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Carnival

by Jason Bredle

Publication Year: 2012

Steeped in a high-octane mythos, Jason Bredle's Carnival lets every inch of the world surge with delight and sorrow. The result is a collection of poems that thrills by framing an accurate snapshot of the human condition at its most absurd and joyful. This is book where boundaries don't exist, where people just might bring onions and Grand Marnier to the beach or a transient may be spotted spooning a raccoon in a back yard, and we are all the happier for it.

Published by: The University of Akron Press

Title Page, Series Information, Copyright

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Quote, Dedication

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Prologue

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pp. 1-

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City of Lavender

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pp. 2-

I had everything I ever wanted to say to you organized in my head but forgot it all when you took my palm in your hand and with your index finger wrote “disaster.” If you were to ask me how I ended up here, I don’t even know. Every night at 8:25 I...

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Hole in my Heart

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pp. 3-

It looks like I’ll be cuddling up in the warm, soft arms of depression again this winter. I’m already hearing the voices. Major in political science. Get a job. Go back for a Master’s in political science. Why don’t you ask your friends how they imagine their funerals...

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Pep Talk

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pp. 4-

It starts with the Santa Ana winds. High-pitched noises begin to irritate you. Are you ready for me to say something controversial? I’m going to make a wolf mate with a puma and there’s nothing you can do about it. Things like this usually...

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Platypus Boy

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pp. 5-

A mad scientist, crazy guy, world leader, and costumed vigilante have gathered to discuss the fate of the planet. I like the vigilante because he could be anyone and has a really cool outfit. I wouldn’t want to have one hole for everything, though. You...

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Splash Country

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pp. 6-

Some prefer an inner tube and water wings. Others prefer iced tea and nectarines. It’s pretty simple: Waterslides are insane when you have a beard, but you go faster without one. Have you ever watched the sun rise over the wave pool? Tell me what you...

[I. I wrote this in the Copenhagen airport]

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pp. 7-

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The Party

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pp. 8-

Las Vegas, 1999, I wake on a bed of landscaping. Across the pool, I see my boo grinding with another man. I hope nobody’s drawn a swear on my face. There are so many vibrant colors. More importantly, music can never be loud enough. It’s as if...

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Suburban Love Song

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pp. 9-

Suddenly you realize you’re in the middle of it and it’s heartbreaking. You get a telephone call from yourself in the future telling you to run. All I want to know is if you’re mad at me. If I could, I’d tattoo your name on my skeleton. I love to...

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The Apple

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pp. 10-

I won a racist prize in a crying contest. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to shout in front of a bakery! What was I supposed to do? I answered the telephone. A woman on the other end was talking, but I couldn’t tell if she was talking to...

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The Pyramid

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pp. 11-

Whenever I see a rising drawbridge, I consider jumping it. Everywhere I go I like to pretend I’m being chased. Once I shared a limousine with an interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials. It feels like it’s going to thunderstorm. The other day I had that dream...

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Family Feud

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pp. 12-

Quilting a flower is easy. I used to have imaginary conversations all night long with women I loved. The next morning would be so depressing. It’s the typical story. What begins as a fun family outing quickly dovetails into bitter resentment and anger. Who...

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The Champion

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pp. 13-

Put me in a room with anything and I’ll win. Including chimps. If the room is empty, I’ll be more empty. A square of sunlight rises west and sets east of my heart. I have to drink so much Orangina by 11:30. The neighbor’s cat likes to nap in the sunlight...

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Motorcycle Ambulance

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pp. 14-

The road is pumping through my veins, and it’s lonely. Ride with me. Some evenings you may settle for the meat of a prairie dog, bat, or rattlesnake; others, you may find yourself in the arms of a cactus. This is the desert. There’s no forgiveness. There...

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Bathtub of the Humble Administrator

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pp. 15-

I have such zany friends. There’s the Chinese guy who’s always in the bathroom, the guy who won’t let you out of the stairwell if you’ve accidentally locked yourself inside because somebody told you the elevator was broken, the woman who yells at you for...

