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Christopher Salerno

Two poems

The Republic, Book X

Terrible Imitation, here is
the third bed where you lay

the august thing down.
Here is the stepladder

to the sublime. Here is
the book of sad lithographs

we will press you into
don’t cry. Here is the Dark-

Eyed-Junco you prefer,
famous for grappling

long nights. When you
wake, when you sit,

and your final painting
is there. As many

paintings as you like. Here,
here are the literal

interior fields, here are
the muddy boots.

Not Dying

Gazing. Nothing’s happened to the breath,
epitomized by the ocean wave of the moment.
It doesn’t take for you to see, eventually,
blue herons the size of handbags on the horizon.
Once I saw two hummingbirds with
copper-colored chests
mating where the bungalow porch
curves like something foreign in the summer.
Yes swooping from the beams
to the complaints in the trees.
We do not know what will happen.
We know what will happen. It is easier
than it has ever been.
Someone tells you go stand there
among the lanterns, now
that the sky is clear and we are all in the picture.
I’ve never seen mandrakes that large ever.
They remind me: what is underneath is anything
but. There is another axis under that.
And a hung white sheet.
A gust of wind will fill the open mouths with air:
And what someone may owe us,
when we do die, flies by like a bullet.

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