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Two Poems


The line for immortality's long, longer than the DMV's, and you hear
The same jokes about eternity. New people join every day, of
Course, and it's amazing to see the young hop on in such numbers—
We always for unfathomable reasons believed the line would end with us.

Up ahead the kindly and the brutal alike keep disappearing.
And all along the line's horizon you see men and women step away,
Out of boredom or a fit of sense. The sun, a child born bronze in the grass.
Night rolling in its fields of stars and planets. We sing, we wait.

The End of Striving

Once or twice in a fit of calm
I thought I understood—
enormous music from the blue
between clouds. It's harder
now to hear & hearing
includes less angelic, more
human cries. I would address
God in poems to show
how continuous the circuit
remains, but prayer meant to be
overheard must stink
of strut, the last thing God
needs. On the way to the gym
I broke my reading glasses.
I did not twist hard, only
cleaned with a T-shirt hem
as usual, & bam, they snapped.
Since reading on the bike's
all that makes sweat bearable
I may as well head home,
the clouds bunched up now &
scowling. Besides—I said to no one—
I'm calmer when I don't
work out. Weaker, & calmer.

Jeffrey Skinner

Southern Illinois University Press

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