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Idling traffic, fumes
at a busy intersection of nerves.
Dances on the deck
of coffee-laden freighters plying arteries.
Smoke-filled meetings floating
through veins, tables turning.
The sting of nicotine
laid like a lash on a horse's rump.
That screech and snort,
that babble and grunt
disappears around a bend in the blood.

Merciful, hard labor numbs the nerves as it
advances, snuffs our every light
in a steady rain of darkness. Pain goes to sleep
as night falls over any small farm of flesh.

And the resurrection and miracle of rest
after labor: arms awakening, a hundred
tingling lights lit along creeks and ridges;
a rooster crowing in flesh becoming light
with birdsong from the meshed branches of nerves
casting shadows like trees along the river.

from The Mountains Have Come Closer, 1980 ©

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