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This morning my heart goes out to pinespunctured and slung with hammocksin leisure’s name, to the redbirdwith bandit mask, accused of every crime.I feel bonded all at once to dogson chains, reciting prisondiaries as I pass; suddenly I opento the possum, ugly as the trash it picks.Soon I will return to selfish queries:What trophies have I stowed in cabinets?How many rivers forked at my birth?But today I want to harry vapidquestions—as smaller, quicker birdsdo hawks and crows—to be overcomeby clotheslines pinned with cast-offselves, my mouth blowing ovals of awe.For years I could not care lessthat the turtle and armadillo carrycaskets on their backs the spanof their lives, that the spider quiltsin a solitude so consuming it devourswhat guests drop by. Yet warmth has foundan entrance, or picked some shackle inside,and I even feel for kudzu, choking all.Earlier this summer, without a qualm,I bagged and dragged to the curba goose found floating in the boat slip,made crude by some Evinrude or Merc.But now as the sun bobs up, I might bean earl in the Age of Reason, so completelyhave I fallen under sympathy’s sway.I hum in chorus with the mournful woodwindsof rotted elms. And face with desperateaffection the stucco homes—guarded,blank—like the man I was just yesterday,who welcomes, least of any, my embrace. [End Page 50]

Gregory Fraser

Gregory Fraser is the author of three poetry collections: Strange Pietà (Texas Tech UP, 2003), Answering the Ruins (Northwestern UP, 2009), and Designed for Flight (forthcoming from Northwestern in Spring 2014). He is also the coauthor, with Chad Davidson, of the workshop textbook Writing Poetry: Creative and Critical Approaches (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008) and the composition textbook Analyze Anything: A Guide to Critical Reading and Writing (Continuum-Bloomsbury, 2012). His poetry has appeared in journals including The Paris Review, The Southern Review, and The Gettysburg Review. The recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Fraser serves as professor of English at the University of West Georgia.



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