsed through cells. Through canyons.
Through the valley. Of the shadow. Knelt. Knelt. Knelt.

Used a rasp, a wet grinder, a Phillips-head. Wasted
what was left. Steeped moss. Sucked aspirin from the bark.

Redacted. Tied boys to barbed wire with barbed wire.
Were proud. Stuttered. Example: the the the and so forth.

Dipped the sponge in vinegar. Dipped the crusts in wine.
Anointed every inch. Set the torch alight. Logged off. Came

close as light grew thin. Squinted the world to blur. Left
plastic flowers by the roadsides. Ate snow. Combed the dog

for burrs. Tied knots. Walked where heat fused sand to glass.
Forgot. Did not forget. Said outer space. Were kingly fools.

Were broke. Were broken. Tried to image ghosts. Measured
the particulates. Said what does that mean. And what does

that. Rubbed oil into our hips. Hands on our hips. Our hips
lifted to meet our hips, we gnawed the world's bones clean.

Kerri Webster

Grand & Arsenal
University of Iowa Press

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