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Tiny Hurricane Season

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pp. 16-

My bathtub’s tiny fishing industry has created a tiny community. They call themselves Tinyville. I’m a little disappointed, but I guess it’s the best they could do. At least they’re not like those dumb fucks in Tubtown. I know it sounds mean, but Tubtowners...

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The Paranoid Ambersons

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pp. 17-

The Paranoid Ambersons is an interesting concept, but I don’t know anything about the family. It could be Father is crouching in the crawl space or it could be he’s in his workshop making a rocking horse. What was that rustling? It could be the house...

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The Contestant

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pp. 18-

Dunking your screaming head into a tank of scorpions, removing your screaming head from a tank of scorpions, and dunking your screaming head into another tank of scorpions is something you sometimes do for someone you love. Have you ever eaten a...

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The Meteorologist

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pp. 19-

I like when clouds look like unicorns. I don’t like tropical depressions because they’re too depressing. What does the index say? How do you feel about scattered showers with periods of sunshine and winds out of the northwest at ten to fifteen miles...

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The Club

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pp. 20-

I read something upsetting in a magazine. One summer I ate a spoonful of salt and butter every morning at 10:00. The sports team I supported was suspended on allegations of cheating. My father was miserable but acted as if he wasn’t. We’d climb...

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The Book of Evil

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pp. 21-

There’s a guy out there who likes to dangle his genitals in his aquarium. I like butterscotch pudding. It’s true, I’ve dibble-dabbled in occult philosophies. Here’s a mantra: Go out, go wild, and do it again and again. Out there, conversations about...

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The Promise

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pp. 22-

If you’re ever passing through the countryside and an old lady with grotesque features stops you and tells you to beware, you’re entering a place of pure evil and it’s best to turn back now before it’s too late; just turn back. Why fight it? If her features are...

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Tales of the Moist

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pp. 23-

I want to open a booth in the mall called Cover Thy Loins and sell my hand-crafted penis sheaths. Have you ever read Tales of the Moist? I wrote it during my six-month stay at the Riverside Clinic for Twenty-Nine-Year-Old Sex Addicts. Would you care...

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Zion

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pp. 24-

Here’s an important question: What is it, overall, that you’re kind of looking for? The neighbor’s cat and I are on the run, driving cross-country, each of us with our respective heads out our respective windows. It’s typical we don’t have time to think...

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Glacier

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pp. 25-

I like to, how do you say, watch huge men in tight, absurd clothing elaborately fake wrestle? Everywhere I’m looking at rainbows. How do you say quicksand in whatever language they speak in whatever place this is? Do you find my jackets...

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Copenhagen Airport

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pp. 26-

There’s always the pressure of nailing the first sentence and following it with an effective second sentence. The third sentence is also difficult. By the fourth sentence the reader should have an idea where the writing is going, and the fifth sentence should...

[II. I felt sad and walked to the playground.]

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pp. 27-

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The Proselytizer

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pp. 28-

Emotionally speaking, I’m a mess. Have you ever read what’s-his- name? Richard Dawkins sort of creeps me out. Space and time are a fabric that surrounds us. Tell me what you know about the velocity of the universe. What if we’re only a projection of...

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Beloved

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pp. 29-

She was standing in front of an advertisement for a sandwich that looked really good. She seemed sad. I was at a market across the street. I knew I wanted an orange but what I couldn’t decide about was if I should get a pear. I picked most of them up and...

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Rendevous

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pp. 30-

I saw her again at a screening of The Outsiders. I was in the back row sipping a Chubby and she was with a friend. After that, I began to notice her at the movies a lot: Red Dawn, Soul Man, Side Out. What was she, a C. Thomas Howell fanatic? Inspired...

