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Aphorisms

One mind was the size of an owl, another
the shape of a watch, another didn’t have
the time to think. Though a few of us smother
in water or smoke, even more die in the salve
on a bad conscience. Aphorisms can make
a fart sound important. He who knows
yet knows not he knows, who he? Neither slake
your thirst from a waterfall nor dabble your toes
in a mud puddle—or is it the other way
around? The pet that eats food from the can
will be beholden to the can opener. By day
a woman should never trust a man
who carries tweezers, though by night
a small pair of them might be all right.

 

Something Less

In Argentina Americans shoot doves,
thousands of them, until their shoulders ache.
I asked one who had returned, who loves
to hear them hit the ground, for the sake
of conversation, who eats them? “Hell, I
don’t know,” he said, “the hogs I guess.”
One minute the doves are in the sky,
the next minute, they are something less.
But where do they come from, all these birds
that blanket the ground in photographs
of Americans, happy beyond words,
kneeling among the little bodies? Perhaps
there’s no end to them, just as there’s
not one who shoots who actually cares.

 

In the First Place

You keep rowing but you seem to be
getting nowhere. Awkward silences
are like that. You stare at something, maybe a tree,
while all around you an impending violence is
building in the voices of birds. The locals
are trotting out their usual complaints about
tourists, you among them, when the focus
suddenly shifts and you’re deemed a sort of scout
for the disenfranchised. Fish drift in the shade
under the dock, and you realize that’s all
you really wanted in the first place: laid
back interpreters of the weather who will call
on you from time to time. You find a stone
flat enough to skip and take it home.

 

Greg Keeler is the author of several books, including Trash Fish and Epiphany at Goofy’s Gas. He has been writing a sonnet a day for over 15 years. 

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