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  • Concerns, after Flipping Through the Dictionary
  • Dexter L. Booth (bio)

W is for wamble: a turning of the stomach,my face green as sea foam when I am sickwith anxiety, can no longer watch the newsor listen to my cats howl for supper—things I ignore:       the bald spot on my head,       the nervous jerking of my hands,       the pea-sized lump under my left armpit       (which I swear is stress)       that warns me I am young, too youngto be worried about aging and losing teeth

like my mother. I’ll tell you this: a lizard stole my cats’ foodfor a month before I noticed, and, being from the city,I had never been so close to the desperation of nature.I wanted to kill the poor thing . . .

Question: What animal is more sensitive than a human?

I read today that in India a twelve-year-old drankThiodan and died. Her father was going blindand her brother’s kidneys were failing, andshe left a note that said Give my eyes and kidneys to them.

Sometimes I want to drown myself in the waters of Lethe,go back to when I was nothing but bloodrising in my father’s penis, not even capable of hope,not knowing abandonment—

and in my misunderstanding of its fear I called Cate,who scooped up the lizard and took it back [End Page 66] into the safety of the wild gravel and desertof our front yard . . .

And to think, this started with a letter.

When I was in Prague, from the skate park on the hill, behind the cherry-colored metronome, I could see the city from the sky—the way it was meant to be. The gold-tipped statues and the oxidized copper of the cathedral steeples set aflame by the setting sun, the silver mirror of water bending the Charles Bridge like the twisted limbs of break-dancers at the edge of the park, or the strings of shoes knotted low over sagging phone wire. Milos said the statue of Stalin once stood headless there, and when he was toppled, with his arms spread open, he wanted to take the whole city with him.

The girl in India was cremated before they found her note.

W is for wanion: ill luck or misfortune. [End Page 67]

Dexter L. Booth

dexter l. booth is the author of Scratching the Ghost, which won the 2012 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was selected by Major Jackson. His poems appear in Blackbird, Grist, Willow Springs, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other publications. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Southern California.



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