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Driving and Shaving

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pp. 31-

When I woke up this morning there was a transient spooning a raccoon in my back yard. Wonderful, I thought. The transient claimed he wasn’t a transient but an admirer of my daughter’s, but my daughter is fifteen and he appeared to be in his late...

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The Killing

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pp. 32-

I was at the library picking up Juphouto Bayasi’s poems for an upcoming Chronicle piece I was working on, and for fun checked to see if they had Tales of the Moist or Panic Force. They didn’t. As I adjourned to a private study room to work on...

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You Should Have Thought About What I was Willing to do in Order to Get the Job Done

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pp. 33-

I found an unlocked car and fell asleep in it. A woman tapped on the window and invited me to her apartment. She wanted me to kiss her arm. I tried to steal a radio and left. I took Giancarlo a puppy and pleaded with him to let me style his...

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Better Things

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pp. 34-

I met a man who taught me how to look directly into someone’s mind. He intended to kill me afterwards, but I ran away really fast. I went over to Giancarlo’s and he gave me a pair of vibrating underpants “just for fun.” I taught a class. I attended a gallery...

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The Great American Novel

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pp. 35-

I sat down to write the great American novel. I’d already composed a draft in my head so it was mostly a matter of getting it on paper. I hoped I could remember how it started. I remembered the gist: teenagers on sexual coming-of-age ski trip...

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The Death March

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pp. 36-

There were six of us. We decided to go to an abandoned ski resort. We stopped at a filling station on the way. We met a European man lurking outside the women’s restroom. Trevor confessed his virginity. A police officer told us to go home. We...

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Ginger

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pp. 37-

It was nice so I walked to the café. A girl smiled at me and I smiled back. She introduced herself: Ginger. I didn’t say it but I used to have a cat named Ginger. She was kind of a chatterbox, and I started thinking about how I needed to concentrate on...

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A Sip of Inspiration

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pp. 38-

Giancarlo picked me up in his car with a map to the pet cemetery and a book of evil. I’d been having the dream again. I wake in the middle of the night, dress myself, and lie in the backyard watching the meteor shower until an animal I can’t see tears...

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Indian Ocean

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pp. 39-

I went to Giancarlo’s for dinner one evening. He talked about tidal patterns and the Indian Ocean. He asked if I’d ever seen anyone pulled to sea in a rip current. I felt weird. I drank three colas really fast, and he handed me the talking stick. I keep...

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July 18

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pp. 40-

It was awkward because the cat sat on my lap right when I happened to have a boner. I put on my favorite record and imagined winning an important swim meet. Giancarlo stopped by to give me an automatic chew counter. You strap it to your...

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The Almond Tree

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pp. 41-

Giancarlo showed up one day with a “copying oneself leads to sterility” t-shirt. It made my “official t-shirt inspector” t-shirt seem pretty dumb. It was his destiny, he said, to go to his village and kill his father. Would I join him? We drove north through...

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Mustache Fire

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pp. 42-

I once made love to someone in a portable toilet. I was a knife spreading the butter of life on the toast of the soul. Today no one would think a mustache a mark of the refined, but back then everybody did. Nothing beat a fierce mustache, one that...

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Robert Goulet

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pp. 43-

Pablo met me at the airport in a hearse. I was thankful for the ride but wished I didn’t have to be a corpse at all the military checkpoints. He kept making jokes about necrophilia. That’s funny, man, I kept saying very deliberately. I had two things on...

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from "Home Exile"

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pp. 44-

I’m at the crest. I take my last piece of tahil-kin bread from my poköti and bite into it. It’s warm. If only I had a cup of bitaltahil3 to go with this, I think to myself. Beyond the canalways I can even see a herd of omaxi grazing in a field of space flowers...

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from "Sky Fire"

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pp. 45-

There’s a presence in me—a presence burning like a fire across the sky. Soon the fire will ruin my ether crop. On the cusp of the canyon, I see a family of jacknips foraging for space flowers. After the firestorm, I think, the insects will arrive. I recall my...

