December ’20 — II

Some streets they siphon the air right off of you

Send it to the boundary lines

Sell it to someone who’s never cut tape with their teeth

Or set an 89 cent can back after spotting a 79 cent can

Same mushed thumb-stalks of haricot, same vert colour

Same forty calories of energy, per

Just a plainer picture on the label

A name like nobody cared

They knew they had buyers

They knew plenty a December, I’d be there

Crouching, asquint

So to speak

Thinking of the bacon grease and brown sugar

That I’ll use to soak the stuff in four or five of these cans

Into something courtly


Some months — these winter types —

They ask for their change

They ask for it down to the penny, even though you

Are both in a hurry

And you can see dirty copper on the ground behind

Right there in the booth

On the ground


Some days open their wide mouths

And with their smiling foreign declarations

They put you right for work

They say get up, go on, get up

This is the sum of all the law and of the teachings of every prophet

They say

Get up

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