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Published: Mon Sep 30 2019
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

Barking through a tennis ball,
she’s somehow not so menacing.

I wish her luck in all her quarrels
with postmen, passersby, and squirrels.

I think (like other not-quite-dumb pets’
plugged intentions) muted trumpets

everywhere should be applauded:
like the tycoon under audit;

Herakles, caught in a leg-lock;
City Mouse, trapped in an eclogue—

any plan gang half-agley,
especially when a sphere of play

obtrudes to soften duty’s slog,
or worse, ferocities enfogged

with folly, instinct, ignorance,
or any irritant that rends

the better angels of our nature,
even when it isn’t major.

Richard Kenney has published four books of poetry: The Evolution of the Flightless Bird (Yale University Press, 1984), Orrery (Atheneum, 1985), The Invention of the Zero (Knopf, 1993) and The One-Strand River (Knopf, 2008). His work has appeared in many magazines and journals, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, AGNI, and The American Scholar, and he has won the Rome Prize in Literature, a Lannan Literary Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations. He teaches at the University of Washington, in Seattle. (updated 10/2008)

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