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Progress, and: Look Out Hollywood, Here I Come
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Progress

Today is the day I stop smoking reads
the sign I no longer need at the bus stop
I also don't need in front of the Walgreens
I do because I am at present short
on an antibiotic which will kill
what unclean element has maybe clung to the now-
recalled spinach I stuffed into sandwiches
+ enjoyed earlier in the week, today I'm paying
to clean up the mess I didn't know was inside me
which means I'm everyone, just like anybody else
with an astigmatic eye for beauty and questions
about the tiny aches that occasionally
ring the bell I believe my insides are, lungs
+pancreas+heart+diaphragm all aligning as one
big bronze-cast thing whose tolling
I've lived in luxurious obliviousness to
because the smoke from all those
Camel Lights meant a possible house fire
years down the line which meant nothing from
the river shack of youth, meant nothing in
the wet view of my eyes which were then
brand-new and helped me gather just the right
evidence to believe the usual tricks: causality,
utility, precision, everything happens for a reason
and he's gone to a better place and if it's meant to be
fuck this, that last example a transcript
of how it looked when the man took a left
+ sped the wrong way down the one-way
in front of Walgreens before slamming
on his brakes at the next intersection and say

anything you've done's different, better, say
you've always been right to honk at the idiots
stretched before you, idling, making their seriously
and come on and the light's fucking green, buddy way
to and from their average pains, their
as the song says minor falls and major lifts
and when the guy realized his situation
he threw the land-cruising old brown Buick
into reverse, backtracked as another car
drove at him, the whole thing a slow automotive opera
about mistakes + meager attempts to fix,
about doing right by making do, then
he backed into the Walgreens lot, jumped out
with his arms raised and shouted, "Pay day!"
and all of us in attendance nodded or clapped, made
the same sounds we usually do on seeing
another perfect example of whatever this is.

Look Out Hollywood, Here I Come

Machado says it's good we know
that glasses are for drinking but bad
that we don't know what thirst is for, find me
in the movie theater washed over
by what I know is manufactured rain
and to the woman on-screen who has yet
to convince herself to kiss the man
who so hurt her at act 2's end I want to send
the same letter I sent my baby-sitter
after I'd been cast, age thirteen, in my first
and only opera, telling her I'd be singing
what she raised me hearing, Puccini
and Verdi, we hummed ancient Italian
over macaroni lunches + she let me
watch Love Connection with her instead of taking
a nap hence me believing I know anything
when it comes to choosing romance
from among three possibilities in the span
of a commercial break, on-screen the woman's
got wet hair and keys and half a mind
to flee which was what we did after singing
our dozen lines, there were eight of us
in that opera's boy chorus, we sopranoed
our bit then scampered off to make way
for the adults + their complicated plot
lines, watched from the wings as they sang
of love and betrayal, each of our tongues working out
how we'd do it were it us up there, bodies
and desires full-sized, spotlit, I wrote
to Nadia my baby-sitter thank you for putting
that music inside me without adding
I sang without understanding a single word,

that I imagined the phrases to be
unknowable birds letting go of the cage
of my throat, I wrote without knowing
my voice would soon drop + therefore
I'd survive high school unpulverized + now
the woman drops her keys steps back into rain lifts her face opens her mouth
meaning she will forgive and...



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