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David Ignatow

Earth Hard

Earth hard to my heels
bear me up like a child
standing on its mother's belly.
I am a surprised guest to the air

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Midnight

It's midnight, the house silent,
in the distance a musical instrument
being played softly. I am alone.
It's as if the world has come to an end
on a low musical note

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An Ecology

We drop in the evening like dew
upon the ground and the living
feel it on their faces. Death
soft, moist everywhere upon us,
soon to cover the living
as they drop. This explains
the ocean and the sun.

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I Dream

I dream I am lying in the mud on my back and staring up into the sky.
Which do I prefer, since I have the power to fly into the blue slate of
air? It is summer. I decide quickly that by lying face up I have a view
of the sky I could not get by flying in it, while I'd be missing the mud.

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If We Could Be Brought

If we could be brought to the surface
like a gleaming fish and served for supper,
if we could eat and swallow our own life
to make a good meal, if we could go fishing
for ourselves and feed on the gleaming
swimmer below the surface of our skin-
the fish that is our slippery life
and death.

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Without Sexual Attraction

Without sexual attraction, there is
the brutal movement of the sea.
The face peers out of its skeletal frame
and hands reach like bone.

Without love, the streets
are hollow sounding
with wooden, hurried steps,
voices like caverns of death.
We pass each other as trains do,
whistling screams.

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Two Friends

I have something to tell you.
I'm listening.
I'm dying.
I'm sorry to hear.
I'm growing old.
It's terrible.
It is. I thought you should know
of course and I'm sorry. Keep in touch.
I will and you too.
And let know what's new.
Certainly, though it can't be much.
And stay well.
And you too.
And go slow.
And you too.

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For My Daughter

When I die choose a star
and name it after me
that you may know
I have not abandoned
or forgotten you.
You were such a star to me,
following you through birth
and childhood, my hand
in your hand.

When I die
choose a star and name it
after me so that I may shine
down on you, until you join
me in darkness and silence
together.

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It Is

It is heart-rending to know a kiss
cannot cure the world of its illnesses,
nor can your happiness, nor your tragedy
of being a discrete person, for the bodies
fall like rain into the ground
and merge only to make an ocean
of bones and closed eyes, our identities
merged, as we had wanted
when we were persons
in each other's sight and touch.

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Two

The steam hammer pounds with a regularity on steel I should envy.
Neither the hammer nor the steel seems to be suffering from this
terrible meeting between them, proving something vaguely pointed,
that some things must be done, regardless of cost, and finally the
cost too is absorbed in the doing that has become a ritual between
two fated opponents.

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