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In This Sweet Land


John died today

And I feel fine

About it all

For the most part;

Arlene doesn’t. 

She’s been kneeling

In the driveway

For an hour now

Since the bus left

With strands of hair

Stuck to her chin

And she’s drooling.

She’s got her hands


Behind her neck

And her elbows

On the concrete.
She looks newborn; 

You seldom see

Such reduction.

Just yesterday 

She was 5’8

And pleasantly 


But now she’s strange.

It’s ugly stuff,

This nudity.


Now there are cars

Parking curbside

Spilling people

Walking slowly

With their eyes down

Or set elsewhere.

A blonde woman

Wearing Sketcher’s

Has her hand on 

Arlene’s shoulder

But she’s standing

At a distance

So the vomit 

Doesn’t get her;

Arlene’s got her

Elbows in it

And her elbows 

Have been bleeding.


Michelle Haage

And her husband

Are dispensing 

Plastic banners

To the neighbors; 

They’re both strangers

In from elsewhere

And they’re wearing

Tooth-white polos

That take the day

And bleach it out

Then toss it back


“Compliments of

Michelle Haage

Real Estate”;

That’s on the card

Taped to the flag

Her husband pressed

Into my lawn.

Four days ‘til the

Fourth of July.


I count twenty

People mourning

In the driveway,

Looming above

And all around

That crippled thing

Like objectors

In grim witness

To some sacred

And sobering


Of artifice;

Michelle’s got ‘em

Square in her sights

And by her gait

And its quickness

I can tell she’s


Herself lucky

To have spotted

In the distance

What she’s construed

As a party. 

She’s so eager

She’s dropping cards

But her husband

Picks them all up

As he follows.

“Compliments of 

Michelle Haage

Real estate.”

She’s intrepid;

Her eyes are wide

And they’re as blue

As they are keen.


Now the driveway

Looks something like

Arlington green,

But more dismal 

And more honest

And part holy,

And I feel fine

About it all

For the most part. 

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