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Published: Mon Apr 15 1991
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Like Ulysses

I read by the afternoon light then hope
to sleep through the end of the century.
Constantly embarrassed by sneezes I was
allergic to everything. The lines
of sunlight through the dust of local
demolition drove me inward, a leopard
looking for some lamb to lie down with.
“Oh modern modes of loneliness” I would groan.
“Oh searing attitudes of largesse, Oh

fulsome days of good country air.” Meanwhile
there is a continent whose men disembowel
themselves and any handy captive monkey
just for sport. Somewhere children
choke on bits of cheese and candy
simply for the pattern they see sprawling
at sunset. And somewhere the various
rounds of randomness live like choirs
of angels. You know what it is to have friends

and to be unhappy in the style of the period
(Louis Ferdinand-Céline), to collapse into
an ecstasy of defilement, when you have the cash,
or to recall that little coin of bread
the priest would place with his own clean
hand on the pillow of your little tongue,
all clean from brushing that morning
and rinsing without taste, without a swallow.
Homemade sacraments are best,
how the balls on the pool table for years
made their complicated little rounds,
into the nine little holes then back
to the green fabulous felt oh miles of travel
circumscribed, domestic and dangerous.

See what's inside AGNI 33

Bin Ramke has published ten collections of poetry. Two of his collections, Wake (University of Iowa Press, 1998) and The Massacre of the Innocents (University of Iowa Press, 1995), won the Iowa Poetry Prize, and he received the Yale Younger Poets Award for his first book. He currently edits the Denver Quarterly_._ (updated 6/2010)

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