10.4 (Summer 2006)
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Kevin ConderListen



the demons touch gently at first, sifting through who is who in the darkness, finding me wrapping their arms tightly about my chest so I can only breath in faint, rapid gasps their claws sink into the clefts between my ribs and I taste the iron under their nails, residue from working lucifer’s mercury mines they squeeze and squeeze but my ribs are too strong for them to break

under a thundersky a man comes next to me his face blank with after-sex calm he offers to send my demons away I tip my hat to him at least they’re my demons, I don’t own much else I limp off toward Tombstone, demons in tow, to finish the task of burying my wife, to finish the task of throwing one last handful of dirt on her coffin, to finish the task and ride out past the preacher, always to the west, always westward ho, toward the rumor of a great raging sea, where a man can lose himself in the scattered San Francisco sun and never have to look at his shadow for too long a time



cut holes in wrists and feet so that
the sun can shine through my limbs drive
a pencil into my side between
the second and third ribs

so that the sun comes into my soul
nights walking the sodden streets
my winter jacket’s hood raised as
a great venomless cobra

I have no venom
I have no blood
nothing left to bleed
I cross the seas at night

my legs telescoping rods
to the sea beds
stirring clouds of the
dead and powdered

I cross the African plains
and stop in the middle of the Nairobi
where man was born, where herds of wildebeest stare at me
where a great old silver lion pisses on my feet

how far does a man need to wander from himself
voice from an ancient lake burned away
beneath the grass plains same voice of hope
in the face of a disastrous life

tomorrow I will be someone else
tomorrow I will be someone else
and forget you my love
my love forget you


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