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Two Poems

When we run out of water, only the good die young and everyone in California is terrified of autumn. And we, who reject all villainy, fail to comprehend these desert seasons, safe as a bogus Wild West backdrop to an elusive moment. But it’s working on us regardless, and a hundred million miles away it will infect us in a month or so, making our leaves turn yellow when the wind picks up. We’ll step out into it and age a little, taking deep breaths like hungry burglars. And with a thought like that, I’ll throw a rattlesnake through a storefront window, an alarm will go off, a leaf will hit the ground and someone out west will refuse to go to the doctor.

When we run out of water, repeat after me— I, misanthrope, from this day forth do vow to stand on my head at all costs and treat grids as labyrinths. At one with my vulture attributes, I will scatter each morsel of trash and confront these blessed breadcrumbs with the glare of intimacy, standing frontal, knowing how quickly they take to the wind. Meanwhile the air (that tyrant! that conductor!) will stagger and stumble as it kisses the concrete with a broken bone. I will be there to brush its ratty hair aside, with pride or with scorn, knowing four to five messages await me when I return home. And amidst the convictions, a blanket is sewn with sensitivity and circumstance, glued together through the combined efforts of some foreign community.


Dan Shanck

Dan Schank currently lives in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, where he spends most of his time deciding whether he is a painter, writer, or both. He expects his MFA from the University of California, San Diego in June of 2002.


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