by Benjamin Busch


The animals look guilty
as if sex has been swung around the room,
smeared in drifts like the steam from cooling soup.
Outside is winter,
ice melting in white sunlight
giving off the rinse of infants.
Surgeries are in the breeze
with sea salt and sweat, bomb and volcano plumes,
dog dander and pollen from everywhere west.

Leather shoes are still in closets, scuffed and awkward,
their polish gone dull with waiting for an occasion,
something coming in the thick wax fumes
of candles blown at birthdays and engines burning oil,
the atmosphere so thin,
slipping on the heat from our hard dry homes,
the scent of smoke never strong enough to remind us
not to torch our old love letters
and drafts of poems.

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