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Stepfather Mohawk

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pp. 46-

I was at the scissor store when Pablo called. He asked if I’d heard about Giancarlo. He’d been bitten by a miniature horse. That’s a good one, I thought. I asked if he was okay. He was fine, shaken but recovering in the animal bite ward of Holy Resurrection. I’m...

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Pleasant Surprise

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pp. 47-

I was at the gym toning my body, and you’ll never guess who I ran into in the hot tub afterwards: Chad Scissorsby. Chad is a really neat guy. I hadn’t noticed in the scissor store but he has a phenomenal body. He asked me how the scissors had worked...

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Force Majeure

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pp. 48-

I was at home modeling a new pair of sunglasses in all my mirrors when Pablo called with news about Giancarlo. He’d been bitten by a miniature horse again. You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought. Not only is it unoriginal, at this point it’s...

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Another Surprise

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pp. 49-

I ran into Dr. Wolf-Puma in the gym’s steam room, where I’d been relaxing before a drive and shave I was planning later. I called out his name, smiled, and waved; he motioned me over. He was really sweaty and hairy. I wanted to ask him about the...

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The Tiger

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pp. 50-

I was perched in a tree spying on my own house when Pablo stopped by. It was Giancarlo, he explained. He’d been bitten by a miniature horse again. This is ridiculous, I said as I climbed out of the tree. Giancarlo’s shenanigans with this horse had...

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Falling From a Bridge

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pp. 51-

I woke after a night in the lightning chamber feeling incredible. There was so much to do! It’s crunch time, I thought, as I walked to the kitchen for a bowl of cereal. I wanted to grow my eyelashes really long. I was going to sew my arm back on. I wanted to have...

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I Need to Get to Your House Before This Ambulance Explodes

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pp. 52-

It began in Jeannine Panda’s apartment. There was a hurricane in my pants, and it was raging for Jeannine’s panda-like body. It was one of those situations where you politely say you’ve forgotten to take your eyelash medicine and excuse yourself. I...

Epilogue

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pp. 53-

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Panic Force: The True-Life Adventures of Rex Lawson, Space Commando

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pp. 54-

I couldn’t believe I was finally in front of an audience reading from Panic Force. I’d dreamed of the moment for so long that the moment itself now felt like a dream, though my dreams never had fake plants. Fitting, I thought, since all Earth plants in Rex...

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Spontaneous Overflow of Emotion Recollected in the Sea of Tranquility

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pp. 55-

Lately my dreams have been haunted by penises. Never before have I stood on the shores of so many seas and felt so empty. I miss your hair. How are the cherry blossoms? Describe to me the spring rain. I’m sad my cricket died. I’ve replaced him with...

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Carnival

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pp. 56-

You forget so much, and it makes me sad. I like holding your hand on the Ferris wheel because it makes you happy. There’s one little dude in the Gravitron. A girl with a bloody nose is escorted from the Himalaya. Do you like corndogs? I’m...

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Going All the Way

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pp. 57-

One thing we don’t do anymore is go out with friends, buy records, take them home, and listen to them. I miss it. There’s nothing lonelier than standing by yourself in a crowd of strangers. My dreams are usually nightmares and never make...

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Symphonette

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pp. 58-

Today I was thinking about Pablo and how he’d lost his hearing but for years pretended to understand everything everyone said. I wanted to write him a letter saying I understood but was afraid I didn’t. There are always exclamation points as I walk through...

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The Penguin Chronicles

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pp. 59-

Six days a week it’s a sea of black and white. The seventh day it’s white as far as you can see. Have you ever lived where the sun never sets? Have you ever stood on a sheet of ice with a cookie in your hand? I’m all right. Everything’s fine. I’m a master...

Notes

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pp. 61-62

Quotes, Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781937378301
E-ISBN-10: 1937378306
Print-ISBN-13: 9781937378189
Print-ISBN-10: 1937378187

Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Akron Series in Poetry