Pulitzer Poetry 100

Pulitzer Poetry 100

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After the sun rose into rust between gravel and horizon, after the scent of you oxidized the steel of my car going into the lidocaine of the morning air as the highway slid into northeast Detroit past Chill & Mingle, I did a double-take and took a wrong turn at Rim Repair. (Long ago my father said I should see the fist). No one spoke Swahili on 12th Street, still rubble after the blind pigs folded up. It was a cliché of the image of itself but it was, it was like nothing, the vacant burned-out bungalows, car parts, metal scraps arson jobs, abandoned homes, barbed wire playgrounds, shacks pummeled along Six Mile Road — derelict since '67.…


We stripped in the first warm spring night and ran down into the Detroit River to baptize ourselves in the brine of car parts, dead fish, stolen bicycles, melted snow. I remember going under hand in hand with a Polish highschool girl I’d never seen before, and the cries our breath made caught at the same time on the cold, and rising through the layers of darkness into the final moonless atmosphere that was this world, the girl breaking the surface after me and swimming out on the starless waters towards the lights of Jefferson Ave. and the stacks of the old stove factory unwinking...…


I went into the Maverick Bar In Farmington, New Mexico. And drank double shots of bourbon backed with beer. My long hair was tucked up under a cap I’d left the earring in the car. Two cowboys did horseplay by the pool tables, A waitress asked us where are you from?…


My car took the curve of a curve, just past the exit to Los Alamos where Oppenheimer said the infinite imploded finite space— though he couldn't have imagined the atom pressed into the cave inside the mesa that opened into the buffalo who could turn into a bear, who could be the beast.…


In Lake Forest, a suburb of Chicago, a woman sits at her desk to write me a letter. She holds a photograph of me up to the light, one taken 17 years ago in a high school class in Providence. She sighs, and the sigh smells of mouth wash and tobacco. If she were writing by candlelight she would now be in the dark, for the man she’s about to address in her odd prose had a life span of 125th of a second in the eye of a Nikon and then he politely asked the photographer to get lost, whispering the request so as not to offend the teacher presiding...…


Standing up on lifted, folded rock looking out and down— The creek falls to a far valley. Hills beyond that facing, half-forested, dry —clear sky strong wind in the stiff needle clusters of the pine—their brown round trunk bodies straight, still; rustling trembling limbs and twigs listen.…


...like Joanna saying Mother, we’re Afro-Americans now! What did she know about Africa? Were there lakes like this one with a rowboat pushed under the pier? Or Thomas’ Great Mississippi with its sullen silks? (There was the Nile but the Nile belonged to God.) Where she came from was the past, 12 miles into town where nobody had locked their back door, and Goodyear hadn’t begun to dream of a park under the company symbol, a white foot sprouting two small wings.…


There in Key West, the singer lies asleep, perhaps under a fan, after playing late at the café. They kept her playing and singing by the edge of the warm gulf (after she’d watched the sun drop into it, staying to cup Hesperus in her small hands against the wind that rises suddenly then, Until his flame caught) – they wouldn’t let her stop at one o’clock. Now the current runs past the island very fast as if in panic. But the trees flower calmly in the heat outside her house.…


sea-lions and birds, sun through fog flaps up and lolling, looks you dead in the eye. sun haze; a long tanker riding light and high.…


If the parrots followed Geronimo from Guadaloupe in a dream could we imagine that frantic air now where Route 66 Casino rises on red pylons that hold up the skittering dice and the breeze of the shuffle as we drive into the wager and stakes of High Limits, the wheels of fortune spinning, the cash-out buttons popping, simulacra of feathers, silver, beads, the blur of pots in the rearview mirror.…

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