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Last updateTue, 06 Aug 2013 2am

Back You are here: Home Stories Words for the People Poetry Late Shift
Tuesday, 20 August 2013 04:15

Late Shift Featured

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In the ward at night, souls
roam: the more rooted
the body (bodies
shouldn’t be rooted)


to its tubes, weary or severed
synapses, stench, the more labile
the soul. The more solid
the desuetude,
forgetfulness, grief
of the body, the more tenuous,
fickle, fugitive the allegiance
of the soul. They encounter each other
and merge, they exchange
(and lose) information: What was
that vast and empty desk, what was
the function of the picture on that desk?
Was it unlike my fraying kitchen
counter, where the garbage in one corner,
the bills in another
were like dragons on old maps?
The pockmarked wall of a handball court
rises, and a sense
of glee in a body. How nice
that must have been; I wasn’t fit
or free. Here, take it. Thanks. A woman
extends her arms towards each,
but women are in other wards;
the memory or rumor
of love flutters the souls. And fistfights,
intrigues, all that heat
is entertaining now; the drone
of cubicles, spectator sports,
bars, a factory, troop transports,
school, no more annoying than a repeated
tune. They swarm in the center of the ward
like flies, or dust; they glimpse,
collectively, the collective …
till death dissevers one
from another like musical chairs.
And each who is left out
weeps with the knowledge
of being without defense
he had at the beginning;
only what seemed to come between made sense.




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Last modified on Tuesday, 20 August 2013 04:30
Frederick Pollack

Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press. He has numerous other poems in print and online journals. Adjunct professor creative writing George Washington University.

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