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We Didn't Start the Fire

Two doors down lived a descendant of de Sade.
           He rode a vintage Trek in a gingham shirt.
A blue Hamsa strung around his neck
           waved when he waved. The name meant
nearly nil to us, cluelessly humming the catalog
           of history in "We Didn't Start the Fire"—
Harry Truman, Ho Chi Minh, Rockefeller, Roy Cohn.
           Hunting arrowheads, we made off with a haul
of tangled wires, nickeled tubs. Some inheritance.
           Children of thalidomide, hypodermics on the shore.
Between the cemetery and schoolhouse
           rows of thuja formed a buffer. Most headstones
looked as if an animal had rubbed his back
           up and down against them. Most hurricanes
amounted to little more than steady drizzle.
           Townies spray-painted the bridge: "Sayonara,
Bob" or "Safe travels, Sucker." At sunset
           summer people walked their drinks down
to the beach—the happy human chain—
           each tethered to one spot, each for now alive.

Will Schutt

Yale University Press

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