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Holly Allen

It and Not It

The children that run in the skeletal remains

of what was once a great public pasture

of ornamental grasses and trees decorating themselves

with bulbous fruits, red and brown,

alien jewels or swollen bellies or

the freshly laid eggs of an imagined bird.

Under the dried-out corpses of those once colored trees,

the children chase.

They chase one another- it and not it

it and not it

in the solemnly fading light

of a weary February sun.

Novices at the sacred sport of watching games

would think that they are having fun

while they flee like unbroken stallions

bursting through the futile walls of an old pine gate.

They are wrong.

I am an experienced bench-sitter, a veteran of winter splinters,

I lived the renaissance of watching games

and I can tell you

firmly tell you

that they are afraid.

They know how other children hunt

with gnashing teeth and hot, hot blood

they know

because they have all been hunters before.

While Wearing Cotton

Cotton sometimes doesn’t feel like cotton

against the bareness of your skin

that conjoining of water balloons

slopping against some scratchy inch.


Cotton sometimes feels like dying

or the things that have already been dead

like a dog that wandered too far off,

thirst radiating from that summer-soaked coat.

The dog’s bones sank into the dry earth

into the sea of cackling cotton plants,

their stalks not bothered to bend

to look down

to feel remorse.


Cotton sometimes feels like, no, tastes like

the grainy salt, the taste of sweat,

the flesh that hangs itself up in the air too long

the deluge of work and tears and nine hours trudging

from dry knuckle to dry knuckle

working on some wizened loom

or a hand-me-down machine

of stitch-this and stitch-that

of needle dance

or tired eyes

or hollow hopes for going home.

Brett Stout Broken_Hands_Converge_A_Brea
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