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Fall 2009

Peril

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vaguen
(Samuel Beckett, notation on MS of Happy Days)


I
Fire comes bouncing in from the
desert a threat to houses Here’s
what we do says the King to
Rudyard Kipling who is visiting
Stuff wet rags in the eaves throw
the silverware in the swimming
pool And my letters Rudyard
Kipling is thinking will you be
pressing my letters to your
breast as we skid towards
the car Truly diverse people
the King and Kipling one or
the other was always getting
his feelings hurt Above them
a strip of once blue sky now
dark adust


II
Nowadays there are technicians
of despair you can work at it
Going to the Buddhist study
group I pass a thin crumpled
man at a wall his face on the
bricks Behind him another big
black city legs wide apart roaring
Say you aren’t stupid then why
aren’t you happy



III
New guy at the Buddhist study
group Eyes cut to bits I want
he keeps saying So I don’t get
so
he keeps saying A bunch
of sage grass has blown onto
his head and grown down into
his mind He shakes hands with
everyone over and over again
at the door


IV
I had previously been to
the Old South Thirty minutes
into the faculty dinner a man
to my left drops his eyes and
his voice says he murdered his
brother with a shotgun when
he was twelve The other diners
appear to have heard this
before On the plane home I
sit across from a vet with a
falcon on his lap It observes
the other passengers severely
Drinks apple juice from a
cup with very small silver
lips


V
At twenty-eight thousand feet
above the uncarved block of
NY state a cricket jumps onto
my coat Vaguen it says


—Anne Carson



Anne Carson currently teaches at NYU and will publish a handmade book called NOX in 2010. She is the author of Autobiography of Red, Plainwater, and other books of poetry, non-fiction, and mixed genre.
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