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Aaron Anstett: Three Poems

God's Job | Poem for a Public Bus Placard | Stricken

God's Job

I surface in an office,
answering phones under false name. To keep from sleeping,

I wear contact lenses of transparent pornographic photographs
so I see my coworkers in the light of minglings,

as if they floated in a palimpsest of their first history.
For fear of being pink-slipped, I do not exclaim, "No wonder.

They're someone's pleasure and someone's suffering."
In one pocket: a miniature of this city. In the other: a brick.

I alphabetize the file drawers labeled Desires and Fears.
The false name? I'm sworn to secrecy.

Poem for a Public Bus Placard

Light changing on passengers' faces,
blank or in conversation, shadowing this then that
skin, my friends, comes far, no matter what language
mouths make or weather reports are broadcast.

Slow motion, flowers fill a yard.
Photographed or no, blood cells plume in marrow.
These here and here are fingerprints. They themselves are innocent.
You clutch the strap and stand. I see your heart beat in your wrist.


Undressed to a skeleton, the curvature mirrored,
shaped like grasses, and stones, and branches,
but worn one color.

The great lengths the wind goes to rustle an orchard,
swerve, and set out elsewhere.

The anvils in my ears stricken.

Sound, like sight, a kind of fiction: narrative travels
and the brain gives refuge.

For all the senses, we make inside us correspondences,
each nerve end an answering chorus.

So the bullet is not substance but sensation.

The hole it opens not absence but displacement.

And saying this will not mend it.

Poet's Biography:
Aaron Anstett's collection, Sustenance, was published by New Rivers Press. His second book, No Accident, was selected by Philip Levine for the Backwaters Press Prize and is forthcoming in 2005. He lives in Colorado with his wife and children.

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.