“Dead Flowers”

If you hurt yourself before someone else hurts you, is that homeopathic? Watch me prick poison into my skin, sign my name in pain. Watch me miss the appointment, cancel the call. Watch me gulp smoke and receive a certificate of enlightenment between the smeared egg-yolk horizon to the west and the bone-white eastern sky: the emperor appoints me to the Poetry Bureau and I declare myself Queen of the Underground. On the back road, the turkey vulture plucked the guts from the squashed squirrel, then flapped up to the dead branch of the shagbark hickory to examine us examining the carcass. O sacerdotal bird with your crimson scalp and glossy vestments, teach us to translate the spasm, the cry, the dis- integrating flesh, the regret. What can be made of all this grief. Over the butter- yellow, humming, feather-grassed midday meadow skim the shadows of vultures: ghostly, six-foot wingspan, V, swiftest signature, turning death into speed.

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