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And Being Dead Is Hard Work

by Patrick Blagrave

*

In Chicago there are graveyards make your head spin

& ghosts often. They fill the air between brick

buildings & that’s what wind is. Sometimes

it feels like it’s just me & a crippled umbrella

against the world & all of its iterations, wave

after wave of bad history coming in

from the backward river, from the pretty waters by the Lake Shore.

 

*

In my apartment at my worst, unemployed

on a Tuesday night & for months, for example, an anachronism

visits. He is an immigrant

spirit seeking the place he carved out

the body of a hog for years in my loft space.

Instead he finds me, sleeping, splayed on a floral couch

while a woman is in my bed, & searches inside me

for meat nonetheless, finds nothing.

 

*

In the morning he tells me his name & where he’s from

is no longer included in atlases. His strong arms

will not weaken from being unworked. He pins

me down & I am crushed

but he of course has no body. Without a tongue

he speaks my name & it is silent

but for the polka music in his head, godawful,

the searching in mine for whatever it says

above my résumé or on the mailbox door but not for long.

 

*

The night she ended my life

there was like any other. It got dark

late in April, the neighbor in the window

did her sit-ups, I made tacos. It rained

which sometimes seems meaningful. She

spoke my name at the beginning of sentences

which sometimes seems meaningful. I wondered

while vanishing why we still bother with names when

there are so many cemeteries.

 
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