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Published: Sun Jul 1 2007
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

They are serious, these poets.

They send copies of my favorite books
which were obviously dropped in bathtubs.

They send photographs of small dogs, and birds,
the foil wrappers of European chocolates,
packets of artificial sugar.

They circle the surgeon general’s warnings.

I get blank postcards twice a week,
in strange sizes, with additional postage-

_                                              _These poets they spare no expense-

hand-stamped in obscure towns like Indian Neck,
Connecticut, and Cut and Shoot, Texas,
and postcards covered in red ink, and letters
written in pencil and erased.

I have informed the authorities.
I have taken the hands of authorities in my own.

I have run their hands across these pages, tracing
erotic drawings, Sinatra lyrics, lines from the Cantos.
I have explained to them the threat.

The authorities will do nothing.

They are poets, or relatives of poets,
or they are paid by poets in contributor’s copies.

These poets they own everything.
They have the latest surveillance equipment.

They send me what they’ve severed, pressed
flowers, asters, fresh newspaper clippings
of industrial accidents.

They send the fingers of fat men wrapped
in wax paper, they send thumbs only,
they send knuckles.

I make my girlfriend open the packages.
I refuse to answer the telephone.

I send her out for Chinese food when we need to eat.

Josh Wallaert’s work has appeared in The Southern Review, TriQuarterly, The Gettysburg Review, AGNI Online, and Black Warrior Review. He co-directed the documentary film Arid Lands. He lives in San Francisco, where he is associate editor of Places at Design Observer. Visit him at joshwallaert.com. (updated 3/2013)

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